Right now we could all probably do with a little journey…
Travel may be limited, but there are some ways of taking a break that don’t involve a plane ticket, departure lounge or visa. Here are a few of my favourites books that take you on a literary escape.
‘The Alchemist’ by Paolo Coelho
The tale of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who craves adventure far beyond his home. He finds the courage to travel to distant lands and follow his dream, from the markets of Tangiers to the Egyptian desert where the alchemist awaits. A magical blend of folklore, fantasy and spirituality, a modern classic.
‘A Walk in the Woods – Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail’ by Bill Bryson
With a reputation as one of the world’s funniest travel writers, Bryson shares his experience on “…the Granddaddy of all hikes…” with his best friend Katz. The book is interspersed with the history of the region, sociology and a lot of references to the wildlife and natural surroundings.
‘Shantaram’ by Gregory David Roberts
Don’t be intimidated by the size of this tome, you will race through it. Robert’s account of his escape from an Australian prison and the life that followed in the depths of Mumbai is a tumultuous journey.
‘As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning’ by Laurie Lee
Lee’s beautifully written novel captures the verve of a young man travelling to Spain in the 1930s. The country is on the verge of a civil war and his prose gracefully portrays the harshness and beauty of his time in a foreign land.
‘Wild – From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail’ by Cheryl Strayed
A real-life journey taken by a woman who had suffered addiction, the end of a marriage and tremendous loss. Strayed describes her 1,100 mile trek, a consuming emotional and physical adventure of self-discovery.
‘The Beach’ by Alex Garland
The story of a young backpacker’s efforts to find ‘the ultimate’ beach hideaway in Thailand. Deep and dark in places, it borders on a grown up version of ‘Lord of the Flies’ as paradise is never quite as idyllic as it seems.
‘The Salt Path’ by Raynor Winn
Winn had just discovered her husband Moth was terminally ill just after they had lost everything. Homeless and broke, they walked the 630 mile South West Coast Path, carrying the barest of essentials. This debut novel is full of warmth, a remarkable account of surviving and thriving when the odds are against you. It makes the spectacular Devon and Cornwall coastline feel like an omnipresent third character. Beautiful and poignant.