Six fantastic travel & adventure books to take your mind off things

When you scroll through Our Crossings travel blog you’ll see for yourself that some of the blog posts are pretty much straightforward mini-guides and that some of them stand out a little bit more and are probably way too long.

The genuine reason behind the extended ones;  instead of writing been there done that type of articles our desire is for you to get the real feel of the place. The best way to do it is by describing the surroundings, colours and smells.

By using the words, we can paint the pictures and characterise the colour of the ocean on a rainy day. We can illustrate the sweet smell of flowers lingering in the summer air, and we can bring you closer to the beauty of a life of travel.

I am aware that on more than one occasion, this might include an irrefutable dose of nostalgia mixed with way too many descriptive adjectives in one sentence.

For that, I can offer you a straightforward explanation –  journaling about our adventures brings us so much joyfulness we can’t help but let it all out and second, my neverending love of words.

While I would never go as far as to define myself as a logophile the very idea of how so many quirky and unusual words with so many incredible definitions and pronunciations can create beautiful sentences full of wisdom and full of sentiments just inspire me to cultivate my love of words. Why?

Because, as I learned very early in my childhood –  words matter. Words can take you on a journey. Words are so powerful, they can change your world and unleash your powers.

They can move you to the point where you can find and create passion, joy and purpose in your own life.

Six Fantastic Travel & Adventure Books to Take Your Mind Off Things

Sometimes, when I feel stuck for words or motivation, I look no further than finding inspiration in people whose personal journeys invigorate me. Some of them still walk among us on this planet, some of them are long gone.

That’s why I love to read. And I suggest you do the same. Read everything! Read inspiring mountain books, autobiographies and blogs, join forums and browse through quotes. Read classics, new authors, adventure books and flip through the pages of magazines.

Below is a list of the latest books I’ve read (most of them travel-related, of course)  from very inspiring personalities and amazing books I have gathered over the years and love to re-read once in a while. Give it a go and be inspired!

#1. Seven Summits by Dick Bass and Frank Wells

I love books about mountain climbers and that’s why I was excited when my neighbour lent Seven Summits to me.

The book focuses on two wealthy businessmen who are travelling the world with an aim to climb the highest summits of all seven earthly continents. While the book captured the determination needed to perform such immense tasks, at times it felt like Dick Bass bought his way to the highest peaks of the world.

See, they were no ordinary folk, like me and you. Dick was an entrepreneur who owned a Snowbird Ski & Summer Resort in Utah, and Frank was Warner Bros film studio boss. Although, they both have nothing to do with climbing they decide to be the first man ever to climb the Seven Summits.

They started with learning the basics with guides on Mount Rainier and then paid the world-class climbers to accompany them to more challenging peaks. In the end, despite being middle-aged, novice climbers, one of them actually manages to summit each and every one of the seven mountains in question. Their climbing accounts are published in the book called Seven Summits.

The book is an easy read and all the acending stories are engaging particulary the Everest climb with the police and the Norwegians.

#2. Kings of the Yukon: A River Journey in Search of the Chinook by by Adam Weymouth

As someone who’s passionate about travelling, I am naturally drawn to literature that can instantly transport me to a different country and that’s why I was pulled into Kings of the Yukon from page one. It tells a remarkable story of freelance journalist Adam Weymouth who paddles 2000 miles down the Yukon River from Canada’s Yukon Territory, through Alaska. The author makes the trip mostly by canoe and stops along the way at various villages to talk to indigenous people.

The book is more than just a travel log; Adam spends four months on the river researching and studying the migration patterns of the king salmon. While it is depressing to find out that the Plight of the Kings in Alaska, also known as the Chinook in Canada is on the decline, the book is worth the read.

What struck me most about Adam’s a tale of adventure – how beautifully written it was. He paints a stellar portrait of the remote north and native people he meets along the way and effortlessly transports his readers to the most beautiful region of North America.

“There is no friend as loyal as a book.” ― Ernest Hemingway

#3. The Call of the Wild & White Fang by Jack London

The Call of the Wild and White Fang are world-famous animals stories that are set in Alaska during the Klondike Gold Rush of the late 1890s. White Fang is a novel by American author Jack London. The story takes readers to Yukon Territory and the Northwest Territories, Canada.

The Call of the Wild is a story about Buck who’s stolen from the Californian estate and is shipped to Alaska to work as a sledge dog.

“To have a full stomach, to daze lazily in the sunshine-such things were remuneration in full for his adors and toils, while his ardors and toils were in themselves self-remunerative. They were expressions of life, and life is always happy when it is expressing itself.

