100 books like Shadow of the Silk Road

By Colin Thubron,

Here are 100 books that Shadow of the Silk Road fans have personally recommended if you like Shadow of the Silk Road. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America

Patrick Forsyth Author Of Smile Because It Happened: Antidotes to Melancholy in Thailand, the Land of Smiles

From my list on feeding your lust for travel.

Why am I passionate about this?

I worked for many years in business consultancy before branching into other genres, including fiction. Through working regularly in Singapore I was able to travel around the region, finding I loved that part of the world. I came to regard Thailand as the jewel of Southeast Asia. I continue to visit and aim for my light-hearted travel writing to encourage others to enjoy the area and be ambitious in their travel plans. I regard my book as an invitation to share my love of a unique place and was delighted when one reviewer described my writing of it as “Brysonish.”

Patrick's book list on feeding your lust for travel

Patrick Forsyth Why did Patrick love this book?

Any recommendation about travel writing must surely include Bill Bryson. I love his writing, and I reckon this, his first book, is still the best.

I love the idea–brought up in small-town America he revisits the tours by car his family took as holidays. I love his descriptions and especially his ability to spot absurdities in a way that can have the me laughing aloud. It is a book that had me moving on to read everything he wrote thereafter.

By Bill Bryson,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Lost Continent as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'I come from Des Moines. Somebody had to'

And, as soon as Bill Bryson was old enough, he left. Des Moines couldn't hold him, but it did lure him back. After ten years in England, he returned to the land of his youth, and drove almost 14,000 miles in search of a mythical small town called Amalgam, the kind of trim and sunny place where the films of his youth were set. Instead, his search led him to Anywhere, USA; a lookalike strip of gas stations, motels and hamburger outlets populated by lookalike people with a penchant for synthetic fibres.…


Book cover of Slow Boats to China

Patrick Forsyth Author Of Smile Because It Happened: Antidotes to Melancholy in Thailand, the Land of Smiles

From my list on feeding your lust for travel.

Why am I passionate about this?

I worked for many years in business consultancy before branching into other genres, including fiction. Through working regularly in Singapore I was able to travel around the region, finding I loved that part of the world. I came to regard Thailand as the jewel of Southeast Asia. I continue to visit and aim for my light-hearted travel writing to encourage others to enjoy the area and be ambitious in their travel plans. I regard my book as an invitation to share my love of a unique place and was delighted when one reviewer described my writing of it as “Brysonish.”

Patrick's book list on feeding your lust for travel

Patrick Forsyth Why did Patrick love this book?

This book and its sequel were an early read in my love affair with travel writing–I love the concept of slow travel by unconventional means, and I love all the descriptions along the way.

I first read this before I had ever traveled to China or, indeed, anywhere in the East, so it was one factor in developing an interest and love of the region. Though the journeying is slow it is written in a way that I regard as a real page-turner.

By Gavin Young,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Slow Boats to China as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Seven months and twenty-three agreeably ill-assorted vessels are what were required to transport Gavin Young, by slow boat, from Piraeus to Canton. His odyssey teemed with excitement, adventure and colour. Gavin Young's account memorably distils the people, places, smells, conversations, ships and history of the places he encountered in what is his most famous book.
The sequel, Slow Boats Home, is also reissued in Faber Finds.

'An unusual and fascinating book.' Hammond Innes, Guardian

'Storms, fleas, pirates, bad food and bureaucrats ... My Young suffered what he did to entertain us.'
Anthony Burgess, Observer


Book cover of Fresh Air Fiend: Travel Writings, 1985-2000

Patrick Forsyth Author Of Smile Because It Happened: Antidotes to Melancholy in Thailand, the Land of Smiles

From my list on feeding your lust for travel.

Why am I passionate about this?

I worked for many years in business consultancy before branching into other genres, including fiction. Through working regularly in Singapore I was able to travel around the region, finding I loved that part of the world. I came to regard Thailand as the jewel of Southeast Asia. I continue to visit and aim for my light-hearted travel writing to encourage others to enjoy the area and be ambitious in their travel plans. I regard my book as an invitation to share my love of a unique place and was delighted when one reviewer described my writing of it as “Brysonish.”

Patrick's book list on feeding your lust for travel

Patrick Forsyth Why did Patrick love this book?

Paul Theroux has long led the field of travel writing and is a favourite of many.

