5 Must-Read Books for the Traveling Soul

Geography of Bliss

1. Geography of Bliss

By Eric Weiner

Weiner, a former correspondent for National Public Radio, shares his experiences and insights gathered over two decades of traveling the world. In that time he has visited over 30 countries and has seen the best and the worst of what our planet has the offer. However, in contrast to the usual media coverage of strife and disaster, he explores the nature of happiness in various cultures.  From Bhutan’s measure of Gross National Happiness to the Swedish idea of happiness in boredom, Weiner discovers that there is more than one answer to the question, “what makes people happy?”

The Catcher in the Rye2. The Catcher in the Rye

By J.D. Salinger

What book list would be complete without The Catcher in the Rye? If you missed out on this classic or have forgotten the details since the high school reading assignment, The Catcher in the Rye is one of the great American novels that deserves a revisit. Salinger takes us through the secret desires and pains of adolescence as he tells the first-person story of Holden Caulfield’s adventures after his expulsion from a Pennsylvania boarding school in the winter of 1949. Through his exploits, the disenchanted Caulfield learns about himself and about the world, offering thought-provoking insights into ourselves and the nature of others in society.

Three Cups of Tea3. Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace… One School at a Time

By Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin

Mortenson and Relin recount the inspiring story that followed Mortenson’s failed attempt to climb Pakistan’s K2, the world’s second highest mountain. Mortenson loses his group and finds himself in the unforgiving mountains of northern Pakistan without food and water before stumbling upon a small village in poor health. While recovering he observes the impoverished school children sitting outdoors, scratching their lessons in the dirt with sticks. After witnessing firsthand the poor state of education and the pervasive violence in the region, Mortenson leaves Pakistan with the promise that he would return to help.  Three Cups of Tea tells the moving story of how that promise led to the establishment of a bridge and nearly 80 schools in some of the most remote areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The Great Railway Bazaar4.  The Great Railway Bazaar

By Paul Theroux

The Great Railway Bazaar, published in 1975, follows Theroux’s serendipitous journey as he travels from London to Tokyo, meeting a variety of fellow travelers with compelling tales and insights of their own. In the age of worldwide commercial airlines and supersonic jets, Theroux trades boarding passes for train tickets where the destination is the journey itself. Through the deserts of Iran, Russia’s Siberia, and the war zone of Vietnam, the novel provides a captivating record of his experiences, one station at a time. Renown as one of the greatest all-time travel novels, The Great Railway Bazaar is one not to miss.

 The Beach5. The Beach

By Alex Garland

Remember that crazy Leonardo DiCaprio movie about the secret island in the Gulf of Thailand? Well this is the book the film is based on, except Richard (Leo’s charater) is British and the book, of course, is better. After Richard receives a map to the island from a strange Scotsman who goes by the name “Daffy Duck”, he and a French couple make their way to the fabled paradise of communal and peaceful living. As the story unfolds, however, Richard discovers that no place is perfect. The Beach is fraught with spectacular scenes, danger, thrilling plot turns, and human drama that make this book a definite must-read for the traveling soul.

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5 Must-Read Books for the Traveling Soul