“′Classic′ – a book which people praise and don’t read.” ― Mark Twain

#4. Chasing Waves by Amy Waeschle

As someone who’s new to surfing, I was eager to read Amy’s book that was gifted to me by my husband. Like any other sport, surfing has its own language and with the help of the book I had a chance to learn new terms and phrases used in surfing like ‘kook’ which now I know means ‘any surfer who endangers or impedes other surfers’ or ‘boggins’ meaning when a surfer’s weight is too far back, and the surfboard nose lifts up.

Amy, an author, professional editor, and wilderness medicine instructor for the Wilderness Medicine Institute does an amazing job describing her journey and portraying what it means to learn surfing. The book is more like a collection of short stories from different surfing trips. Her description of waves and wave riding kept the pages turning as I followed her from Costa Rica to Fiji and from Vancouver Island to Baja.

“Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.” ― Mark Twain

#5. Everest Calling by Lorna Siggins

I am very far from being an expert in mountain climbing, but I love a good mountain adventure book. I loved this book for many reasons, the first being the setting; reading a story set in the Himalayan mountains located between Nepal and Tibet is always a feast for your senses. And second – it was an account of the very first Irish victory on reaching the top of Everest.

The first Irish ascent of Mount Everest took place on May 27 in 1993 and the first Irish person to reach the summit following the route used by Mallory and Irvine in 1924 was Dawson Stelfox. Everest Calling: The Irish Journey is a book about self-reliance, resilience, challenge and camaraderie.

I was reminded yet again about the hardships that mountaineers go through to reach a summit and the Irish Times journalist Lorna Siggins does a great job describing it.

Overall, I read this book in less than a week and can highly recommend it. Mountaineering enthusiasts will enjoy this book, as well as those who love a good adventure story.

“A room without books is like a body without a soul.” ― Marcus Tullius Cicero

#6. The Pilgrimage by Paulo Coelho

I have read most of Coelho’s work from Eleven Minutes to Veronica has to Die and that’s why I couldn’t wait to read The Pilgrimage. This was my seventh Paulo Coelho book and it’s clear that he has such a unique writing style.

It was during the visit to Spain that Coelho changed his life by walking more than 500 miles on the road to Santiago de Compostela. The walk inspired him to write his very first book The Pilgrimage. The book is a recollection of his experiences while on the pilgrimage across Northern Spain.

Although the book is non-fiction, encountering paragraphs about a possessed dog, a demon in the guise of a gipsy or a guide whose advice is often enigmatic, makes you think you are reading fiction. The book also includes eleven ritual exercises that each Pilgrim must practice which gives you an awful lot to think about religion and our place in this world.

“The busiest people I have known in my life always have time enough to do everything. Those who do nothing are always tired and pay no attention to the little amount of work they are required to do. They complain constantly that the day is too short. The truth is, they are afraid to fight the good fight.”

“I cannot live without books.” ― Thomas Jefferson

#7. Travel magazines

There’s a new breed of premium quality travel magazines delivering captivating stories of various adventures taking place throughout the world. These stories are told by people who undertake them. Knowing that the adventures are accompanied by stunning photographs, I decided to treat myself on Birthday and ordered a few magazines to keep me sane during the long winter evenings.

If you are looking to move past the clichés that dominate most travel magazines today, and if you are passionate about travelling and great visuals then check out magazines like Cereal, Another Escape, Renegade, Boat and Sidetracked.

Yes, there are a few glossy ads for overpriced skincare products and travel-related gear, but they are good to get lost in when you’ve had enough of the doom and gloom of the COVID.

I picked up the Suitcase travel magazines adventure issue and was pleasantly surprised to find plenty of unique articles. I enjoyed reading about tribal legends on the protected plains of Zambia’s Liuwa Plain National Park and feasting my eyes on incredible photographs from Bhutan.

I like travel magazines, versus sitting in front of a computer, just for that reason.

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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

53 thoughts on “Six fantastic travel & adventure books to take your mind off things

  1. Wow Aiva! As a book lover this is a fantastic post! I will certainly pick up Coelho book as I am planning to do the Camino de Santiago as soon as I can. Thank you so much! Take good care and all the best!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi, Francisco. Walking the whole length of the Camino de Santiago is a dream of mine; I would love nothing more than to challenge myself to overcome my mental and physical limits. I strongly believe that the Camino de Santiago is imbued with some values ​​that are very little present in our society, hidden at many meters in-depth, such as companionship, fraternity or solidarity. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day. It’s a rainy and overcast day here in Sligo. Aiva

