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Non-Travel Books to Inspire a Life of Travel

by Globetrooper Todd | 17 Responses
Books to Inspire Travel

If I think back to what inspired me to travel, it had very little to do with reading about others’ adventures. Sure I loved stepping into the shoes of climbers on towering peaks and donning the suits of divers in circuitous caves, but those stories didn’t actually get me moving.

More than anything, I attribute my travels to stories that challenge normality. Because, in my opinion, it takes a little stretching of the imagination to break the mould. And until I broke the mould, I found it hard to understand the many virtues of travel.

1984 – George Orwell (View)

This was the first fiction book that I really read. I became completely entranced as I tried to rationalise a guy in the 40s writing about the 80s, which had mind-blowing parallels to the world we live in today.

It was a real wake up call for me. It shed a strong light on issues that I simply didn’t understand in context. Everything from nationalism, to censorship, political correctness, civil liberties… the list goes on. 1984 helps you take a much needed step backwards; that’s the best way I can explain its impact.

L’Etranger – Albert Camus (View)

This was the first book I read that left me speechless for a whole day thinking ‘what the heck just happened’. It also made me realise the difference between cinema and literature. I still think that no matter how much money Hollywood spends, they’ll never be able to transport you into someone else’s life like a good book can.

L’Etranger was just a crazy read for me at the time. It gave me a good hard kick. I remember I just finished it on a bus on the way to work. I walked into the office having just killed some Arab guy on the beach (as the character in the book, of course). Sounds odd, but it did a lot to help me realise how absurd life really is, which itself helped to question the status quo.

Investment Biker – Jim Rogers (View)

Investment Biker isn’t a spectacular literary work like the previous two. But what an adventure! It’s the real-life account of famous investor, Jim Rogers, riding a BMW motorcycle all the way around the globe.

It interested me at the time because it was partly about economics. Jim not only spent 20 months on the road, but he gave economic commentary along the way. He spoke of black market money conversion, fixed and floating currencies, motorcycle maintenance, and much more. I read it cover to cover in a single bus ride. Then again two years later.

Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury (View)

Fahrenheit 451 is filled with Bradbury’s views of social issues in 1950’s America. It has so many messages on so many levels that still ring true today. And much like 1984, those prophecies really help to add some perspective to life.

For me, it did three things. Firstly, it introduced me to the idea of free-thinking; not in the intellectual sense, but more the liberal sense. Secondly, it showed me the absurdity of how obsessed we are with television (we haven’t owned a TV since). And lastly, it motivated me to give up a profession that I believed was morally and socially corrupt (the main character’s job was to burn all books for the good of humanity).

Shantaram – David Gregory Roberts (View)

Shantaram is my favourite book of all time. Not because there’s a profound underlying message, but simply because it epitomises cultural adventure. It’s a semi-real (roman-a-clef) account of the author who escapes prison in Australia and hightails it overseas. He ends up in India where the adventure just begins.

I’ve always loved to read about adventure (at one point I only read about mountaineering, diving and rafting expeditions), but Shantaram introduced me to cultural adventure. It helped me develop a curiosity about the people in other places, not just the wildlife and landscapes.

Posted in Gear & Gadgets | September 11th, 2010

17 Responses to Non-Travel Books to Inspire a Life of Travel

  1. Hi! I just wanted to share this book with you, for me it has been inspiring not only as a traveller, travel promoter and travel ambassador but applies in my life as well.
    The Journeyer – Gary Jennings

    Will like to know more about the Sri Lanka trip and hope to touch base soon.


    • Many thanks for the tip Isa. It gets good reviews, so will definitely add to my kindle collection. We’d love to hear about Sri Lanka too.

  2. This is a great idea for a post Todd. I tedn to graviatte towards travel books these days, but a few which don’t fall stroctly in that category might include: 1. The Death of Yugoslavia, fairly detailed (but not hard going) history book on the break up of the country which has inspired me to visit some of the places first hand. 2. falling for Icarus by Rory MacLean: he is a travel writer but this book is quite personal as it tells the story of how he built his own makeshift aeroplane in Greece as a tribute to his mother’s memory. Its really moving and inspiring. 3. Tunnel Visions by Christopher Ross: a very odd, but fascinating, book about a well educated man’s experiences of working on the London Underground as a station asst. It contains gobbets of philosophy, thoughts on society and the world of work. He is something of a drifter too. I think most of my fave books combine a bit of travel, with personal memoir and a bit of ideology.

    • Thanks for the tips Jools; looks like I’ll have lots to read on the long flight to Peru next week.

  3. Good picks for some really great books. I’ve read all of them except Investment Biker and Shantaram. I must admit that the concept for Investment Biker is something that would appeal to me. I’ll have to check it out if I see it in the library. i think it would be too hard to narrow down all the non-travel books that inspired me to travel, but if I had to pick one I would say 1984 would be it.

    • Hey Steve, thanks for dropping by. Jim Rogers also did that round-the-world trip again a few years later. But instead of a motorcycle, he took a customised Merc sports car (yellow of all colours). He writes about that trip in a book called Adventure Capitalist. The comparisons to his first trip are a great read.

    • Clear, inorfmatvie, simple. Could I send you some e-hugs?

  4. Shantaram is one of my favorites of all time as well. At first I didn’t think I’d make it through such a long tale, but I ended up reading it a second time as soon as I finished it. That story has been a constant source of inspiration for my own travels.

  5. Shantaram is one of my top 3 favorite reads!

  6. @Earl and @ Diana – Yeah, love Shantaram. So much adventure. They were going to take it to film with Johnny Depp in the lead role; there were interviews and all about it, but I think it fell by the wayside. I’ve also read Shantaram was one part of a series. Would love to read the follow-up or prequel.

  7. I’ve just purchased Shantaram in preparation for a trip to India in November – after reading this post I cannot wait to get started on the book!!

    ps the official Shantaram website (yes it exists and I confess I did visit it ;) ) says that a sequel is in the final stages so get on the waiting list now!!

  8. I have a problem ordering books in english to Turkey. used Amazon last time, and it took over 6 weeks by which time I had moved on. Also found some other sites, buy they would not take Paypal. Any one know of good book sites that will deliver to Turkey. I have found bookstores here in Turkey, that sell books in English but their range of very limited.

    • Hey Natalie, have you ever thought about buying a Kindle? Makes buying and reading books while traveling a whole lot easier. Plus the books are often cheaper and you don’t have to wait until you find another book store (Amazon provides a free wireless account to download books in many countries).

      • Hi Todd,

        I hadn’t actually thought about that to be honest. I prefer to read books in their true form however a kindle could be the next best thing. Thanks for the head ups.

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