Reading and travel go together like wine and cheese. A good book after a long day’s hike can be worth just as much as a travel companion. In the airport, on the train, in front of a fire at a B&B; your holiday will offer opportunities for you to pick up that hiking book that has been lying around unread.
What’s even more important than reading? Reading books about travel, of course.
And what’s more important than reading books about hiking and travelling? Well, actually getting out there and hiking, of course.
It usually all starts with the right amount of inspiration and motivation, a small idea strolling through your brain which sprouts into a hike of epic proportions.
So which are the best books to read when travelling?
#1 – Hike along with a hilarious guide
There’s probably no book about hiking funnier than this autobiographical account by Bill Bryson. It details his adventures along the Appalachian Trail in his usual skillful and humorous style.
Bryson proves capable of describing the most bizarre situations. You will not find a more entertaining guide to tell you about the encounters and experiences on the trail.
This book isn’t just a comical experience of two men on a hike. It treats its readers to historical information and introspective thoughts on the complexity of friendships and personal limitations.
If you’re looking for the master in writing books about travel, then look no further.
#2 – An elderly adventurer
This book presents a story on exploration and adventure, rather than being a book on hiking or walking.
It deserves a spot in this list because of the incredibly inspiring message it aspires to tell and is certainly a book to read when travelling.
In his debut novel Jonasson tells the story of the absurd journey of a hundred year-old man, who ends up being chased by both the police and a bunch of criminals.
Oddly enough, the witty story teaches a couple of important lessons on enjoying the moment, following your gut and exploring the world.
#3 – A personal story on persistence
The books of Haruki Murakami can often be seen as a hike: a walk on the border between everyday moments and the supernatural.
This book is a surprisingly autobiographical and down-to-earth account of Murakami’s relationship with running.
The average hiker might be put off by the title, but this book is about more than just the ultra-marathon (62 miles!) that Murakami ran.
It’s a story of persistence, the struggle of ageing, and insights into life and thoughts of one of the greatest Japanese writers of our times.
#4 – Hunting for an inner treasure
This enchanting novel by Paulo Coelho has taken over the world.
Santiago, a shepherd’s boy from Andalusia, travels from Spain to the Egyptian desert, looking for a treasure he believes to be buried there.
The inspiring story draws its strength from the utter simplicity and the remarkable encounters along the way.
Towards the end of the book, the focus on a physical treasure shifts to a more abstract inner wealth – the kind of treasure that any hiker has searched for in one way or another.
It truly is an inspirational book about hiking.
#5 – Trip of enlightenment through the U.S.
Whether you’re interested in spirituality or not, this story about two young guys looking for the Truth of Zen should be read by any travel-enthusiast.
Ray Smith and Japhy Ryder roam the United States encountering all sorts of situations, like being introduced to the relaxed atmosphere of San Francisco or meditated during several days of hiking through the nature of Washington State.
In short: an intellectually written story on motivation, inspiration and the meaning of life.
#6 – A hike of compassion
Everyone has their own reasons to commit to a hike, but protagonist Harold Fry’s ideas are rather unique.
When he receives a letter from an old friend in hospice who tells him goodbye, he immediately writes her a reply.
A walk to post the letter in the mailbox gradually turns into a 600 mile hike, as Harold becomes convinced that his friend will stay alive as long as he keeps walking and delivers the letter directly to her.
A book about relationships and acceptance that is as funny as it is sad.
#7 – Walking a pilgrimage in Japan
Lisa Dempster – Neon Pilgrim
Everyone can start hiking, proves this autobiographical book of Lisa Dempster.
Without motivation and overweight, the Australian woman starts a 750-mile pilgrimage in Japan.
The book provides a fascinating insight into the world of the Japanese pilgrimage, but is nevertheless an honest and witty account of the personal struggles of the author – definitely a book that should be read by whoever is interested in hiking in Japan.