Has a book ever inspired you to hop on a bus to the next town, book a plane ticket or plan the expedition of a lifetime?
Sometimes it’s an epic recounting of a classic trip. In other cases, it’s simply a book with such a strong sense of place that you can’t wait to see that land, taste that food and hear that language for yourself.
I’ve lost count of the number of books that have spurred me to travel, but here are some of my favourites. Many are books I read as an impressionable kid that have resonated for decades—literary merit (or lack thereof) notwithstanding.
The Top 10 lists are utterly unscientific and personal—among other things, it reflects interests as diverse as Buddhism, chick lit and the Second World War—so please chime in with suggestions of your own in the comments section. In particular, thrillers and horror novels scare the heck out of me, so I’m woefully uninformed about the charms of Stieg Larsson’s Stockholm or Stephen King’s Maine. And I’m eager to expand my knowledge of foreign authors in translation. I’d love it if you’d fill me in.
1 – The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
2 – The Last House of Ulster, A Family in Belfast, by Charles Foran
3 – The Watch That Ends the Night, by Hugh MacLennan
4 – Heidi, by Johanna Spyri
5 – Gone to Soldiers, by Marge Piercy
6 – The White Tiger, by Aravind Adiga
7 – The Thorn Birds, by Colleen McCullough
8 – Radio Shangri-La, by Lisa Napoli
9 – Tales of a Female Nomad, by Rita Golden Gelman
10 – Among the Cities, by Jan Morris