Travel Books that Every Aspiring Traveler Should Read
**This post contains an affiliate link for Wordery an online bookstore. If you click the link, I’ll get a commission. But no worries, my integrity is priceless.
Another day, another special day that I have never heard of. While many may be just for marketing purposes (I’m looking at you National Hot Dog Day) others celebrate customs, habits and practices that often just don’t get enough shine. This is certainly the case for today’s Twitter Holiday, #NationalBookLoversDay.
As a lover of travel and books, it is only natural that I join in and add my favorite expat/travel related books to the fold. So, without further ado, here is a list of the best travel and expat books for all those aspiring to see the world!
Kinky Gazpacho by Lori Tharps
This is was the very first book I had ever even heard of that discussed a Black American woman who had moved abroad. And that fact that she moved to Spain seems to be prophetic for my own life. It seems as though Lori and her story were the original traveling stranger—someone who moved abroad to live a life that given the circumstances that she was raised in, she never should have had access to.
Now, there are thousands of Black Americans and Caribbeans who have made Spain their permanent and temporary home. But back when Lori made her Sojourn, she was one of the rare few. Kinky Gazpacho is a great beach read for anyone who is looking for something to read while on the beach in Ibiza or soaking up the sun in Costa Blanca—all with a shot of Gazpacho in hand.
On the Road by Jack Kerouac
It just doesn’t get more classic than this. And while I have many feeling about the so-called universality of the experiences recorded in this book, and the adventures of white men in general, there is no denying the fact that this book should be on every traveler’s must read list. So, while we all can’t, or perhaps don’t want to, pick up with a virtual stranger and criss-cross around the globe, it a fun and exciting journey to read about.
Land of Lost Borders by Kate Harris
Now, I have to be honest here, I haven’t actually read this one. In fact, I didn’t even though that this book existed until a few hours ago. However, after reading the description, I knew that this would be a book for me. Hopefully, you will feel the same.
Briefly, it is the story of white female scientist who takes a break from her studies at Oxford and MIT and decides instead to travel with her friend by bike through the Silk Road. Yes, this is an almond eater to the 9th degree. But while she and her journey do seem to be a bit intimidating, it is also highly inspiring.
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
As a marginalized person from a powerful country, I will forever be fascinated by how we classify people who chose to change countries. I’ve written before about the complexities behind who is considered an expat, immigrant, and foreigner. Someone who has talked and written about this extensively is Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. As a middle class woman from the global south who moved to the States, not out of persecution or desperation, but from the same sense of adventure seeking and people from the global north go to Thailand or Vietnam, I find her perspective on these classifications invaluable.
Luckily for all of us, she explored all of the different class and national privilege of those who were born on various sides of these labels. And the fact that many of us would never consider this novel as a story about a traveler is exactly the reason why we should.
Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes
I can unequivocally say that I have never been as inspired by any book that I have never read more than this one. While I haven’t read the book, yet, I have seen the movie more times than I can count. It was the escapist drug of choice for my friend and I during our weekends stuck inside our boarding school. We pledged to one day save our money and buy a villa in Tuscany like our heroine Frances.
And while she moved on and matured into adulthood into a “normal” life, I, like Frances, became a writer and moved to Europe. And though I was in Spain and not Italy, one of my trips after quitting my job in Valencia was to Italy. Yet, despite how hyperbolic it may sound, I can honestly say that this book changed my life for the better. Maybe before the summer is out I’ll finally find some time to read it. I highly recommend that you do the same.