There Dan Was

Books That Inspired Me To Travel

So there I was…

Stretching my legs along the couch, I was half-watching a black and white movie. On the surface everything was fine. It was a typical succession of events to a routine evening. After trying to understand the plot of the film my mind abruptly went somewhere else.

I was drifting, flying as far as the eye could see.

A flash and a jolt later my mind landed back onto the couch. Possibly the effects of too much marinara from a pasta dinner was playing mind tricks. Whatever had just happened, I knew one thing for sure:

I was restless and wanted to go somewhere. Anywhere.

Despite a large dinner I was still ravenous. A handful of goldfish crackers or popcorn wouldn’t suffice. I needed to wander. A simple walk down the street wouldn’t cut it. Where could I go? A plane ticket was out of the question. Driving at night wouldn’t provide any scenery. There weren’t any bars, cafes, or restaurants open. At this hour, there existed one solution to abate the rising tide of wanderlust.

I went to my room, opened one of my favorite books, and started on page one.

Dark Star Safari by Paul Theroux (2002)

Image by Simon Matzinger from Pixabay

“All news out of Africa is bad. It made me want to go there…”

I felt like an addict getting my temporary fix. Oh hell yeah, baby is what I thought to myself.

This is an excerpt from the first line of Paul Theroux’s Dark Star Safari, an account of his epic journey from Cape Town, South Africa to Cairo, Egypt (over 6,000 miles!) on land. Not only did reading a few pages help me wind down, but a thought bubble popped into my head.

Maybe next year I should go to Egypt?

Woah woah woah, hold your horses Daniel.

I put the book down and refrained from browsing Skyscanner for cheap flights to the Middle East. This is the power of Paul Theroux; He not only makes you feel like you’re next to him on his adventures, but he makes you want to quit everything and escape to the great unknown. I’m a huge fan of his books and Dark Star Safari was the first one I read back in 2010. This book not only inspired me to see the world but it also motivated me to write.

It made me think about the other books have inspired me to travel.

On The Road by Jack Kerouac (1957)

On The Road was required reading in high school so my introduction to Jack Kerouac was not out of pleasure. Being a teenager living with a curfew and little desire for rebellion it was difficult to pick up what the author was throwing down.

Years later, while literally on the road, I stumbled upon this book (seen in the above photo) in a hostel book exchange shelf. I donated a recently finished book to the shelf and gave the story a second read. It was mesmerizing and eventually became a fixture to my room. I’m thinking that it’s time to donate this book yet again..

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts (2003)

Image by DARSHAK PANDYA from Pixabay

A copy of Shantaram was gifted to me by my friend Kelsey sometime in 2016 (I think) and it couldn’t have been welcomed at a better time. The story of an Australian fugitive who flees to Bombay, India to create a new life, Shantaram (by Gregory David Roberts) is a novel loosely based on the actual life of its author.

The story of the protagonist named Lin resonated with me because at the time I was in life transition and searching for a place where I felt like I belonged. I was feeling lost, so reading about a man who rediscovers himself in India gave me hope. It’s a wonderful story filled with countless characters and twists.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (1988)

Image by Nico Wall from Pixabay

“It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.”

The Alchemist is the only novel I’ve read three times. The first time I was emotional and inspired to see the world. The second time I felt that it was best to find happiness at home. The third time I became hungry and ate a salami sandwich. However way you interpret the book’s message, it’s a captivating story and has the power to ignite a fire in a reader to make a major life decision. Be warned, the third time around will induce heart-burn.

Calvin & Hobbes by Bill Watterson (1985-1995)

One of the most impactful books of my life wasn’t a novel but a comic strip. I first put my hands on a collection of Calvin & Hobbes back in elementary school. Back then I didn’t know how to read yet but the illustrations had my eyes racing from page to page.

The story of a mischievous kid and his best friend Hobbes, his stuffed tiger doll, the comic defined my childhood. I felt like I was Calvin: we both were an only child, about the same age, vivid imaginations, and oddly had similar looking parents.

Over time, when I finally learned to read, it became my favorite comic strip of all time. Calvin & Hobbes would go on adventures through outer space, the Yukon, and through time. Bill Watterson’s creation was one of my first ever escapes and it fed my growing desire to see what this world was all about.


Thinking for a while longer, I tried to come up with another favorite travel book but contemplation was greeted with quietness.

Perhaps it hasn’t been written yet…

A flash and a jolt later, my attention landed back onto the couch.

***

Thanks for reading! I appreciate your time and hope you’re having a wonderful day.

-Daniel

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