Over the week of Labor Day, both of us went on week long adventures and vacations. Serena went to Glacier National Park for family and the outdoors, while Kate went to New Zealand for hobbits and landscape appreciation! In honor of our trips, we have complied a list of books that have to do with traveling and vacationing. Just because summer is almost over, it doesn’t mean that we have to say goodbye to travel and trips!
Book: “The Motorcycle Diaries” by Ernesto “Che” Guevara
Publishing Info: Verso Books, 1995
Before Che Guevara became a legendary revolutionary and symbol of rebellion, he was a medical student with a taste for adventure. He and his friend Alberto went on a motorcycle journey from his home in Argentina to a leper colony where he was going to treat patients. During this journey across the continent he met many people from many backgrounds, and seeing their plight sparked his political activism. His journey on his motorcycle is chronicled in his diary, which was published years after the fact and became a critically acclaimed movie starring Gael Garcia Bernal. South America comes to life on the page as Guevara’s journey unfolds, and it makes the reader ache to see what he saw.
Book: “A Walk in the Woods” by Bill Bryson
Publishing Info: Broadway Books, 1998
Those familiar with Bill Bryson know that he’s an avid traveler and a connoisseur in history and storytelling. Arguably, his most famous and beloved work is “A Walk in the Woods”, his story of his attempt at walking the Appalachian Trail with very little prep and very little idea of what he was getting himself into. After putting out feelers to the people in life as to who would like to try and walk the Trail with him, his only taker is an old college friend named Katz. Hilarity, mayhem, and poignancy ensue. This travel log is not only very funny, but also has some fascinating stories about the history of the trail, the wildlife on it, and the people they meet along the way.
Book: “A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue” by Mackenzi Lee
Publishing Info: Katherine Tegan Books, 2017
Part romantic romp, part historical fiction, and part sumptuous road trip adventure, “The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue” is not your average travel story. Monty, a teenage boy of high stature in the 1700s, is going on a final European Tour before he is to settle down and take over the family estate. Accompanied by his sister Felicity and his best friend (and unrequited crush) Percy, Monty cavorts through 1700s Europe, meeting interesting people, and getting into trouble, along the way. The descriptions of this trip are fun and decadent, and you cannot help but wish that you too could be accompanying them through Old Europe and the adventures that they pursue.
Book: “The Historian” by Elizabeth Kostova
Publishing Info: Time Warner Books, 2005
On the surface level, this is presented as a horror story relating to Vlad the Impaler who is most notoriously known for inspiring Bram Stoker’s “Dracula, and the legacy that he and this most famous vampire have left across the centuries. In particular, how is this history tied up with Rossi family, the central characters of our story? However, more actually, it is a travelogue story detailing the rich history of Eastern Europe. A family mystery leads our two protagonists throughout the region, and the text takes a deep dive into the beauty of its wildernesses and cities. This book will make you want to suddenly upend your life and take a month-long trip to Budapest.
Book: “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho
Publishing Info: HarperCollins, 1988
This is the story of a treasure hunt. But instead of pirates, islands, and maps marked with an “X,” we follow Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who travels from his home in Spain across the desert in Egypt to discover a hidden treasure said to be buried in the pyramids. However, no one knows what exactly this treasure is. As he travels and meets new and interesting people (a gypsy woman, a would-be King, the titular alchemist), we come to see that the real treasure is the value placed on dreams and the will to follow them wherever they may lead us.
Book: “Undaunted Courage: The Pioneering First Mission to Explore America’s Wild Frontier” by Stephen E. Ambrose
Publishing Info: Simon & Schuster, 1996
This is a nonfiction story that is masquerading as fiction and details the historic journey across the country by Lewis and Clark between 1803 and 1806. Ambrose focuses his tale particularly on Captain Meriwether Lewis and his relationship with President Jefferson, the driving force behind the mission. While many of us know the broad strokes of the story, this book is jammed packed with details that add color, heart, and rightly highlight the real stakes involved in undertaking a journey such as this. For example, did you know that at this point in history, the wilderness was so overrun by squirrels that they would actually migrate each year, in a similar manner to birds? And Lewis and Clark noted seeing packs of them swim across rivers in this migration? As a largely fiction reader, this is on a select must-read nonfiction list!