5 Books to broaden your travel horizons

Reading time 4 minutes

5 Books to broaden your travel horizons and get you sucked into these travel stories and narratives. They are a great way to reflect on the past year and start looking at what’s ahead. We’ve been busy getting our bookshelves filled and getting energized for our next trips in 2022. We hope these 5 books will give you ideas not only about where to go next but also about how you travel.

These 5 books explore individual travel stories, collective narratives, and histories. They display art and landscapes that transport you to different places across our planet, both in time and space. 

Let’s start with our list:

1. Tour de Ireland by Emmet Ryan 

5 Books to broaden your travel horizon(s)

Tour de Ireland tells the story of a human-powered adventure across the landscapes of Ireland. For 2 weeks, this enthusiastic cyclist fan traveled alone with his road bike exploring Irish natural and cultural richness. Described with humor, it is a good introduction to what it means to try to cycle in Ireland. If you’re ever curious to cycle in the Irish countryside, Emmet mentions some beautiful places that are worth a visit.

The book however does miss a map, so that you could easily track the author’s journey. After reading it we want to follow some of his pedal strokes and climb some of the steepest Irish climbs that beat anything we’ve done so far. Try it and start pedaling.

2. Lost in Japan by Alex Kerr 

5 Books to broaden your travel horizon(s)

American Japanologist Alex Kerr wrote and compiled this series of essays in 1993 (updated in 2015), about his long-term relationship with the country that became his adopted homeland. In it, Alex explores how he started visiting Japan when he was young and became increasingly infatuated with the country’s culture, history, traditional architecture, and arts like kabuki theatre and calligraphy. He bought an abandoned house in the secret valley of Iya on Shikoku Island and decided to restore it, showing us how that process unfolded.

The book gives insight into a side of Japan that relates to the country’s countryside culture and daily life in contrast to the densely populated urban centers like Kyoto and Tokyo. We enjoyed the read; it was something different and showed us a more romantic side of Japan, making us want to book a trip to go there. It is worth a read!

3. Beyond Guilt Trips: Mindful Travel in an Unequal World by Dr. Anu Taranath

This book delves into the experiences of young, well-intentioned Western travelers that go abroad to study or volunteer. It explores the inherent bias that we all have when meeting people that are different from us and also others’ reactions to when they see us. How we deal with these feelings, assumptions, and perspectives are things that the author explores in the book. Many of us that can afford to travel, grow up with the idea that international travel is a way to expand our horizons. These trips can lead to a change in perspective, but can also bring up uncomfortable feelings of awkwardness, discomfort, and uncertainty on how to think or speak about the differences in culture, race, and economics they find.

In the book, Dr. Anu draws examples from her own personal experience when traveling abroad with her students, from conversations she had with travelers, volunteers, program directors, and others. It is a rich compilation of engaging personal travel stories to different countries. The book offers interesting insights into how to understand such uncomfortable feelings that arise when traveling and meeting others. It is a more introspective look into ourselves when traveling, and a valuable piece of writing.

4. Crossing Boundaries: A Traveller’s Guide to World Peace by Aziz Abu Sarah

On the lines of the previous book, Crossing Boundaries explores the question of how we travel, as an alternative to books that focus on what places to see or things to do. The social entrepreneur Aziz Abu Sarah (he has his own travel agency called MEJDI tours) uses his passion for tourism and business, along with his background in conflict resolution and personal experiences, to highlight the benefits that travel can bring in fostering greater understanding between different people and cultures as well as supporting local economies.

Tourism is a way to bring people together when done in the right way. How many local people do you meet in your travels? When you travel, where do you stay? Does that support the local economy? What are the narratives of the place you are going to? Have you learned more about where you went to, about the different individual stories you heard that give you a more complex picture of that place? This book tackles some of these questions and is useful to both a first-time traveler and a more seasoned one. An inspiring read that will make you think about the different ways of traveling.

5. Himalaya: a Human History by Ed Douglas

5 Books to broaden your travel horizon(s)

Himalaya: a Human history book delves into the socio-political, religious, cultural, and historical lives of people that have crossed and lived in the Himalayan mountain range and surrounding regions for centuries. Ed Douglas covers key moments in the region through the stories of politicians, explorers, trade people, monks, religious travelers, colonizers, etc. covering mainly the regions of Tibet, Nepal, India, and China. It’s non-fiction and needs focus and time to digest it. We are dying to visit this fascinating place and explore it. Ed Douglas is passionate about this natural area and clearly did tons of research on the subject.

We found it hard to get immersed in the book though. The author fills it with a lot of facts and characters without going very deep. We got easily distracted due to the overload of information. The book lacks descriptive details of landscapes, smells, and tastes making it hard to be transported into the stories. We do think it’s a great intro to a region of the world, which will make your Himalayan experiences much more enriching!

It is a thick book of about 525 reading pages, reading it felt like climbing Mt. Everest itself! Put some fireplace music on, get some hot cocoa start reading it.

We hope you got some inspiration for your reading list! For more literature tips, check out our other article on Travel books!