10 best travel and adventure books to inspire you to see the world

I have spent half of my life with a book in my hand. In my childhood, I passionately followed colourful characters like Huckleberry Finn, Phillies Fog and couldn’t get enough of Moomin Family adventures.

I loved and still very much like to re-read everything from J.F.Cooper and Mark Twain to Jack London and Ridjar Kipling.

What happens when you have a whole weekend off, and things on your to-do list include hiking and surfing and a reason you wake up at 3am on Saturday morning is that yet another winter storm has arrived bringing along gusty winds and blustery showers?

We cancel all our plans, stay in, pick up a good book and go through a day drinking endless cups of strong organic green tea and stuff our faces with homemade banana pancakes.

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“So many books, so little time.” Frank Zappa

 

10 best travel and adventure books to inspire you to see the world

There’s nothing better than diving into an old classic adventure book. They can inspire us, teach us and change the way we live our life’s!

Having recently visited Edinburgh, where I finally went to Armchair Bookstore and Portugal, where we had a chance to gawk at Impressive Mafra Library, we decided to write about our favourite adventure books.

So below is a list of books we are reading, have read and most likely will read once again in the future. To be honest, it’s hard to choose which is the best, as each and single one takes you on a different kind of adventure.

But one thing is for sure – all are highly recommended and will give you an instant urge to pack your bags.

Disclaimer: Please note, we didn’t provide any links to Amazon that you would usually find on other bloggers posts because we don’t support big companies who push independent stores out of business.

We love bookstores and see them as intellectual centres that bring people together. If money is an issue and you can’t afford to buy books, then head down to your local library.

 

#1. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain

Reading makes me a happier person, and in my opinion, reading is something that should be celebrated. That’s why I don’t slam people who find joy in literary preferences different from mine.

I personally still love to read children’s adventure books, and it wasn’t until I learned English and had a chance to read originals for the first time that I realised how talented actually Mark Twain is.

Getting lost in a good narrative saturated with eccentric characters is why I read in the first place, and there’s plenty of both in a book about Tom Sawyer adventures! Who wouldn’t want to build a raft and go adventuring?

“Saturday morning came, and all the summer world was bright and fresh, and brimming with life. There was a song in every heart; and if the heart was young, the music issued at the lips. There was cheer in every face and a spring in every step. The locust-trees were in bloom, and the fragrance of the blossoms filled the air. Cardiff Hill, beyond the village and above, it was green with vegetation, and it lay just far enough away to seem a Delectable Land, dreamy, reposeful, and inviting.”

*Read more: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

 

#2. The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho

My introduction to Brazilian novelist Paulo Coelho was thought the pages of Eleven Minutes. Ever since then, I read most of his books and loved his international bestseller Alchemist that tells a story about an Andalusian shepherd, Santiago who yearns to travel and who goes on a journey of self-discovery.

The book was full of valuable life lessons, and reminders like focusing on our own journey, embracing the present, taking action and my favourite-that fear is the bigger obstacle than the obstacle itself.

“It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.”

*Read more: The Pilgrimage  by Paulo Coelho

 

#3. Saltwater Buddha, by Jaimal Yogis

Other than travel and books, we are avid surfers too, always on a lookout for enlightening tails. Saltwater Buddha was one of the best uplifting books I’ve read in a while as it combines adventure and passion. I loved writers fluid voice and the way he described waves, it made me instantly happy and positive about everything.

Saltwater Buddha is a memoir of Jaimal Yogis who run off to Hawai as a teenager with only 800 dollars in his pocket. It’s an excellent book I read a while ago, yet I still think about parts of it.

“Surfing is kind of a good metaphor for the rest of life. The extremely good stuff – chocolate and great sex and weddings and hilarious jokes – fill a minute portion of an adult lifespan. The rest of life is the paddling: work, paying bills, flossing, getting sick, dying.”

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“I felt a taste of that other kind of contentment that doesn’t come from acquiring information or getting praise or building a resume, the kind that is just there, like a hidden pearl.”

 

#4. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, by  Hunter S. Thomas

If you are tired of the basic plots with five-stage structures used in literature than look no further than Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, first published in 1971. While it’s not the first book to have a road trip theme, this was hands down vividly crazy, hilariously funny and in-your-face kind of book.

