21 Best Travel Books to Inspire Wanderlust

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Three travel books
Photo: Courtesy of Retailers as Credited

Whether you're looking for a captivating novel to stow in your carry-on on your next family vacation or an inspiring memoir to keep you company on a solo trip, we've rounded up the best books travelers will want to get their hands on ASAP. Related: More book recommendations These books are top-rated and Amazon best-sellers, so there's no doubt you'll find at least a couple picks to add to your reading list. Keep reading for our favorite books that continually inspire us to travel.

01 of 21

"Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert book
Courtesy of Amazon

"Eat, Pray, Love" is a memoir every traveler should read, especially if you're planning a solo trip. Follow along on author Elizabeth Gilbert's journey as she discovers the world — and herself — while traveling through Italy, India, and Bali.

To buy: amazon.com, $13

02 of 21

"Less" by Andrew Sean Greer

Less book
Courtesy of Amazon

A 2018 Pulitzer Prize winner, "Less" follows Arthur Less on a journey around the world, from Paris to Berlin; a Moroccan ski chalet to a Christian Retreat Center in southern India. This satirical novel examines the role of the American traveler abroad, making it the perfect read before your next big trip.

To buy: amazon.com, $9

03 of 21

"A Year in Provence" by Peter Mayle

A Year in Provence book
Courtesy of Amazon

Francophiles will love this nonfiction account of a British writer's experience living in the south of France, from the culinary adventures to the cultural missteps. Plus, if you fall in love with this book and Mayle's writing style, you can also read his other books on life in France: "Toujours Provence" and "Encore Provence."

To buy: amazon.com, $12

04 of 21

"Wild Horses of the Summer Sun" by Tory Bilski

Wild Horses of the Summer Sun Book by Tory Bilski
Courtesy of Amazon

Iceland is a hot spot for outdoor and adventure travel. If you've been curious about booking a trip, pick up Tory Bilski's memoir, which follows the author and a group of female travelers bound together by their love of Icelandic horses as they make their way through the northern region of the country.

To buy: amazon.com, $18

05 of 21

"A Month in Siena" by Hisham Matar

A Month in Siena by Hisham Matar
Courtesy of Amazon

If you are dreaming of traveling to Italy, Hisham Matar's memoir about Siena is a must-read. His month-long stay in the Tuscan city focuses on art, specifically works from the Sienese School of Painting, and the book follows the relationship between the author, the city, and the art that surrounds him.

To buy: amazon.com, $19

06 of 21

"How to Be a Family" by Dan Kois

How to Be a Family by Dan Kois
Courtesy of Amazon

Lauded as a funny and relatable memoir, "How to Be a Family: The Year I Dragged My Kids Around the World to Find a New Way to Be Together" follows Dan Kois, his wife, and two pre-teen daughters on a global adventure, as they leave their everyday lives in Washington, D.C. behind and move to New Zealand, the Netherlands, Costa Rica, and Kansas all in one year.

To buy: amazon.com, $17

07 of 21

"On the Road" by Jack Kerouac

"On the Road" book
Courtesy of Amazon

Planning a cross-country road trip? You'll probably want to pick up Jack Kerouac's classic novel, "On the Road," first. Published in 1957, this book is a fictional take on the author's travels and journey of self-discovery that helped define the Beat generation, from San Francisco to Denver to Mexico City.

To buy: amazon.com, $13

08 of 21

"The Jane Austen Society" by Natalie Jenner

The Jane Austen Society book
Courtesy of BookSparks

Fans of Jane Austen will love this novel about a group of unlikely friends who come together over their shared love of the author. This book might even inspire a trip to the village of Chawton in the UK to see Austen's house for yourself.

To buy: amazon.com, $17

09 of 21

"Wild" by Cheryl Strayed

Wild by Cheryl Strayed book
Courtesy of Amazon

Another must-read for solo travelers, "Wild" follows author Cheryl Strayed's journey hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, beginning in the Mojave Desert and continuing through California, Oregon, and Washington state, with no prior hiking experience. Read this book if you're looking for the push you need to get out and explore the country on your own.

To buy: amazon.com, $14

10 of 21

"A Moveable Feast" by Ernest Hemingway

A Moveable Feast book
Courtesy of Amazon

If you're in love with the city of Paris, "A Moveable Feast" is a must-read. Ernest Hemingway's memoir of the city in the 1920s will make you feel as if you've been transported to another time and place, and will inspire you to start planning your next trip abroad.

