100 books like West with the Night

By Beryl Markham,

Here are 100 books that West with the Night fans have personally recommended if you like West with the Night. 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 Among the Russians

Steven Faulkner Author Of Bitterroot: Echoes of Beauty & Loss

From my list on travel that enrich landscape with history.

Who am I?

After reading travel books that voyaged beyond mere tourism into the life of the land, its people, and its histories, I found myself longing to launch my own journeys. I took a thousand-mile canoe trip with my son following the 1673 route of the French explorers Marquette and Joliet; I crossed the Rockies with two sons by foot, mountain bike, and canoe following Lewis and Clark and their Nez Perce guides; I took to sea kayak and pontoon boat with a son and daughter, 400 miles along the Gulf Coast in pursuit of the 1528 Spanish Narvaez Expedition. Writing of these journeys gave me the chance to live twice.

Steven's book list on travel that enrich landscape with history

Steven Faulkner Why did Steven love this book?

Colin Thubron showed me real travel writing: a journey in words that leads the reader through detailed landscapes, personal encounters with local people, and a depth of understanding that can only come through the human history of these landscapes.

I took this trip with Thubron when Russia was still the Soviet Union. Thubron met dissidents living in Moscow, drank vodka with them late into the night, traveled north to the remnants of Soviet concentration camps, took the rails through that vast continent across the steppes, over the mountains, around huge lakes, all the way to the Pacific coast. The book is beautifully written and introduced me to a travel writer I have read many times since.

By Colin Thubron,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Among the Russians as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Thubron learnt Russian and entered the then Soviet Union in an old Morris Marina in which he camped and drove for almost 10,000 miles between the Baltic and Caucasus. This book provides a revealing picture of the many races who inhabit the country and the human side behind state socialism.


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

Maggie Shipstead Author Of Great Circle

From my list on female adventurers.

Who am I?

In my third novel, Great Circle, a fictional aviator named Marian Graves disappears while trying to fly around the world north-south in 1950. While researching and writing, I became a travel journalist, partly so I could follow my character into far-flung, rugged corners of the world. Traveling, I encountered people who lead truly adventurous lives, and I started to seek out riskier experiences myself. I swam with humpback whales, tracked snow leopards in the Himalayas, and journeyed across huge seas to Antarctica’s Ross Ice Shelf. I still don’t consider myself a full-fledged adventurer, but I love reading about women contending with the challenges of wild places and their own internal landscapes.

Maggie's book list on female adventurers

Maggie Shipstead Why did Maggie love this book?

I’m more of a spin class person than a “cycle thousands of miles through Central Asia” person, but I loved reading about Kate Harris’s months tracing the Silk Road by bicycle in 2011. She doesn’t sugarcoat the hardships of such an undertaking (rain, snow, mountains, traffic, logistics, bureaucracy, scary humans, forbidden Chinese border crossings, friction with the friend who’s riding with her), which makes her human as well as brave, tough, funny, and brilliant. Books like this make huge travel projects seem possible, and even if I’ll never do anything on this scale, I love imagining such epic experiences.

By Kate Harris,

Why should I read it?

2 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 Between Man and Beast: An Unlikely Explorer and the African Adventure the Victorian World by Storm

Bonnie J. Fladung Author Of When Eagles Roar: The Amazing Journey of an African Wildlife Adventurer

From my list on obsession with African wildlife and adventure.

Who am I?

I am an author specializing in nature, travel, and adventure writing. I’ve been fortunate to travel to many of the places featured in my books – including Botswana, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. I even to travelled to Morocco to study the art of storytelling with the last of the great storytellers. I’ve always been intrigued by stories that tell a personal journey about overcoming obstacles, especially if the story takes the reader to exotic places. So no wonder I jumped at the opportunity to co-author a book with a game ranger and conservationist in Africa that combines historical perspectives, larger-than-life characters, and dangerous experiences with wildlife. 

Bonnie's book list on obsession with African wildlife and adventure

Bonnie J. Fladung Why did Bonnie love this book?