I’ve watched the movie, featuring Johny Depp, about the long weekend road trip to Las Vegas and reread the book and watched a movie some more! Drugs and lousy behaviour aside, my first Hunter S. Thomas book with its absolutely insane scenes couldn’t have been any better.

“Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run, but no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world. Whatever it meant.”

 

#5. Into the Wild, by Jon Krakauer

Into the Wild is yet another masterpiece from American novelist John Krakauer, who is a reliable adventure writer and I loved how objective writer was throughout the book.

Having recently watched the movie directed by Sean Penn that followed Chris McCandless journey from Virginia all the way to the Alaskan wilderness in search of himself shook my world and everything I stood for so much that I had to read the book too.

By now, I have read it over and over, each time finding something new that spoke to my soul. I often paused and tried to imagine what life living on the bus was really like.

Diving between the covers, I was able to identify with Criss right away, and I loved how this book made me question my own life choices and the way I interact with people around me.

”The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence, there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun. ”

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“It is the experiences, the memories, the great triumphant joy of living to the fullest extent in which real meaning is found. God, it’s great to be alive! Thank you. Thank you.”  John Krakauer

 

#6. Seven years in Tibet, by Heinrich Harrer

As someone who’s been captivated by mountaineering pioneers and by words tallest peaks, I couldn’t wait to read the book and watch a movie about famous Austrian mountaineer Henrich Harrer who was on the mission to scale a Hymalian mountain only to find himself becoming friends with a young Dalai lama. Can you imagine such an adventure? I was beyond jealous!

I love a good fiction book, yet nothing comes close to autobiographical travel book based on real-life events and experiences. They have a way of utterly captivating me. It’s crazy to think what it took to climb a mountain before all the fancy gear and equipment was available.

“Wherever I live, I shall feel homesick for Tibet. I often think I can still hear the cries of wild geese and cranes and the beating of their wings as they fly over Lhasa in the clear, cold moonlight. My heartfelt wish is that my story may create some understanding for a people whose will to live in peace and freedom has won so little sympathy from an indifferent world.” 

*Read more: The White Spider by Henry Harrer

#7. The Beach, by Alex Garland

Naturally, no best travel book list would be complete without Alex Garlands The Beach. This book completely changed my life. Reading The Beach instantly made me want to go on a journey. I wasn’t particularly drawn to Thailand, yet I loved everything about it, especially the ending.

I literally breezed through the book and found my self turning pages into the night. Reading The Beach instantly made me want to go on a journey. I wasn’t particularly drawn to Thailand, yet I loved the simplicity of the plot and was seduced of an idea of the perfect hideout. Give it a go, I’m sure you’d enjoy this book!

“Trust me, it’s paradise. This is where the hungry come to feed. For mine is the generation that travels the globe and searches for something we haven’t tried before. So never refuse an invitation, never resist the unfamiliar, never fail to be polite & never outstay the welcome. Just keep your mind open and suck in the experience— And if it hurts, you know what? It’s probably worth it.”

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You hope and you dream. But you never believe that something’s gonna happen to you. Not like it does in the movies. And when it actually does, you expected to feel different, more visceral, more real. I was waiting for it to hit me.

 

#8. Around the world in 80 days, by Jules Verne

Did you know that Jules Verne drew inspiration from his own sailing adventures that took him across the Bay of Biscay, around Europe and along the English coast?

Around the world in 80 days is French writers most acclaimed works and pretty much everyone knows the basic plot.  It’s one of those books that are much much better than any cartoons and movies ever made, give it a go, you’ll enjoy it! With the help of awesomely amazing characters, this book will keep you entertained, and happy pretty much anywhere and will take you on a journey full of fun and fast-paced adventures.

“Night came. The moon was entering her first quarter, and her insufficient light would soon die out in the mist on the horizon. Clouds were rising from the east, and already overcast a part of the heavens.” 

*Read more: The Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne

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One of my favourite adventure books of all time.

 

#9. Dark Star Safari: Overland from Cairo to Cape Town, by Paul Theroux

Despite the pessimism, I loved this book and the idea of an overland trip a lot! Can you imagine what travelling the length of Africa is like: a trip I would most likely fear to go. I was fascinated to read about Zimbabwe, Malawi, and in particular- South Africa with its beautiful animal life and culture.

