Travelling provides a unique opportunity for reading in scenic locales. But it’s necessary to choose the best books to read while travelling because they can have a huge impact on the experience itself. Ideally, one should read local literature while travelling in order to get a feel of the place. Otherwise, travel themed books and shorter works with more philosophy really help to create a mood. Books with heavy plots are probably not ideal because they detract from the experience outside by pulling you inside them. Here is a list of 10 books to read while travelling.
10 Books to Read While Travelling:
- The Fifth Mountain by Paulo Coelho
- The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa
- Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata
- The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran
- Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke
- Letters From a Young Poet by Rabindranath Tagore
- A Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami
- Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair by Pablo Neruda
- The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa
- Burning Patience by Antonio Skarmeta
The Fifth Mountain by Paulo Coelho
This book is Coelho’s interpretation of the Biblical story of Elijah, and his struggles with spirituality. In the ninth century, Jezebel, who is the wife to the king of Israel, orders the execution of all prophets who do not worship the pagan god Baal. And so the young prophet Elijah flees Israel and takes refuge in Zarephath, where he falls in love with a young widow. However, the love story is severed abruptly in Coelho’s power allegorical tale.
The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa
Satoru, and his cat Nana, travel through Japan, through its changing seasons and shifting landscapes, in this heartbreaking yet heartwarming novel. They meet eccentric people, such as the couple Sugi and Chikako and the hard-hearted farmer Yoshimine. They also meet a loving dog who forges a reluctant friendship with Nana. But if Nana realizes the purpose of this trip, he’s going to be devastated. This journey will mirror yours while travelling.
Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata
This quiet, lyrical piece follows a man as he journeys to the one of the coldest snowscapes in the world. Here, he finds his old lover, a geisha of extraordinary beauty. Complimenting his silent, broody nature with her elegant passion, this book unfolds its characters with the soft and sure slowness of snow falling. This book is short which is ideal for travelling, and will also put you in a wintry mindset if you’re travelling to a cold place.
The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran
In this book, a parting prophet leaves his villagers with pearls of wisdom about a host of topics such as beauty, love, joy, children, work, leisure, food, clothing, home and more. This is a seamless and atmospheric read while travelling because it will connect you with nature all the more. Plus, it offers insights into the human condition which is great. It’s also not plot driven which means it’s an easy travel read.
Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke
This is a compendium of letters that the great German poet Rilke wrote to a young student at an army academy on the verge of a decision. This student is confused between which career to choose – a stable army cadet life or the life of a poet. Through Rilke’s correspondence which overflows with guidance, there is a lot to take away not just for writers. This is a true inquiry into life, which is ideal for travel because it makes you think.
Letters From a Young Poet by Rabindranath Tagore
This is an extension of Tagore’s “Glimpses of Bengal”. It’s essentially the bulk of Tagore’s correspondence with his niece Indira Debi, through which the poet’s life and land come alive. This has picturesque descriptions of the poet’s homeland along with lyrical meditations on the nature of life. This makes it a perfect travel companion which will make you feel absolutely at peace with the world. It reads like poetry, an added bonus.
A Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami
A lot of Murakami’s books involve a search for something lost – and in this case it is a sheep. We follow our protagonist as he sets forth in search of a certain sheep in Hokkaido, Japan. In the process, he understands the meaning of life. Through magical symbolisms like a sheep-man, a bureaucratic giant, a runaway friend and a girlfriend which magic ears, Murakami’s words glisten with magic. It is a perfect, crisp read while travelling./
Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair by Pablo Neruda
Poetry is probably the best genre to read while travelling. This is because you don’t have to keep up with a plot. Also, poetry heightens the appreciation of the surroundings and scenic surroundings heighten the experience of poetry. These sonnets by the Nobel prize winning Neruda are exceptionally passionate, intense and overflowing with vital imagery, dazzling metaphors and potent lyricism. It’s the perfect travel companion.
The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa
This is a collection of fragments of writing by the immensely philosophical Portuguese poet Pessoa. The book glistens with Portuguese landscapes but also with weird, absurd philosophical insights. It is definitely a must read while travelling because the shorter, seemingly disconnected pieces can be read better than plot driven books. However, the vibe of the book is also very conducive to a great travel experience.
Burning Patience by Antonio Skarmeta
In this heart-warming Caribbean dictional story based on the life of Pablo Neruda, the Chilean poet is exiled from his homeland. He comes to stay on an Italian island and befriends a postman. The postman falls in love and steals Neruda’s poetry to enamour his lover. In the process, he learns to appreciate poetry. This book is one of the most beautiful and poetic stories, and the writing will make you swoon, especially during a tropical vacay.