The best nomad books

1 authors have picked their favorite books about nomads and why they recommend each book.

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Book cover of The Hungry Steppe: Famine, Violence, and the Making of Soviet Kazakhstan

The Hungry Steppe: Famine, Violence, and the Making of Soviet Kazakhstan

By Sarah Cameron,

Why this book?

The Kazakhs suffered a devastating famine 1928–1932 that was caused by Stalin’s collectivization campaign. Because the Kazakhs were nomadic herders, the first step was to “modernize” them by forcing them to become settled farmers. Cameron uses Russian- and Kazakh-language sources to show how Soviet communism’s obsession with creating modern nations led to near-genocide.

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The best books on modern Central Asia

Book cover of Ghost Riders: Travels with American Nomads

Ghost Riders: Travels with American Nomads

By Richard Grant,

Why this book?

The first line of the description roused my curiosity with this one: "Richard Grant has never spent more than twenty-two consecutive nights under the same roof." Curious about his own wanderlust, and theorising that America is full of wanderers, he went out to prove it. Delving into the whys of nomads and travellers, I now understand my own nomadic tendencies.

From the list:

The best books on hiking, adventuring, and the outdoors

Book cover of Stand on the Sky

Stand on the Sky

By Erin Bow,

Why this book?

This story of a young girl, Aisulu, who bucks tradition to become an eagle hunter is simply heart-wrenching and a fabulous read. The research is thorough, and I was steeped in the Kazakh (a nomadic tribe in the mountains of Mongolia), even as the plot advanced with emotional twists and turns for the main characters. The voice of Aisulu is spot on. All the supporting characters but especially her brother Serik, and her aunt and uncle are richly drawn. 

Erin spent a summer with the Kazakh eagle hunters and had sensitivity readers review her work for authenticity. This book won…

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The best children's books to travel the world without leaving home

Book cover of Thinking on My Feet: The Small Joy of Putting One Foot in Front of Another

Thinking on My Feet: The Small Joy of Putting One Foot in Front of Another

By Kate Humble,

Why this book?

This is a book for people who like to come home to a steaming mug of tea after a long walk in the countryside – rain or shine. Kate Humble takes us with her on her walks through the year, both at home and abroad. Her descriptions of the Wye Valley make you want to put on your wellies and walk out the door, dogs in tow, ready to splash through puddles, hop styles, and walk beneath the trees and the clouds. It is a lovely reminder that it is so often the little things in life that can bring…

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The best books about nature in Britain

Book cover of Travelogue From an Unruly Youth

Travelogue From an Unruly Youth

By D.C. Jesse Burkhardt,

Why this book?

All of us who survived our own version of an Unruly Youth will find much to admire, and much that resonates, in this riveting account of one young man’s quest for identity, and for answers to his fundamental questions about life. He journeys along a “pipeline to freedom" on a bed of steel, ties, and gravel, never sure where his path will carry him from day-to-day. Travelogue From an Unruly Youth carries us into a hidden and unconventional world, weaving a romantic tale of roadside mystery and the universe-altering power of love.

From the list:

The best books on losing and finding ourselves via wanderlust

Book cover of The Art of Pilgrimage: The Seeker's Guide to Making Travel Sacred

The Art of Pilgrimage: The Seeker's Guide to Making Travel Sacred

By Phil Cousineau,

Why this book?

For many, travel reaches a point where it becomes something more than a moveable buffet and checks off a bucket-list. The Art of Pilgrimage helps you make this transition and realize you’re not alone. It traces the history of pilgrimage or mindful journeys with stories and anecdotes from past sojourners to a wide variety of locations for equally diverse reasons.

From the list:

The best books on doing a pilgrimage and our search for meaning

Book cover of Star Of Gypsies

Star Of Gypsies

By Robert Silverberg,

Why this book?

I'd never known anything about Gypsy culture (except cinematic stereotypes) until I read Silverberg's Star of Gypsies. Even though this book takes place on other worlds, centuries into the future, the traditions and the society of Gypsies survives. These nomadic spacefarers have evolved into important pieces of a galactic empire – an empire upon which the protagonist will have a profound effect. I loved the inventive world building and the complex yet often humorous main character, Yakoub. The tale fully engaged me from the very beginning and is one of those books I give my highest compliment – a…

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The best science fiction books that incorporate various earth cultures on other worlds

Book cover of Distant Skies: An American Journey on Horseback

Distant Skies: An American Journey on Horseback

By Melissa A. Priblo Chapman,

Why this book?

Travel memoirs can be fun to read, but this one is riveting. Melissa Chapman and her horse Rainy traveled nearly 3,000 miles across America when the writer was in her early twenties. Before cell phones and GPS devices, “Missy” and Rainy trekked through backwoods and on state routes, rarely knowing where they would spend the night. Without faltering, Rainy helps Missy see America in ways most of us never do.

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The best books on remarkable horses

Book cover of The Silent Steppe: The Story of a Kazakh Nomad Under Stalin

The Silent Steppe: The Story of a Kazakh Nomad Under Stalin

By Mukhamet Shayakhmetov, Jan Butler (translator),

Why this book?

This beautifully-crafted memoir beginning in 1930s Soviet-ruled Kazakhstan inspired me to seek out a survivor of the famine that tore through the land and left over a million Kazakhs dead during that traumatic decade. I found a feisty nonagenarian who recounted how she walked from Kazakhstan to China at the age of six to find food. Shayakhmetov’s book charts the famine and the accompanying destruction of the nomadic lifestyle the Kazakhs had led for generations until the iron fist of Soviet rule came crashing down. He lyrically evokes his carefree childhood as the son of nomadic herders, which came to…

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The best books to summon up the spirit of Central Asia

Book cover of Tales of a Female Nomad: Living at Large in the World

Tales of a Female Nomad: Living at Large in the World

By Rita Golden Gelman,

Why this book?

Rita knew her marriage was struggling, but was shocked and hurt when her husband asked for a two-month break to see other people. But she agreed, and saw as many people as she could. She saw shoppers bustling through outdoor markets, past vendors hawking tropical fruits and mountains of spices. She saw children playing in hillside villages. She saw kindred spirits, traveling with no plan other than to experience the world.

Rita became a nomad with few possessions, but countless experiences. As I read Rita’s memoir, I found myself nodding in understanding as she described her infinite curiosity, and her…

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The best memoirs about the healing power of travel

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