Every once in a while a book comes along that not only takes me on a magical literary journey, but also scratches my sometimes dormant but often itchy travel bug into action.
Here are a seven such books, some unlikely at first glance to invite travel, that encouraged me to pack my bags and take a trip.
Now, they encouraged me, but I still have to take off on these journeys.
Hot Tea Across India by Rishad Saam Mehta – Hot Tea Across India is less about tea and more about the adventures of its author Rishad Saam Mehta. So, tea connoisseurs might be disappointed, but then there are enough references of the drink, especially the importance of having tea in its purest form, that eventual they too would delightfully wait for tea to make its next guest appearance as Rahid travels across different terrains of the country on his bike.
Hot Tea… serves as a rather informative guide whether you are adventurous and like Rishad want to go to Leh on your Bullet or if you want to relax and take it easy by spending a few days in a shikara on the Dal Lake in Kashmir.
Learning to Bow by Bruce Feiler – A book that looks at the Japanese culture from the inside but from the viewpoint of an outsider. Learning to Bow is about Bruce’s year as a teacher in a small town of Japan. Japanese culture has always fascinated me and the books tackles every aspect of the country in an interesting way which is why it was a wonderful read.
Also, surprisingly one of my best friends spent time in Japan teaching as well, many a times the book reflected the stories I had heard from him.
The Beach by Alex Garland – That one book that made backpacking mainstream. I still believe that till the time this book came out backpacking was more of a hush-hush way of travel, but now it’s the new trend.
Backpacking has become a right of passage in-between school and college. In fact it has become a lifestyle. An amazing fictional story set in South East Asia, the book remains one of my all time favorites and one that makes me want to try new things in life. I do strongly advise you to miss the movie though… it sucks!
Escobar as told by Roberto Escobar – Not exactly linked to travel, but reading about the infamous drug lord Pablo Escobar, I’ve really had a wish to visit Medellin some day. The city comes across as a hard city with a gentle soul in the book, so if I ever make it to South America, I shall think about visiting it.
More recently, the Netflix series Narcos has made the story of Escobar more common and it has only added to my curiosity for the city.
Tuscany for Beginners by Imogene Edwards-Jones – A fun light read, the book, which is a comic look at the love and life of an expat living in Tuscany, brings about the beauty of the region, and more so of the people that inhabit the place, be it the locals those that travel from around the world to call it their home.
As the book’s blurb states “Tuscany. Glorious Tuscany. With its sunflowers, its olive groves, its rolling countryside and its stunning vistas, it is everyone’s picture perfect place in the sun.”
Sholay: The Making of a Classic by Anupama Chopra – A book about the making of one of India’s most celebrated movie,Sholay.
How is it linked to travel?
Well, I would one day love to visit the little village, Ramanagram, which served as the backdrop/set for majority of the film. It has a certain nostalgic charm with its rugged terrain and obviously numerous iconic places/images thanks to the film which has been viewed many times over my lifetime.
Although, my research tells me there is very little to see there besides that, but looking at the way commercialism is happening these days, how long do we have before a little Sholay-World pops up on location?
Atlas of Remote Islands by Judith Schalansky – The idea of being on an isolated island somewhere in the middle of the ocean is simply divine. This book covers 50 such islands that are hard to get to, but to those who make it there, they offer a special look into “heaven”.
Now, just to overcome my fear of flying in small planes and then to pack my bags.