This book is untypical in that it is a series of essays and articles and thus provides a broad introduction to his writing and surely an encouragement to read his other books. It demonstrates for me the power of shorter pieces to give a real flavour of places and their character.

A great read, the sort of book I keep by the bed and love dipping into rather than reading straight through.

By Paul Theroux,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Fresh Air Fiend as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Paul Theroux's first collection of essays and articles devoted entirely to travel writing, FRESH AIR FIEND touches down on five continents and floats through most seas in between to deliver a literary adventure of the first order, with the incomparable Paul Theroux as a guide. From the crisp quiet of a solitary week spent in the snowbound Maine woods to the expectant chaos of Hong Kong on the eve of the Hand-over, Theroux demonstrates how the traveling life and the writing life are intimately connected. His journeys in remote hinterlands and crowded foreign capitals provide the necessary perspective to "become…


Book cover of Kiwis Might Fly: A New Zealand Adventure

Patrick Forsyth Author Of Smile Because It Happened: Antidotes to Melancholy in Thailand, the Land of Smiles

From my list on feeding your lust for travel.

Why am I passionate about this?

I worked for many years in business consultancy before branching into other genres, including fiction. Through working regularly in Singapore I was able to travel around the region, finding I loved that part of the world. I came to regard Thailand as the jewel of Southeast Asia. I continue to visit and aim for my light-hearted travel writing to encourage others to enjoy the area and be ambitious in their travel plans. I regard my book as an invitation to share my love of a unique place and was delighted when one reviewer described my writing of it as “Brysonish.”

Patrick's book list on feeding your lust for travel

Patrick Forsyth Why did Patrick love this book?

This writer wrote a series of delightful travel books, but I have found nothing new from her recently, sadly. This book starts wonderfully; the author passes her test to ride a full-size motorbike, which she can barely hold upright and decides (as you do) to test out her newly acquired skills by riding throughout New Zealand.

There is a good description here about a great country and humour too–all enhanced by the struggle to make progress with this, for her, a new form of transport.

By Polly Evans,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Kiwis Might Fly as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

Polly Evans was a woman with a mission. Before the traditional New Zealand male hung up his sheep shears for good, Polly wanted to see this vanishing species with her own eyes. Venturing into the land of giant kauri trees and smaller kiwi birds, she explores the country once inhabited by fierce Maori who carved their enemies’ bones into cutlery, bushwhacking pioneers, and gold miners who lit their pipes with banknotes—and comes face-to-face with their surprisingly tame descendants. So what had become of the mighty Kiwi warrior?

As Polly tears through the countryside at seventy-five miles…


Book cover of Lands of Lost Borders: A Journey on the Silk Road

Mimi Zieman Author Of Tap Dancing on Everest: A Young Doctor's Unlikely Adventure

From my list on women exploring the world and self.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an OB/GYN, passionate about adventuring beyond what’s expected. This has led me to pivot multiple times in my career, now focusing on writing. I’ve written a play, The Post-Roe Monologues, to elevate women’s stories. I cherish the curiosity that drives outer and inner exploration, and I love memoirs that skillfully weave the two. The books on this list feature extraordinary women who took risks, left comfort and safety, and battled vulnerability to step into the unknown. These authors moved beyond the stories they’d believed about themselves–or that others told about them. They invite you to think about living fuller and bigger lives. 

Mimi's book list on women exploring the world and self

Mimi Zieman Why did Mimi love this book?

I found the author's gorgeous writing and deep reflection to be irresistible. Harris is a true explorer of the world and the self as well as a brilliant writer.

This book showcases the curiosity and awe that drove Harris and her best friend to bicycle across the Silk Road. While pedaling out of bounds on her bicycle, she effortlessly led me to new territories of thought and imagination. Her descriptions are vivid, and I identified fully with her love of wildness.

By Kate Harris,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Lands of Lost Borders as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Lands of Lost Borders carried me up into a state of openness and excitement I haven't felt for years. It's a modern classic."-Pico Iyer

A brilliant, fierce writer, and winner of the 2019 RBC Taylor Prize, makes her debut with this enthralling travelogue and memoir of her journey by bicycle along the Silk Road-an illuminating and thought-provoking fusion of The Places in Between, Lab Girl, and Wild that dares us to challenge the limits we place on ourselves and the natural world.

As a teenager, Kate Harris realized that the career she craved-to be an explorer, equal parts swashbuckler and…


Book cover of Akmaral

Kerri Schlottman Author Of Tell Me One Thing

From my list on fierce female protagonists.

