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5 Books That Inspire  Travel

Not only can literature transport you to the edges of the earth without you having to lift much more than a finger, it can also be a great source of inspiration to actually go and discover places for yourself. We're here to give you five books that offer a unique and intriguing insight into some of the most beautiful parts of the world!

One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Flickr | Lefty LeMurOne of the most famous works produced by the Colombian novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude chronicles the rise and fall of the fictional Buendia family throughout a hundred years in an unnamed South American country. Its greatest feat is the narration of the story through the fantastical lense of magical realism, in which the surreal is told in such a sober tone that it feels commonplace. In the village of Macondo, absurdity, myth and tragedy walk hand-in-hand with modernity and technology. From household chores to levitating priests, Garcia Marquez intertwines dreamlike sequences with content that holds rich historical, political and cultural substance - giving the reader an insight not only into the region’s history, but an opportunity to explore the fantastical dimensions which have perpetrated the region’s self-identity. As such, there is an anthropological element to the novel, chronicling a family’s consciousness in a country caught between pre-industrialisation and modernity, amongst civil war and imperialism. Aside from its flavourful storyline, Garcia Marquez’s gift for for the extraordinary means that the novel opens the door to a South American landscape which encourages the reader to see the fantastical in daily life.

The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho

Flickr | Evan BlasserThe Alchemist follows the journey of a young Andalusian shepherd as he embarks on a journey to Egypt, after a recurring dream convinces him that there is treasure hidden under the country’s pyramids. The plot is simple, but rich with contemplation and a multitude of concepts that include destiny, failure and how to harness the power of the universe. Coelho’s dream-like, wistful writing style accompanies the reader through the landscape of the Spanish peninsula, searing Moroccan deserts and warring tribal territories. The shepherd boy Santiago dreams of seeing the world and makes it his quest to do so - and serves as an example to anybody who wishes to do the same.

Blue Highways, William Least Heat-Moon

Flickr | Matt HintsaKerouac’s On The Road isn’t the only road trip classic to inspire dreams of a stretching, open road and invite a sense of restlessness in almost everyone who reads it. The autobiographical novel Blue Highways, starts with a man who has simultaneously lost both wife and job, continues with a 13,000 mile journey along forgotten, out-of-the-way roads and ends with a sense of wonder at the multifaceted region that is the United States of America. Littered with historical accounts of lesser-known areas and colourful encounters with interesting characters such as a born-again Christian hitchhiker, a maple syrup farmer and a teenage runaway, the novel transforms the neglected roads and towns of America into a terrain for discovery and self-exploration - without succumbing to cliched imagery.

The Good Earth, Pearl S. Buck

Flickr | Global Environment FacilitySet in a Chinese village in the years before the First World War, The Good Earth follows the story of an agrarian family that nurture the symbiotic relationship between themselves and the earth that they toil. When flood and drought perish their livelihood, themes of industrialisation, workers rights and class conflict come into play, making for a swirling jumble of complexities that ponder on themes such as survival and morality. Full of raw imagery that explores tradition and the hardships of life, all of which are accompanied by the slow rumblings of the revolution, the novel provides an insight into Chinese culture, landscape and history. Even today, rural China stands in stark contrast with the growing urban landscapes that now dominate the country’s image - but The Good Earth transports the reader back to its roots, allowing you to trace the cultural intricacies that still prevail today.

Looking for Transwonderland: Travels in Nigeria, Noo Saro-Wiwa

By shawnleishman from Glasgow, Scotland (Project Nigeria : Day 3 : Lekki Market.), via Wikimedia CommonsLooking for Transwonderland accompanies the travels of the British-Nigerian author Noo Saro-Wiwa through Nigeria.  Full of sharp observations as she tries to acclimatise to both the beauty and brutality of her surroundings, from the fast-paced Lagos to the serenity of the eastern mountains, the book’s underlying theme is the author’s eye for the absurd and her journey to reconnect with the country her parents had called home. Saro-Wiwa’s wry style strays away from any romanticized notion of the country, but also highlights themes that successfully peel away at misconceptions which often prevail in mainstream media. From startlingly beautiful national parks to towns struck by the corrupting effects of oil, the book allows a refreshing insight into Nigeria - and will ignite a curiosity to discover it for yourself.

There you have it - 5 books that will most certainly ignite that wanderlust, so get reading!

By Laura Hallensleben - Online Journalism Intern

Frontier runs conservationdevelopmentteaching and adventure travel projects in over 50 countries worldwide - so join us and explore the world!

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