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 reread everything from J. F. Cooper and Mark Twain to Jack London and Rudyard 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.
10 best travel and adventure books to inspire you to see the world
There’s nothing better than diving into a classic adventure book. Pick whichever book you fancy, and soon enough you’ll realise, they can inspire us, teach us and even change the way we live our life’s!
Having recently visited Edinburgh, where I finally went to feast my eyes upon stacked shelves at 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 through 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 the 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 the writer’s 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 Hawaii 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.”
#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 then 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 Johnny 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 are yet another masterpiece from American novelist John Krakauer, who is a reliable adventure writer and I loved how objective the 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 Chris 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. ”
#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 Himalayan 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 an 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 myself 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 by the 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.”
#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
#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
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
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Now, over to you!
What’s your favourite adventure and travel book?
Let us know in the comments below!