Why am I passionate about this?

My sister and I were raised by our single mother in Southeast Detroit, who worked hard to put herself through law school when we were kids. We had a lot of financial struggles growing up, and I had to overcome many obstacles to get where I am today. Because of that, I am drawn to fierce female protagonists who overcome challenges and don’t shy away from struggle. In my own creative writing, I tend to feature strong female characters who have faced some type of instability and have worked hard to better their circumstances. I love an underdog and think there’s a lot of unsung narratives to tell.

Kerri's book list on fierce female protagonists

Kerri Schlottman Why did Kerri love this book?

This was such a fascinating read for me. It’s an epic tale told over the lifetime of a woman warrior named Akmaral that interweaves fact and folklore into a mesmerizing story about matriarchal power, the ferocity of love and hate, and the alternating currents of battle and peace.

I was so absorbed in the beautiful language of this book that I couldn’t put it down. The novel recreates the expansive, unforgiving world of 5th-century Central Asia, a setting firmly rooted in the natural and spiritual worlds and the struggle to survive.

While being dazzled by the writing, I felt like I had a crash course in ancient history as well!

By Judith Lindbergh,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Akmaral as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Before the Silk Road had a name, nomads roamed the Asian steppes and women fought side by side as equals with men. Like all women of the Sauromatae, Akmaral is bound for battle from birth, training as a girl in horsemanship, archery, spear, and blade. Her prowess ignites the jealousy of Erzhan, a gifted warrior who hates her as much as he desires her. When Scythian renegades attack, the two must unite to defeat them. Among their captives is Timor, the rebels' enigmatic leader who refuses to be broken, even as he is enslaved. He fascinates Akmaral. But as attraction…


Book cover of Red Sands: Reportage and Recipes Through Central Asia, from Hinterland to Heartland

Sophie Ibbotson Author Of Uzbekistan

From my list on to discover the Silk Road.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I first visited Central Asia in 2008, little did I know that it would become the focus of my life and work. I now advise the World Bank and national governments on economic development, with a particular focus on tourism, and I’m the Chairman of the Royal Society for Asian Affairs. I am Uzbekistan’s Ambassador for Tourism, a co-founder of the Silk Road Literary Festival, and I’ve written and updated guidebooks to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and the Silk Road.

Sophie's book list on to discover the Silk Road

Sophie Ibbotson Why did Sophie love this book?

Food is without doubt one of the most insightful windows into any culture. The food we eat is a mirror of who we are and where we come from, a strong trigger for memory, and cooking together or sharing a meal creates an unusually strong bond between people who were previously strangers. In Red Sands, Caroline Eden combines reportage, photography, and recipes to build a rich picture of Central Asia, introducing people and places foreigners would never normally encounter. Her stories are diverse, evocative, and thought-provoking, but they have one thing in common: they make you hungry for adventure and to taste the many ingredients and dishes she describes.

By Caroline Eden,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Red Sands as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the Andre Simon Food Book Award 2020

"Caroline Eden is an extraordinarily creative and gifted writer. Red Sands captures the sights, tastes and feel of Central Asia so well that when reading this book I was sometimes convinced I was there in person. A wonderful book from start to finish." Peter Frankopan, author of The Silk Roads\

"Caroline Eden, whose book Black Sea was showered with awards, is on the road again, this time travelling through the heart of Asia. It's not your usual cookbook, it's more a travel book with recipes, the recipes acting as postcards which…


Book cover of Drives of a Lifetime: 500 of the World's Greatest Road Trips

Kevin James Shay Author Of It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Trip: On the Road of the Longest Two-Week Family Road Trip in History

From my list on road trips in the USA and beyond.

Why am I passionate about this?

Like many road warriors, Kevin Shay experienced his first taste of highway travels through his family, piling into a station wagon at a young age to journey several thousand miles in a week or so. He learned how to entertain himself for long hours without an iPod or cellphone. As a journalist, he wrote travel articles for a variety of publications, as well as a travel guidebook on North Texas. He has traveled through 48 states and more than 30 countries, logging more than 200,000 miles in a variety of vehicles and his own feet. He also produced a 19-minute documentary, Searching for Something in the Middle of Nowhere, based on the Mad, Mad Trip book.

Kevin's book list on road trips in the USA and beyond

Kevin James Shay Why did Kevin love this book?

