There are certain books that seem to circulate the backpacker scene, the types of books that you discuss and swap with other travellers and i’ve been lucky enough to read a lot of them over the last few years.
Some of the books are based on travel and others based on the ‘backpacker’ Countries. I’ve came across the majority of these books by just picking them up on a hostel shelf or been recommended to read them by a fellow traveller and brought it online once I’m home (i always buy used books from Amazon as they’re so cheap).
I do really struggle to read when I’m at home but when I’m travelling there’s nothing better than having a book to delve into whilst waiting for a bus, to pass a long journey or as a good sunbathing companion.
If you’re looking for some reading inspiration here are the best travel related books I’ve read and would recommend:
Shantaram– Gregory David Roberts.
This is one of my all time favourite books! It’s a big book and requires some dedication but lets just stay you’ll want to go to India after reading it.
Written as an autobiography of the author but with added fiction for storytelling purposes it describes how he escaped from prison in Melbourne and then finds himself in Bombay, India with a fake passport, living in the slums and taking part in various black market activities and of course a bit of romance is involved. Without a doubt it is a must read!
Wild– Cheryl Strayed
I always think that books are better than the film and this is definitely the case for Wild. Cheryl Stray writes about her experience hiking the Pacific Crest Trail in the USA following her mother’s death and a break up. She describes the difficulties of the hike she has taken on- i.e a huge backpack, sore feet and the tough weather conditions but she really does get to know her real self and what she wants out of life with it.
Even if you have watched the film the book is still worth a read as there’s so much more detail in it and despite the sore feet it has now made me want to do a big trek at some some point!
The Wanderess– Roman Payne
Last year i saw a few Roman Payne quotes going around Instagram and i thought who is this guy? It turns out he’s an author and his book The Wanderess was highly rated, at the time i was travelling South America solo so it seemed like the perfect read and although i couldn’t quite relate to it i also couldn’t put it down.
It’s a love story of 2 characters who become entwined in each other life whilst searching for their fortune. Its based way back when (i couldn’t find the exact date) in France, Spain and Italy so it’s an interesting read on how people used to travel and with lots of twists and turns you will finish the book before you know it, in fact I’ve just read it for a second time in a year.
First they killed my Father– Loung Ung
This book is a big book on the backpacker scene in South East Asia and i think it always will be. For the majority of us unless you visit Cambodia you have no idea of its history in the 70’s where the Government murdered 25% of the country’s population.
This book is written by a girl who survived the genocide but witnessed everything that happened to her Country and describes everything in so much detail. It is a hard book to read but its worth reading before you go to Cambodia to understand the history of the Country better.
The Damage Done: Twelve years of hell in a Bangkok prison– Warren Fellows
I do like a good drug read book and lets put it this way after reading this book there’s no way you’ll consider trafficking drugs in Thailand however it is an interesting read into what the system in Thailand is like.
Marching Powder– Rusty Young
Another really good drug read but this time based in the prison in La Paz, Bolivia’s capital city. This is a great book to read if you’re heading to Bolivia or have been, mainly because the prison Rusty was in is still in the city centre so when i read it after I’d been to Bolivia i felt i could picture it so much more.
This book describes how Rusty got caught drug trafficking and was put inside La Paz’s prison. The corruption that he explains is completely unthinkable and the fact that for a long time while he was in there, backpackers were allowed to visit him and even stay over and party with him using the cocaine the prison produced is just crazy and a great insight into what backpackers got up to back in the day.
The Kite Runner– Khaled Hosseini
This was a book that i did pick up on a hostel shelf, i loved it and since then have come across a few others who have read it making me believe it is another ‘backpacker scene’ book.
Based in Afghanistan it follows the unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy and the boy of his fathers servant. It’s an incredibly touching book whilst also giving some insight into what was happening in Afghanistan at that time.
Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Slum– Katherine Boo
This was another booked i happened to pick up somewhere and wow it is a truly moving book of what life is like in the Mumbai slums a long with the contrast of the new airport that is being built at the time and the luxury hotels.
I had a layover in Mumbai the other year and i remember thinking how incredible the airport was and then seeing all the slums whilst taking off and it took me right back to reading this book. It’s another hard read but a good one.
The Art of Happiness– Dalai Lama
This may well not be a backpacker scene book but once you’ve travelled to Asia its likely you’ll gain an interest into Buddhism and this is a great approach on how to overcome everyday human problems and achieve lasting happiness.
It’s a great motivational book which really gets you thinking about life and your approach to life.
Burmese Days– George Orwell
I was told a few times to read this book by people on Instagram after they’d seen i had visited Myanmar (Burma). I have only just started reading it but it sounds like it’s a great insight into what Colonial Burma was like back when the British ruled. George Orwell gives his frank and honest opinions on how the British behaved and what the Burmese thought of them.
I think this would have been a great book to read before going to Burma and therefore knowing some background history of the colonial times.
The Beach– Alex Garland
And lastly for a complete classic. The Beach as a film is very good but the book (of course) is so much better!
Although Thailand is no longer as described in this book the excitement of Khao San Road in Bangkok is still present as are the amazing Islands. I also heard that although the book is based on Thailand that Alex got his inspiration from El Nido in the Philippines so it’s a good book for which ever Country you’re visiting!
**Have you read any of the above or are there any books that you would add to the list??**