The best wanderlust books

2 authors have picked their favorite books about wanderlust and why they recommend each book.

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Travelogue From an Unruly Youth

By D.C. Jesse Burkhardt,

Book cover of Travelogue From an Unruly Youth

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.


Who am I?

I began my writing career over forty years ago, pausing in boxcars, under streetlamps, and in hobo jungles to record the beats and rhythms of the road as I caught freight trains and vagabonded around the Pacific Northwest and Canada. In the years since, whether hiking the Camion de Santiago, traversing the length of Hadrian’s Wall, or backpacking in the high Sierra, I’ve been privileged to indulge my wanderlust all around the world, and to share those adventures with others.


I wrote...

The Last Professional

By Ed Davis, Colin Elgie (illustrator),

Book cover of The Last Professional

What is my book about?

This is a story of America! Lynden Hoover, a young man on the brink of a new beginning, cannot embrace it without confronting the traumas of his past. Help comes from The Duke, an old loner who calls America’s landscape his home. He clings to an honor code, but in fleeing from Short Arm, his merciless enemy, his code is being tested.

At the end of the 20th century few Knights of the Road still cling to their vanishing lifestyle. The Duke mentors Lynden, enlisting old traveling friends to keep himself and his apprentice just ahead of Short Arm’s relentless pursuit. When two of those friends are murdered, the stakes become life or death.

To the Great Ocean

By Harmon Tupper,

Book cover of To the Great Ocean: The Taming Of Siberia And The Building Of The Trans-Siberian Railway

A highly readable and well-illustrated history of the Trans-Siberian Railroad, from the earliest Russian railways to the construction of the Trans-Siberian route to the modern railway of the mid-20th century. Built between 1891 and 1916, it was the longest passenger line in the world and one of the greatest engineering feats of its time. But few people riding on Trans-Siberian trains today are aware of the immense obstacles the builders had to overcome, from tunneling through snow-covered mountains and draining dangerous swamps, to coping with deadly diseases and attacks by bandits and Siberian tigers.

In 1916, when the last railroad bridge was constructed over the Amur River in Russia's Far East, the trip by train from Moscow to Vladivostok took 14 to 16 days. Today it takes only 7 days to cover the 5,771 miles between Russia's capital and the Pacific Ocean—but it's still the railway journey of a lifetime.…


Who am I?

Sharon Hudgins is the award-winning author of five books on history, travel, and food; a journalist with more than 1,000 articles published worldwide; and a former professor with the University of Maryland's Global Campus. She has spent two years in Russia, teaching at universities in Siberia and the Russian Far East, and lecturing on tours for National Geographic, Smithsonian, Viking, and other expedition companies. Endowed with an insatiable wanderlust, she has lived in 10 countries on 3 continents, traveled through 55 countries across the globe, and logged more than 45,000 miles on the Trans-Siberian Railroad.


I wrote...

T-Bone Whacks and Caviar Snacks: Cooking with Two Texans in Siberia and the Russian Far East

By Sharon Hudgins,

Book cover of T-Bone Whacks and Caviar Snacks: Cooking with Two Texans in Siberia and the Russian Far East

What is my book about?

Filled with fascinating food history, cultural insights, and personal stories, T-Bone Whacks and Caviar Snacks is first cookbook in America about the foods of the Asian side of Russia. It chronicles the culinary adventures of two intrepid Texans who lived, worked, and ate their way around Siberia and the Russian Far East—from modern cities to log-cabin villages, from grassy steppes to snow-capped mountains. Featuring 140 traditional and modern recipes, with 75 photos, this unique memoir-cookbook includes dozens of regional recipes from local cooks in Asian Russiafresh seafood dishes from Russia's Far East, venison-blueberry dumplings from Siberia, potato salad with crab and caviar, pine-nut meringues, traditional Russian holiday treats and Easter desserts, along with enticing appetizers from the dining car of a luxury Trans-Siberian train. You'll also find recipes for the European and Tex-Mex dishes the author cooked on the "Stoves from Hell' in her own Russian apartments there. 

"Sharon Hudgins' charming food memoir about living in Russia is both a fun read and an excellent cookbook….the moving story of life in a foreign land and a comprehensive collection of Russian recipes you will find nowhere else." — James Oseland, Editor-in-Chief, World Food, and judge on Top Chef Masters

The Dharma Bums

By Jack Kerouac,

Book cover of The Dharma Bums

“The little flowers grew everywhere around the rocks, and no one had asked them to grow, or me to grow.” The joy in Kerouac is stumbling along with his absent-minded musings and finding the stretches of poetry that really speak to you. Dharma Bums is spiritual and inward-focused, but the characters spend time in nature, trying to figure out their place in it. It’s the kind of companion that you want to have with you on a canoe trip or sharing space with you on a hammock on a warm fall day. 


Who am I?

Seth Wynes is a climate researcher studying how everyday people can fight climate change more effectively. His work has been featured in media outlets from around the world including The New York Times, NPR, and The Guardian. Before pursuing an academic career, Seth was a high school science teacher in England and Northern Quebec, and still draws inspiration for his research from the questions and concerns raised by his students. He is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada.


