30 Books That Are Perfect Travel Companions
Deciding which books to take along is an art, for the right book can amplify your travel experience, entertain you, and give a sense of comfort and familiarity with the place.
Before a trip, packing gives an euphoria in the anticipation of the journey, a part of which is contemplating about which books to be taken along, because during travelling it is preferable to read short, crisp tales, anecdotes and stories that inspire the reader to explore far-off lands. When I was younger, books like Gulliver’s travels by Jonathan Swift, The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, used to be my pet on family trips.
Deciding which book to take along is an art, for the right book can amplify your travel experience, entertain you, and give a sense of comfort and familiarity with the place. I’ve learnt that even though literature is not immediately visual, it is illustrative once interpreted. And thus, thematic reading relative to a particular type of excursion heightens your adventure by lining it with imagination. When balanced right, you would feel yourself delving deeper into the roots and the very existence of a place. Here’s a list of recommended books to suit your next vacation –
Heading for a vacation to Rome, Milan, Paris, Greece? Travelling for work to New York, London, Japan? Every city tells a different story. You meet new people, appreciate architecture and monuments doused in history, and devour delicious food seeped profoundly in their culture and shop till you’re satiated. You might often find yourself idling away time in trains, waiting at the airport, sitting in a café- perfect for spending time with a good book. But, travelling in fast paced cities, it is better to have a book with shorter anecdotes- so you’re not left hanging at intrigue.
In Paris, enveloped in love? Try reading Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. The Sherlock Holmes series by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is perfect for lovers of detective genre travelling to London.
If you are a fan of suspense and mystery, Angels and Demons by Dan Brown will make you admire the exquisite history and the legends of Rome. For a fun and light eye-opener, read The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick. It is a charming story, something that you will never forget.
Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes will take you crusading through Italy’s beautiful countryside, sprinkled with delectable food, and the love of simple living. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins makes for an intriguing read while travelling in cities. Try reading Music for Wartime by Rebecca Makkai if you are looking for shorter, quicker reads. This book is a compilation of surreal, surprising stories set in time between World War two and
Tales By The Shore
The ocean will envelop you in its salty freshness, and leave you bewildered with its vastness. The beach is where you relax, soaking in the sun and fun. Off to Bali, Barbados, Hawaii, Cayman Islands, Bahamas, Aruba or Andaman and Nicobar? My absolute recommendation: Cloud Atlas by British author David Mitchell, which will take you through six stories treading across the ocean with six different people. The book is a masterpiece.
As the name suggests, The Beach by Alex Garland is for the shore. The protagonists go on a search to discover the most beautiful beach untouched by tourism. Read this to satisfy that explorer urge and to embrace nature at its most turbulent.
Those who get a bit of a kick out of paranoia, Jaws by Peter Benchley is the perfect choice. For lovers of complexity, We Were Liars by E. Lockhart is an unusual read. It follows the lives of some teenagers who spend consecutive summers at a private beach.
The Summer Book by Tove Jansson is a warm novel about a young girl and her grandmother on an isolated island: a wise choice. One of my absolute favorites, I highly recommend reading Before the Fall by Noah Hawley. It is the story of two plane crash survivors, who brave the shark-infested Atlantic waters- you will certainly feel the thrill soaking through your bones.
Planning a safari to Kenya, Zambia, Madikwe, Kaziranga, Periyar or the Galapagos Islands? The wild will enthrall you with its calm ferociousness and beguiling creatures. So many writers have brilliantly verbalized their startling jungle adventures and these books make for a zesty read while on the road.
For an outlandish, heart-touching safari companion, read An African Love Story by Daphne Sheldrick, which is a memoir about bringing up African elephants, and find yourself questioning who belongs where.
I often turn Vernian while I’m foraging through forests, and I would recommend you to read Five weeks in a Balloon, or Journeys and Discoveries in Africa by Three Englishmen, by Julius Verne. The book has technicalities, historic and geographic description accompanied by an amusing tale filled with twists and turns. You can also try Assegai by Wilbur Smith if you have interest in warrior sagas.
The book, A Tiger in the Tunnel by Ruskin Bond is a gem. It underlines the dangers of the forest from the perspective of an average human. You will be walking beside the protagonist and encounter all that he does. A dandy read. A bush pilot, Beryl Markham, has chronicled her experiences growing up in Kenya in the early 1900s in the wonderful book, West With The Night. Born Free by Joy Adamson is an arresting story of a lion named Elsa that grows up with a human family.
My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durell is an exciting read for both children and adults. It tracks an English family who relocates to Greece and end up discovering the beauty of nature and wildlife on the island, which intermingles with their daily life.
Heading to Mussorie, Shimla, Switzerland, Darjeeling, Kashmir, Kalow, Mount Mogan, Alaska or Durban for a relaxing time? Or to Spiti, Fuji, Kilimanjaro or the Everest for an expedition? The Ascent of Rum Doodle by William Ernest Bowman is a generous parody, an utter delight for the mind. The humour will keep you entertained and since it is shorter, it is perfect to be read on a journey.
Author Wade Davis, in the book Into the Silence, paints a vivid picture of the post-war sentiment, and the difficulty of summiting the world’s highest mountain. Annapurna is a book by Maurice Herzog about conquering the 8,000 m peak in the Himalayas. It is a feast of thrill, teamwork, determination and exhilaration.
Shiva Loves to Dance by Anita Raina Thapan is an incredible read altogether. I would suggest you to pick this up if you too fascinated by simple things and the redundant curiosity of children. It is a joyful tale about understanding the magnificent creations of nature.
And The Mountains Echoed by renowned author Khaled Hosseini, is an enchanting tale which tells the story of a brother and sister travelling through a desert with their father. It will make you wonder at how bonds shape our lives and how our choices define us.
The Fifth Mountain by Paulo Coelho is a powerful tale of the journey to discover the purpose behind the existence of every soul. You can also go through numerous books like The Blue Umbrella, The Room on the Roof by Ruskin Bond, our writer from the hills, for alluring tales.
Note: I recommend travellers to read The Call of the Wild by Jack London, a short novel told from the point of view of a dog named Buck. Also, Wild by Cheryl Strayed, describing her 1,100 mile hike on the Pacific Crest Trail in 1995, as a journey of self-discovery, is perfect for female solo travellers.
Books took you places,
so now to places take your books.
Ameesha Raizada is an intern at Runway Square. She loves books and fashion, and fiddles with photography in free time.