100 books like Wanderlust

By Rebecca Solnit,

Here are 100 books that Wanderlust fans have personally recommended if you like Wanderlust. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Nomad: Diaries of Isabelle Eberhardt

Louisa Waugh Author Of Hearing Birds Fly: A Nomadic Year in Mongolia

From my list on the intimate lives of landscapes.

Why am I passionate about this?

Louisa Waugh is a writer, blogger, and the prize-winning author of three non-fiction books: Hearing Birds Fly, Selling Olga, and Meet Me in Gaza. She has lived and worked in the Middle East, Central and West Africa, and is a conflict adviser for an international peace-building organisation. She blogs at The Waugh Zone and currently lives in Brighton, on the southern English coast, where she kayaks and drinks red wine on the beach, usually not at the same time.

Louisa's book list on the intimate lives of landscapes

Louisa Waugh Why did Louisa love this book?

Isabelle Eberhardt was born in 1877. She was “a crossdresser and sensualist, an experienced drug taker and a transgressor of boundaries”. Born in Switzerland, she crossed the Sahara Desert on horseback dressed as a male marabout, driven by a hunger for nomadic adventures, and for love. Isabelle’s evocative diaries are intense, beautifully written, self-centred and dramatic, occasionally very funny. She fell madly in love with the Sahara, was accused of being a spy, married a young Algerian soldier, and drowned in a desert flash flood at the age of 27. This book is about a short life that burned radiantly and the desiccated landscape that mirrored her intensity.

By Isabelle Eberhardt,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Nomad as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Eberhardt's journal chronicles the daring adventures of a late 19th-century European woman who traveled the Sahara desert disguised as an Arab man and adopted Islam. Includes a glossary. Previously published in English by Virago Press in 1987, and as The Passionate Nomad by Virago/Beacon Press in 19


Book cover of Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres

Tom Lutz Author Of And the Monkey Learned Nothing: Dispatches from a Life in Transit

From my list on travel books for wanderers.

Why am I passionate about this?

Well before I started writing travel books and novels, I was addicted to travel, to wandering, to being a vagabond. As a teenager I would hitchhike and simply go wherever the driver was headed, roaming as far as possible before turning around in time to get home before dark. As soon as I turned 18, I worked for six months day and night and then took the money and spent a year on a very low-rent tour of some 25 countries. As you will see, my picks here have little or nothing to do with hotels and restaurants, and little to do, except in passing, with sightseeing or sports activity or other common tourist activities. Like my own books, they are interested in people and ideas and, as Rebecca Solnit calls it, getting lost.

Tom's book list on travel books for wanderers

Tom Lutz Why did Tom love this book?

Originally published privately in 1904 for his nieces, it was printed commercially a decade later and has stayed in print ever since. It is a “tour” of the two great cathedrals one from the 11th century and one from the 13th, and both among the wonders of the world. But it is much more: a cultural history of medieval Europe, a sympathetic understanding of the worldview of everyday people of that era, and a reading of some of the great thinkers—Abelard, Aquinas—of that era. He is a great storyteller, and since it is written for his two young relatives, it is not dry or academic, but full of avuncular charm and wisdom.

By Henry Adams,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Using architecture, sculpture, culture and history, Adams humanizes the medieval period and provides valuable insight on religious philosophy. Mont-Saint Michel and Chartes provides a background and description of the construction of two French landmarks built in the 11th century. The Mont-Saint Michel cathedral was built during a militant time; it was not enough to simply be steadfast in one's own beliefs, but also to make others believe them. Religious conversion was a form of defense. Mont-Saint Michel was built in a period where faith was aggressive, almost violent, and to accommodate this, Mont-Saint Michel was built in honor of a…


Book cover of In Patagonia

Nicholas Shakespeare Author Of Ian Fleming: The Complete Man

From my list on post-war Latin America.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a British novelist and biographer who lived on and off in Latin America from the 1960s to the late 1980s. I was a boy in Brazil during the Death Squads; an adolescent in Argentina during the Dirty War; and a young journalist in Peru during the Shining Path insurgency, publishing a reportage for Granta on my search for Abimael Guzman. I gave the 2010 Borges Lecture and have written two novels set in Peru, the second of which, The Dancer Upstairs, was chosen as the best novel of 1995 by the American Libraries Association and turned into a film by John Malkovich.

Nicholas' book list on post-war Latin America

Nicholas Shakespeare Why did Nicholas love this book?

Neither novel nor travel book, this classic journey defies category.

Purportedly a quest for a scrap of giant slothskin, which the author finds in a cave in southern Chile, it zig-zags through time and space, alighting on travellers from Magellan to Butch Cassidy, while trampling down conventional boundaries.

