Tuesday, June 4, 2013

My Top Ten Books Featuring Travel

I love, love, love books featuring travel (or even better, journeys. Journeys implies so much more than just travel). There was NO WAY I could narrow this down to just 10 books (and no way I could rank them!), so what I did instead is list my favorite books in six different types of travel categories.

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish blog with a different top ten list theme (all related to books) every Tuesday (see the full list here).

I am so excited to read other lists, because I'm always on the hunt for more good travel fiction. I think I love travel so much because of the chance to explore different settings, but more than that: how the settings and characters and challenges met along the way affect the main characters, altering their perspectives.

Contemporary Travel

 Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert (memoir) A woman in search of meaning in her life visits Italy, India and Indonesia and learns something from each of those places. There isn't actually as much travel in this book as I hoped for, I wanted more! If you can recommend anything similar,  let me know!

The Moon By Night, by Madeleine L'Engle (fiction) This was published in the 1960's, so it's a stretch calling this contemporary, but it didn't quite fit historical either. A family's road trip across America: I fell in love with this as a young teen and it inspired me to make my own similar road trip across America right after college.

A Walk Across America, by Peter Jenkins (memoir) A young man backpacks across America (and meets his wife along the way). The stories they have to tell!!

Historical Travel

Lonesome Dove, by Larry McMurtry. This is a tough book, with some pretty gruesome scenes in it. But I've read it at least three times, always drawn back by the adventure of following a cattle drive from Texas to Montana in the 1880's, packed with rich details of setting and a huge array of fascinating characters. Truly epic.

The Call of the Wild, by Jack London. Travel across Alaska during the gold rush of the 1890's. I devoured all of Jack London's books as a kid, and I plan to read to this one again with my kids.

Shield of Three Lions, by Pamela Kaufman. The tale of a young girl who followed King Richard the Lion-Hearted's crusade from England to the Holy Lands in the 12th century.

Animal travels

The Incredible Journey, by Sheila Burnford.  Two dogs and a cat travel cross country to return to their home. Plan to read this one with my kids, too.

 I Rode A Horse of Milk White Jade, by  Diane Lee Wilson.  Set during the time of Marco Polo and Kublai Khan (1200's), a young Mongolian girl sets off on a journey with an old horse and a cat to prove her family's honor.

Watership Down, by Richard Adams. When a rabbit's home is destroyed, he sets out with an unlikely band to find a new home in what turns out to be a surprising epic journey. You'll never think of rabbits the same way again.

Space Travel

A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L'Engle. Words fail me when it comes to describing this book. It is just so weird and wonderful and noble!

Out of the Silent Planet and its sequel, Perelandra, by C.S. Lewis. Incredibly imagined space travel written in the 1930's, and planetary descriptions that boggled my brain.

Fantasy travels set in the real world

The Lightning Thief, by Rick Riordan. A wild hop, skip and jump from one famous landmark in America to another as Percy races to find Zeus's stolen thunderbolt before the gods take revenge.

Leviathan, by Scott Westerfeld. An alternative version of World War One with some fantastic steampunk inventions and the separate journeys of two children from opposite sites who met in unexpected circumstances.

East, by Edith Pattou. A variation of the Beauty and the Beast tale with some fascinating twists and an amazing journey into the far north.

High Fantasy Travel

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, by C.S. Lewis.  Right up there with Sinbad and Odyssey for a great travel adventure across the high seas.

The Iron King and The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa. Harrowing and beautiful journeys through strange faery lands.

Girl of Fire and Thorns and Crown of Embers by Rae Carson. Great characters are what make the journeys in these stories spectacular. Can't wait for the final book in the trilogy, The Bitter Kingdom.

Sabriel and Lirael, by Garth Nix. Journeys through the Old Kingdom, where mechanical devices fail, and dead creatures can cross over from death. Spooky but brilliant. 

The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. The most epic journeys ever. 

What's your favorite travel book? Do you prefer real-life travel or fictional travel? 


  1. Percy Jackson and the C.S. Lewis books are great picks. I really enjoyed them both.

  2. I love travel books, even to fictional worlds--especially CS Lewis, Tolkien, etc. But I also love reading about people who visit my culture. There's nothing like seeing yourself through an outsider's eyes to open your own.

  3. I really need to read the Sabriel books. They have been on my TBR for ages. I like your Fantasy picks. I chose to go with The Horse and His Boy for my Narnia because it is my favorite.

  4. Fun post! I love real-life travel but money is an issue so fictional travel is an awesome substitute!

  5. I loved the travel aspects of Eat, Pray, Love, but I think the author's personal life was rather obnoxious.

    I really like when fiction weaves in a location I know nothing about. A YA book called Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard is a fun one, about a recent high school grade who takes a trip to South America and goes off the tourist path to hang out with some bohemian travelers.

  6. Ah! I loved The Incredible Journey when I was a kid!

  7. Lisa @ Bookshelf FantasiesJune 4, 2013 at 12:04 PM

    Sorry if this is a duplicate -- I just typed a comment and then it disappeared! Anyway, great list! I'm a big fan of fantasy quests and epic journeys, but I like real-life travel stories if they're compelling and have interesting twists. I'm so happy to see Narnia on your list! I'm reading these books now with my son, and Dawn Treader is up next!



  8. Some great books there! Wrinkle in Time will always be a fave!

  9. I, too, love journey books! It's like taking a journey right along with the characters while you're cozy in the comfort of your own living room :)

  10. Really diverse list. I'm all in for travel whether it's real or not.

  11. The Horse and His Boy is my favorite Narnia book too! (and I'm reading it with my kids right now). But Dawn Treader is my favorite journey in the Narnia series.

  12. I know! I just finished reading a book about Gypsies in America and their take on American culture was interesting!

  13. Me too! Wish I had more funds to travel. But then again, there's nothing like your own bed and comforts of home and armchair traveling!

  14. Yes I agree about Eat, Pray, Love... the travel and cultural aspects I loved; her personal choices, not so much.

  15. can't wait to re-read it with my kids too

  16. I'm reading the Horse and His Boy right now! They saw the Dawn Treader movie, so we skipped that one, but we'll get back to it after we've read the other ones

  17. A great list, quite a few on here I still need to pick up, especially Leviathan and the Garth Nix books! And I'm definitely up for fictional travel any time, my funds won't allow much real-life travel!

  18. A Wrinkle in Time is such a classic! I haven't read the others from your list, but I do have The Lightning Thief and Leviathan in my TBR pile. I'm especially eager to finally read the latter, since I'm a Scott Westerfeld fan!

  19. I think this is a very good book for travel, if you have time I would go to a few of these books.


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