Five Books to Read and Travel Along With


Have you ever read a book while completely immersed in its setting? Maybe you devoured "Eat, Pray, Love" while traveling through Italy, India, or Indonesia. Perhaps you've read "On The Road" while road-tripping along Kerouac's route. There is something cinematic about the experience. To not only imagine the scenery, but to experience it first hand with all five senses. Hear the chatter, see the views; feel the unforgiving sun beating down. Sniff the wine, taste the local flavors. Here are five travel books to read while you're there.

Japan: Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami
In "Kafka on the Shore", Murakami's cat-conversing character, Nakata, travels west from Tokyo. Reading this section of the book while riding a shinkansen or bus across Japan is transformational. You feel at one with the character, wrapped up in Murakami's fantasy world of talking cats and magical realism.

Appalachia: A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
Before "Wild", there was "A Walk in the Woods". Reading this book has inspired many hopeful hikers to take on the Appalachian Trail — for better or for worse. Bryson's account is hilarious, and makes for a great tent companion on those long, lonely nights in the woods. From Georgia to Maine, the author brings the trail to life in a way that only Bill Bryson can.

Thailand: The Beach by Alex Garland
Don't read this book during your first night at a backpacker's hostel on Khao San Road. It's kind of creepy. Yet for any Bangkok backpacker headed south to Thailand's islands, "The Beach" is a must-read. Fair warning: the book is much better than the film. Seriously. Don't even watch it.

Turkey: Birds Without Wings by Louis de Bernières
When you visit Kayaköy on Turkey's Mediterranean coast, you hear about "Birds Without Wings". From tour guides, shuttle drivers, and other travelers. Louis de Bernières' book has stirred a newfound interest in the ancient town, now reduced to rubble by the 1957 Fethiye earthquake. Sit among the ruins and read "Birds Without Wings" for a few hours. The ghost town will come to life before your eyes.

Colombia: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
This classic novel, set in mythical Macondo, is inspired by García Márquez's childhood in Colombia and based on the real-life town of Aracataca. If you read one book in Colombia, make it "One Hundred Years of Solitude".

Brandon Fralic is a Bellingham-based freelance writer. With a focus on the outdoors, travel, and craft beer, he contributes to a handful of publications including Washington Trails, WhatcomTalk, and Outdoor Project.