I was working on a blog post yesterday about keeping the motivation up once you’ve booked your holiday but still have to soldier on until the departure date. I suggested reading a book about or set in, the location you are about to visit as one way to keep your spirits up.And that then got me thinking of the many other ways a beautiful book can inspire, enhance and help keep the memories of your travels.

Remember when I wrote the tips blog about Travel Planning (Part 2 really is coming, I promise)? I suggest that you find ideas in magazines and newspapers and travel brochures. Well reading a book serves just as well. The absolutely first time I ever thought of going overseas was as a 16-year-old reading The Drifters by James A Michener…Marrakesh sounded so exotic then, and it still is. The sound of Torremolinos still evokes images of suntanned hippies hanging out and having fun, despite the fact it’s now just a little bit tacky and overdeveloped. I guess the reality can sometimes disappoint, but not always.

India Pics

Dreaming of India

Have you ever read The Beach? The imagery and descriptions of the idyllic island setting sent thousands of people to outer tropical islands in South East Asia. When the movie was released, Kho Phi Phi was overrun. One good reason to get there before the movie release, I guess!! Ditto with Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love.   Holy Cow, by Sarah Macdonald, is one of my all-time favorites. It’s a really funny book about the enormous range of religions in India, and it had me itching to get there to experience the chaos. After reading Bill Bryson’s, A Walk in the Woods, I was madly plotting how we could do the Appalachian Trail ourselves.

Cycling has taken over the physically challenging corner of our travels for the moment, but it still lurks on the bucket list as one of the things I’d love to try. I tried to read Jack Kerouac’s classic On the Road, but I’m afraid it didn’t do much for me at all, and I never finished it. Just not my style (Lord of the Rings is the same. I’ve tried four times to read it and stopped in the same place every time.)

Books also keep the memories alive once we get home. Reading a book that mentions and describes somewhere we’ve been immediately brought back the sights, smells, and sounds of a moment in time when we experienced the same thing. The written word is sometimes more powerful in bringing back memories than a photo. It’s one of the reasons I blog. Way too many red wines over the years mean my memory is not what it used to be. Reading back over our adventures brings it all back again, as does reading a book by someone else.

India Pics - Varanasi

Every sense is assaulted by this magical place.

Anyway……As is usual, when I start to look at things that interest me, I’ve gone off on a tangent and found lists for the Best Travel Books Ever and Top Ten lists of classic travel books. Top ten travel books for 2013 etc., and came up with a vast and varied list. I have to admit some of which I’ve never even heard of.  I considered making a huge list here and asking people to vote, but I’d really prefer to get your opinion on the subject before I make such a list.

So the BIG QUESTION is…..

What are the books you’ve read that have inspired your travels, made you add a place to your bucket list, OR left you feeling like you’ve been there?

Please comment below, and I’ll publish a list of readers’ favorites when I get at least 10.

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