This guidebook broadens travelers’ perspective beyond the United States, unearthing a whole new world in a wide variety of countries. Written by National Geographic travel writers, they cover everything from the ancient Silk Road in Central Asia to the perimeter of Puerto Rico. There are plenty of scenic photos, colorful maps, and tips to help navigate the roads of foreign lands.

By National Geographic,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Drives of a Lifetime as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This lavishly illustrated travel planner features 500 of the world's most memorable driving experiences, from legendary Highway 1 in California to Japan's famous Irohazaka Winding Road.

Compiled from the favorite trips of National Geographic's legendary travel writers, Drives of a Lifetime spans the globe to reveal the best celebrated and lesser-known road trips on the planet. Inside this fully updated and revised edition--featuring more than 20 new drives--you'll find routes through spectacular landscapes, ideas for quick getaways, leisurely journeys of discovery, and revelations of secret worlds beyond Google Maps. Some are legendary long-distance odysseys; others are easy day trips close…


Book cover of The Devils' Dance

Sophie Ibbotson Author Of Uzbekistan

From my list on to discover the Silk Road.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I first visited Central Asia in 2008, little did I know that it would become the focus of my life and work. I now advise the World Bank and national governments on economic development, with a particular focus on tourism, and I’m the Chairman of the Royal Society for Asian Affairs. I am Uzbekistan’s Ambassador for Tourism, a co-founder of the Silk Road Literary Festival, and I’ve written and updated guidebooks to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and the Silk Road.

Sophie's book list on to discover the Silk Road

Sophie Ibbotson Why did Sophie love this book?

Tragically little Central Asian literature has been translated into English: Hamid Ismailov’s books are notable exceptions. The Devils’ Dance won the 2019 EBRD Literature Prize, and it was the first time an Uzbek writer was awarded a major international prize. It is the desire to see more writers like Hamid be able to bring their books to global audiences that prompted me to co-found the Silk Road Literary Festival.  

By Hamid Ismailov,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Devils' Dance as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


On New Years' Eve 1938, the writer Abdulla Qodiriy is taken from his home by the Soviet secret police and thrown into a Tashkent prison. There, to distract himself from the physical and psychological torment of beatings and mindless interrogations, he attempts to mentally reconstruct the novel he was writing at the time of his arrest based on the tragic life of the Uzbek poet-queen Oyhon, married to three khans in succession, and living as Abdulla now does, with the threat of execution hanging over her. As he gets to know his cellmates, Abdulla discovers that the Great Game of…


Book cover of A Carpet Ride to Khiva: Seven Years on the Silk Road

Joanna Lillis Author Of Dark Shadows: Inside the Secret World of Kazakhstan

From my list on to summon up the spirit of Central Asia.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a reporter and author with a passion for seeking out stories less told, and there are plenty of those in Central Asia, where I made my home more than two decades ago: first in Uzbekistan and, since 2005, in Kazakhstan. I have found telling overlooked tales from an overlooked region that is overshadowed by its mighty neighbours – the Russian bear to the north and the Chinese dragon to the east – to be both rewarding and valuable. I hope these book selections will bring more stories about the people who populate Central Asia to the attention of readers with inquisitive minds.

Joanna's book list on to summon up the spirit of Central Asia

Joanna Lillis Why did Joanna love this book?

As I perched on the ramparts of the citadel in Khiva one sunny morning in autumn of 2001, the scene in the bazaar below of sellers hawking everything from recalcitrant sheep to giant melons and elaborately-carved furniture summoned up the exotic past of a town once traversed by caravans of merchants plying their trade between China and Europe. But what is compelling about this book is its focus not on Khiva’s illustrious history but on the present-day lives of the people the author encountered when he lived among them running a carpet-making workshop. Fascinating both for its forensic exploration of that ancient craft and for the sensitive depictions of the people of Khiva, this book is a true tale of the modern-day Silk Road.

By Christopher Aslan Alexander,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Carpet Ride to Khiva as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Silk Road conjures images of the exotic and the unknown. Most travellers simply pass along it. Brit Chris Alexander chose to live there. Ostensibly writing a guidebook, Alexander found life at the heart of the glittering madrassahs, mosques and minarets of the walled city of Khiva - a remote desert oasis in Uzbekistan - immensely alluring, and stayed.

Immersing himself in the language and rich cultural traditions Alexander discovers a world torn between Marx and Mohammed - a place where veils and vodka, pork and polygamy freely mingle - against a backdrop of forgotten carpet designs, crumbling but magnificent…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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