To mark World Book Day, we’re rounding up some of our favourite travel-inspired reads.
Guiding us through this past year – creating a sense of place and allowing us to explore pastures new when our own four walls had become all too familiar – we owe these transporting titles a great deal.
On the Road by Jack Kerouac
Eagerly planning your next road trip? Then pick up a copy of Jack Kerouac’s Beat-Generation defining On the Road. A fictional take on Kerouac’s travels and journey of self-discovery from San Francisco to Denver and on to Mexico City, On the Road is a hedonistic search for release or fulfilment. Swinging to the rhythms of 1950s underground America, this brilliant blend of creative invention and autobiography is a must-read.
Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
The catalyst for many a solo trip, the influence of Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love is undeniable. The story traces Elizabeth exiting her humdrum life to discover the world – and herself. Venturing to Italy (where she learns Italian and eats copious bowls of pasta), India (wher Gilbert spends time in an ashram), and Bali (where she finds peace), this book is a comforting exploration of one woman’s journey towards happiness.
Swing Time by Zadie Smith
Moving from North-West London to New York and on to West Africa, Swing Time follows two young dancers whose lives take dramatically different paths. A story about the moments that shape us, and how we can survive them, Swing Time is a zestful dance to the music of time. Navigated across a global setting, Smith’s prose astutely graph the ebs and flows that life throws our way.
Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell
“You can live on a shilling a day in Paris if you know how. But it is a complicated business.” Scribed in Paris while Orwell was a struggling writer in his twenties, Down and Out in Paris and London documents the writer’s first contact with poverty. An entirely unromantic take on the City of Light, Orwell’s 1930s novel is a lesson in hardship and hard work.
Normal People by Sally Rooney
Sally Rooney’s debut novel, Normal People, needs little introduction. In short, it’s story centres around Marianne and Connell, unlikely friends who develop a romantic relationship over time. Complicated by social and socio-economic divisions and falsehoods, the book follows the central characters journey from small-town beginnings in rural Ireland to student life on the campus of Trinity College in Dublin.
A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
Offering a counter argument to Down and Out in Paris and London, Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast will make you fall head over heels for Paris. Set in the 1920s, A Moveable Feast transports the reader to another time and place, reflecting on Hemingway’s memories of his life as an unknown writer in ‘La Ville Lumière’ – poor, happy, and writing in cafes – and the other writers who shared the city with him – James Joyce, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald et al.
Calypso by David Sedaris
David Sedaris’ essay collection Calypso centres on travel – and the stories shared are very, very funny. A number of the essays – filed under ‘Sea Section’ – take place at the author’s beach house (also named Sea Section) in South Carolina, while others follow Sedaris on his national book tour and on trips to Japan. One of the book’s greatest revelations: regardless of how idyllic the place you travel to may be, you can never take a vacation from yourself.
Love After Love by Ingrid Persaud
Written by Ingrid Persaud – a Trinidad and Tobago-born writer, artist, and academic, who now lives in the United Kingdom –, Love After Love is a vibrant debut work that questions family obligations, who and how we love, and the consequences of our decisions. Set between Trinidad and New York, Love After Love places an unconventional family unit at its heart, and ‘offers hope to anyone who has loved and lost and has yet to find their way back’.
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson
A chronicle of drug-fuelled, rollicking good times, Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas depicts a long weekend road trip and one of the strangest journeys ever undertaken. Capturing the spirit of the 1960s counterculture, the book’s two central characters venture of course in Las Vegas to find the dark side of the American Dream.