A good book can be a journey in itself. These books will not only take you exploring, they’ll also inspire you to plan your own adventures. These are books that will leave you wanting to see new places, get into mishaps, meet interesting new people, and have journeys of self-discovery. Proceed with caution and your credit card out of reach – unless you’re ready to buy that one-way ticket to anywhere.
On the Road by Jack Kerouac
This one’s a classic, and with good reason. A weaving, wandering portrait of the ever-seeking Beat Generation, On the Road will resonate with young seekers of any generation. Set against the backdrop of conformity in consumerism and conviction that predominated the 1950s, the Beats were preoccupied with the search for new ways to live outside of the harsh dichotomies and distrust of the different that characterized Cold War culture. Kerouac documents this search for answers in this telling of his journey across America, exploring the world, getting into trouble, meeting interesting characters, and falling in love. Most importantly, Kerouac (represented by the narrator, Sal Paradise) learns about himself and the way he wants to live – which is enough to inspire any searcher to get on the road.
The Drifters by James A. Michener
Published in 1971 and set against the turmoil of the Vietnam War and the rumbling social change of the 1960s, Michener’s gargantuan novel will suck you in for every last page. It follows the interwoven stories of young people trying to find their way and themselves in a changing world – including a disenfranchised draft dodger, a beautiful young Norwegian with inherited wanderlust, a rebellious child of privilege, a young black man caught in the swirl of evolving race relations, an Israeli-American-Brit trying to pick a passport, and a young student jaded before her time. Together they set off on adventures that are alternately heartwarming and heart wrenching, but always wondrous. It’s a book about discovering who you want to be in a changing world – and how you want to help build that world- that is sure to inspire a lust for adventure.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
More than a little silly and delightfully ridiculous, The Hitchhiker’sGuide may not be about real places, but it captures the spirit of backpacker travel perfectly. Following the adventures of Arthur Dent, one of the two last surviving humans, after the destruction of Earth, it’s a laugh-out-loud witty story about the mishaps of (in this case interstellar) travel. It also features, amongst a cast of fascinating characters, Ford Prefect, writer for the title guide, who one might imagine as a futuristic Lonely Planet or Rough Guide writer. He and the Guide are full of advice any backpacker should know – for starters; always know where your towel is. Always.