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I quite agree Aiva, I truly believe the Camino carries all those virtues. I am looking forward to it as soon as it is possible…it is a lovely day here, bright and sunny and 14 degrees so not cold at all…I hope your weather gets better and you embark upon a lovely week. All the best 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

  2. I’ve had a lot more free time these days to read, especially now that it’s getting cold outside, so I always appreciate book recommendations. I’ll have to check some of these out. I was especially drawn to Kings of Yukon as that’s one area in Canada where I’d love to spend some time.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Kings of the Yukon is my all-time favourite book, and I couldn’t recommend it more as it covers climate change and travel. The book received 2018 Sunday Times/Peters Fraser + Dunlop Young Writer of the Year Award and anyone drawn to the Yukon landscape will be delighted with Adam Weymouth’s account of his canoe trip. Thanks for stopping by and have a great Monday. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I wish I could be so blessed with words like you 😁
    I have them in my had very nicely but when is time to put them down…nope…lots of struggles 🤪
    These books are really amazing adventures to read! I have a few on my list already 😉
    I love cooking magazines, versus sitting in front of a computer, just for that reason 😉😁

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks so much, that’s a lovely thing to say. Reading books is one of the ways how to become a better writer in a second language. I’ve had plenty of moments where my ideas that seem so bright and crystal clear in my head appear dull and confusing when they take the shape of English. The sentences come out too short or too long, and expressions that should be hilarious do not make people laugh.

      I love photography and food and that’s why I love cooking magazines, too. I get to find new and exciting recipes to try out and find new angles for capturing food. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day. Aiva

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Yes, reading books is a good way to learn to express ourselves…the problem is that I should write my thoughts immediately instead of waiting for the good time and doing so I forget it and even if I try my best will never come the way I’ve thought and wanted 🤪
        I love magazines for the same things too…I’ve thought is only me old fashioned that likes magazines and real books instead of ebooks 🤪
        Have a wonderful day Aiva!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Although I’ve never visited Alaska, I’ve always been drawn to this part of the world and the Yukon for the same reason that so many people are drawn in — with the stories of Jack London, Farley Mowat, and Christopher McCandless and these sort of myths of the North. Kings of the Yukon: A River Journey in Search of the Chinook is one of those books I could recommend to anyone. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Never apologize for heartfelt wordy descriptions of your travels Aiva. The personal experience is what makes them interesting. As to travel books, I can not say I read travel books, specifically. The closest I might come is the Irish Country Doctor series by Patrick Taylor. A friend put me onto one a few years ago and I have read every book in his series. The author is from Northern Ireland and now lives on Saltspring Island in British Columbia, Canada. He was a doctor, but his stories are about fictional characters in a fictional Irish town and make mention of many actual historical events in both medicine and the world. Other than that, we travel by watching the Amazing Race and Somebody Feed Phil and I am reworking many of my photos and videos from past trips (working on Japan 2009, right now). Lots to do to keep busy. Not as much fun as actual travelling, but travelling in your mind is a good pursuit….no lost luggage, yet. Thanks for sharing. Allan

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Allan, for such encouraging words. I find that in the midst of these scary pandemic crises, I yearned to read books that would remind me of the incredible resilience of the human spirit. I was eager to find books that would recharge my optimism batteries and that would champion growth from unavoidable pain. I am going to look up the Irish Country Doctor series by Patrick Taylor because I love new book suggestions.

      I travel by reworking many of my photos, too and I am constantly amazed by all the places we’ve had a chance to visit over the years. We might try to go on a day trip later this month just to clear our heads and gain a new perspective.

      The 5km travel limit will be finally lifted from Tuesday, December 1, with non-essential journeys allowed within our county. This travel restriction will be eased further on December 18, when travel across the country will be allowed. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day. Aiva 🙂


  5. Hi Aiva! First, you shouldn’t apologize for some of your posts “being way too long” or using too many descriptive adjectives in one sentence. I find your posts very informative and appreciate your attention to detail and your obvious joy in writing about your adventures. I know that when we eventually take that trip to Ireland I will be gratefully pouring over your posts.
    I also love to read and I look forward to checking out some of your recommendations, especially Kings of the Yukon. Some of my earliest childhood memories are being enchanted by the adventure and travel stories in National Geographic Magazine. It was always such a thrill when the mag was delivered every month. Since being “stuck” in British Columbia (not such a bad thing) I’ve been drawing inspiration from more targeted sources like British Columbia Magazine.
    Thanks for sharing your book faves.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for such encouraging and heartwarming words, Caroline. It was just what I needed to hear today! 🙂

      When it comes to reading books, it still remains my all-time favourite thing to do, because reading books isn’t just filling my head with knowledge—it’s one of the cheapest, easiest, and most time-tested ways to sharpen my brain. Also, reading books kept me from going crazy through the pandemic crisis and two sets of lockdowns.

      I hope you get your hands on Kings of the Yukon. Adam Weymouth’s writing about the plight of the salmon could have stood alone as interesting nonfiction in its own right, but what really kept me interested were the accounts of the people he met along the way. If I was obsessed with travelling to Alaska after reading Jack London books and Into the Wild, then now it’s the only place I can imagine myself going. Not to be away from society but to see the vast expanse of wilderness and towering mountain peaks.

      Thanks for stopping by. I hope all is well with you and your family. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

  6. It’s a chance to have received this beautiful lesson that Words matter at a young age. Indeed what would be an idea or a feeling if you can’t put a word on it. Not only would it be impossible to communicate it, even for oneself it would not be possible to give it its full value. I appreciate your selection of books. Jack London was certainly an author I read when I was young, he was still on my mind when I visited the Yukon. I was fondly touched to see the modest cabin in which the author lived, still unknown at the time. You had already kindly recommended Kings of the Yukon to me and I have been tempted to read it ever since. Great thanks for your post.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I love reading, well actually re-reading Jack London books. I am very fond of the way he writes – a very descriptive and straight forward Naturalist style appeals to my sences.

      I’ve read Kings of the Yukon a few months ago and still find myself thinking about that book. Since I love adventure stories, First Nations and Alaska, it was a perfect book for me. I was pleasantly surprised, however, with the author’s beautifully descriptive voice and thankful for the chance to learn more about King Salmon than I ever thought possible. Thanks so much for stopping by and have a lovely day. One more month left until Christmas Eve, it’s amazing how fast the year flew by. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Kings of the Yukon made it to my wish list at my favourite book supplier. There is a delay of several weeks before receiving it, so I will be looking for other books in the meantime, but I’ll keep an eye on its status. Thanks again for the recommendations.


  7. I’ve always got something ‘on the go’, Aiva, currently a rather sad offering, ‘The Rice Mother’ by Rani Manicka. A Malaysian family dynasty story. It rather depends on what the charity shops have available at the time. 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi, Jo! I love browsing through charity shop bookshelves. Firstly, you don’t know what you’ll be able to find. And second, here in Ireland the books usually cost just a few euros. Sadly, due to pandemic, all the charity shops are closed and I am running out of the books to read. We are going to find out next week if the level five lockdown gets extended. Hopefully not! Thanks so much for stopping by and have a lovely day. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Wow, you certainly enjoy the rugged, outdoorsy kind of travel novels! My personal (and recent) favorite is “Almost French” by Sarah Turnbull. It’s about an Australian living in Paris and spends her time trying to navigate the intricacies of French culture over the years. It’s very relatable to my time abroad, and it’s a funny and poignant read! Thanks for sharing your list, Aiva. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Hi, Rebbeca, how are you today? Just as we eat nourishing foods to keep our bodies healthy, we also have to nourish our brains. That’s why I can’t imagine my life without books. I love reading in general and always prefer to read as many genres as possible. I love realistic fiction and traditional literature as much as mystery and folk tales, but travel and adventure books are embedded in my heart and soul. I am definitely going to check out “Almost French” by Sarah Turnbull. Thanks for your recommendation and have a great day. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

    2. That’s definitely going on my list. I am in the midst of French Like Moi: A Midwesterner in Paris and I absolutely love it (if you like Bill Bryson you’ll love this). I also loved Bringing Up Bebe, so I’m sure I’ll love Almost French!

      1 minute later: I just put it on hold at the library!

      Liked by 2 people

        1. Both are. Bringing up Bebe is a memoire about an American woman who was living in Paris while raising her kids and she wrote about the cultural differences in childrearing. I don’t have kids but my inner sociologist found it fascinating. The other one is also a bit of a memoire about this guy’s sabbatical year in Paris and it’s just hilarious. Highly recommend both.

          Liked by 1 person

    3. Having lived in various countries myself, I would love to read a book or two about what it’s like to find yourself settling in another country from someone else’s perspective. Struggling to learn the language and committing multiple social faux pas, all while trying to navigate the customs of an entirely foreign country can be at times daunting.

      Before moving to Ireland, I expected to go through a strange sense of displacement. But what surprised me the most – I missed my home country and culture with a steady ache that refused to disappear, but I’ll found myself suffer from similar feelings when I left my adopted country to visit those at home. Knowing two cultures, well in my case- three, is a bittersweet thing.

