The best books in which the author has a crazy travel adventure and you get to live it vicariously

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a stubborn ox who won’t ever accept that something can’t be done. Tell me I can’t be a Formula 1 reporter for a particular magazine on the other side of the world, and I’ll embark on a journalism degree. Tell me I can’t be a professional golfer, and I’ll quit my job to get practicing. Tell me I can’t camp here, and up goes my hammock. Tell me to grow up and stop fantasising about driving road trains in Australia, and you’re basically insisting I get a truck licence. I like that being this way creates unique stories and that I have a little talent for writing them down.


I wrote...

The Road to Innamincka

By R.A. Dalkey,

Book cover of The Road to Innamincka

What is my book about?

When a 9-year-old R.A. Dalkey decided he was going to become an Outback truck driver, the poor Australia-besotted boy had no idea what he was getting into.

He’d been born on the wrong continent for a start. And even if he could make it out of Africa one day, where was an Australian work visa to come from? Or, for that matter, a licence to drive 53-metre trucks on red desert roads? But he never let the dream drop—not even decades into adulthood. So join him as he pursues the ultimate whimsical travel quest…

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The books I picked & why

Book cover of A Chip Shop in Poznan: My Unlikely Year in Poland

R.A. Dalkey Why did I love this book?

How could I not love a book written by a fellow ‘Brexit refugee’? Around the same time Ben Aitken moved to Poland in the wake of the momentous 2016 UK referendum, I fled to Austria. Although we had different motives and his time in Poznan was a temporary adventure, I had to know how it went! And I wasn’t disappointed. There’s dry humour, plenty of self-deprecation, and lots of interesting trivia, which I like. Best of all, it’s a unique premise: “Britain has just reacted to ‘Poles taking our low-paying jobs’. So let me be the first Brit to try going to Poland as a manual labourer, and see how that pans out.” To learn the answers, and have your thoughts provoked whilst being thoroughly entertained, I recommend joining Aitken in the chip shop!

By Ben Aitken,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Chip Shop in Poznan as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A TIMES BESTSELLER

'One of the funniest books of the year' - Paul Ross, talkRADIO

WARNING: CONTAINS AN UNLIKELY IMMIGRANT, AN UNSUNG COUNTRY, A BUMPY ROMANCE, SEVERAL SHATTERED PRECONCEPTIONS, TRACES OF INSIGHT, A DOZEN NUNS AND A REFERENDUM.

Not many Brits move to Poland to work in a fish and chip shop.

Fewer still come back wanting to be a Member of the European Parliament.

In 2016 Ben Aitken moved to Poland while he still could. It wasn't love that took him but curiosity: he wanted to know what the Poles in the UK had left behind. He flew to…


Book cover of Don’t Go There

R.A. Dalkey Why did I love this book?

A humorous travel book that visits a bunch of places I’ve been to, including Pyongyang, Jerusalem, and…Thetford! Yes, please! If you’ve lived a life like Fletcher’s or mine, you’ve got no need for fiction because you know that people putting themselves out there in the real world delivers story-fuel beyond compare. The ‘quest’ here is to ‘lose himself and find everyone else in the world’s strangest places.’ Okay, it’s a little ethereal and refers to some of his relationship woes—but those words give you a perfect insight into the novel way in which the author sees the planet around him. Oh, and having also landed up basing myself in a Germanic country, I can relate to his experience of having a Teutonic girlfriend too!

By Adam Fletcher,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Don’t Go There as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How much would you risk to change your life?

Would you go where everyone else is trying to leave? Bestselling author Adam Fletcher did…

In this unusual, hilarious travel memoir, he visits ten of the strangest places on earth. There's something he wants to know. Something no-one is telling him.

To find the answer he’ll enter a blizzard in China armed with only a pack of biscuits; ponder the apocalypse in Chernobyl; be chased by the Croatian police on his way to Liberland (the world’s newest country); stalk the Sheriff of Transnistria (its most corrupt); and come face-to-face with two…


Book cover of Notes from a Small Island

R.A. Dalkey Why did I love this book?

One of the only criticisms we might level at Brill Bryson is that his idea of a crazy quest is likely to be something relatively tameand heaven forbid it should play out in a developing or non-English-speaking country! But we’ll let him off, of course, because of the writing genius he brings to the party. This is a writer whose style and cutting observational humour I consider the benchmark to which my own real-world books must aspire. So his quest to traverse the United Kingdom exclusively by public transport inevitably makes my list. The fact that it was almost three decades ago is (to snatch another of his book titles) neither here nor there.

By Bill Bryson,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Notes from a Small Island as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1995, before leaving his much-loved home in North Yorkshire to move back to the States for a few years with his family, Bill Bryson insisted on taking one last trip around Britain, a sort of valedictory tour of the green and kindly island that had so long been his home. His aim was to take stock of the nation's public face and private parts (as it were), and to analyse what precisely it was he loved so much about a country that had produced Marmite; a military hero whose dying wish was to be kissed by a fellow named…


Book cover of A Land of Two Halves

R.A. Dalkey Why did I love this book?

