“I love traveling, and I love books. And when two of my favorite hobbies combine there’s just nothing better than that! Join me on a wanderlust around the world…”
If I could I would revel in my wanderlust, hit the winding road, step into the unknown, discover new places, taste new cultures, and partake in all the delights of the journey. Sounds enticing…doesn’t it? But alas my bank balance is mournfully meager that can work no such magic for me. So, like Robert Frost’s traveler I can only stare at the roads not taken and marvel at all the differences they would have made. However instead of brooding over my luck, I make it up by picking up books that bring to life distant cities – big and small and countrysides far and wide, and thus satiate my wanderlust.
The following books will not only fuel your wanderlust but also unveil new places and challenge your notion of what’s possible during travel. These books do not set out to be ‘travel books’ but travel is central to these books.
- Under the Tuscan Sun
My dying wish is to live in Italy, explore the countryside and learn to cook Italian food. Until that dream comes true, I experience Italy with ‘Under the Tuscan Sun’. Set in the enchanting and poetic world of Tuscany, it illuminates the colors, textures and spectacular countryside of Tuscany. Frances Mayes paints a dazzling world of Italian food, hill towns, delightful people and vibrant local markets. She explores the pleasures of Italian life as she buys and restores an abandoned villa in Tuscany after a brutal divorce. Once you are through with the book, I bet my last penny that you will move heaven and earth to visit Italy.
- The Caliph’s House: A Year in Casablanca
Moving to another country and to an alien culture comes with its own set of surprises and adventures. Tahir Shah, the author of ‘The Caliph’s House: A Year in Casablanca’ reflects on his life in light of another culture and moves beyond what he knows. Inspired by the Moroccan vacations of his childhood, Tahir Shah fulfills his dream of moving bag and baggage with his family from the gray skies of London to the sun-drenched city of Casablanca. The Caliph’s House is a chronicle of a great gamble a family takes which sets off a great adventure that unfolds over a year.
After you are through the adventure you will find your every nerve tingling with the conviction that you too must experience the adventure.
The story of the city of Istanbul is intertwined with the story of the writer Orhan Pamuk. For someone eager to explore the unique cultural identity of Turkey that lies on the cusp of the Eastern and Western divide, the book will never fail to work its magic on you. The relics of the old Ottoman empire are as much a part of Istanbul as the signs of modernity.
Once you have read the book, Istanbul will unfold before your eyes and seduce you to travel to it in blood and flesh.
- On the Road
From Beat writers to Beatles, everyone has turned to travel to fuel their creativity. ‘On the Road’ by Jack Kerouac is a nomad’s bible. Fast-paced, almost rambling, the book stunts you with the indefatigable spirit of adventure and excitement that criss-crosses across the pages. It is testimony to the American vision of freedom, hope, travel, and wanderlust. After reading the book I wouldn’t be surprised if you give in to your urge to hit the road and taste the promised freedom for yourself.
- Butter Chicken in Ludhiana
‘Butter Chicken in Ludhiana’ redefines travel. Travel is not always about big cities and far off destinations. One can take trips to quaint little towns and discover as many charms and treasures as popular tourist destinations. The author travels “off the beaten path” with everyday people and writes about his conversations and experiences with them. It is a marvelous portrayal of travel in India and doing things the way the locals do! If you live in Pune and can’t afford a holiday in Paris like me, chart out your weekend itinerary to Ahmed Nagar, Aurangabad or little villages on the Konkan coast.
If you are in the middle of a major emotional crisis or beset with problems in life, Cheryl Strayed’s ‘Wild’ could be a perfect inspiration to leave it all behind. Our grief has to run its course and no amount of shopping and expensive salon trips can help overcome it but travel holds promise – a promise of salvaging a life in tatters. ‘Wild’ is the story of a young Cheryl Strayed who lost her mother to cancer and stumbled through a traumatic marriage. With nothing to lose she hikes the Pacific Crest Trail in search of meaning. The book will compel you to pack a rucksack and hike up a dirt track, up a mountain in search of inspiration and meaning.
- The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Our sweetest songs are those that tell the saddest tale, so said P.B.Shelly. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a living testament of the aphorism. A powerful account of the survival of the people of Guernsey reeling from German occupation during the Second World War, the book is increasingly becoming popular for its compelling portrayal of the trauma of occupation and evocative accounts of human will.
I bet the first thing you will do after finishing this beautiful book is to google about the Channel island of Guernsey.
- The Lost Girls
Three women save every penny they can for a year, cutting down on every expenditure and then ditch their lucrative but high-pressure media jobs in New York to travel the world. What do you expect? Stuff dreams are made of! Apart from giving you a major travel bug, the book reveals that it isn’t all that difficult to ditch your daily grind and hit the road. The book is bound to captivate you with its descriptions of courage and conviction in the face of vulnerability and weakness. Like the three women, you will aspire to be smitten by the vast wide world and be ushered into the magical world of your fantasies turned real.
The author of this article is Richa Singh, a Content Writrer at Investronaut