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5 Travel Books You Can Use As a Guide Book

Travel Books that make great Guide Books

So where do you find inspiration if you want to get a more in depth and personal view of a place? The answer is by following in the footsteps of some more intrepid travelers whose job it is to seek out the unusual, the off beat, the heart beat of a place; travel writers and their travel books.

When most of us travel the thing that we turn to for inspiration and information is the trusty old guide book, and they can be great at giving us the facts and necessary logistical information about the main touristic sites wherever it is we are going. However, the same is true of every other tourist and we can all end up wandering around in a big herd, experiencing the same things.

Here are 5 travel books you can use as a more adventurous and personal guide book:

1. Istanbul by Orhan Pamuk

Travel Books written by Travel Writers

Orhan Pamuk was raised in Istanbul and this travel book talks about his city in a way that no ordinary guide book could. Through his eyes and experiences as he grew up in the city you can discover not only what is great about the city, but what was behind what makes the city great. But he can also open your eyes to the other side of the coin, so you can understand that because a place is amazing to visit, it hasn’t always been an amazing place. Through this book you can discover the history, the wonder, the beauty, the anarchy and the dark side of Istanbul.

2. The Camino: A Journey of the Spirit by Shirley MacLaine

Travel Books written by Travel Writers

This is the story of Shirley MacLaine’s solo walk in her 70s along the Camino de Santiago de Compostella; the 500 mile historical religious pilgrimage that ends in Santiago de Compostella in the Spain. Today the route is not just walked by religious pilgrims but is walked by many and varied people. This travel book helps you understand how doing such a walk can help you answer some inner questions, or find some new things about yourself, whether you are religious or not.

3. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Travel Books written by Travel Writers

This travel book charts a journey to three countries; Italy, India and Bali by Elizabeth Gilbert in which she respectively eats, prays and ultimately finds love. Where it’s true that this more a book to inspire women, men who enjoy food or meditation will enjoy following along, and they may even enjoy the love bit too, as long as they are the objects of your affections.

4. A Tramp Abroad by Mark Twain

Travel Books written by Travel Writers

This is a humorous (some would say hilarious) account of Mark Twain’s journey to Europe after the American Civil War. This was a period where there was renewed interest in Europe and many from America made their own grand tour to visit the old countries. In this book Twain both entertains with details of his own trip, but also entertains by making fun of his fellow American Grand Tourists. So yes, this book was written in the 19th century, but it richly evokes both Europe and the notion of American tourism in Europe that modern readers still find fascinating and funny.

5. The Old Patagonian Express by Paul Theroux

Travel Books written by Travel Writers

Paul Theroux has really managed to carve a niche out for himself as the grumpy man of travel writing, but his barbed comments about his fellow travelers and people and places along the way always make for entertaining reading. And this travel book is no different. It tells the tale of his trip from Boston to Argentina attempting to take trains wherever possible during the 1970s. Although today there are even less of the trains running which are described in the book, you’ll still find inspiration here to embark on a real adventure with a driving motive behind it.

So wherever your next trip is planned, by all means get the guide book for help with the basic information, but then also try and seek out some travel writing about the place as it will often give you a much better insight into the real heart beat behind the places that you’re visiting.

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