“Everyone says: ‘Are you writing a novel?’ No, I’m writing a story and I do rather insist that things must be called stories. That seems to me to be what they are. I don’t quite know the meaning of the word novel.” 

By Bruce Chatwin,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked In Patagonia as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'The book that redefined travel writing' Guardian

Bruce Chatwin sets off on a journey through South America in this wistful classic travel book

With its unique, roving structure and beautiful descriptions, In Patagonia offers an original take on the age-old adventure tale. Bruce Chatwin's journey to a remote country in search of a strange beast brings along with it a cast of fascinating characters. Their stories delay him on the road, but will have you tearing through to the book's end.

'It is hard to pin down what makes In Patagonia so unique, but, in the end, it is Chatwin's…


Book cover of Video Night in Kathmandu: And Other Reports from the Not-So-Far-East

Francesca Spencer Author Of Welcome to the State of Kuwait

From my list on capturing culture through observation and humour.

Why am I passionate about this?

Funny stuff happens all the time in my wafty, solo-travelling life. Sometimes that funny stuff will only become apparent after the proverbial dust has settled and I’m no longer in imminent danger or at my wit’s end: the hilarity of a situation reveals itself when I’m telling the story. Travelling alone puts you in a vulnerable position of being open to ‘the moment’ far more so than when you are travelling with someone else. I get a sense of place and people and write about what happens true to my voice which is intrinsically connected to my funny bone—an intention to capture culture through accurate observation and tragi-comic humour. 

Francesca's book list on capturing culture through observation and humour

Francesca Spencer Why did Francesca love this book?

I read Video Night in Kathmandu when I was travelling in India the first time around. It was an education in East-West relations and opened my eyes to travel being a huge privilege. I also learned to arrive in a new place with, as far as possible, no expectations. Pico Iyer is incredibly insightful and draws attention to the fluidity of culture. He acknowledges his Indian roots and how your own cultural heritage can’t help but colour your experience of a place: something to be mindful of. The video mentioned in the title is Rambo, rammed full of western hegemonic ideals, which, weirdly, was a smash hit everywhere in Asia. Iyer’s observations are absolutely on point, entertaining, highlighting the bizarre which, of course, is very funny, as well as thought-provoking.

By Pico Iyer,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Video Night in Kathmandu as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When Pico Iyer began his travels, he wanted to know how Rambo conquered Asia. Why did Dire Straits blast out over Hiroshima, Bruce Springsteen over Bali and Madonna over all? If he was eager to learn where East meets West, how pop culture and imperialism penetrated through the world's most ancient civilisations, then the truths he began to uncover were more startling, more subtle, more complex than he ever anticipated. Who was hustling whom? When did this pursuit of illusions and vested interests, with it's curious mix of innocence and calculation, turn from confrontation into the mating dance? Iyer travelled…


Book cover of The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot

Helen Jukes Author Of A Honeybee Heart Has Five Openings

From my list on reconnecting with nature.

Why am I passionate about this?

Nature has been a source of play, exploration, community, and solace for me since I was very young – as an adult, I find myself fascinated and alarmed by our species’ relations with the living world. Nature writing gives me a way of bringing my attention to this relationship and exploring it in a very close way. I often think of that well-worn phrase: We cannot protect what we do not love; we cannot love what we do not know. Literature, it seems to me, offers one route to better knowing and loving the world.

Helen's book list on reconnecting with nature

Helen Jukes Why did Helen love this book?

This book charts a series of journeys along ancient tracks, holloways, and drove-roads. I found it a hugely immersive, surprisingly exhilarating read – I loved how Macfarlane brought a very detailed, lucid, and embodied mode of narration to travels that were often unexpected and strange.

As he walks, we hear stories of ghosts, pilgrims, songs, and their singers – it’s a book about people as much as places, and as I read, I gained a powerful sense of how, as humans, we’re shaped, made, and remade, by the landscapes we move through.

By Robert Macfarlane,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Old Ways as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The acclaimed author of The Wild Places and Underland examines the subtle ways we are shaped by the landscapes through which we move

Chosen by Slate as one of the 50 best nonfiction books of the past 25 years

In this exquisitely written book, which folds together natural history, cartography, geology, and literature, Robert Macfarlane sets off to follow the ancient routes that crisscross both the landscape of the British Isles and its waters and territories beyond. The result is an immersive, enthralling exploration of the voices that haunt old paths and the stories our tracks tell. Macfarlane's journeys take…


Book cover of A Philosophy of Walking

Erin Leider-Pariser Author Of Get Lost: Seven Principles for Trekking Life with Grace and Other Life Lessons from Kick-Ass Women's Adventure Travel

From my list on inspiring authentic transformation.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a long-time meditator, wellness expert, and founder of a women’s adventure travel business, I am always grateful to discover books that offer insights about enhancing well-being. In my own book, Get Lost: Seven Principles for Trekking Life with Grace and Other Life Lessons from Kick-Ass Women’s Adventure Travel, I share personal stories of transformation that I and my fellow travelers have experienced on trips that include rituals to help us bond and express our authentic selves. Scientific evidence shows that connecting with others and practicing mindfulness are essential for a full, healthy life, and I loved recently sharing this message with students in the Spirituality Mind Body Institute at Columbia University.  

