I suppose, if you were so inclined, you could call me a bookworm. I always seem to have some kind of reading material with me at all times; my messenger bag or suitcase always has a book or magazine at the ready, and at the very least, my iPad is loaded with plenty of magazines and PDFs to last a month. So basically, I love to read.
Reading serves a few purposes, not the least of which is bettering one’s mind. When traveling, books can help pass time at airports or train stations, stir the imagination on long car rides, or instruct and build confidence in a new skill. Books are portable and easily stowed. In short, books are good for the traveler.
Since we all love lists—and with holiday season here—I’ve compiled a few of my favorite books that help me as an entrepreneur, as a traveler, as an outdoorsman, and as a human being on the whole. I’d love to hear which books you love to read while traveling, so leave your favorites in the comments.
The 4-Hour Work Week – For anyone longing to break away from the cubicle farm, or simply improve their daily life in the office, this book is your guide to making work better. For travelers and entrepreneurs alike (these often overlap), Tim Ferriss’ book inspires us to experiment and make small changes for big results.
The $100 Startup – This short, easy read is aimed at entrepreneurs and wannabe entrepreneurs, but can really apply to just about anyone. Written by fellow traveler Chris Guillebeau, The $100 Startup delves into what successful small business owners do to stand out, and how just about anyone with creativity, style, and motivation can build a business from almost nothing.
Kitchen Confidential – One of my favorite reads, Kitchen Confidential is a no-holds barred look at the restaurant industry from the inside. Famous chef and TV Host Anthony Bourdain wrote this well before his star rose; the book made him a celebrity almost overnight because of its gritty and accurate portrayal of a section of society most of us never see. It’s a fun, crazy ride, and supremely interesting.
Amazing Things Will Happen – Friend of PTV C.C. Chapman wrote Amazing Things Will Happen as a motivational tool in response to his success as an author and marketer. He’d receive so many questions about how he does what he loves and keeps such a positive attitude that he wrote this book. C.C. offers personal anecdotes and straightforward advice on making your life amazing.
On Writing – Author Stephen King may be most well known for his horror and thriller novels, but the man can write. I was never a true “author,” but I read this book on the recommendation of my brother, who is. On Writing is a master class on not simply writing, but indeed, on true storytelling. I haven’t read this one in several years, but it’s burrowed its way into my mind, and every time I see it on the bookshelf, or I hear someone talk about storytelling, the book screams to be read again.
A Walk In The Woods – When someone recommends a great book on traveling in the outdoors, or hiking, or the Appalachian Trail, A Walk In The Woods by Bill Bryson is almost always the first book on the list. This seminal piece of outdoors literature is equal parts history lesson, sentimental postcard, and laugh out loud ball buster. Read it.
Into Thin Air – It’s likely you’ve heard of one of John Krakauer’s other books, Into the Wild, since a movie based on that book was made a few years back, but Into Thin Air was an earlier Krakauer work. In May 1996, an expedition up Mount Everest ended tragically after a huge storm blew in, and Krakauer was there to document it all. It’s a riveting look at how the decisions we make in the heat of the moment can have harsh consequences.
Vagabonding – Rolf Potts wasn’t the first to backpack around the world and write about it, but he was the first to make it seem accessible to anyone. A veteran of what we today call “location independence,” Potts writes about dropping everything to see the world, to the betterment of yourself and the world at large. This was the book that gave me the idea for Part Time Vagabond, so it’s a must read for any fan of the blog.
Long Way Down – I tried reading this book a few years back after finding it on sale for a dollar, but I just couldn’t get into it at the time. Silly me. Actors Charlie Boorman and Ewan McGregor (yes, that Ewan McGregor) wrote this book as a companion piece to their documentary film about their motorcycle journey from Scotland to the southern tip of Africa. Bolstered by the knowledge gained from their first motorcyle trip in Long Way Round (London to New York City), they set out again on the road for some truly amazing adventures, meeting wonderful people, but also dealing with some hardships along the way.
Notes from a Small Island – I can’t quite remember if I read this book before or after my trip to London back in 2007, but I do know that when I read Bill Bryson’s account of his trip around England before moving back to the U.S. after 25 years living in the U.K., I was enamored with the country and its people. Bryson’s account of pubs, people, and personalities veers from endearing to crazy, and everything in between. It’s a fun read for when you’re sitting in Heathrow waiting for your flight back home.
What are your favorite books to keep with you while traveling? Leave yours in the comments so I can add to my list!