While the coronavirus has caused many countries to go on lockdown, quarantined travelers and self-isolators may be starting to feel the symptoms of cabin fever. The following travel books will help you escape your residential prisons, in mind if not in body, and quell the growing sensation of wanderlust you’re undoubtedly feeling.
I’ve opted to give you a few travel book recommendations that are considered “classics,” a few that are recent best-sellers, and a few that you may not have heard about. If you have any additional suggestions of travel books to read while on coronavirus lockdown, let us know about them in the comments section below.
As Asia is generally a no-go for many travelers, Video Night in Kathmandu will help you get there. Pico Iyer, who was a guest on the Travel Writing World podcast, takes us through 1980s Asia just as globalization was starting to be felt. Video Night in Kathmandu was the book that made many of us fall in love with not just the travel genre, but with the style and insight of Pico Iyer.
You can also pass through Asia in the pages of Paul Theroux’s The Great Railway Bazaar. Theroux, who was also a guest on the Travel Writing World podcast, takes us on a whirlwind tour from London through the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and Russia before returning to London. Alternatively, read Monisha Rajesh’s Around the World in 80 Trains, which documents a similar journey from a different perspective (Rajesh also appeared on the Travel Writing World podcast). Our final recommendation that deals with trains is Ben Lerner’s Leaving the Atocha Station. Lerner’s heady novel is half fiction, half autobiography, and traces a young man’s quest to have an aesthetic experience while studying abroad and smoking spliffs in Madrid.
Bummed because you cannot go to Japan for the canceled cherry blossom festivals this spring or, perhaps, the Olympics this summer? Get your Japan foodie fix by reading Michael Booth’s playful Super Sushi Ramen Express. Alternatively, check out The Bells of Old Tokyo by Anna Sherman (also a guest on the Travel Writing World podcast) for a more serious and literary read.
If you need an escape to the natural world, check out Barry Lopez’s tome, Horizon. Alternatively, read Robert Macfarlane’s award-winning Underland for journey to the underworld or Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods for comic relief on the Appalachian Trail.
For readers wanting something chewier, Alain de Botton’s Art of Travel is an interesting, quick read that deals with some of the philosophical questions that arise from travel. Or, check out Dean McCannell’s theoretical and academic The Tourist. Lastly, but not specifically related to travel, Pico Iyer’s Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere may help you get through these (stir) crazy times.