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Looking for the perfect book to enjoy when you can’t travel? Here are some of the armchair travel books I enjoy which take me away to faraway places from the comfort of my own home or on the commute to work.
Travel is a huge part of my life. I may not be a full-time traveller but travel still crosses large parts both my personal and work life.
Travel encompasses so many activities I partake meaning it may not be a surprise that travel books feature heavily in the books I read.
One of my biggest enjoyments in life is ending the days by reading a book, a book which takes me far away from my current day at home, a book which transports me temporarily to another part of the world. I know this is the case for many people, which is why I wanted to share my favourite books for armchair travel.
All the books featured below are fiction or memoirs if you are looking for coffee-table travel books I will point you in the direction of my favourite beautiful travel books.
Top travel books for armchair travel
Author: Kristin Newman
Kristin Newman spent much of her twenties and thirties buying dresses to wear to her friends’ weddings and baby showers. Not ready to settle down and in need of an escape from her fast-paced job as a sitcom writer, Kristin instead travelled the world, often alone, for several weeks each year. In addition to falling madly in love with the planet, Kristin fell for many attractive locals, men who could provide the emotional connection she wanted without costing her the freedom she desperately needed.
Author: Kuki Gallman
‘Often, at the hour of day when the savannah grass is streaked with silver, and pale gold rims the silhouettes of the hills, I drive with my dogs up to the Mukutan, to watch the sun setting behind the lake, and the evening shadows settle over the valleys and plains of the Laikipia plateau.’
Kuki Gallmann’s haunting memoir of bringing up a family in Kenya in the 1970s first with her husband Paulo, and then alone, is part celebration, part tragedy, and a part love letter to the magical spirit of Africa.
Author: Paul Theroux
The Great Railway Bazaar is Paul Theroux’s account of his epic journey by rail through Asia. Filled with evocative names of legendary train routes – the Direct-Orient Express, the Khyber Pass Local, the Delhi Mail from Jaipur, the Golden Arrow to Kuala Lumpur, the Hikari Super Express to Kyoto and the Trans-Siberian Express – it describes the many places, cultures, sights and sounds he experienced and the fascinating people he met.
Author: Fearghal O’Nuallain
Travel opens our minds to the world; it helps us to embrace risk and uncertainty, overcome challenges and understand the people we meet and the places we visit. But what happens when we arrive home? How do our experiences shape us?
The Kindness of Strangers explores what it means to be vulnerable and to be helped by someone we’ve never met before. Someone who could have walked past, but chose not to.
Author: Anna Mcnuff
Location: The United States of America
Disillusioned with corporate London life and with no previous experience as a long-distance cyclist, Anna decides to clamber atop a beautiful pink bicycle (named Boudica) and set out on an 11,000-mile journey on her own, through each and every state of the USA.
Dodging floods, blizzards and electrical storms, she pedals side by side with mustangs of the Wild West, through towering redwood forests, past the snow-capped peaks of the Rocky Mountains and on to the volcanos of Hawaii. Along the way, she meets record-breaking grandmas, sings with Al Green at a gospel service and does her best to avoid becoming a grizzly bear’s dinner.
Author: Per J Andersson
Location: Predominately India
The story begins in a public square in New Delhi. On a cold December evening, a young European woman of noble descent appears before an Indian street artist known locally as PK and asks him to paint her portrait – it is an encounter that will change their lives irrevocably.
PK was not born in the city. He grew up in a small remote village on the edge of the jungle in East India, and his childhood as an untouchable was one of crushing hardship. He was forced to sit outside the classroom during school, would watch classmates wash themselves if they came into contact with him, and had stones thrown at him when he approached the village temple. According to the priests, PK dirtied everything that was pure and holy. But had PK not been an untouchable, his life would have turned out very differently.
Author: Alex Garland
Of course, this book had to be included in my favourite armchair travel reads!
Richard lands in East Asia in search of an earthly utopia. In Thailand, he is given a map promising an unknown island, a secluded beach – and a new way of life. What Richard finds when he gets there is breathtaking: more extraordinary, more frightening than his wildest dreams.
But how long can paradise survive here on Earth? And what lengths will Richard go to in order to save it?
Author: Daphne Sheldrick
Daphne Sheldrick’s best-selling love story of romance, life and elephants, An African Love Story: Love, Life and Elephants is an incredible story from Africa’s greatest living conservationist.
A typical day for Daphne involves rescuing baby elephants from poachers; finding homes for orphan elephants, all the while campaigning the ever-present threat of poaching for the ivory trade.
An African Love Story is the incredible memoir of her life. It tells two stories – one is the extraordinary love story which blossomed when Daphne fell head over heels with Tsavo Game Park and its famous warden, David Sheldrick. The second is the love story of how Daphne and David, who devoted their lives to saving elephant orphans, at first losing every infant under the age of two until Daphne, at last, managed to devise the first-ever milk formula which would keep them alive.