Erin's book list on inspiring authentic transformation

Erin Leider-Pariser Why did Erin love this book?

I was gifted this book recently and it is the gift that keeps on giving.

I am an avid walker and the way the author interspersed poignant life stories with his own on walking was lovingly poetic. This quote “the walker is king, and the earth is his domain” is the one that defines the entire message of the book. I’ve been on many pilgrimages in life and witnessed many a transformation but none like the ones these philosophers uncover.

It was a joy to read the profound messages in staying present while walking as exercise. Grab a friend and enjoy walking together as you put one foot in front of the other and have meaningful conversation. 

By Frederic Gros, Clifford Harper (illustrator), John Howe (translator)

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked A Philosophy of Walking as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It is only ideas gained from walking that have any worth.
- Nietzsche

By walking, you escape from the very idea of identity, the temptation to be someone, to have a name and a history ... The freedom in walking lies in not being anyone; for the walking body has no history, it is just an eddy in the stream of immemorial life.

In A Philosophy of Walking, a bestseller in France, leading thinker Frederic Gros charts the many different ways we get from A to B-the pilgrimage, the promenade, the protest march, the nature ramble-and reveals what they say…


Book cover of The Lost Art of Walking: The History, Science, and Literature of Pedestrianism

Jim Leary Author Of Footmarks: A Journey Into our Restless Past

From my list on walking and the magic of paths.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an archaeologist, writer, and university lecturer, who spends his days dreaming of being on the move. I was filled with life-long wanderlust from a peripatetic childhood living in Malaysia, Fiji, and Cyprus, and this sense of needing to move around has never left me. I am a passionate walker and have rambled and roamed and trekked and trailed around most of the British Isles, often with my (occasionally willing) family. This has led to an intense fascination with the way people moved around in the past and how they knew where they were going, and I have centred much of my research, and my writing, on the subject.

Jim's book list on walking and the magic of paths

Jim Leary Why did Jim love this book?

I love a good walk! And so does Geoff Nicholson who sets out his love of it in a series of essays that make up his book The Lost Art of Walking.

These walking tales tell stories about pedestrianism in literature, art, and film; how it has been an inspiration to the likes of Bob Dylan, Charles Dickens, and Buster Keaton. But Nicholson also brings in some interesting perspectives from science and philosophy on the act of walking.

Written in a chatty, journalistic style, Nicholson is a pleasant and witty recontour to have on these journeys, he is informative and quite often irreverent, and there is plenty of humour thrown in to keep the footsteps light and the journey trotting at a good pace.

By Geoff Nicholson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Lost Art of Walking as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How we walk, where we walk, why we walk tells the world who and what we are. Whether it's once a day to the car, or for long weekend hikes, or as competition, or as art, walking is a profoundly universal aspect of what makes us humans, social creatures, and engaged with the world. Cultural commentator, Whitbread Prize winner, and author of Sex Collectors Geoff Nicholson offers his fascinating, definitive, and personal ruminations on the literature, science, philosophy, art, and history of walking.

Nicholson finds people who walk only at night, or naked, or in the shape of a cross…


Book cover of Of Walking in Ice: Munich-Paris, 23 November-14 December 1974

Jim Leary Author Of Footmarks: A Journey Into our Restless Past

From my list on walking and the magic of paths.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an archaeologist, writer, and university lecturer, who spends his days dreaming of being on the move. I was filled with life-long wanderlust from a peripatetic childhood living in Malaysia, Fiji, and Cyprus, and this sense of needing to move around has never left me. I am a passionate walker and have rambled and roamed and trekked and trailed around most of the British Isles, often with my (occasionally willing) family. This has led to an intense fascination with the way people moved around in the past and how they knew where they were going, and I have centred much of my research, and my writing, on the subject.

Jim's book list on walking and the magic of paths

Jim Leary Why did Jim love this book?

For me the best book on walking is by the German film director Werner Herzog.

In 1974 Herzog was told that his friend, the film historian Lotte Eisner, was dying. In what can perhaps be described as a fugue state Herzog pulled on his boots, grabbed a jacket and compass, and set off on a monumental, almost shamanic, journey from his home in Munich to her deathbed in Paris, believing his act of walking would keep her alive.

