Books That Will Make You Fall In Love With the World

Those of us who follow the way of wanderlust are wild romantics. When we encounter the pheromone of the unfamiliar, we feel, see, touch, taste, and smell more keenly. Our minds are on high alert, noticing and processing everything—from the geometry of cobbled paths and thatched roofs to the tones of stray dogs and wild birds to the smell of new flowers and old dust.

We fall in love with the world.

> Here are four books that capture this feeling in the most delightful way: 

  • A Moveable Feast (1964) is Ernest Hemingway’s nostalgic remembrance of his days as a struggling young writer in the heady expat world of Paris in the 1920s. It’s a tender portrait of a time and place that had a lasting impact on his life. As he famously said, “If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” 
  • In Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (1974), Annie Dillard eloquently employs the flora and fauna of the Blue Ridge Mountains as a springboard for wide-ranging ruminations on solitude, writing, faith, the wonders of the natural world, and the interconnectedness of everyday life, from a tiny patch of Virginia earth to the edges of the cosmos.
  • Pico Iyer moved to Kyoto with the goal of studying to become a monk. He quickly abandoned that dream but stayed in the ancient capital and became a student of Japan instead, falling in love with the culture and with a Japanese woman. He enchantingly unfolds the tale of this dual romance in The Lady and the Monk (1991).
  • My life was changed by Peter Matthiessen’s The Snow Leopard (1978). Matthiessen exquisitely interweaves three threads: an account of his expedition to Nepal to find the elusive snow leopard; a personal elucidation of Buddhism’s history, principles, and practices; and poignant reflections on the unraveling relationships in his own family. This is a book about making leaps in the world, and the rewards that can ensue.

Don George is an editor at large at Traveler and the author of The Way of Wanderlust and Lonely Planet’s Guide to Travel WritingFollow Don on Twitter @don_george.


  1. Yoli
    Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
    June 9, 2016, 12:13 am

    A slice of Nirvana in a quaint fishing village on Mexico’ west coast.

  2. Yoli
    Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
    June 9, 2016, 12:09 am

    Beautifully haunting.

  3. Rebecca
    June 7, 2016, 4:58 pm

    Try “Honeymoon with my Brother.”

  4. Carl Kruse
    June 6, 2016, 12:41 pm

    Like some of the other commentators I’ve added “The Snow Leopard” to my reading list. Thanks for sharing.

    Carl Kruse

  5. Lawrence Brazier
    June 3, 2016, 12:09 am

    Strange that in all of the travel book lists I encounter nobody mentions The Story of San Michele by Axel Munthe. It is probably one of the best reads of all time. The Stones of Florence and Venice Observed by Mary McCarthy is riot of good travel writing. A virtually unknown book, A House In Bali, by Colin McPhee is deeply fascinating – about the island in the 1940s and the author’s study of gamelan music.

  6. Katherine
    San Francisco
    May 12, 2016, 4:13 pm

    The series ‘A Time of Gifts’, ‘Between the Woods and the Water’, and ‘The Broken Road’, all by Patrick Leigh Fermor, are a great chronicle of a young man’s journey on foot from Holland to Greece before WWI, so reading these is like a journey through land and time. Fermor’s books on Greece, ‘Mani’ and ‘Roumeli’, are also evocative and so beautifully written. True masterpieces of travel lit. If you love travel writing that is also well written, you won’t be disappointed.

  7. Edgar
    May 12, 2016, 3:17 pm

    Thank you for the selection. I enjoyed reading all of them throughout the years.

  8. Lydia Lienhart
    April 22, 2016, 8:43 am

    Pico Iyer might have changed his idea of becoming a monk because of the geishas in Kyoto? ;)


  9. Crischo @ Amazing Temples
    April 16, 2016, 2:01 pm

    Cool list oft books! The Snow Leopard is on my list now. For Mexico travelers I’d like to recommend the books of B.Traven. I found his books about the life of the indigenous people as he saw it at the beginning of the last century inspiring for travelling in Chiapas.

  10. Dan
    April 13, 2016, 12:43 pm

    The Drifters by James Michener inspired me to see and understand the world I live in more than any other bit of literature ever

  11. selectvillages
    united kingdom
    April 7, 2016, 1:42 am

    It’s wonderful i like it

  12. Thebooktrail
    March 29, 2016, 2:09 pm

    It’s just the best way to travel isn’t it? Great article and lovely to read this and your selection of books. There’s so many to choose from though isn’t there? Pure escapism and great to remember the classics. Still love the Garcia Marquez novels set in Colombia to totally immerse a reader in time and place!

  13. TripFiction
    March 20, 2016, 3:14 pm

    It’s wonderful to experience just a different perspective of a locale through the eyes of an author. The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles, Morocco might be another to consider…

  14. P.Coonley/Serendipity Traveler
    March 10, 2016, 3:15 pm

    Savouring an exceptional travel book inspires one to get moving towards the next adventure. Thanks Don George for reminding me of these travel classics as i plan another feast for the senses.

  15. Liz @ California2Catalonia
    March 7, 2016, 9:14 am

    I’m always looking for more books to add to my reading list and The Snow Leopard sounds right up my alley. Can’t wait to read it – thanks for the recommendations!