With actual physical travel on hold at the moment, I have been scratching that itch and keeping the travel bug somewhat satiated through words and pictures. I find that immersing myself into a different world through words is great escapism from the chaos that currently surrounds us.
This gift of time from the Universe means I now have hours in my day which would otherwise be consumed with work, where I can simply switch off, curl up with a steaming cup of tea or a glass of vino and lose myself in a good book.
I have always loved reading but the ho-hummery of life meant I didn’t have oodles of time on hand to just dedicate an idyllic afternoon to reading. Recently though, with planning actual travel on hold, books have become the ideal way to keep the travel bug alive for me.
I thought this would be the perfect time to share a post about some of the books that spark wanderlust for me and have become firm favourites. I have started to re-visit these titles as they are instrumental in helping to keep the dream of actual travel alive.
At a time like this, when current circumstances dictate that staying home is the temporary new form of wanderlust, there has to be a glimmer of hope that this too shall pass and we shall be able to travel once again!
I have always been a bookworm and need no excuse to invest in a new book. I love browsing the bookshops at airports and local bookshops in the countries we set footsteps in for literature specific to that country, and as a result, over the years I have amassed a large collection of travel literature.
My favourite place to buy travel literature has to be Stanfords Travel Bookshop in London. Stanfords is always a non-negotiable part of my itinerary on our trips to London and even Wanderlustmate M knows that I will not rest easy unless I have gone in to nosey around in this glorious bookstore!
Without further ado, here is my book list of wanderlust worthy books. I won’t do a complete synopsis of the stories but I will tell you why these titles make it to this list!
The Crazy Rich Asians Trilogy – Crazy Rich Asians, China Rich Girlfriend and Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan
I have read this trilogy three times already since I bought it and I cannot wait to dive into the series again. You may wonder why I am excited about re-reading a series again, because there is less mystery than when reading a book for the first time but I literally devour every word on the pages of these books.
The joy of reading a title again is comforting because it feels like visiting an old friend and so, re-reading is akin to sparking joy. The series are a great insight into the lives of the super wealthy Asians of Singapore told through fictional characters who quickly become beloved. I find myself almost enchanted when I am engulfed in their world which seems larger than life.
Kevin Kwan has based the novels on his own childhood experience in Singapore and so that makes them feel even more authentic and real. I set footsteps in Singapore more than a decade ago and the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy has put Singapore right back onto my Wanderlustlist because there is so much more to go and experience and explore there, thanks to these books!
Paris My Sweet by Amy Thomas
If there is one book that makes me want to book a ticket to Paris and go on a patisserie hunting expedition, then Paris My Sweet is it. I devoured this book in one sitting and immediately bookmarked a tonne of places to check out: and on our last trip to Paris, it was my mission to try at least a few of the delectable sounding delicacies that Amy writes so beautifully about.
Some of the places she recommends, like Angelina have been written off as “too touristy” but she writes so beautifully that you cannot help but want to visit. And touristy or not, Angelina’s hot chocolate really is to die for. That’s my take on it at any rate!
I must admit that thanks to Amy, I went off on a macaron hunting spree when we were last in Paris, and much to Wanderlustmate M’s chagrin, I remember rushing to Pierre Herme just before we left for Gare du Nord because it was the only macaron that I hadn’t tried yet and I just HAD to taste his famous caramel au beurre sale flavour macaron! It was well worth the detour!
Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
I am not embarrassed to admit that I am a HUGE fan of this book. My rather dog-eared copy has been read cover to cover many a time, and since I am feeling the nostalgia of wanting to be on an airplane, I’ll let you in to a little secret. The movie version of Eat, Pray, Love is part of the ICE Entertainment on Emirates: they have it as a travel classic and it is tradition for me to watch it every time I am on board Emirates!
I cannot seem to find any logical reason as to why I love this book and the movie even moreso: but then again there doesn’t have to be logic in everything, does there?
This was probably one of the first ever books written by someone who was brave enough to take a year to herself at a time when doing stuff like that was unheard of. I don’t know if I could ever be brave enough to travel solo: but if I ever did, then Eat, Pray, Love would be my muse.
I know I would have Rome on my itinerary and one of the first things I would do is eat a bowl full of spaghetti exactly the way Julia Roberts did! If you know, you know!
Wild – by Cheryl Strayed
I must admit that I read this book because of Lorelai Gilmore. If you are a Gilmore Girls fan then you will remember that in the “A Year In The Life” mini – series, Lorelai decides to hike the Pacific Crest Trail to “find herself” because that is what the author of Wild did.
Admittedly, it took me a while to get into the story but once I did, I really enjoyed following along the journey and seeing how her thought process and character changed as she clocked off the miles. Spoiler alert: it didn’t make me want to hike thousands of miles to “find myself” but it has evoked curiosity about the Pacific Crest Trail and the beauty that Cheryl Strayed has described.
Why has it made it back onto the wanderlust booklist? Simply because sometimes, when re-reading a title I find stuff I missed the first time round and I often end up loving stories more. Given that it took me a while to endear myself to Wild, the hope is with all this wonderful time I have to read, I can savour the words and see how I feel the second time around.
The Way of Wanderlust – Don George
This is one of the first titles I ever bought at Stanfords and I fell in love with it before I even read it, if that makes sense at all. The saying “don’t judge a book by its cover” is something that I usually hold true but in this case, the cover is everything. I am a sucker for watercolours and the watercolour painting on the cover is one that evokes true joy.
The Way of Wanderlust is a collection of travel stories from a true wanderluster, Don George. It pretty much details his adventures from all over the world, from well-known places to those that are but a dream for some of us to visit and his words for me, are the ultimate form of escapism, making this book one of my most treasured titles to date.
Word of warning: if you do purchase The Way of Wanderlust, then Don George’s stories WILL want to make you book a ticket to the places he writes about! I’d say that this book is great for inspiration on where to travel to when we are able to safely once again.
Safari by Geoffrey Kent
This is the story of how travel giant Abercrombie & Kent came to be and it is nothing short of fascinating. Safari is the Swahili word for travel, and for this wanderluster that grew up in Kenya, Safari also means heading out to the game parks for game drives and a holiday.
This book was given to me as a gift by my aunt, who knows that I love wanderlusting and I fell in love with it from the moment I read the first words on the pages. The story of a dream, the highs and lows, the struggles and wins is one that takes you not only on a Safari of how a world renown brand came into being and the adventures had along the way but also on a Safari to some of the game parks that made the Abercrombie dream come alive.
Though not an accurate depiction of all the books I love, because it would take writing a book and not a blog post to articulate these, I do hope that this short list has given you some inspirational titles to curl up with, while we wait for the world to awaken from its C-induced slumber.
Until next time, remember that home is the temporary form of wanderlust: but that doesn’t mean you can’t escape through words and pictures! Stay safe, fellow wanderlusters!