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For Community-Driven Global Development

Books that Inspire Us to Travel

Reading makes immigrants of us all. It takes us away from home, but more important, it finds homes for us everywhere. —Jean Rhys

There are books that impact us in ways beyond what we imagine is possible. Some works enlighten us to step boldly in new directions with new perspectives. Others motivate us when we are feeling misguided, and some may inspire us to look beyond our own experience and see the world through an entirely new lens.

Words are a powerful source of inspiration and motivation. Here are a few books we have found that inspire us to travel and experience a world beyond our own.

  • The Geography of Bliss, by Eric Weiner: This book takes you around the world on the hunt for happiness. Over the course of one year, former NPR correspondent Eric Weiner, travels to ten very unique countries - The Netherlands, Switzerland, Bhutan, Qatar, Iceland, Moldova, Thailand, Great Britain, India and the United States - to uncover the wide spectrum of definitions of what happiness actually is. The book’s intrigue lies in the layered insights of its subjectivity.
  • The Alchemist, by Paulo Coehlo: A classic tale about finding your Personal Legend, the Alchemist follows a young Andalusian shepherd on a quest from Spain to the pyramids of Egypt. During his pilgrimage, the shepherd finds love and friendship while all the while staying true to his destiny and reaching for his goals. Originally written in Portuguese, the Alchemist has been translated into more than 70 languages.
  • Wild, by Cheryl Strayed: After hitting rock bottom, Cheryl Strayed decided to leave her belongings behind and complete a solitary hike through the Pacific Crest Trail, a trail that runs from Mexico to Canada through the western United States. This journey of more than 1,000 miles (1,600 km) is a journey of discovery, healing, and spiritual realizations.
  • Into the Wild, by Jon Krakauer is the nonfiction tale of Christopher Johnson McCandless, who gave up everything he owned, and adopted a new identity as a way to invent a new life for himself. After his tragic death in the Alaskan wilderness, reporter Jon Krakauer pieces together the events that led McCandless to leave everything behind and explore the wild outdoors of the United States. 
  • Paris Was Ours, by Penelope Rowlands: Paris Was Ours is a collection of thirty-two short stories written by authors who live in Paris or whose lives have been deeply affected by their time there. What may seem like a compilation of disparate voices are the distinct visions and memories of uniquely different people and their complicated relationship to Paris. The anthology recounts stories of immigrants who left their countries to start over in Paris and the subject of how women are viewed and treated in France.  
  • Travels with Charley in Search of America, John Steinbeck: Classic American novelist, John Steinbeck, tells the story of a one-man, one-dog duo and their cross-country journey across the United States in the 1960s. The 10,000-mile trip details happy passages of the author’s deep love for Montana, the rediscovery of his native Salinas Valley, and his surprising new impressions of the Midwest. Savor the journey of this book and go slow.
  • For One More Day,  Mitch Albom: A complicated tale of morality one man’s struggle to deal with his past. Albom paints a story of redemption and how to come to terms with the past we leave behind. The story focuses on our mistakes, forgiveness, and the power of family. Not necessarily a travel book, but an inspirational exploration of death and dying and how we look at our lives in the present day before we reach the point of passing on.

Favorites of other volunteers: