Books / Book Reviews

Pack Your Carry-On: Books for Every Type of Traveller


Books for Travellers

Whether you’re heading to faraway lands in search of adventure, jetting off on a city break for a weekend of cosmopolitan culture, or simply searching for some sunshine and a glistening cliff-side pool, a good read is always a welcome companion. From the adventure seekers to the big dreamers, here are some of the very best bookss for globe-trotters the world over.

The adventure seeker

Awaiting adventure? Gregory David Robert’s Shantaram is for you. While there’s been much debate over where the boundaries lie between fact or fiction, it’s a matter of public record that, as depicted in the tale, its author, Gregory David Roberts escaped from Melbourne jail and then spent a number of years in India before being extradited to Australia, where he carried out the rest of his sentence. It was while in jail after the alleged events of Shantaram, that Roberts wrote this book, though twice the manuscript was destroyed by prison guards. A fusion of both memoir and travel writing, Shantaram reads like a thriller as Roberts’ propensity for getting into dangerous situations becomes apparent. The prose is poetic and vivid, and Roberts depicts the slums of Bombay and his time in India in wonderful juxtapositions as we witness the enormous highs and the all-consuming lows Roberts experiences on his Indian adventure.

The city breaker

If you’re looking for bright lights and big cities, few books do it better than Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch. An epic story than spans three cities – New York, Las Vegas and Amsterdam – Tartt’s tale of Theo Decker – who, at the age of 13, survives a terrorist bombing at an art museum in which his beloved mother dies, fuses art, history and mystery to perfection. Fast-pased and beautifully written, The Goldfinch is both astonishing and profound, and it’s easy to see why it’s been hailed by many as a modern masterpiece.

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The gap yah traveller

One of literature’s cult classics, Alex Garland’s The Beach is a must read for anyone venturing on a gap year. It tells the story of a young English traveller called Richard, who, when staying in a cheap hostel off Koh San Road, is left a hand drawn map of an allegedly hidden island off the Gulf of Thailand. The novel follows his journey as he meets young and beautiful French couple – Étienne and Françoise – and together they set out to find this hidden haven of unspoilt paradise. A tale that will resonate with travellers – whatever their age – The Beach is a though provoking story that questions why we, as humans, seek such heights of Utopia.

Books for Travellers

The lone ranger

If you’re planning to travel solo, seek solace in knowing that you’re not alone. There are an abundance of books detailing the voyages of those that have walked the road less travelled before you. One of the best is Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild. An extension of what was originally a 9,000 word article written by Krakauer, Into the Wild is an account of Christopher McCandless, the son of wealthy parents, who, shortly after graduating donated his law-school fund to Oxfam and cut ties with his family before setting out on what he hoped would be an unforgettable journey into the Alaskan wilderness. A tale of both adventure and hardship, Into the Wild is a thought provoking book about an ill-fated pilgrimage and a stand against consumerism.

The poolside reader

If you’re planning on indulging in a week of poolside lounging, then Helen Walsh’s The Lemon Grove is the book for you. Set on the rugged west coast of Mallorca, the novel takes place one heady and hot summer in small coastal village Deia. The mountainous setting offers the perfect backdrop to this sultry, fast-paced tale about boundaries crossed, relationships jeopardised and a family dynamic irrevocably changed. Beautifully written and hugely atmospheric, this is a rare gem of a novel whose tempting tones will stay with its reader long after the final page.

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The big dreamer

For the dreamers, the optimists and the romantics among us, few books are more apt than Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love. A tale beloved by many readers, the memoir follows her post-divorce search for food, spirituality and balance  that spans two continents. Gilbert travels to Italy to indulge in the pleasure of eating, India to explore the power of prayer and Bali, where, searching for a balance of pleasure and spirituality, she found love. Eat, Pray, Love is an easy and intimate read; one which illustrates the hedonistic highs and the overwhelming lows one is susceptible to when traveling.

