Sacred Text

My Top Timeless Travel Tomes


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Books have been an incredibly valuable source of knowledge for me throughout the years. At various junctures of my life, certain books have crossed my path that have helped shape and influence my thoughts on a number of themes ranging from travel to spirituality.

The following is a list of eleven travel classics that each had a profound effect:

 

  • On the Road – One of my first sacred texts which struck me post-puberty like a fresh crop of zits. My wanderlust was fueled by reading about the travel adventures of Sal Paradise and probably impacted on my nomad life in later years.
  • Oh, the places you’ll go! – I carried this little book of life lessons and inspiration while backpacking through Europe, busting it out in Beastie Boys-style rhyme on a Copenhagen train platform.
  • Alone – When I hit a few existential speed bumps on one particular road trip, I bought and read Admiral Richard Byrd’s book about when he was stranded in Antarctica and had to deal with everything from cold to carbon monoxide poison to loneliness. Talk about perspective.
  • Travels with Charley in Search of America – On that same road trip, I also read Steinbeck’s account of the author’s goals, at the ripe age of fifty-eight, to rediscover the country he had been writing about for so many years.
  • Blue Highways – My mind willfully traveled down the same backroads as William Least Heat-Moon.
  • Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance – A book which made me reflect on my own values and question the importance I attached to certain things in my life.
  • The Alchemist – Coelho’s timeless classic demonstrated that the only requirement for achieving our dreams is the courage to embark on the quest.
  • The Celestine Prophecy – A powerful book that explains interactions as confluences of energy, providing a framework for social interaction with others.
  • Investment Biker – Advice on finance and foreign investment as Jim Rogers covers fifty-two countries by motorcycle is a great read.
  • Travels with Herodotus – A chronicle of one foreign correspondents time beyond the Iron Curtain in the ‘50s and how his journey across continents and world view was shaped by the words of the famous Greek historiographer.
  • The Innocents Abroad – One of the first travel books written about Europe and the Holy Land. Despite almost 150 years passing since its publication, it hasn’t lost its charm.

People subscribe to material of different densities – ancient scrolls, sacred texts or illustrations that resonate with their experience. These books, some less dense, have helped form my understanding of the world and my place in it.

What books have changed your life, either in how you see the world, or those that inspired you to travel?

 


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21 Comments

  • I love Paulo Coelho, for me it was reading The Aleph while living in Korea, and realizing that not only did I embark on a journey to rediscover who I was, but that it also allowed me to start piecing together a very broken heart. I will have to check out some of these books you have listed.

  • Thanks for sharing, I am always interested in new reads, especially inspirational ones. My all time book that I would bring with me any where is The Alchemist. Great to see it on your list. Have you read, Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse?

  • No, a true seeker, one who truly wished to find, could accept no doctrine. But the man who has found what he sought, such a man could approve of every doctrine, each and every one, every path, every goal; nothing separated him any longer from all those thousands of others who lived in the eternal, who breathed the Divine.
    ~ Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha

  • Nice choices! For me one of the books that influenced me most throughout life is actually on the list, the celestine prophecy. I first read it when I was 17 and reread it a while ago. It resumes so well so many aspects you read about in different books/cultures- maybe given it different names but the essence of the message remains the same.

  • I love “The Complete Collection of Calvin and Hobbes” — it’s been my bible for how to be a little kid…

  • Peter, I read the Zen…Maintenance and Blue Highways books years ago. Both opened my eyes to an alternate way of looking at things, which I carry with me to this day. A few months ago, I also read Least Heat Moon’s “River Horse”, which wasn’t quite as powerful as Blue Highways, but was enjoyable and enlightening nonetheless. ~James

  • Hi Peter, Great choice of books there. I too am a big Alchemist learner. I am an avid reader as well and find great meaning, solitude and stillness in the books I read. I have gained a lot from Steven Pressfield’s War of Art and Turning Pro. Great, short yet powerful reads. Also, Wayne Dyer’s Wisdom of the Ages is another I keep close. 🙂 Pepper

  • Couldn’t agree more. Bravo!! Thank you for the support. I feel a bit like I’m starting at the bottom of the mountain again. I guess that’s all there is in the end!

  • love your blog Peter! I was going to share Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha but it looks as though you’ve already read it. I feel as though we share many common values. As someone who longs to one day become more nomadic, Im curious why you decided to settle down from the travelling? Sorry if you’ve posted about this already.

  • I love very much the Alchemist as it’s very poetic and the images keep resonating with my inner dreams. Otherwise, I enjoyed Skip Beat (a manga!) as the character had a heartbreak and I could relate to her strength and will to cherish oneself. I travelled with the “Art of Compassion” by the Dalai Lama. Though it didn’t keep me awake in the airport of Guadalajara, it was beautiful. Dalai Lama’s words are precious. Actually, there are tons of inspiring books! I haven’t finished it yet, but “The Autobiography of a Yogi” by Paramahansa Yogananda does smell magic! I’m under the impression to have the Neverending Story book every time I look at it, and open it… Laurent Gounelle’s books are precious too! They keep encouraging me to set challenges in my life and it gives a fresh feeling too. Travelling is “fresh” so… 🙂 According to me, every book which leaves that kind of feelings is a book that can lead you far (inside and outside)! 🙂

  • Great post! I’m definitely adding some of these to my reading list.

    One of the books that really inspired me to teach English in Spain was “The Sun Also Rises” by Hemingway. I’ve also found the Tao Te Ching to be a faithful travel companion, keeping me grounded regardless of what challenges come my way.

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