The best travel books when you need escapism

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

Who am I?

Having driven a motorbike around Africa, walked through parts of India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, and ridden a horse along the Silk Road, which culminated in three travel books, a Discovery Channel film, and Wild Frontiers the award-winning travel company I set up, I think it’s fair to say I know a thing or two about travel. With over 100 countries under my belt, discovering new places and meeting new people has always been my passion. The books I have chosen here are ones that I think best communicate both a physical and a mental journey, that draw you into a story with a beginning a middle, and an end, and leave you knowing more about both a region of the world and human nature.


I wrote...

Running with the Moon: A Boy's Own Adventure: Riding a Motorbike Through Africa

By Jonny Bealby,

Book cover of Running with the Moon: A Boy's Own Adventure: Riding a Motorbike Through Africa

What is my book about?

This book tells the tale of my journey from grief-stricken man to free-riding adventurer as, following the sudden death of my fiancé Melanie, I escape a world of broken dreams by driving a motorbike from London to Cape Town and back again. As much an inner journey looking for meaning in life as a travelogue describing by 10-month, 20,000 mile, 19 country odyssey, it was a true voyage of a lifetime that ultimately delivered redemption as well as a career. Those of us that hit the open road for the first time know there is a wonderful naive freedom in not knowing what the next day, hour, even minute will bring. Looking back this was the most compelling and influential year of my life.

The books I picked & why

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A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush

By Eric Newby,

Book cover of 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.


Travels on my Elephant

By Mark Shand,

Book cover of 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.


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

By William Blacker,

Book cover of 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, 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's help) I set up a trip to travel through the region, which you can do by following this link


Tequila Oil

By Hugh Thomson,

Book cover of 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.


Beyond the Sky and the Earth: A Journey Into Bhutan

By Jamie Zeppa,

Book cover of 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.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in travel, Romania, and India?

5,215 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about travel, Romania, and India.

Travel Explore 143 books about travel
Romania Explore 9 books about Romania
India Explore 239 books about India

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