I love reading, but I don’t read enough when I’m home. When I travel I seem to find lots of time to dive into some great books. It was almost all I did during our week in Minori. Right before our recent trip, I loaded up my Kindle with five books so I’d have something to read throughout our two months traveling in Europe. It probably doesn’t surprise you that they were all travel books. I find travel books fascinating and inspiring, so those are the types I gravitate towards these days. If you’re looking for something to read, I can highly recommend any of these.
Honeymoon with My Brother: A Memoir by Franz Wisner
Just a few days before his wedding, Franz’s fiancée breaks up with him. His friends and family decide he should still have the wedding and go on the honeymoon with his brother Kurt. While traveling together, the brothers finally start to get to know each other, and they decide they don’t want to go back to their old lives. The two of them sell their possessions and travel for two years through 53 countries, including Russia, Turkey, South America, Africa, Asia, and more.
I loved watching the brothers’ relationship grow throughout the book since they started out as two men who didn’t know each other very well. They change as their journey progresses, with Franz learning not only how to travel with his brother but also how to heal his broken heart. I thought this was a great book about life struggles and reaching for something different than what’s expected.
>>Pick up a copy of Honeymoon with My Brother on Amazon.
Fast Times in Palestine: A Love Affair with a Homeless Homeland by Pamela J. Olson
If all you know of the Palestine-Israel conflict comes from tiny clips of news (especially if you’re from the US) then this book will blow you away. In this book Pamela tells how she ended up visiting Palestine and later went back to live and work there. She makes many friends in Palestine who show her the reality of their lives, and soon enough she starts to see it for herself. The Israeli military makes it difficult, if not impossible, for the Palestinians to get around road blocks and check points, and they keep building walls to separate the territories, ultimately robbing Palestinians of land their families have owned for centuries. But she also has a few Israeli friends who have no idea of the horrors going on just a few miles away from their home.
I couldn’t get enough of this book. It made me laugh, cry, and shake my head in shock. Conflict is always complicated and there are two sides to every story. This book is a perfect example of that, and of how much more there is to the Israel-Palestine conflict than the media shows us. It has made me want to find more information on the history of these two countries.
>>Pick up a copy of Fast Times in Palestine on Amazon.
The Turk Who Loved Apples: And Other Tales of Losing My Way Around the World by Matt Gross
Matt Gross used to write the Frugal Traveler column for the New York Times, but eventually got frustrated with having to come up with new ways to travel as cheaply as possible, especially when it got in the way of a real experience. In his book, he talks about making the decision after college to go to Vietnam even though he knew nothing about the country. His experiences living and working there shaped his approach to travel in the future. This book isn’t necessarily one cohesive story, but a collection of stories from different points in his life. He shows a different side of places many of us have traveled to or at least heard about, and he really gets to know people instead of just seeing the sights.
I thought this book was an inspiring look at a different way of travel. He’s very honest about mistakes he has made along the way, struggles he had getting to where he is today, and tough decisions he had to make. It was a fascinating view into the life of a travel writer and how that shaped his view on the world.
>>Pick up a copy of The Turk Who Loved Apples on Amazon.
Avoiding Prison and Other Noble Vacation Goals: Adventures in Love and Danger by Wendy Dale
Definitely not your typical travel story. Wendy’s family moved around a lot when she was growing up, including occasionally living in other countries, so as an adult she isn’t so fond of having a “normal” life. During a trip to Guatemala to visit her parents in their new home, she takes a detour to Costa Rica. A new friend gets her involved in one drama after another, and Wendy finds herself falling in love with a Colombian guy in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. She spends months helping him fight through a difficult legal system, leading her to make some crazy decisions.
This was an entertaining book about a woman leading an unconventional life, taking risks, and making decisions I could never imagine facing. I admired her strength and perseverance, and I kept rooting for her throughout the book while still thinking, “you are insane!” Good for quite a few laughs and suspense-filled moments.
>>Pick up a copy of Avoiding Prison and Other Noble Vacation Goals on Amazon.
Long Way Round: Chasing Shadows Across the World by Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman
Actors Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman are huge motorcycle fanatics. Several years ago they decided to take a journey around the world on their bikes when Ewan realized you could make it almost the whole way by land. Starting in England, they made their way through Europe, Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Canada and the USA. They made a TV series during their adventures, and the book is in a lot of ways like a behind the scenes, with alternating sections by each of them.
I really enjoyed the details of the trip through parts of the world I know nothing about and regions that just don’t see tourists. I watched a little of the series with my friend Lee while I was still living in Atlanta, so I was glad to find a book version. Now I’d like to find the whole TV series so I can watch it all.
>>Pick up a copy of Long Way Round on Amazon.
Reading can telling you about a place you’re planning on visiting, inspire you to travel somewhere new, or just encourage you to get out there and see the world. Even while I was on our trip, these books made me interested in traveling to destinations I hadn’t thought much about before.
What are your favorite travel books?