I wrote...

SOS: What You Can Do to Reduce Climate Change - Simple Actons That Make a Difference

By Seth Wynes,

Book cover of SOS: What You Can Do to Reduce Climate Change - Simple Actons That Make a Difference

What is my book about?

Your actions make a difference—even the smallest ones every day. Discover the simple ways to reduce your personal carbon emissions, proven to work by the latest scientific research. Make impactful changes at home, at work, to how you and your family shop, eat, live. Understand how to use your voice and voting power most effectively too, based on what statistics show really contributes to change. You'll be surprised how much power you have to make a change within your community and your country.

How many actions can you tick off the list in this book to help save our planet?

The Snail and the Whale

By Julia Donaldson, Axel Scheffler (illustrator),

Book cover of The Snail and the Whale

I used to read this book to my children and I think it is one of the most beautiful and lyrical picture books ever written. It’s a story of a snail who hitches a ride on the tail of a whale and then gets the chance to see how amazing the world is. It’s so simple and always brings a tear to my eye.


Who am I?

My biggest aim as a writer is for my reader to feel something. It could be on a page where they are fighting back the tears or at the end of a chapter where they are gasping at an unexpected plot twist. I think we can sometimes forget how powerful children’s books can be – yes, they can make you cry, laugh, gasp and feel scared! Here are some of my favorites that will make you have all the feelings.


I wrote...

The Light Jar

By Lisa Thompson,

Book cover of The Light Jar

What is my book about?

Nate and his mother are fleeing from a bad situation at home. They hide out in an abandoned, run-down cottage in the middle of a forest and Nate's mother heads off for groceries. She doesn't return. Has she run into trouble, or abandoned him? He is alone and afraid, with the dark – and all his old fears – closing in on him. But comfort can come from the most unexpected of places: like a strange girl trying to solve a treasure hunt, and the reappearance of a friend from his past. Will Nate find the bravery he needs to face down his fears and illuminate his future? From the author of The Goldfish Boy, comes a captivating story of finding the light within.

Search and Rescue Alaska

By Tracy Salcedo,

Book cover of Search and Rescue Alaska

Sometimes wanderlust makes us wander farther than we should. I devoured this book! Part history, part thriller, part downright unbelievable, there is adventure and heroism on every page. I'm not sure that truth is always stranger than fiction, but in Tracy’s able hands it is every bit as exciting. Strap on your snowshoes!


Who am I?

I began my writing career over forty years ago, pausing in boxcars, under streetlamps, and in hobo jungles to record the beats and rhythms of the road as I caught freight trains and vagabonded around the Pacific Northwest and Canada. In the years since, whether hiking the Camion de Santiago, traversing the length of Hadrian’s Wall, or backpacking in the high Sierra, I’ve been privileged to indulge my wanderlust all around the world, and to share those adventures with others.


I wrote...

The Last Professional

By Ed Davis, Colin Elgie (illustrator),

Book cover of The Last Professional

What is my book about?

This is a story of America! Lynden Hoover, a young man on the brink of a new beginning, cannot embrace it without confronting the traumas of his past. Help comes from The Duke, an old loner who calls America’s landscape his home. He clings to an honor code, but in fleeing from Short Arm, his merciless enemy, his code is being tested.

At the end of the 20th century few Knights of the Road still cling to their vanishing lifestyle. The Duke mentors Lynden, enlisting old traveling friends to keep himself and his apprentice just ahead of Short Arm’s relentless pursuit. When two of those friends are murdered, the stakes become life or death.

The Road

By Jack London,

Book cover of The Road

London is famous, not only for the gripping quality of his prose, but for his larger-than-life globe-hopping adventures. For me, The Road reduces all of that to a personal, intimate level. Though written over a hundred years ago, these experiences of the young London making his way as best he can, without means or motive – other than survival – echoes perfectly the plight, and the challenges, and the choices so many face today.


Who am I?

I began my writing career over forty years ago, pausing in boxcars, under streetlamps, and in hobo jungles to record the beats and rhythms of the road as I caught freight trains and vagabonded around the Pacific Northwest and Canada. In the years since, whether hiking the Camion de Santiago, traversing the length of Hadrian’s Wall, or backpacking in the high Sierra, I’ve been privileged to indulge my wanderlust all around the world, and to share those adventures with others.


I wrote...

The Last Professional

By Ed Davis, Colin Elgie (illustrator),

Book cover of The Last Professional

What is my book about?

This is a story of America! Lynden Hoover, a young man on the brink of a new beginning, cannot embrace it without confronting the traumas of his past. Help comes from The Duke, an old loner who calls America’s landscape his home. He clings to an honor code, but in fleeing from Short Arm, his merciless enemy, his code is being tested.

At the end of the 20th century few Knights of the Road still cling to their vanishing lifestyle. The Duke mentors Lynden, enlisting old traveling friends to keep himself and his apprentice just ahead of Short Arm’s relentless pursuit. When two of those friends are murdered, the stakes become life or death.

