This week’s topic is open for interpretation. There’s the straight version: contemporary nonfiction travel monologue. And then there are the more liberal interpretations: travel into other worlds, or across space, or in the past (fictional and not). My list has a little bit of each of those, and it also has books for all ages. I’m pretty sure that’s because the thrill and strangeness of travel appeal to every generation. You know the drill: pick up one of these books and travel miles with your imagination.
Top Ten Books That Feature Travel
1. Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan trilogy – This series features a round-the-globe adventure in an alternate history where the Great War (WWI) has just broken out. Clever beasties, strange machinery, and plots and adventures in far-flung locales abound.
2. Inés of My Soul by Isabel Allende – Allende writes lyrical historical fiction about the first European woman to settle in Chile, and her personal odyssey from Spain to the New World.
3. The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien – Epic fantasy is often about a quest, and this classic series is no different. Frodo Baggins’ journey from the Shire to Mordor is pretty serious travel.
4. The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World by Eric Weiner – I read this travelogue/investigative tome while moving across the country, and found it an interesting take on various cultures’ attitudes about the concepts of happiness and contentment.
5. Catherynne M. Valente’s Fairyland books – September, the heroine of Valente’s gorgeous middle grade fantasies, travels to Fairyland. And then she travels around, above and below it, too. What that description doesn’t tell you is that the trip will break your heart, make you laugh, and leave you longing for just a bit more magic.
6. Cosmic by Frank Cottrell Boyce – Liam is 12 years old, but he’s so tall that he’s constantly being mistaken for an adult. But even that doesn’t explain how he’s ended up in space, and making it home again might not be the biggest challenge he faces.
7. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain – Quintessential American literature, yes. Also? An homage to Mississippi waterways, growing up, and independence.
8. The Travels of Ibn Battutah by Ibn Battutah – Ibn Battutah is one of the most famous travelers of all time – he traversed much of the known (and unknown) world in the 14th century, including Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East (he certainly surpassed Marco Polo). However, I’d never heard of him until I took a class on Byzantium and Islam in college. His travel accounts are extremely interesting and valuable, and surprisingly accessible.
9. The Chronicles of Narnia, but especially The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis – Narnia’s presence on this list was a forgone conclusion, really. Several of the books in Lewis’ series are based on a journey, but perhaps the most celebrated is that of the ship the Dawn Treader, on which two of the Pevensie children and their cousin Eustace are headed for The Lone Islands (and the end of the world).
10. Relish by Lucy Knisley – Knisley’s graphic novel memoir revolves around food, family and travel, and the travel portions are funny, heartfelt and charming. That alone would make this a worthy addition, but then there’s also FOOD. Yum!
What books are on your list?