top ten tuesday: travel

This is my first Top Ten Tuesday! A weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, it looked like a fun way to get thinking and sharing about books and bookish things.

June 4: Top ten books featuring travel in some way (road trips, airplanes, travelogues, anything where there is traveling in the book!)

LOVE travel books—definitely one of my favorite genres. One of my favorite quotes about books comes from author Charlaine Harris: “Here’s to books, the cheapest vacation you can buy.” That is totally right! I don’t have many opportunities to travel far and wide right now, so books are the greatest way to live vicariously all over the world (aside from my husband’s travels—he has circled the globe at least twice with his music compositions!). This list is comprised mostly of books I’ve recently read, and in no exact particular order:

1. Into Thin Air and Into the Wild by John Krakauer

Okay, I’m cheating a little bit here combining these two! But they are absolutely my favorites. Into Thin Air is Krakauer’s personal account of climbing Mt. Everest in the fateful 1996 disaster, where several people lost their lives during a freak storm on the mountain. Krakauer is able to make you feel like you are on the mountain with him, freezing your butt off and fighting for your life (read my recent review here).
Into the Wild is an incredible story—well-off 20-something Chris McCandless decides to ditch his stable lifestyle and earthly possessions to embark on a wanderlust journey. Four months later, his dead body is found in an abandoned bus deep in the Alaskan wilderness. Krakauer investigates McCandless’s life, expedition, and cause of death in Into the Wild, and it is simply impossible to put down.

2. My Life in France by Julia Child

What can I say, this is one of the most perfect books ever. My Life in France is Julia Child’s memoir chronicling her transition from California to France, where she fell in love with all things French. Her enthusiasm and wonder for the food, culture, people of France are infectious. An absolute favorite!

3. Alive by Piers Paul Read

The true story of the 1972 Uruguayan rugby team whose airplane crashed in the Andes mountains, leaving them stranded for weeks in bitter, inhospitable conditions—and famously resorting to cannibalism. This is an amazing, gripping book about survival, friendship, and the strength of the human spirit. I was fascinated with the impossibly desperate situation these young men faced.

4. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

I just read this one last month. The biography of WWII veteran Louie Zamperini and his incredibly harrowing experience first marooned at sea after a plane crash in the South Pacific for weeks, and then for a couple years imprisoned and tortured as a Pacific POW. Read my full review here.

5. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

A charming tale of a man’s impulsive decision to walk across England to reach a long-lost friend dying of cancer. Check out my full review here.

6. Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Another recent read about an epic walk, but a bit more intense and emotionally redemptive—Cheryl Strayed’s memoir of her trek of the Pacific Crest Trail as a response to her bouts of depression and drug use following her mother’s untimely death and dissolution of her young marriage. Full review of Wild here.

7. Pushups in the Prayer Room by Norm Schriever

Schriever recounts his year backpacking all over the place, from Central America to South America to the Middle East and more. Here is my review.

8. Night Flight by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

A lyrical novel about the pioneering days of commercial aviation in South America. Read my review here.

9. The Lost City of Z by David Grann

David Grann delves deep into the heart of the Amazon in the footsteps of legendary British explorer Percy Fawcett, who mysteriously disappeared in the jungle searching for a fabled lost city, which he simply called “Z.” Review here.

10. Life of Pi by Yann Martel

A contemporary classic: the story of a young boy’s drift across the Pacific Ocean after the freighter he was on sinks, along with his family and their zoo animals… except for a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. Here is my review.

A few honorable mentions (only because I read so long ago… unless linked, then click for my review): On the Road by Jack Kerouac, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson, The Beach by Alex Garland, and Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple.

There are too many on my want-to-read list to include here (starting with David Sedaris’s new one, Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls)! What are some of your favorite travel books?

6 thoughts on “top ten tuesday: travel

    • Thanks! You should definitely check out Life of Pi if you have a chance. I also just downloaded for my ipad Adrift: a true story about a young man stranded for months on a raft in the Pacific.

  1. I was weirdly obsessed, no, OBSESSED, with “Alive” for the longest time. I’ve read that book from cover to cover at least half a dozen times. I even owned a tattered t-shirt that read “Rugby Players Eat Their Dead.”

    Loved “The Lost City of Z” and “Wild,” as well

    • I know! It’s an intense, captivating story, even more so because it’s true. Really makes you question what you might have done in similar circumstances. I watched the film version and a couple of documentaries about it after I read Alive.

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