“The wish to disappear sends many travellers away. If you are thoroughly sick of being kept waiting at home or at work, travel is perfect: let other people wait for a change. Travel is a sort of revenge for having been put on hold, or having to leave messages on answering machines, not knowing your party’s extension, being kept waiting all your working life – the homebound writer’s irritants. But also, being kept waiting is the human condition.” 

*Also Read: The Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux

 

#10. Into Thin Air, by Jon Krakauer

Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster instantly became my favourite book, and John Krakauer immediately became my favourite writer. He is such a fantastic storyteller that I found myself genuinely carried away by his book about the 1996 disaster on Mount Everest.

The quality of the book was brilliant, and I very much enjoyed all the detailed descriptions about the climbers and absolutely loved the history of climbing. I became fascinated by high-altitude mountaineers and have read many books about the subject. But it was Into Thin Air that made me overlook my fear of heights and encouraged me to encounter mountains.

“Achieving the summit of a mountain was tangible, immutable, concrete. The incumbent hazards lent the activity a seriousness of purpose that was sorely missing from the rest of my life. I thrilled in the fresh perspective that came from the tipping the ordinary plane of existence on end.” 

*Read more: Eiger Dreams by Jon Krakauer

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“But at times I wondered if I had not come a long way only to find that what I really sought was something I had left behind.”

 

MORE INCREDIBLE ADVENTURE AND TRAVEL BOOKS YOU CAN READ:

The Motorcycle Diaries, by Ernesto Guevara

Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, by Cheryl Strayed

Shantaram,  by Gregory David Roberts

Walden, by Henry David Thoreau

The Call of The Wild,  by Jack London

The Three Musketeers, by Alexandre Dumas

 

…    …    …    …    …    …    …    …     …    …    …    …    …    …    …    …    …    …    …    …    …    …

Now, over to you?

What’s your favourite adventure and travel book?

Let us know in the comments below!

 

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Our Crossings follows the daily adventures of Latvian expats living in Sligo as they surf and explore the world

41 thoughts on “10 best travel and adventure books to inspire you to see the world

  1. Awesome! Like you I am always busy reading a book. Any book. And I keep an eye out for more great books to have in my books I want to read “files”. So thank you for your recommendation. I will read them all – again. 😃

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, and thanks for stopping by! So many books and so little time… My original list of the best travel and adventure books is actually times 10. Reading is important, and it’s one of the easiest ways to expose yourself to new parts of the world while improving understanding and boosting creativity. Have a good day. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Christie!
      Your urge to add a couple of classics to my list is very much appreciated. It would, most likely, take some time for me to go through all six novels of the Asian Saga as for The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stove – this book looks like a wonderful reading experience. Thanks so much for sharing and happy travels

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The Little House series has led to our making trips all over the Midwest. I’ve even written a little about it on my blog! I’m also reading through Grapes of Wrath, which is taking me back to our travels west and to California. Thanks for your article. Good ideas!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There’s nothing better than reading a book and taking your family to books locations! I grew up reading Scandinavian literature and Astrid Lindgren and Tove Jansoon were my absolute favourites. One of my dream trips is to go over to Scandinavia to see the landscape – especially the island of Klovharu, in Pellinki in the Gulf of Finland – that inspired authors to write such captivating stories. Thanks for sharing your experience and have a good day

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Tracking down locations for a fictional family of Finnish “trolls” who have amazing adventures together would be impossible yet visiting country where the writer lived and worked on the books would be fantastic too.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Great list, I hadn’t heard of some but now I want to know all about them.

    I would add ‘As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning’ by Laurie Lee – it really pulled me into his world and way of seeing things.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for your suggestion, ‘As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning’ by Laurie Lee sounds like a book to read by an open fire. As the autumn and winter months are fast approaching in Irelands – its time to settle and start reading even more. Thanks again and have a good day

      Like

  4. Thanks for the like of Misplaced Mapcase “Not that Zealand.” I liked the Jon Krakauer books. Last year I got sucked into Dead Lucky by Lincoln Hall and Left for Dead by Beck Weathers. This year I tried to stay on course with Vargas LLosa Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter and a murder mystery of the Faroe Islands, Blood Strand by Chris Ould.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I got completely sucked into the whole Mt. Everest Disaster in 1996 too.

