Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home.
— American journalist Anna Quindlen
You are not stuck at home if you have a book with you. A book can take you places. While you’re doing your part by staying at home, here are a few of our recommended travel books to keep your wanderlust alive.
The Frozen River — Seeking Silence in the Himalaya by James Crowden
The Frozen River is an unusual account of the days author James Crowden spent with the Zangskari people of Ladakh.
In 1976, Crowden leaves his career in the British army and travels to Ladakh in the Northern Himalaya where he embraces the Zangskari way of life. One of the remotest regions of the time, Ladakh offers much silence and solitude.
But the very human price of living unchanged for centuries becomes apparent to Crowden when he goes on a journey across the frozen Leh river along with some butter traders of this Himalayan community.
Place featured: Ladakh, India
The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell
A journalist from London decides to live in rural Jutland to find out why Danes are the happiest people on earth. Why would people from one of the darkest, coldest regions — where salaries are heavily taxed — be the happiest in the world?
Through Helen Russell’s anecdotes, data and interviews, her readers get a glimpse of what Denmark is all about. The book is as funny and engaging as it is informative.
At the end of it all, we understand the importance of work-life balance and get to appreciate a different culture. Some of us may also be inspired to drop what we have and dream about new beginnings in Denmark!
Place featured: Denmark
Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes
Under the Tuscan Sun details the story of a woman who travels from America to Cortona in Italy, and tries to renovate an abandoned villa there.
Every attempt at fixing the villa brings on new problems, but some exciting discoveries and the whole rigmarole of trying and trying again makes this journey worthwhile.
Under the Tuscan Sun is a memoir, travelogue and cookbook all rolled into one. One of this book’s reviewers had suggested tasting the book because of the recipes it unveils. Here’s to the beautiful village of Cortona, and to the idea of traveling to foreign places in search of memorable adventures!
Place featured: Tuscany, Italy
In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson
When it comes to travel writing, there are few writers as popular as Bill Bryson. We see why when we read this book. In a Sunburned Country details Bryson’s adventures in Australia — from cold beer and lethal wildlife to the most charming people and some wonderful sunshine.
It’s not just modern cities and its inhabitants that Bryson covers but also a few of the earliest historical findings on Australia, the outback, and the plight of the aborigines. His skill as a travel writer is in making any subject accessible to lay people by transforming it into world-class entertainment.
If you want to know Australia through anecdotes — without getting bored with facts and stats — this book is for you.
Place featured: Australia
Travels with Charley in Search of America by John Steinbeck
A true story and memoir, this book tells us of a road trip the author took in 1960 along with his French poodle Charley. Steinbeck wanted to explore the identity of America and himself.
He wanted to travel — from Maine to California and back home to New York — to engage with fellow Americans, to know what they were talking about. The book details his experiences — both challenging and thoughtful — in a very engaging, sometimes playful manner.
This book is for you if you want to know what America was like decades ago, how it has changed or remained unchanged. It is also for you if you are a poodle fan!
Place featured: America
Lost on Planet China by J. Maarten Troost
From Beijing and Shanghai to the Gobi desert and the hinterlands of Tibet, this book takes its readers on a rollercoaster ride.
Through his journey, Troost tells us that though we think we are familiar with China — with the dim sum or Yao Ming or cheongsam — the country remains an enigma, almost a different planet.
Troost bites into yak meat in Tibet, dodges dangerous rivers, and hikes up one of China’s most sacred mountains — Tai Shan. Though he admits he is no expert on China, an honest account of his personal experiences makes this book a highly entertaining and interesting read.
Place featured: China