What inspires you to travel, not a question I get asked a lot, but you do see it on a lot of travel blogs. I thought I would answer it with my five favorite travel books. These are ones I found interesting and that gave some insight into a country while also being entertaining to read. Being a bit of a history nerd means most of these are true stories, which when your reading about a place are probably the best stories to read.
Endless tv shows can be good, but still noting is as good as a true story. Unless it’s game of thrones that might just be beteter
‘I’m tired of reading about the achievements of better men’-Samwell Tarly
My five favourite travel books
The Motorcycle Diaries
Definitely up there with one of my favourite books ever and one of a few I’ve read more than once. This book was written by Ernesto Guevara before he became the infamous ‘Che’ Guevara. The book was compiled from his diary entries about a trip he took through South America with a friend. He gave incredible detail on the journey and the places he saw and the people he met. You gain a real sense of the person he was becoming and how the journey affected his future life. It’s also a stunning way to see the difficulties of travel a little over 60 years ago.
The Devil and Mr Casement: A Crime Against Humanity
A book which combines an important figure in Irish history and some of his exploits while travelling is definitely going to make it onto my list of five favourite travel books. Roger Casement was an Irish/English diplomat who used his position within the British administration to highlight abuses by Belgium and British governments in less developed regions of Africa and South America. This book deals mainly with his time in South America. This only occurred in 1911 and by 1916 the British government hung him for treason showing how dramatically he fell from grace and this book explores some of the reasons behind this.
The Count of Monte Cristo
The only fictional book on my list but one of my favourites. The count of Monte Cristo is a classic that still amazes people with its amazing story, set pieces and timelessness. Involving betrayal, loyalty, love and friendship in the backdrop of the French revolution and the years of Napoleon this book really brings you back to a time and place that is almost forgotten. The use of real locations for a fictional story, although not a new concept was used magnificently here.
Walking the Nile
Up there with one of the coolest and exhausting stories on the list is this book by Levison wood. He is a British adventurer who is known for taking on some extreme challenges in the name of exploration and fun, I suppose. This book charts his journey from the origins of the Nile river deep within the south African continent all the way to the Mediterranean sea. He charts his encounters from war torn countries to corrupt officials, down to the locals who guide him on his way and provide him shelter at night. Its a brilliant book for a ground level perspective on some issues in Africa and also extreme endurance.
I’m not super keen on highlighting prison and drug books, simply because there are a zillion of them. This one does have a pretty unique story that shows the complexities and strangeness of some situations. It details the exploits of a British drug smuggler who spent his time in a South American prison giving tours. Although non longer in operation it is an interesting account of an absurd situation.
There are a lot of other books that could have made the list for my five favorite travel books, but these were not as informative or entertaining. Many books based on a countries crime levels, the corruption and the difficulties they face. Interesting to read, they are usually very one sided. I’d prefer to read noting at all than just the negative stories.
What are your five favorite travel books?