Keep reading to learn about 12 audiobooks to listen to if you have wanderlust, from poignant memoirs of self-discovery and humorous travelogues to novels set across the US and around the globe.
“Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail” was turned into a movie starring Reese Witherspoon.
When writer Cheryl Strayed was in her 20s, her mum died and her marriage collapsed. Her heartbreak led her to the Pacific Crest Trail, which she decided on a whim to hike from the Mojave Desert to Washington State. In her memoir, “Wild,” Strayed ― who had no previous long-distance hiking experience ― recounts her trek along the PCT. Staying the course, she faces fearsome animals (black bears, rattlesnakes) and extreme weather conditions on her quest for self-discovery. “Wild” was turned into a film starring Reese Witherspoon in 2014.
Listen to “Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail” by Cheryl Strayed, narrated by Bernadette Dunne.
“The Innocents Abroad: Or, The New Pilgrim’s Progress” is Mark Twain’s humorous travel guide to Europe and the Middle East.
Mark Twain’s book “The Innocents Abroad” follows the humorist’s adventures aboard the Quaker City, a retired Civil War steamship, as it journeys through Europe and the Middle East. Published in 1869, this forthright travel guide began as a series of letters Twain penned for the Alta California, the San Francisco newspaper that sponsored his participation on the trip.
Listen to “The Innocents Abroad: Or, The New Pilgrim’s Progress” by Mark Twain, narrated by Grover Gardner.
“On the Road” is a quintessential road trip novel.
Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” has endured as the quintessential American road trip novel. Inspired by Kerouac’s adventures with fellow Beat writer Neal Cassady, the book follows two friends as they make several cross-country trips. Along the way, they seek meaning and new experiences in the form of jazz, drugs, and poetry.
“The Vacationers” will have you dreaming of sea and sand.
If you can’t sneak away for a vacation, live vicariously through this breezy novel by Emma Straub. Following a New York City family’s two-week trip to Mallorca, the largest of Spain’s Balearic Islands, “The Vacationers” is a testament to the adage that we take ourselves with us wherever we go. It will have you dreaming of sea and sand ― and make you thankful that your own family isn’t as dramatic as the Posts, who squabble about hidden secrets and childhood rivalries, among other histrionic gripes.
“The Signature of All Things” follows the global adventures of a 19th-century botanist.
Although Elizabeth Gilbert is best known for her globe-trotting memoir “Eat, Pray, Love,” her 2013 novel “The Signature of All Things” is just as likely to inspire wanderlust. It tells the story of Alma Whittaker, a botanist born in Philadelphia at the turn of the 19th century whose work takes her to Tahiti, Peru, and other far-off locales. Part adventure, part love story, “Signature” is an ambitious, lyrical book that will both educate and enchant you.
“Fighting Monks and Burning Mountains: Misadventures on a Buddhist Pilgrimage” is a funny memoir of self-discovery.
Quitting his office job and heading to Japan without doing any research beforehand, stand-up comic and writer Paul Barach set out to walk the Shikoku pilgrimage trail, an ancient route spanning 750 miles. In his humorous memoir “Fighting Monks and Burning Mountains,” he describes his wild journey, which includes learning local lore and facing challenges like mountaintop karate battles and steep climbs.
Listen to “Fighting Monks and Burning Mountains: Misadventures on a Buddhist Pilgrimage” by Paul Barach, narrated by the author.
“West with the Night” is groundbreaking aviator Beryl Markham’s memoir of Kenya.
British-born aviator Beryl Markham’s memoir “West with the Night,” published in 1942, details what it was like to grow up in Kenya (then called British East Africa), where she moved at age 4 with her father and where she launched careers as a racehorse trainer and a bush pilot. In addition to being the first person to make a solo flight across the Atlantic, she also had the distinction of being the first woman in Africa to earn a racehorse trainer’s licence.
“The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World” examines the intersection of travel and psychology.
While it might be difficult to pinpoint what happiness is, Eric Weiner attempts to answer the less elusive questions of where it is. Blending travel writing with psychology, humour, and science, “The Geography Bliss,” follows Weiner from Qatar, United Arab Emirates, to Asheville, North Carolina, in his quest to understand what makes a place joyful.
Listen to “The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World” by Eric Weiner, narrated by the author.
“A Year in Provence” is a charming memoir of life in an old French farmhouse.
If you’re wondering what it’s like to move into a centuries-old French farmhouse, look no further than Peter Mayle’s “A Year in Provence.” This charming memoir offers an up-close look at the pleasures (top-notch cuisine, goat racing) and vexations (harsh weather) of life in the Rhône Valley.
“No Baggage: A Minimalist Tale of Love and Wandering” will make you want to take chances in relationships and travel.
It’s hard enough starting a new relationship, so imagine what it was like for writer Clara Bensen to book a 21-day trip from London to Istanbul with someone she just met on OkCupid. Not only did Bensen take the leap and go on a whirlwind trip with her new beau ― she did it without bringing luggage or booking any reservations in advance. Her exhilarating memoir “No Baggage” began as a 2013 column on Salon.com and has been translated into more than 10 languages.
Listen to “No Baggage: A Minimalist Tale of Love and Wandering” by Clara Bensen, narrated by the author.
“Notes from a Small Island” is an irreverent and informative journey through the United Kingdom.
Irreverent and informative, Anglo-American travel writer Bill Bryson’s “Notes from a Small Island” is a humorous take on his adopted country, the United Kingdom. Travelling primarily by public transportation from Exeter in southwestern England to John o’Groat’s, a village at the northern tip of Scotland, Bryson describes everything from historic churches to places with silly names (Farleigh Wallop, Titsey) with warm-hearted wit.
“Flâneuse: Women Walk the City in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Venice, and London” is an ode to women who wander.
In “Flâneuse,” cultural critic Lauren Elkin responds to the notion of the flâneur, a privileged, stereotypically masculine figure who is free to roam as he pleases. From Virginia Woolf’s London “street haunting” to Patti Smith’s jaunts through 1970s New York, Elkin chronicles the history of women walking in cities. She also shares her own experiences wandering the streets of cities she’s inhabited, such as Venice and Tokyo.
Listen to “Flâneuse: Women Walk the City in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Venice, and London” by Lauren Elkin, narrated by Abby Craden.
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