1. The Beach by Alex Garland
“If I'd learnt one thing from travelling, it was that the way to get things done was to go ahead and do them. Don't talk about going to Borneo. Book a ticket, get a visa, pack a bag, and it just happens.”
If there was ever a book that screamed ‘wanderlust’ – this is it. Alex Garland’s 1996 bestseller tells the story of a young English traveller (played by none other than Leonardo DiCaprio in the movie adaptation) who travels to Thailand to try and find an untouched, hidden beach, in search of paradise. He joins a community of backpackers from around the world who have chosen to live a leisurely life, tucked away from the rest of the world – but the idyllic adventure soon takes a turn for the worse. An extraordinary and mysterious tale of ambitious travellers that will have you dreaming of crystal clear waters and sea-locked cliffs.
2. Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson
“The fact is that this is still the best place in the world for most things - to post a letter, go for a walk, watch television, buy a book, venture out for a drink, go to a museum, use the bank, get lost, seek help, or stand on a hillside and take in a view.”
Who said that you can’t crave an escape in your own country? Iconic travel writer Bill Bryson’s non-fiction book Notes from a Small Island charts his final journey across Great Britain before moving back to the United States. From the West Country to Yorkshire to the Scottish Highlands, Bill takes you on the trip of a lifetime as he seeks out to discover what it is that makes his beloved Britain so special, sharing fascinating history and cultural insights along the way. At times astutely observant, at times utterly hilarious, Bryson’s travel writing is a celebration of all things quintessentially British.
3. Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty
“No one could be expected to give up wine and books at the same time.”
If you take your travel novels with a twist of mystery, then Liane Moriarty’s (Big Little Lies) latest novel is the one for you. Join nine different people from across Australia as they attend a 10-day “Transformation Retreat” that takes place in a remote location, removed from technology and distractions; the perfect place to start again. Take a dip in the pool, enjoy a luxurious massage or tuck into a scrumptious meal prepared by the chef… but don’t get too comfortable. Dark and funny, Moriarty’s thrilling glimpse at this unconventional health resort will have you at the edge of your seat.
4. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
“You were given life; it is your duty (and also your entitlement as a human being) to find something beautiful within life, no matter how slight.”
The full title of Elizabeth Gilbert’s 2006 memoir Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia should give you a pretty comprehensive idea of what the subject matter might be. After divorcing her husband and suffering from depression, Gilbert embarks on a trip across the globe to tick off three key chapters in her life: to eat, to pray and to love. Experience the true story of Gilbert’s journey to self-discovery through the bustling streets of Rome and Venice, peaceful ashrams in Mumbai and beach parties in Bali and learn what it means to take responsibility for your own happiness.
5. Into The Wild by Jon Krakauer
“The very basic core of a man's living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.”
Inspired by his literary idol and like-minded backpacker Jack Kerouac, college graduate Christopher McCandless rid himself of all worldly possessions and embarked on a trip across the Western United States, hitchhiking and foraging for food along the way. Jon Krakauer’s non-fiction book tells the real life story of Christopher (who changed his name to Alexander Supertramp while travelling) and his search for enlightenment in Alaska that ultimately led to his tragic death. A fascinating insight into transcendentalism and humanity’s relationship with nature and each other.
6. A Theatre for Dreamers by Polly Samson
“We asked little of this island except days sunny and long enough to keep the Cold War from biting, a galloni of wine for six drachmas, and a solid white house for two pounds and ten shillings a month.”
Travel back to 1960 to the island of Hydra in Greece where artists from across the world gather to bask in the sun and share their inspirations and creativity with each other. Polly Samson’s steamy novel offers a glimpse into the real-life love triangle between Norwegian writer Axel Jensen, his wife Marianne and the poet Leonard Cohen. Blurring the lines between fiction and reality, Polly introduces teenage girl Erica, who escapes to Greece and finds herself entangled in the circle of bohemian dreamers. You’ll devour this one in a day.
7. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
“The world isn't just the way it is. It is how we understand it, no? And in understanding something, we bring something to it, no?”
Whilst Yann Martel’s main character Piscine does not embark on his captivating journey voluntarily, Life of Pi is still a fascinating tale of human resilience and what we can achieve when we are forced to leave everything behind. Trapped on a boat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with a hyena, a zebra, an orangutan and a Bengal tiger, Pi is faced with the adventure of a lifetime – navigating his life boat for over two hundred days. A true must-read for anyone looking to escape for a while.