      So much that I even tracked down every single book ever written about the event – or the person that was on the mountain at that time – and watched every single movie/documentary, but I’m yet to get my hands on The Climb by Anatoli Boukreev. This is how I got my introduction to Ed Viesturs and his mountain books. Thanks so much for your suggestions, Dead Lucky by Lincoln Hall goes straight on to my reading wish list!

      And because I absolutely love murder mysteries based in the Nordic countries – Blood Strand by Chris Ould is something I just need to read too – like I haven’t enough things to be obsessed over! Thanks so much again and have a good day

      Like

  5. Oh my gosh what a wonderfully comprehensive list! Love that you took the time to share quotes, too. That really got me interested! Especially in the surf book. I loved the way he talks about surfing as a metaphor for life. I know my husband, who surfs, will relate to that. Thanks for taking the time to share these books so well, and to support independent bookstores and share your view on that!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, reading travel books is what usually gets a through phases when we don’t travel plus it gives you the knowledge and improves your brain. My husband surfs too and thats how I got my hands on Saltwater Buddha – a great read by the way – I’m more of a mountain book person. Thanks so much for stopping by and have a good day. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks for a great reading list. I’ve read some, but I’m now interested in reading many that you’ve suggested. We ADORE Jon Krakauer. We’ve ready just about everything he’s written, sometimes more than once. We used to have Into Thin Air on book on cassette. Krakauer narrated it and it was fantastic. Now we have it in downloaded form but someone else narrates and it’s just not quite the same without his voice. Still, the book is amazing.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. We absolutely adore Jon Krakauer and his books too -he possesses a phenomenal skill in taking the reader on a memorable journey with every character! It’s not only the way he writes – I also admire the range of subjects he’s able to cover and how every book I ever read made me question my life and my life’s choices. I would love to get my hands on an Into Thin Air cassette narrated by him, had no idea such a thing existed. Thanks for sharing, guys, it’s so exciting to find likeminded people to connect with!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I just asked the husband where those cassettes are. I doubt you could find them these days, unless you got lucky at a secondhand book store. If we can find them we might see if we can get them transferred to CD. Thanks for the inspiration!

        Like

      2. Just went through the depth of internet and found out that Into Thin Air Cassette – Audiobook, was released on April 1998. Although there are a good few still available – in a much modern form such as an audio CD, for a whopping $64 + shipping to Europe, I couldn’t find one narrated by Jon Krakauer. But I have to say – just talking about this book – which is such a riveting read, makes me wanna pick it up again. Have a good day guys, exchanging messages here on WordPress always makes my day! Aiva

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Yeah, it’s kinda making me want to reread it, too. Maybe we should start a letter-writing campaign to Jon Krakauer to demand that he release the audio book in a downloadable version that’s narrated by him. 😉

        Like

    1. That’s what I always do too! There’s nothing quite like spending a couple of hours – or more – slowly browsing through piles of books in a second-hand shop! Travel section is my all-time favourite section – not knowing what I can stumble up upon is so exciting. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day. Aiva

      Like

    1. The Alchemist for me personally was a great introduction to Paulo Coelho, and ever since reading it, I haven’t stopped and pretty much read every single book he’s ever written. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much, reading travel and adventure books is what gets me through the dark and gloomy winter month on Ireland’s West Coast, and it’s also a great way to gain knowledge. Have a good day and thanks for stopping by. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Ali! I am actually very proud of myself as I have never ordered a book online, let alone from Amazon. There is nothing more pleasing than browsing trough bookshelves and interacting with people you get to meet there. Have a good day. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, most of my favourite travel books are about mountain climbing adventures, but I consciously incorporate and read as many various genres as possible – outdoor literature, guide books, nature writing, travel memoirs and so on. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Caroline. Reading a good adventure book sometimes can be as exciting as going on a trip yourself. My husband is a surfer, and sometimes I browse his bookshelves in search of something opposite to my usual mountain books – it’s how I stumbled upon Saltwater Buddha – highly recommended and an easy read! Had no idea Michael Palin has written so many books – I set my sights on his Himalaya book right away – thanks for suggestions and have a good day. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Keelie and thanks for stopping by. Wild is one of my books – and movies, after I watched it for the second time – too! Reading is something that I can get very excited about, and that’s why I couldn’t wait to share my favourite adventure books and see what other stuff my readers would suggest putting on my reading list. Have a good day. Aiva

      Like

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