The journey took three weeks and Herzog walked through the thick of winter. On arrival, Eisner had already recovered. Of Walking in Ice is Herzog’s diary charting this incredible pilgrimage. Tender, beautiful, and genuinely insightful, I’ve read this short book over and over again. It’s probably time I read it again!

By Werner Herzog, Martje Herzog (translator), Alan Greenberg (translator)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Of Walking in Ice as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In late November 1974, filmmaker Werner Herzog received a phone call from Paris delivering some terrible news. German film historian, mentor, and close friend Lotte Eisner was seriously ill and dying. Herzog was determined to prevent this and believed that an act of walking would keep Eisner from death. He took a jacket, a compass, and a duffel bag of the barest essentials, and wearing a pair of new boots, set off on a three-week pilgrimage from Munich to Paris through the deep chill and snowstorms of winter."Of Walking in Ice" is Herzog's beautifully written, much-admired, yet often-overlooked diary account…


Book cover of Psychogeography: Disentangling the Modern Conundrum of Psyche and Place

Jim Miller Author Of Drift

From my list on urban wandering and subterranean history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I teach literature, Labor Studies, and writing at San Diego City College and have written three San Diego-based novels: Drift, Flash, and Last Days in Ocean Beach, along with Under the Perfect Sun: The San Diego Tourists Never See, a radical history of San Diego that I co-wrote with Mike Davis and Kelly Mayhew. Both as a writer and as a daily wanderer on the streets of San Diego, I have a passion for the psychogeography of the city space and a deep curiosity for and love of the people I encounter there.

Jim's book list on urban wandering and subterranean history

Jim Miller Why did Jim love this book?

I love this classic book that catalogs some of Will Self’s seminal writings about psychogeography, a term that describes the relationship between our consciousness and the geographic spaces we occupy.

Self borrows from the legacy of the avant-garde notions of dérive, or “drift” or disorientation, where one can find oneself by losing oneself. Here, Self playfully positions himself as a rebel against the contemporary world, a time-traveler of sorts, who rolls back the clock and deconstructs history by walking rather than driving in urban contexts.

It’s a book full of surprises and provocative ideas.

By Will Self, Ralph Steadman (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Provocateurs Will Self and Ralph Steadman join forces in this post-millennial meditation on the vexed relationship between psyche and place in a globalised world, bringing together for the first time the very best of their 'Psychogeography' columns for the Independent. The introduction, 'Walking to New York', is both a prelude to the verbal and visual essays that make up this extraordinary collaboration, and a revealing exploration of the split in Self's Jewish-American-British psyche and its relationship to the political geography of the post-9/11 world. Ranging from the Scottish Highlands to Istanbul and from Morocco to Ohio, Will Self's engaging and…


Book cover of City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles

Maxim Samson Author Of Invisible Lines: Boundaries and Belts That Define the World

From my list on redefining your understanding of geography.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a Geography professor at DePaul University with a long-standing obsession with the world, comparing puddle shapes to countries as a small child and subsequently initiating map and flag collections that I cultivate to this day. Having lived in different parts of the UK and the USA, as well as being fortunate enough to travel further afield, I’ve relished the opportunity to explore widely and chat with the people who know their places best. I love books that alter how I look at the planet, and I am particularly intrigued by the subtle ways in which people have shaped our world—and our perceptions of it—both intentionally and inadvertently.

Maxim's book list on redefining your understanding of geography

Maxim Samson Why did Maxim love this book?

A film noir in book form, Davis’ astute, visceral, and impassioned chronicle of Los Angeles at the turn of the millennium offers a dystopian view of future urban society.

I was recommended this book by my secondary school geography teacher shortly before starting university. Although my teacher did not know it, I had been questioning whether I’d made the right choice in choosing Geography for my degree, but this book captivated me like no other and assuaged my academic concerns. 

Los Angeles is a world-famous city that means very different things to different people. Davis shows how Los Angeles is simultaneously a utopia and a dystopia, a place of gated communities and private police forces, where libraries look like fortresses and prisons, on the outside at least, resemble futuristic hotels.

Over three decades after the first edition’s publication, this book remains essential reading for anyone seeking a sobering peek into…

By Mike Davis,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked City of Quartz as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

No metropolis has been more loved or more hated. To its official boosters, "Los Angeles brings it all together." To detractors, LA is a sunlit mortuary where "you can rot without feeling it." To Mike Davis, the author of this fiercely elegant and wide-ranging work of social history, Los Angeles is both utopia and dystopia, a place where the last Joshua trees are being plowed under to make room for model communities in the desert, where the rich have hired their own police to fend off street gangs, as well as armed Beirut militias.

In City of Quartz, Davis reconstructs…


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