I love nonfiction adventure books that immerse you in the details of an adventure while providing enough background information to understand the historical, cultural, and scientific perspectives of an era. In the mid-19th century, Paul du Chaillu spent years in Western Africa tracking down the njena, the mythical beast. This book makes for interesting reading as the author weaves the true-life adventure story of the discovery of the gorilla with Darwin’s evolutionary debate, and the challenges a Victorian-era scientist faced to prove his credibility. 

By Monte Reel,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Between Man and Beast as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1856, Paul Du Chaillu ventured into the African jungle in search of a mythic beast, the gorilla. After wild encounters with vicious cannibals, deadly snakes, and tribal kings, Du Chaillu emerged with 20 preserved gorilla skins—two of which were stuffed and brought on tour—and walked smack dab into the biggest scientific debate of the time: Darwin's theory of evolution. Quickly, Du Chaillu's trophies went from objects of wonder to key pieces in an all-out intellectual war. With a wide range of characters, including Abraham Lincoln, Arthur Conan Doyle, P.T Barnum, Thackeray, and of course, Charles Darwin, this is a…


Book cover of Maiden Voyage

Maggie Shipstead Author Of Great Circle

From my list on female adventurers.

Who am I?

In my third novel, Great Circle, a fictional aviator named Marian Graves disappears while trying to fly around the world north-south in 1950. While researching and writing, I became a travel journalist, partly so I could follow my character into far-flung, rugged corners of the world. Traveling, I encountered people who lead truly adventurous lives, and I started to seek out riskier experiences myself. I swam with humpback whales, tracked snow leopards in the Himalayas, and journeyed across huge seas to Antarctica’s Ross Ice Shelf. I still don’t consider myself a full-fledged adventurer, but I love reading about women contending with the challenges of wild places and their own internal landscapes.

Maggie's book list on female adventurers

Maggie Shipstead Why did Maggie love this book?

I first read this memoir as a young teenager and was completely captivated by the idea of a girl not much older than myself simply raising a sail and setting off into the vast ocean. In 1985, Tania Aebi was eighteen and aimless, and her father gave her an ultimatum: either go to college or sail solo around the world. She chose the latter. Sailing is hard work, and Aebi has plenty of hard days, but her unusual coming-of-age story is romantic (sometimes literally) and exciting and opened my eyes to the possibilities of adventure and courage.

By Tania Aebi,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In 1985 Tania Aebi was an 18-year-old working as a bike messenger in New York City and frequenting bars until late at night. It was then that her father offered her a college education, or a boat. However, if she chose the boat, she would have to sail around the world alone. This volume tells of her 27,000 mile voyage. When she left New York harbour in 1985, she had never sailed alone before and knew little about navigation or anchorage. What began as a quest for adventure became a spiritual test, and fight for survival.


Book cover of The Anarchy: The East India Company, Corporate Violence, and the Pillage of an Empire

Sathnam Sanghera Author Of Empireland: How Imperialism Has Shaped Modern Britain

From my list on the British Empire's impact on the world.

Who am I?

I was in my 40s before I began exploring the topic of the British Empire. It came after I realised it explained so much about me (my Sikh identity, the emigration of my parents, my education) and so much about my country (its politics, psychology, wealth…) and yet I knew very little. It turned out that millions of people feel the same way… and I hope I provide an accessible introduction and summary of the massive topic. 

Sathnam's book list on the British Empire's impact on the world

Sathnam Sanghera Why did Sathnam love this book?

The East India Company was an unusual organization, to say the least, beginning as a conventional international trading corporation, dealing in silks and spices, and becoming an aggressive colonial power.

Its complicated nature is one of the reasons why the British empire is so poorly understood: people struggle to comprehend how a company could have been imperial. Dalrymple does a great job of explaining it in this incredibly accessible book.

One of my all-time favourite books on Indian history.