I don’t really get why Joe Bennett isn’t more famous as a travel writer. The Briton passes through the world with a detached cynicism that results in sheer hilarity. If that’s not enough, this book has a thread: the challenge of hitch-hiking around New Zealand, his adopted homeland. A country that had a cameo part to play in my own Outback truck driver mission. A country with which I have a love-hate relationship. (I love its beauty and old-world charm; I hate it because I’m South African and its rugby team is too keen on beating mine.) Like me, Bennett’s first impressions of the Antipodes came from dead-of-night sports broadcasts. Like me, Bennett wrote about how (in)accurate those were in his book. I think we’d get on…

By Joe Bennett,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Land of Two Halves as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

After ten years in New Zealand, Joe Bennett asked himself what on earth he was doing there. Other than his dogs, what was it about these two small islands on the edge of the world that had kept him - an otherwise restless traveller - for really much longer than they seemed to deserve? Bennett thought he'd better pack his bag and find out. Hitching around both the intriguingly named North and South Islands, with an eye for oddity and a taste for conversation, Bennett began to remind himself of the reasons New Zealand is quietly seducing the rest of…


Book cover of Llama Drama

R.A. Dalkey Why did I love this book?

I’m not usually into reading about places I haven’t visited, because the most interesting thing for me is hearing someone else’s take on things I’ve seen for myself. I get a kick out of nodding along in agreement—or otherwise. But this book came recommended, so despite South America being an enormous gap on my to-do list, I read it. Though it may not score as highly on humour as the others on my list, it’s still a breezy, inspiring read with a quest that arguably eats them all for breakfast. Cycling up and down the Andes for six months is a huge deal. Especially with the same friend, all the time. It certainly isn’t all giggles and selfies. Helmets off to McNuff for sharing the story with such honesty.

By Anna McNuff,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Llama Drama as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

**WINNER of the 2020 Amazon Kindle Storyteller Literary Award**

"Llama Drama is simply hilarious. If anyone wants something witty and moving at the same time. Also, something empowering, then this is the one for them. I literally inhaled it." -  Claudia Winkleman, TV Presenter and Author

What Amazon readers are saying about Llama Drama:

★★★★★ “Loved every minute of it!”

★★★★★ “An antidote for the madness of 2020”

★★★★★ “Truly inspiring”

★★★★★ “A brilliant book for anyone interested in travel, conquering their fears, cycling, adventure, South America”

★★★★★ “I couldn't put it down!”

★★★★★ “Buy the damn thing. It’s awesome!”…


You might also like...

Who Is a Worthy Mother?: An Intimate History of Adoption

By Rebecca Wellington,

Book cover of Who Is a Worthy Mother?: An Intimate History of Adoption

Rebecca Wellington Author Of Who Is a Worthy Mother?: An Intimate History of Adoption

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I am adopted. For most of my life, I didn’t identify as adopted. I shoved that away because of the shame I felt about being adopted and not truly fitting into my family. But then two things happened: I had my own biological children, the only two people I know to date to whom I am biologically related, and then shortly after my second daughter was born, my older sister, also an adoptee, died of a drug overdose. These sequential births and death put my life on a new trajectory, and I started writing, out of grief, the history of adoption and motherhood in America. 

Rebecca's book list on straight up, real memoirs on motherhood and adoption

What is my book about?

I grew up thinking that being adopted didn’t matter. I was wrong. This book is my journey uncovering the significance and true history of adoption practices in America. Now, in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, the renewed debate over women’s reproductive rights places an even greater emphasis on adoption. As a mother, historian, and adoptee, I am uniquely qualified to uncover the policies and practices of adoption.

The history of adoption, reframed through the voices of adoptees like me, and mothers who have been forced to relinquish their babies, blows apart old narratives about adoption, exposing the fallacy that adoption is always good.

In this story, I reckon with the pain and unanswered questions of my own experience and explore broader issues surrounding adoption in the United States, including changing legal policies, sterilization, and compulsory relinquishment programs, forced assimilation of babies of color and Indigenous babies adopted into white families, and other liabilities affecting women, mothers, and children. Now is the moment we must all hear these stories.

Who Is a Worthy Mother?: An Intimate History of Adoption

By Rebecca Wellington,

What is this book about?

Nearly every person in the United States is affected by adoption. Adoption practices are woven into the fabric of American society and reflect how our nation values human beings, particularly mothers. In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's overturning of Roe v. Wade, the renewed debate over women's reproductive rights places an even greater emphasis on adoption. As a mother, historian, and adoptee, Rebecca C. Wellington is uniquely qualified to uncover the policies and practices of adoption. Wellington's timely-and deeply researched-account amplifies previously marginalized voices and exposes the social and racial biases embedded in the United States' adoption industry.…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in South America, North Korea, and civilization?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about South America, North Korea, and civilization.

South America Explore 36 books about South America
North Korea Explore 40 books about North Korea
Civilization Explore 211 books about civilization