Literature and travel have long been ideal bedfellows. The list of writers of all genres who loved to travel and work as they went is extensive, to say the least. The overlap between the processes has much in common. Both are about trying to forge a connection with others- be that people or places- as well as discovering new worlds; new ideas or new sides of ourselves. Both can also move us, emotionally and physically.
Literature to inspire travel can take many forms. Whether it be memoir, non-fiction, fiction (or indeed a merging of them all) but all the different varieties can be inspiring. And at a time when travel isn’t as accessible for many of us, there’s rarely been a better time to feed your wanderlust and transport yourself with a book. Oh and add to the bucket list.
Here’s a variety of reads to inspire your next trip:
Klinec’s book brings together some of the most thrilling parts of travel- change, food and love. It tells the story of how she decides to quit her corporate job and launch a cookery school from her flat in London. She travels to Iran to discover ancient recipes and cooking skills where she unexpectedly falls in love. It examines their relationship and the society of contemporary Iran.
Morris has travelled and written extensively for over 50 years. She first visited Trieste as a soldier at the end of the Second World War and has been haunted by the city ever since. Using the city and its history, she considers her own life and interests: identity, love and loss, disillusionment and the passing of time.
Combining personal memoir and travel journal Diski’s travels take her around America by rail. Whilst the days of smoking on trains have pretty much passed the world over, the book still brings all the joy of meandering and long train journeys as she relates the characters she meets and her own- sometimes troubled- past.
Samson’s book is a novel that evokes the Greek Island of Hydra back in the 1970s. And whilst it’s certainly changed in the years since it still recalls so much of the beauty and romance of the Greek Islands today. It merges fact with fiction detailing the time that Leonard Cohen lived there.
Kincaid’s book poses many questions about the nature of tourism and travel. It’s a lyrical essay looking at the island of Antigua where she grew up. Contemplating the legacy of colonialism, the tourist industry and the Antiguan Government. It makes for a thought provoking and poetic read.
As doing extreme things for love go, sailing across the Pacific is up there. Even more so if you’ve an intense fear of water. But that’s exactly what DeRoche does in this memoir when her boyfriend decides to fulfil his ambition to do so. Rather than watch him go, she overcomes her fear and joins him. Visiting some of the world’s more remote location it’s a witty tale of a year long voyage.
Few novels better invoke the lazy possibility of summer than Sagan’s masterpiece. She beautifully depicts the hazy, sweaty days of the French riviera, following her heroine’s dark and passionate coming of age journey. You can practically smell the pine trees and the sea salt.
Murphy is both a prolific writer and traveller. It’s fair to say that she’s lived a remarkable and unconventional life. Her works are numerous to choose from but this one makes for a particularly fascinating tale, for anyone with an adventurous spirit. It chronicles her journey on bike from Ireland to India during the 1960s, whilst the places she visits may have changed since then, the spirit she embraces hasn’t.
Harris is a writer with a desire to get lost and explore. She currently lives off grid in British Columbia. In this book she cycles the Silk Road with her friend Mel exploring ideas such as wildness, the self, what it means to get lost and whether we can truly know and map the world.
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