By William Dalrymple,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

THE TOP 5 SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER ONE OF BARACK OBAMA'S BEST BOOKS OF 2019 THE TIMES HISTORY BOOK OF THE YEAR FINALIST FOR THE CUNDILL HISTORY PRIZE 2020 LONGLISTED FOR THE BAILLIE GIFFORD PRIZE FOR NON-FICTION 2019 A FINANCIAL TIMES, OBSERVER, DAILY TELEGRAPH, WALL STREET JOURNAL AND TIMES BOOK OF THE YEAR 'Dalrymple is a superb historian with a visceral understanding of India ... A book of beauty' - Gerard DeGroot, The Times In August 1765 the East India Company defeated the young Mughal emperor and forced him to establish a new administration in his richest provinces. Run by English…


Book cover of River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze

Brett Dakin Author Of Another Quiet American: Stories of Life in Laos

From my list on books about living abroad in Asia.

Who am I?

Right after college, I lived abroad in Asia, in the small, landlocked country of Laos. A key theme of the book is the role of the U.S. in the world. During the Vietnam War, Laos was subject to a massive bombing campaign by the U.S., and decades later, the country was still coping with the effects. As unexploded bombs continued to kill people every year, how would my colleagues and neighbors react to an American living among them? The book is mainly about the joys of navigating another culture, and while Laos is unique, I’ve read a lot of books about living abroad in Asia, and common themes certainly emerge.

Brett's book list on books about living abroad in Asia

Brett Dakin Why did Brett love this book?

I love just about anything Peter writes, but this book is special; it’s his first, about his stint as a Peace Corps volunteer in China in the late 1990s, just about the time I moved to Laos. It was a great inspiration to me: the perfect combination of personal memoir and cultural insight.

Bonus: Peter continues to write for the New Yorker magazine about his students from all those years ago and what they are up to today.

By Peter Hessler,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked River Town as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When Peter Hessler went to China in the late 1990s, he expected to spend a couple of peaceful years teaching English in the town of Fuling on the Yangtze River. But what he experienced - the natural beauty, cultural tension, and complex process of understanding that takes place when one is thrust into a radically different society - surpassed anything he could have imagined. Hessler observes firsthand how major events such as the death of Deng Xiaoping, the return of Hong Kong to the mainland, and the controversial consturction of the Three Gorges Dam have affected even the people of…


Book cover of On the Plain of Snakes: A Mexican Journey

David Beaupre Author Of Quest and Crew

From my list on travel adventures.

Who am I?

There is no easier way to have an adventure than to travel. People have a yearning for travel and adventure. For me it is in the air we breathe. I have spent a lifetime traveling to distant foreign lands and sailing the ocean. It's a good life most of the time. But more importantly, I have been fortunate to have been immersed in the sights and sounds of this magnificent world. For an experience you will not soon forget, come along on a sailing adventure in the Quest Series

David's book list on travel adventures

David Beaupre Why did David love this book?

Another deeply insightful book from Paul Theroux, On the Plain of Snakes explores the cultural richness and sometimes dangerous aspects of Mexico. With a forward style and charisma, he comes face to face with narcos, police, corruption, migrants, and the sometimes frightening indigenous culture. His writings are not just all darkness and gloom. He goes to great lengths to describe the importance of family in a country with virtually no social network. He talks with the educated, the poverty-stricken, and even meets the leader of the Zapatistas.  After reading On the Plain of Snakes' you will develop a new appreciation for our Mexican neighbors, particularly concerning migration and the border control issues that have dominated the US for too many years. This is a long arduous trip which Theroux makes thoroughly enjoyable. 

By Paul Theroux,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked On the Plain of Snakes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE EDWARD STANFORD AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTION TO TRAVEL WRITING 2020

The master of contemporary travel writing, Paul Theroux, immerses himself in the beautiful and troubled heart of modern Mexico

Nogales is a border town caught between Mexico and the United States of America. A forty-foot steel fence runs through its centre, separating the prosperous US side from the impoverished Mexican side. It is a fascinating site of tension, now more than ever, as the town fills with hopeful border crossers and the deportees who have been caught and brought back. And it is here that Paul Theroux…


Book cover of In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette

Howard Means Author Of Johnny Appleseed: The Man, the Myth, the American Story

From my list on big stories through a small lens.

