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10 Books That Let You Travel the World From Your Bedroom

By Julia G

Updated April 23, 2020 Updated April 23, 2020

Good travel writing, whether fiction or non-fiction, transports you out of the mundanities of everyday life, allowing you to visit places you’ve always dreamed of seeing, or to deepen your connection with beloved destinations. In a time when most of us are staying at home to keep safe, cancelled travel plans are bringing a lot of frustration to an already grueling time. 

But don’t fret! In honor of World Book Day and Copyright Day 2020, on April 23, we’ve rounded up ten of the best travel books that let you explore the world from the comfort of your own home…

On the Road by Jack Kerouac

The classic road-trip story, On the Road is considered to be the defining novel of the Beat generation. Taking place between 1947 and 1950, On the Road is a loosely autobiographical book based on Kerouac’s experience of travelling across America, from New York to San Francisco, with his friends. Expect sex, drugs and rock n’ roll (or rather, jazz n’ poetry), but also a poignant exploration of the pioneering frontier spirit that shaped America’s past.

The Corfu Trilogy by Gerald Durrell

Although not strictly travel literature, as the majority of the trilogy takes place on the small Greek island of Corfu, naturalist Gerald Durrell’s memoirs of growing up with his eccentric English family in the north of the island will transport you back to 1930s Greece. Durrell’s love for the nature of Corfu is matched by the sheer chaos of his family life – hence the title of the first book in the series, My Family and Other Animals. If you can’t get enough of Corfu, TV series The Durrell’s, on Netflix, is loosely adapted from these memoirs.

The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton

The Art of Travel is less of a classic travelogue and more of a philosophical treatise on the nature of travel, exploring why we travel and how it can enrich our lives. He focuses just as much on the mundane moments of travel like airports and hotel minibars as he does on sightseeing and holiday romances, making you see the process of travel in a completely new light.

The Beach by Alex Garland

If you’re mourning a cancelled trip to Thailand this year, The Beach might just be the perfect antidote. At first, the eponymous beach seems like an island paradise of golden sands and clear water; a utopia where the residents, former backpackers, live an idyllic life uninterrupted by the outside world. But all is not what it seems, as protagonist Richard soon discovers… 

Walking the Himalayas by Levison Wood 

Levison Wood is a real-life Action Man: formerly a major in the British Army, he is now an explorer who travels to regions of the world often untouched by tourism, either due to political instability or geographical inaccessibility. Walking the Himalayas sees Wood do just that, travelling 1,700 miles, largely on foot, from Afghanistan to Bhutan. Perfect for aspiring adventurers – or armchair explorers.

In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson

Bill Bryson is legendary for his travel writing, which combines humor with a genuine curiosity about the world. In a Sunburned Country sees Bryson travel round Australia, a perennial favorite of the backpacking student. Bryson’s jaunt through the country sees him meet friendly locals, visit natural wonders like Uluru, and try to get to the bottom of the question – just why are there so many creatures in Australia that can kill you?!

Full Tilt: Ireland to India With a Bicycle by Dervla Murphy

Few travel writers match Irish touring cyclist Dervla Murphy, now in her late 80s, who has published 26 travel books in a career spanning 50 years. Full Tilt: Ireland to India With a Bicycle was her first book, published in 1965, and is a complete joy to read, if only for the sheer gumption of a young woman travelling across the world alone on her bicycle, with only a .25 pistol for company.

Venice by Jan Morris

Venice is often criticized as being the classic tourist trap, with countless sightseers pouring in off cruise ships on a daily basis. It’s sometimes easy to forget that there’s a reason that it’s so visited – it is, quite simply, magnificent. First written in 1960 (with subsequent updates in the 70s and 80s), Morris aims to capture the soul of Venice in a book that is less of a travel guide and more of a portrait of a city that never fails to delight and surprise.

The Consolations of the Forest by Sylvain Tesson

Originally published in French as Dans les forêts de Sibérie, The Consolations of the Forest is travel writer Sylvain Tesson’s journal from when he decided to fulfill a lifelong dream of living alone in a cabin on the shores of Siberia’s Lake Baikal for six months. While reading a book about living in isolation when you’re actually…living in isolation might not seem entirely appealing, Tesson’s musings on the natural world, and the joys (as well as the sorrows) of a life cut away from the outside world are more relevant now than ever. 

Around the World in 80 Trains by Monisha Rajesh  

For some real escapism, you can’t do much better than Monisha Rajesh’s Around the World in 80 Trains. Rajesh (and her fiancé, Jem) pack their bags and travel over 45,000 miles around the world, from London’s St. Pancras station to far flung destinations including Russia, North Korea, Canada and beyond. With the vast majority of their journey taking place on trains, the book is just as much about the journey as the destination(s), giving a real insight on what it means to be a ‘global citizen’

This article was originally published in April 2020 .

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Written by
Julia is the Assistant Editor for TopUniversities, publishing articles for students and graduates across the world. A native Londoner, she holds an MSc in Marketing Strategy & Innovation from Cass Business School and a BA in Classical Studies & English from Newcastle University.

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