Travel, lifestyle, family.

Books that fueled my travel obsession.

08 October, 2019
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As you might have already figured out, I’m a book worm and a travel junkie. Those two passions of mine are fueling each other. I always want to read about places I’ve visited and I want to visit the places I’ve read about. And so I thought to myself: why not to share my favorite travel-related books? Some of the choices might surprise you and some might be obvious. Bottom line is, I found every single one of those books equally inspiring, leaving me with an urge to hit the road (or the airport!) immediately!

The Bastard of Istanbul by Elif Shafak

I got this book for Christmas, from Khaled who as you already know is not the greatest fan of the written word. However, he knows that books make me happy and so he spent a painstakingly long time cruising between bookstores trying to figure out what I would enjoy reading (and wondering whether I haven’t read it already!).

The Bastard of Istanbul was one of his picks, and I couldn’t have been happier with this choice! Although there is much much more to this book than the description of life in Istanbul, this part was what has triggered my wanderlust. The loud, vibrant and colorful city is where Asya Kazanci lives with her eccentric family. She is the “bastard” from the title – living with her mother, not knowing who her father is. At one point, her life intertwines with the life of Armanoush, a step-daughter of Asya’s estranged uncle, living in the USA. They will both discover that the connection their families share goes way beyond what they thought they knew.

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

Oh, where do I start… Shantaram is narrated by Lin, a convict who escapes Australian prison, obtains a false passport, and arrives in Bombay, in the hope to avoid getting caught. Together with Prabaker, his guide and eventually a great friend, they dive into the hectic life of Bombay’s society. Ok, so this book might not be the best-written piece of prose you’ll ever read, but damn, the author’s passion for India and its people is admirable and highly infectious! The story is gripping and if you are willing to overlook sudden bursts of the author’s philosophical musings (rolling my eyes hard while I’m writing this), it makes for a great read!

Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes

Beach read / chick-lit alert! After Shantaram, which might feel like quite a heavy read to some, it is time to introduce something lighter. This is certainly not your typical travel book – it is the author’s personal account of shifting her life to the Italian countryside, where she buys an old house, intending to renovate it. What I particularly enjoyed about this book was the way the land, people, history, and food were described. Frances Mayes does not pretend that she knows it all. She wrote her book from the outsider’s / guest’s perspective, which I found so relatable. This is a book that you swallow in a day and a perfect summer beach read: warm, uplifting, and difficult to put down.

The Hobbit or There and Back Again by J.R.R. Tolkien

Surprise! *eye roll*. That has to be the ultimate all-time peak of travel literature, and holds the position of honor on my personal travel books list. Heck, it’s one of my favorite books ever, period. Yes, it is fantasy and yes, the world of Middle-earth does not really exist, but man, no book can trigger my travel obsession more effectively than this one did! I won’t focus on the plot, because I don’t think it needs much introduction. 🙂 If you’re not familiar with it – grab yourself a copy, even if it’s not wanderlust that you’re after!

Best of Lonely Planet Travel Writing by Tony Wheeler

This is definitely the least known book on my list. Coincidentally, it’s also the most travel-related one. 🙂 It’s basically a collection of short stories by travel writers affiliated with Lonely Planet. I got this book as a gift, and I must admit that I probably wouldn’t have bought it otherwise. First of all, I’m not a big fan of short stories, and secondly, I prefer fiction. This book, however, really got to me. Obviously, some stories were better than the others, but they all painted a vivid picture of a world out there and all the places which I haven’t discovered yet.

There you have it – my top travel book picks. A big request to you now, my dear readers. Do you know of any other reading material that can fuel my travel obsession even more? Feel free to drop a suggestion at joanna@mamaintransit.com. Because a girl can never have enough books. 🙂