‘Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.’ I always think of that quote whenever I am reading—all the time—and I can’t find anything else that makes me happier. It is true that reality must overtake imagination and wish, because unfortunately you can’t live off those two things alone, and not everyone can travel around constantly or work from a different office in a different country every day. Instead, there needs to be some kind of outlet for such wish-fulfilment you can have at home. To that end, recreational reading is not only good for the brain, for learning new things and ‘meeting’ new characters, but is also a cheaper way to take you to places far from your armchair.
Here, then, is a list of some of the most influential travel books to be put to paper:
1) On the Road by Jack Kerouac: A classic read, and on my current reading pile, through which Kerouac established a new style of writing; pop writing. Part fiction and part autobiography, this masterpiece, though perhaps a bit difficult to read at first, will make you yearn for new experiences around the world or, even closer to its content, an American road trip.
2) The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway: Another classic! Hemingway was a literary genius, a fact proven once again through this novel. Jeffrey Meyers, Hemingway’s biographer, wrote that this novel ‘is recognised as Hemingway’s greatest work.’ The Sun Also Rises unravels the journey of a group of Americans and Brits from Paris to Pamplona (The photograph above shows Hemingway, on the left, sitting with those depicted in it) to attend the running of the bulls event. A little French and Spanish magic, anyone?
3) Travels with Charley: In Search of America by John Steinbeck: You wouldn’t think that Charley was a poodle, would you? In this travelogue, Steinbeck gives a personal account of his 1960 road trip around America with his faithful companion, Charley.
4) Venice by Jan Morris: Going back to Europe, Jan Morris presents Venice, a unique city, through humour, irony, and vivid images, always giving his personal account of it. The Sunday Times has referred to this book as ‘one of the most diverse and diverting books ever written about Venice.’ Care to take it up?
5) The Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux: My preferred way to travel, Theroux’s travelogue on travelling through Asia by train will surely leave yearning for such an adventure. Published in 1975, the story recounts Theroux’s travels from London to Asia and many consider the route to be a follow-up of the hippie trail.
Five classics, five opportunities to get wonderfully lost around the world on the page. Give it a try and you will be pleased!
Pola is an avid reader and passionate about anything education related. She is an English teacher and has taught students from diverse backgrounds, both privately and in the classroom. Her studies in English Language and Literature and International and Comparative Education have provided her with the necessary skills and knowledge to further pursue matters related to education - and to write for OOL.