8 Best Travel Books of All Time

Posted June 26, 2013 by Jayne Gorman in Travel Lists

travel reads bookshelf

Please don’t ask me to choose between my love for books or travel, as I simply couldn’t. In fact, I love nothing more than combining the two passions and use books to inform and inspire my next burst of travelling. I try to read a great piece of fiction set in the destination I am about to travel to before I depart, but lately I have found myself absorbed in great book after great book set in India. That’s why more than a few of them feature on my list of Top Travel Reads.

Tiger Hills by Sarita Mandanna

One boy’s mistake ruins the lives of the people he loves most, and he has to sit back and watch the damage he had caused everyday. A tale of miscommunication, loss, tradition and unrequited love set against the spellbinding backdrop of Southern India. Warning: I thought I might cry myself dry at the end of it!

Songlines by Bruce Chatwin

I became obsessed with tracking down this book after a trip to the Northern Territory last year. Chatwin tells it exactly how it is; from the landscape to the people, the culture and the smells, he brings the Northern Territory to life in vivid, fascinating and humorous prose. Chatwin attempts to unravel centuries of Aboriginal history and beliefs in a sensitive and, often moving, manner.

Forbidden Lessons in a Kabul Guesthouse by Suraya Sadeed

This book is a remarkable true story about a truly inspiring Afghan American. Finding herself widowed and disenchanted with her lucrative career in the American property market, Suraya decides to help the people of her motherland, in any way possible. Facing danger and threats from both the country she was born in and the one she has made her life in, Suraya bravely continues to bring aid and education to the people of Kabul and beyond. The book also offers an insight on 9/11 from an Afghan American perspective and features a celebrity appearance from Oprah.

The Invisible Mountain by Caroliona De Roberts

I became so deeply engrossed in this tale of 3 generations of Uruguayan women that it was a shock to get off my commuter train each morning and find myself in the UK. Covering a turbulent time in South American history through the lives of 3 passionate women who make bad decisions. This book will suck you in and spit you out in tears. An educating and moving experience.

Catching the Sun by Tony Parsons

Thailand fans look away now – this novel will dispel any illusions you may have about setting up home in ‘Paradise’. A British family move to Thailand to escape trouble back home and end up embroiled in the island’s criminal underworld. Then their new home gets hit by a tsunami. This novel toughly tackles the notion that the grass not always being greener on the other side.

The Thread by Victoria Hislop

I thought nothing could be as good as Victoria Hislop’s first novel, The Island, and then she released The Thread. I love Greece, I love epic historical novels with romance and war set in Greece, ergo I love Victoria Hislop! I shared this novel with every member of my family and they said the same thing.

The Elephanta Suite by Paul Theroux

Modern day India is explored through three separate perspectives, as a middle-aged couple, lawyer and backpacker pass through the Elephanta Suite in Mumbai. Each character comes to India in search of something, yet they are all repulsed in some way with what they find, and ultimately leave India feeling miserable. The reader is left questioning whether this disappointment is the fault of India or her visitor’s?

A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry

Another weeper! I found this book in a Goan hotel library and I finished it on a train in Kerala in floods of tears. When two poor tailors move into the house of a proud widow in need of some cash, their three lives become as intricately woven as the tapestries they work on. Exploring the concept of family and love in extreme hardship; it’s a heart-breaking book that I could not put down.

Do you have any favorite travel reads? If so, make sure to leave them in the comments down below so your fellow travelers can check them out! You can also join Jayne’s #TravelBookChat on Twitter every Thursday at 7.30pm GMT.

About the Author

Jayne Gorman

Jayne Gorman is a freelance travel blogger and writer on a mission to blog her way around 40 countries before her 30th birthday. She also runs a site dedicated to travel and shopping and hosts a monthly twitter chat dedicated to books and travel. Look for the hashtag #TravelBookChat to join the discussion.

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