Who am I?

I’m not a big fan of 800-page biographies, sprawling histories, or overweight novels that tell me everything about a subject but give me no place to sit down and enjoy the view. I want something that anchors my interest, that holds my imagination, that shows me the general through the particular — something that hints at a bigger meaning, a bigger world without shoving my nose in it. To me, great writing is all about compression — not the number of words but the richness of every word. I want a book that opens up like a flower as I read it.

Howard's book list on big stories through a small lens

Howard Means Why did Howard love this book?

This is another history that drew me in with a tightly focused story — an 1879 expedition to reach the North Pole — then overwhelmed me with a slowly dawning realization: The expedition was sheer insanity based on assumptions that are whacky beyond belief but were state-of-the-art thinking less than a century and a half ago. George Washington De Long and his crew aboard the Jeanette left San Francisco expecting to spend a single winter trapped in the polar ice before popping into a temperate Arctic Sea and steaming their way straight to the apex of Planet Earth. Instead, the crew endured more than two years of almost unimaginable hardship. That any of them survived to tell the tale testifies to the indomitability of the human spirit.

By Hampton Sides,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked In the Kingdom of Ice as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The age of exploration was drawing to a close, yet the mystery of the North Pole remained. Contemporaries described the pole as the 'unattainable object of our dreams', and the urge to fill in this last great blank space on the map grew irresistible.In 1879 the USS Jeannette set sail from San Francisco to cheering crowds and amid a frenzy of publicity. The ship and its crew, captained by the heroic George De Long, were destined for the uncharted waters of the Arctic.

But it wasn't long before the Jeannette was trapped in crushing pack ice. Amid the rush of…


Book cover of The Road

Stephen Benz Author Of Topographies

From my list on the spirit of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road.

Who am I?

Traveling, meeting people, hearing stories, learning about places and landscapes—this is what my writing is all about. Sometimes it takes the form of nonfiction, sometimes poetry. I’ve had a wandering spirit from early on, finding joy and wonder as a child while sitting in the backseat on road trips, or taking the bus cross-state, or (best of all) riding on a train going anywhere. Reading Kerouac’s On the Road brought everything together: heading out with no particular destination in mind other than finding oneself on the road. And then writing it all down, telling the story. Here are some books that have rekindled the Kerouac spirit for me.

Stephen's book list on the spirit of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road

Stephen Benz Why did Stephen love this book?

Jack London lived and died before Kerouac was born, so it’s more accurate to say that On the Road channels the spirit of London’s book, published some 50 years before Kerouac’s masterpiece. The Road is a compelling memoir about tramping across the United States at the end of the nineteenth century. London anticipates Kerouac’s bohemian spirit as he rides the rails with vagabonds, hoboes, and tramps (as London explains, there’s a difference among them). To my mind, The Road is an underappreciated American classic, poetically evoking that quintessential American characteristic, restlessness—the deep-seated desire to “follow the breeze.” Fifty years later, Kerouac stuck out his thumb and followed in London’s footsteps.

By Jack London,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"I went on 'The Road' because I couldn't keep away from it; because I hadn't the price of the railroad fare in my jeans; because I was so made that I couldn't work all my life on 'one same shift'; because — well, just because it was easier to than not to."
Jack London's "road" is the railroad, and these reminiscences paint a vivid portrait of life in the United States during the major economic depression of the 1890s. His compelling adventures include a month-long detention in a state penitentiary for vagrancy, as well as his travels with Kelly's Army,…


Book cover of In Patagonia

Nicholas Shakespeare Author Of Ian Fleming: The Complete Man

From my list on post-war Latin America.

Who am I?

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…


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