“Travel allows us to encounter transcendent states of awe – when we stand on the side of a mountain, or look up at the Milky Way – and it develops the cognitive quality of wonder. This is a positive feedback loop: by tapping into wonder, and seeing the world in new ways, we become more consciously aware, and awe finds new routes into our lives.”

So writes Ash Bhardwaj in his brilliant Why We Travel — a recent LoveReading Star Book that sparked us to ponder other fabulous books that inspire a desire to travel.

So, here we share some of the best non-fiction and travel writing that might just awaken your wanderlust — from personality-rich memoirs, and picture-packed pieces of passion from travel specialists, to inspirational guides that share practical tips for travelling as a family. 

Though by no means exhaustive, we hope at least some of the recommendations that follow will ignite your fire for travel, of the armchair variety (books are, after all, brilliant transporters), or in the sense that you find yourself taking a trip at the earliest possible opportunity. 

Returning to Why We Travel for the moment — it really is that good — among the many reasons we loved this book was the way Bhardwaj blends his personal path to forging a career as a leading travel journalist with all those lessons learned on the road, along with anthropological and psychological insights. And all this framed in the context of three principle questions — Why do we travel? How do we do it ‘better’? Can it help us to live more fulfilling lives?

That third question — can travel help us lead more fulfilling lives? — is answered in the affirmative by a few of our other favourite books in this collection. 

First up is Hilary Bradt’s Taking the Risk. As the trailblazing co-founder of Bradt Guides, Hilary sure knows a thing or two about travel, and this warm, witty, illuminating memoir shares her 50-years-worth of adventures in travel and publishing.

In a similar vein, we also wanted to highlight Julie Watson’s Travel Takeaways: Around the World in Forty Tales. Covering the writer’s “first independent trip as an unworldly eighteen-year-old to work as a waitress in the French Alps” in 1974, through to “senior moments in Segovia”, each tale rings with honesty, passion and human connection.

Staying on a personal note, we move now to “fish out of water” memoirs that see said fish (eventually) find their feet in new locations. In two of our favourites, the writers recount their experience of moving to Japan — Chris Broad’s Abroad in Japan and Iain Maloney’s The Only Gaijin in the Village.

Beyond Japan, we also adored Laura Galloway’s Dálvi: Six Years in the Arctic Tundra memoir, and Mary Considine’s The Island House. On this same subject, I also have to mention one of the books I re-read most often — Elma Napier’s Black and White Sands: a Bohemian Life in the Colonial-Caribbean. Featured in our Caribbean Collection, it recounts how Napier, a Scottish-born aristocrat, abandoned the trappings of high society in 1932 for a wildly new life on the wildly majestic island of Dominica.

For more on this topic, browse our new lives in the wild collection.

We move now to books that are both inspiring and practical, including Kayla Ihrig’s How to Be a Digital Nomad, and Dorling Kindersley’s Travel Journal.

Among other top travel books that blend inspiration with expert intel mention must be made of The Rough Guide to Top LGBTQ+ Friendly Places in Europe. Part of the excellent Rough Guides Inspiration series, this combines lively, informative text with inviting images to give a strong flavour of each destination, with a focus on what makes them unmissable for LGBTQ+ travellers.

For global inspiration, check-out The Travel Book from Lonely Planet. Every country in the world is represented on its picture-packed pages.

Turning now to travel-related tomes that also have a literary theme, The Best British Travel Writing of the 21st Century features quality writing covering all corners of the globe, and The Bedside Companion for Travel Lovers makes a glorious gift. 

Meanwhile, committed bibliophiles will want to bag themselves a copy of Louise Boland’s Bookshop Tours of Britain.

Finally, if you travel with kids don’t miss Bex Band’s Family Adventures and Jessica Gee’s National Geographic: Bucket List Family Travel. What better way to awaken wanderlust than starting ‘em young!

And with that, we bid you bon voyage.