The best books for escapism

Jonny Bealby Author Of Running with the Moon: A Boy's Own Adventure: Riding a Motorbike Through Africa
By Jonny Bealby

The Books I Picked & Why

A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush

By Eric Newby

A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush

Why this book?

This quintessentially British tale of two novice mountaineers, heading off into the far reaches of the Hindu Kush, to scale Mir Samir, a daunting 7,000m peak, is a true travel classic. Always understated and self-deprecating, it carries you back to a different era, both in terms of the landscapes and cultures of those Newby, and his travelling companion Hugh Carless, encounter and in terms of their attitude to travel. So inspired was I by this book that it was one of the reasons I travelled to the same region of Afghanistan for my second travel book, For A Pagan Song, in the Footsteps of the Man Who Would Be King.


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Travels on my Elephant

By Mark Shand

Travels on my Elephant

Why this book?

As much a love story as a traveller’s tale, the wonderful book is more about the relationship between Mark Shand and his trusty elephant, Tara, as it is about India. A truly heart-warming adventure sees the author buy Tara and ride her 600 miles across dusty back roads, through jungle paths, and along state highways, to the world’s biggest elephant fair in Sonepur. Tara, who found a home at Kipling Camp in Madhya Pradesh is still alive today, which is more than can be said for the poor author, Mark, who died in a freak accident stepping off a sidewalk in New York a few years ago. How strange life can be.


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Along the Enchanted Way: A Story of Love and Life in Romania

By William Blacker

Along the Enchanted Way: A Story of Love and Life in Romania

Why this book?

Another book that inspired my own travels – and that of many others through my travel company, Wild Frontiers – this book tells the story of the author’s 12 years in Romania after the fall of the communist regime. Taking one back to a bucolic world of horse-drawn carts, farmers scything hay, of fairy tale castles, wooden churches, and medieval villages, it is romantic travel writing at its best; the fact that William actually marries a young gypsy woman adds to the soul of this quixotic tale. I loved it so much (with Williams help) I set up a trip to travel through the region, which you can do by following this link


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Tequila Oil

By Hugh Thomson

Tequila Oil

Why this book?

Recently divorced and looking for meaning in middle age, this endearing traveller retraces the journey he made as a wide-eyed 19-year-old that saw him drive a car from California into the heart of Mexico in the hope of making a quick buck. The naivety and optimism of adolescence, beautifully juxtaposed against the reality of age, this is a poignant tale of lost youth and unfulfilled dreams that ultimately leads the author to a peaceful conclusion.


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Beyond the Sky and the Earth: A Journey Into Bhutan

By Jamie Zeppa

Beyond the Sky and the Earth: A Journey Into Bhutan

Why this book?

We all get the true wonder and freedom of travel once in our lives, when we head out on the open road for the first time; in this author’s case, the transition in life could hardly have been more profound. Traveling from suburban Toronto to the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan to take up a post teaching English in a remote eastern village, it is a memoir of profound mental and well as physical exploration. Much more than a travel book this is a heart-warming story of a young woman coming of age and an important record of a country and way of life in a state of change.


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