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30 comments on “Pack Your Carry-On: Books for Every Type of Traveller”

    1. Oh do – it’s one of my all time favourites. I actually ended up getting off the tube about twenty minutes after my stop as I was so engrossed in the book! Hope you love it xx

  1. This is an awesome list!!! I love the categories of the travelers. Eat, Pray, Love is one of my favorites! This made me want to reread it!

    1. It’s such a good book isn’t it? I’m in Ubud at the moment which is making me want to read it too! xx

  2. Eat pray love is my favorite book ever! I have not heard of the other books you suggested so will have to add them to my list. Lately, when I am not reading travelblogs, I like to read historical fiction, I have become fascinated with the history of the royal family.

    1. It’s such a great book isn’t it? And historical fiction is great – if you haven’t read it yet try The Pillars of the Earth; it’s absolutely brilliant! xx

  3. seriously inspired to dive into some of these recommendations. Especially the Mallorca one as I’m moving there!!

    1. Oh you really must – The Lemon Grove is absolutely brilliant. Very jealous of your move to Mallorca – I’ve wanted to go ever since I read it! xx

    1. I used to listen to point horrors on audio when I was growing up and have been meaning to get into audio books again – they definitely make reading less time consuming! xx

  4. I’ve read a few of these but really been meaning to read the goldfinch since it came out!! Pinning this for later 🙂 although tbh my reading choices usually deteriorate to Nicholas sparks whilst on a beach ????

    1. Oh do, it really is fab. And nothing wrong with Nicholas Sparks – who doesn’t love The Notebook?! xx

  5. The Goldfinch is one of my favorite books of all time! It took me about two months to read because I was savoring ever word. If I had my way, I’d bring a suitcase of books with me on every trip hahaha

    1. It’s *such* a brilliant book isn’t it? Have you read anything similar? & you and me both – whenever I go away most of my suitcase is taken up with books! xx

  6. I love this list! I used to be as avid reader but sadly for one reason or another I’ve stopped and I don’t know why. I’ve wanted to get back into reading for ages and currently have a lot of extra time on my hands. Your list has inspired me and I think I may pick up a copy of The Beach. On a side note – your blog is so so beautiful! I love it.

    1. I know the feeling – sometimes reading can just fall of the list of priorities can’t it?! I’m actually going to write a blog post soon on compelling books for reluctant readers with the aim of offering some great options for anyone struggling to get into reading for one reason or another. If you’re after a quick and meaty read here are a few of my faves: Big Brother by Lionel Shriver, Notes on a Scandal, Labour Day and Catcher in the Rye. Hope you enjoy The Beach if you get around to reading it – and thanks for your lovely words about my blog xx

  7. Eat pray love is one of my favorite book ! This list seriously inspired to dive into some of these recommendations. Thank you for sharing 🙂

  8. Great choices Lucy. I have read all of them and they are all great. I love reading books inspired by travel. Any others ones you would suggest I check out?

    1. Hey Dawn – love meeting fellow bookworms! I adore absolutely anything by Joanne Harris – and always want to move to France after reading any of her books. I *love* Wild by Cheryl – it’s one of my all time favourite books and so inspiring. Memoirs of a Geisha, any Victoria Hislop, Holy Cow, Hideously Kinky and Americanah are all worth checking out too. Let me know if you have any recommendations as I’m always on the lookout for my next great read xx

  9. I have had plans to read The Goldfinch for a long time now! I think I’ll just have to go with that one next. Thanks for the recommendations!

    1. Hi Halie, totally agree with you – Into the Wild was a brilliant book but not really one I could identify with! I’ll check out From Excuses to Excursions now – thanks for the suggestion! xx

  10. I love this idea! Great picks as well. I’ve definitely read a few, including The Beach as a backpacker!

    1. The Beach is such a classic isn’t it? I wonder how many people were inspired to visit Thailand after reading it! xx

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