To buy: amazon.com, $12

11 of 21

"Calypso" by David Sedaris

Calypso book
Courtesy of Little, Brown and Company

Fans of David Sedaris' sharply funny yet poignant nonfiction will love this essay collection centered on travel. Many of the essays take place at the author's vacation home in South Carolina, which he named the "Sea Section," while other essays follow the author around the country on his book tour and on trips to Japan.

To buy: amazon.com, $15

12 of 21

"Circe" by Madeline Miller

Circe book
Courtesy of Little, Brown and Company

If you've always been fascinated by mythology and ancient Greece, Madeline Miller's "Circe" is a fascinating read. This book is a retelling of the story of Circe, the goddess of magic, and it will inspire you to look into the rich history and culture Greece has to offer.

To buy: amazon.com, $14

13 of 21

"Crazy Rich Asians" by Kevin Kwan

Crazy Rich Asians book
Courtesy of Amazon

"Crazy Rich Asians" is a captivating look at wealth, love, and life in Singapore, as it follows Rachel Chu, a Chinese-American woman, on a trip to meet her boyfriend's prominent family. And if you love this book, there are two more installations in the series, so you can further immerse yourself in the drama and glamour of the characters and setting.

To buy: amazon.com, $9

14 of 21

"In a Sunburned Country" by Bill Bryson

In a Sunburned Country book
Courtesy of Penguin Random House

Bill Bryson is known for his thought-provoking nonfiction, and this travelogue about Australia is no exception. Follow Bryson as he explores Australia's culture, people, landscapes, wildlife, and more in this informative and entertaining book.

To buy: amazon.com, $14

15 of 21

"My Brilliant Friend" by Elena Ferrante

My Brilliant Friend book
Courtesy of Europa Editions

"My Brilliant Friend" is a beautiful novel about the friendship of two girls, Elena and Lila, beginning in their childhood in Naples, Italy, in the 1950s and following them through their adolescence. This book, and the three other novels in the series, will immerse you in Italian life and inspire you for future travel.

To buy: amazon.com, $11

16 of 21

"Siracusa" by Delia Ephron

Siracusa book
Courtesy of Penguin Random House

This novel follows two families on a trip on the coast of Siciliy, and the adventures and drama that ensue. The story will captivate you, and the setting might just inspire you to book a trip to the Italian coast.

To buy: amazon.com, $16

17 of 21

"Swing Time" by Zadie Smith

Swing Time book
Courtesy of Penguin Random House

From London to New York to West Africa, "Swing Time" follows two young dancers whose lives take dramatically different paths, with some moments involving fame and traveling the globe. Readers will quickly become invested in each character's choices and relationships as the author navigates the global setting.

To buy: amazon.com, $14

18 of 21

"The Alchemist" by Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist book
Courtesy of HarperCollins

"The Alchemist" will take you on a mystical journey through Spain and Egypt, following the story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy in search of treasure. Filled with magic and wisdom, this book is both captivating and inspiring.

To buy: amazon.com, $11

19 of 21

"Normal People" by Sally Rooney

Normal People book
Courtesy of Amazon

Author Sally Rooney makes stunning observations about young love in "Normal People." In addition to falling in love with the main characters, readers will also enjoy immersing themselves in the novel's various settings, from the campus of Trinity College in Dublin to a vacation villa in Italy.

To buy: amazon.com, $9

20 of 21

"The Beach" by Alex Garland

The Beach by Alex Garland book
Courtesy of Amazon

This novel follows Richard, a young English backpacker who finds himself in Bangkok, Thailand. He unexpectedly discovers the dark side of the seemingly idyllic beach community, making for an exciting yet thought-provoking story about travel.

To buy: amazon.com, $14

21 of 21

"Vacationland" by John Hodgman

Courtesy of Amazon

"Vacationland," from author John Hodgman, known for his work as a contributor to The Daily Show With Jon Stewart, offers a humorous yet, at times, poignant account of holidays spent in western Massachusetts and coastal Maine. If you're planning a summer vacation with family, you'll want to bring this book with you for both laughs and perspective.

To buy: amazon.com, $14

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