      Thanks for stopping by and have a good day. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much. I loved getting my hands on the Seven Summits. Bookstores in Ireland are still closed due to the pandemic restrictions, and I am running out of books to read. Thankfully my neighbour, who’s a proper mountaineer and who’s getting ready to climb Mount Mckinley next year, saved me. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Ahhh. That’s a brilliant idea! In all fairness, all we ever talk about when we meet up is mountains and mountain adventures. So far, he’s climbed the highest mountain in the Americas, Africa and Europe (although, Mount Elbrus is actually in Russia not Europe)

          Liked by 1 person

  9. I can’t agree more with you on the power of words, and I love long descriptive sentences that make you travel just as much as (and sometimes more than) a picture. As a book lover all of these suggestions sound amazing, and I have jonly read the novels by Jack London, so I’m very curious to try other adventure stories! I recently read “Wild”, which is about a girl going on the Pacific Crest Trail and, throughout the hike, it is also a journey of grief and acceptance. It was very interesting and definitely captivatign! Thanks for sharing 😍

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Juliette. I firmly believe that words are very powerful and that’s why we need to choose them wisely. As a society, we have become conditioned to talk about our misfortunes and problems. We take our interpretations of events, people and ourselves and communicate them to the world, bringing them into existence.

      So by that admission, when we moan or complain about our lives to others, we are putting those negative words out there to become a reality. That’s why I have started to choose the words that I speak and write consciously.

      I would love to read “Wild”. I loved the movie and found it to be a seriously moving and thoughtful film I could recommend to anyone. Thanks for stopping by and have a lovely day, my friend! Aiva xxx 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Completely agree! We often underestimate how powerful words are, when we complain about others, but also in how we talk about ourselves. By being “out there” they do affect us, more than we could think. I also think it is really important to choose our words wisely!

        I still haven’t seen the movie, but they told me that the book is even better, so I strongly recommend it too! Have agreat day 😊

        Liked by 1 person

    1. When we’re going through a hard time, like we are now, there are lots of coping mechanisms we can turn to – music, chocolate, funny movies, and of course, books. Once the pandemic started, I made a conscious choice and started reading books. They brought me comfort, and solace because of their wisdom. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day. Aiva 🙂


    1. I love reading books and they have gotten me through good times, bad times, and those in-between times. Once in a while, we all should read a book or two; they are the perfect escapism when news, weather or global pandemic seem a little too much to bear. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day. Aiva

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Agreed. I wish I knew how many books I read out loud to my children before they just wanted to read on their own. I have so many wonderful memories of snuggling up with them and a pile of books.
        Take care Aiva

        Liked by 1 person

  10. You have listed some wonderful and varied suggestions for reading. “The Call of the Wild” was a favorite of mine as a kid. Your love of books shows as they look well used.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am glad to hear you loved ”The Call of The Wild”. Having been brought up in a small village, in times when there were no such things as the internet or mobile phones, books turned out to be a perfect way to learn about the world. Thanks for stopping by, Pam and have a good day. Aiva xxx

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Meg. Winter is the best season for reading, particularly when we are not allowed to travel anywhere. Thanks for stopping by and have a lovely first day of December. Aiva 🙂


    1. The Kings of the Yukon is, hands down, one of the best books ever. But the book is more than just an adventure story. It tells different stories about the people who live on the river banks, and at times I found it very hard to read. Particularly about the way we as humans tend to destroy everything; indigenous cultures, the salmon, nature etc. I hope you get to read it, Pam! Thanks for stopping by and have a good day. Aiva 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Some great recommendations there, for sure. I haven’t read any of those, although I have certainly enjoyed a few of Paul Coelho’s other books. Thank you for sharing.

    I love the mountains too. One of my fave mountaineering adventure books is the classic Touching the Void by Joe Simpson. I am sure you will have read it. If not, it is the most incredible tale of survival with beautiful descriptions by Simpson. I have enjoyed his other books too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Touching the Void by Joe Simpson is one of my favourite books, too. I’ve read it a few years ago. The true story of two climbers and their perilous journey up the west face of Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes is a great movie as well. If I remember correctly, it was released in 2003 and both climbers – Simon and Joe – are in it. Even for those who cannot understand why anyone would attempt to risk their lives to climb a peak that most will never even know about, the movie and the book is a true eye-opener. Thanks for stopping by and have a good day. Aiva 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Alone by Richard E. Byrd sounds like a very interesting book, I am definitely gonna add it on my reading list. At the moment I’m reading An Unsung Hero by Michael Smith which tells a story about an Irish adventurer Tom Crean. A man who sailed on three major expeditions to the unknown Antarctic a century ago. It’s a fantastic book! Thanks for stopping by and have a good day. Aiva 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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