The nomadic lifestyle is rarely boring – there are so many amazing places to see and so many interesting people to meet that there hardly is enough time to read books. But reading is an essential activity if you want to stay inspired and creative. Here is a light list of carefully selected books that every dedicated traveller needs to read:
1. Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson
With the first cup of tea, you are a stranger. With the second …a friend. With the third cup of tea, you are family. One day Greg Mortenson set out to climb K2 – the world’s second highest mountain – in honour of his younger sister, but things went wrong and Greg became lost. He wandered into a poor village, where the chief and his people took him in. Moved by their kindness, Greg promised to return and build a school for the children. This is the remarkable story of how Greg built not one but more than sixty schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and how he has dedicated his life to promoting literacy, peace and understanding.
2. The 4-Hour Work Week: Escape the 9-5, Live Anywhere and Join the New Rich by Timothy Ferriss
Forget the old concept of retirement and the rest of the deferred-life plan–there is no need to wait and every reason not to, especially in unpredictable economic times. Whether your dream is escaping the rat race, travelling the world, earning a monthly five-figure income with zero management, or just living more and working less, The 4-Hour Workweek is a brilliant bestseller and a must have for every nomad. Take it with a pinch of salt as you might not agree with everything that is written in the book (and you really shouldn’t) but there are lots of genius insights brought to light by Timothy Ferriss.
3. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Every few decades a book is published that changes the lives of its readers forever. The Alchemist is such a book that tells the magical story of Santiago, a young Spanish shepherd who is compelled to follow his dream of finding hidden treasure in Egypt. To do so, he must leave the comfort zone of home, learn to trust the “Soul of the World,” and believe that there are forces in the universe that want us to be happy. In order to find happiness, however, Santiago must first discover his “Personal Legend”—that is to say, he must to discover what he is meant to do in the world.
4. Arabian Sands by Wilfred Thesiger
Wilfred Thesiger spent five years exploring in and around the vast, waterless desert. Travelling amongst the Bedu people, he experienced their everyday challenges of hunger and thirst, the trials of long marches beneath the relentless sun, the bitterly cold nights and the constant danger of death if it was discovered he was a Christian “infidel”. He was the first European to visit most of the region, and just before he left the area the process that would change it forever had begun – the discovery of oil.
5. The Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux
Paul Theroux’s first and arguably finest book, The Great Railway Bazaar recounts a four-month journey through Europe, Asia and the Middle East. An essential for any enthusiast of train travel, the book features some of the world’s greatest lines, including the Trans-Siberian and India’s Grand Trunk Express.
6. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance – Robert M. Prising
One of the most important and influential books written in the past half-century, Robert M. Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is a powerful, moving, and penetrating examination of how we live and a breathtaking meditation on how to live better. Here is the book that transformed a generation: an unforgettable narration of a summer motorcycle trip across America’s Northwest undertaken by a father and his young son. A story of love and fear, of growth, discovery, and acceptance that becomes a profound personal and philosophical odyssey into life’s fundamental questions.
7. On The Road by Jack Kerouac
On the Road chronicles Jack Kerouac’s years travelling the North American continent with his friend Neal Cassady, “a sideburned hero of the snowy West.” Kerouac’s love of America, his compassion for humanity, and his sense of language as jazz combine to make On the Road an inspirational work of lasting importance. This classic novel of freedom and longing defined what it meant to be ‘Beat’ and has inspired every generation since its initial publication fifty years ago.
8. The Road to Oxiana by Robert Byron
In 1933, the delightfully eccentric Robert Byron set out on a journey through the Middle East via Beirut, Jerusalem, Baghdad and Teheran to Oxiana – the country of the Oxus, the ancient name for the river Amu Darya which forms part of the border between Afghanistan and the Soviet Union. In addition to its entertainment value, The Road to Oxiana also serves as a rare account of the architectural treasures of a region now inaccessible to most Western travellers. Here, ‘armchair travellers will find newspaper clippings, public signs and notices, official forms, letters, “diary entries”, essays on current politics, lyric passages, historical and archaeological dissertations, brief travel narratives (usually of comic-awful delays and disasters), and – the triumph of the book – at least twenty superb comic dialogues, some of them virtually playlets, complete with stage directions and “musical” scoring.’
9. The White Castle – Orhan Pamuk
The White Castle, Orhan Pamuk’s celebrated first novel, is the tale of a young Italian scholar. Captured by pirates between Venice and Naples, he is put up for auction at the Istanbul slave market, and bought by a Turkish savant eager to learn about scientific and intellectual advances in the West. But as they bond over each other’s sins and secrets, and their relationship grows increasingly complex, master and slave find themselves part of the Sultan’s army, and on a journey that will lead them, ultimately, to the White Castle.
Featured photo: CC by Enric Fradera (Flickr)