Wanderlust

By Rebecca Solnit,

Book cover of Wanderlust: A History of Walking

Like Solnit’s A Field Guide to Getting Lost, this book is about what it means to be open to serendipity, to take “subversive detours,” and to travel without a checklist, shopping list, or itinerary. Neither of these are traditional travel books, but instead offer a sense of travel that includes our own backyards and dreamscapes as well as foreign terrain. Solnit is one of the great and one of the most versatile writers of our time, with a roving intelligence that enlivens whatever she looks at, be it medieval maps or downtrodden city streets, and that, finally, is what travel writing is at its best: we encounter not just new places, but new ways of seeing.


Who am I?

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.


I wrote...

And the Monkey Learned Nothing: Dispatches from a Life in Transit

By Tom Lutz,

Book cover of And the Monkey Learned Nothing: Dispatches from a Life in Transit

What is my book about?

Tom Lutz is on a mission to visit every country on earth. And the Monkey Learned Nothing contains reports from fifty of them, most describing personal encounters in rarely visited spots, anecdotes from way off the beaten path. 

Traveling without an itinerary and without a goal, in
Monkey Lutz explores the Iranian love of poetry, the occupying Chinese army in Tibet, the amputee beggars in Cambodia, the hill tribes on Vietnam’s Chinese border, the sociopathic monkeys of Bali, the dangerous fishermen and conmen of southern India, the salt flats of Uyumi in Peru, and floating hotels in French Guiana, introduces you to an Uzbeki prodigy in the market of Samarkand, an Azeri rental car clerk in Baku, guestworkers in Dubai, a military contractor in Jordan, cucuruchos celebrating Holy Week in Guatemala, a Pentecostal preacher in rural El Salvador, a playboy in Nicaragua, employment agents in Singapore specializing in Tamil workers, prostitutes in Colombia and the Dominican Republic, international bankers in Belarus, a teacher in Havana, border guards in Botswana, tango dancers in Argentina, a cook in Suriname, a juvenile thief in Uruguay, voters in Guyana, doctors in Tanzania and Lesotho, scary poker players in Moscow, reed dancers in Swaziland, young camel herders in Tunisia, Romanian missionaries in Macedonia, and musical groups in Mozambique. With an eye out for both the sublime and the ridiculous, Lutz falls, regularly, into the instant intimacy of the road with random strangers. 

Tent Life in Siberia

By George Kennan,

Book cover of Tent Life in Siberia

An intrepid traveler and talented journalist, George Kennan (1845-1924), is better known for his second book about Russia, published in 1891: Siberia and the Exile System, a two-volume study of Siberian penal colonies and exile conditions. But his first book, published 20 years earlier, is among my favorites about Russia. In his introduction to a 1968 reprint of Tent Life in Siberia, American author Larry McMurtry called it "one of the most appealing classics of nineteenth-century travel [writing]."

In 1865, 20-year-old Kennan, an accomplished telegrapher, was hired by Western Union to survey part of Siberia for the possible construction of a telegraph line across Russia, connecting Alaska to Europe. This memoir of his two years in Siberia is a rousing tale of his adventures among the native people and the Russian settlers he encountered there, as well as the many hardships that he and his partner endured, from…


Who am I?

Sharon Hudgins is the award-winning author of five books on history, travel, and food; a journalist with more than 1,000 articles published worldwide; and a former professor with the University of Maryland's Global Campus. She has spent two years in Russia, teaching at universities in Siberia and the Russian Far East, and lecturing on tours for National Geographic, Smithsonian, Viking, and other expedition companies. Endowed with an insatiable wanderlust, she has lived in 10 countries on 3 continents, traveled through 55 countries across the globe, and logged more than 45,000 miles on the Trans-Siberian Railroad.


I wrote...

T-Bone Whacks and Caviar Snacks: Cooking with Two Texans in Siberia and the Russian Far East

By Sharon Hudgins,

Book cover of T-Bone Whacks and Caviar Snacks: Cooking with Two Texans in Siberia and the Russian Far East

What is my book about?

Filled with fascinating food history, cultural insights, and personal stories, T-Bone Whacks and Caviar Snacks is first cookbook in America about the foods of the Asian side of Russia. It chronicles the culinary adventures of two intrepid Texans who lived, worked, and ate their way around Siberia and the Russian Far East—from modern cities to log-cabin villages, from grassy steppes to snow-capped mountains. Featuring 140 traditional and modern recipes, with 75 photos, this unique memoir-cookbook includes dozens of regional recipes from local cooks in Asian Russiafresh seafood dishes from Russia's Far East, venison-blueberry dumplings from Siberia, potato salad with crab and caviar, pine-nut meringues, traditional Russian holiday treats and Easter desserts, along with enticing appetizers from the dining car of a luxury Trans-Siberian train. You'll also find recipes for the European and Tex-Mex dishes the author cooked on the "Stoves from Hell' in her own Russian apartments there. 

"Sharon Hudgins' charming food memoir about living in Russia is both a fun read and an excellent cookbook….the moving story of life in a foreign land and a comprehensive collection of Russian recipes you will find nowhere else." — James Oseland, Editor-in-Chief, World Food, and judge on Top Chef Masters

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