The Best Fiction Books to Inspire Wanderlust

I don’t know about you, but for me, there is nothing so exciting as getting lost in a good book. There is something truly fantastic about discovering a world that is utterly different from our own, yet still relatable because of the complex characters. The stories that introduce you to an interesting and brave character who goes on some journey or quest to whatever end are my absolute favorites. Books are just another adventure that you can embark on from the comfort of your own home. I have compiled a list of books that inspire me to travel, and that will inspire you as well if you haven’t read them already. So without further ado, here they are!

The Alchemist – Paolo Coelho

This book is one that I am sure appears on many book lists for inspiring wanderlust. It is, after all, about a young shepherd boy who dreams of traveling the world. Santiago chooses the life of a shepherd so that he can travel from town to town to see how other people live. After a while, he craves more adventure in lands farther than his home country of Spain. He dreams of the pyramids in Egypt, and so that becomes his path. The story follows him from Spain to the markets of Tangier and on to the deserts of Egypt where he has a fateful encounter with an Alchemist.

This is a fairly short book, but it feels very big. It is as if you are experiencing Santiago’s struggles as he travels. You can relate to his need to see the world and experience life in more than one place. This book will inspire you to follow your dreams, to travel more, and to seek adventure where ever that may be.

Get your copy here: Amazon

The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkien

Few characters can give you that feeling of first adventure excitement like Bilbo Baggins. The Hobbit is an epic adventure following the most unlikely of creatures, a hobbit, out into the world of Middle Earth. Hobbits tend to prefer staying at home, eating six meals a day, and generally enjoying life far away from other folks. Bilbo’s life changes forever when the wizard, Gandalf, shows up on his doorstep “asking” him to go on an adventure. Leaving home for the first time can be scary, and Bilbo is not ready to leave the Shire until a group of dwarves show up on his doorstep as well and tell him about their quest that would turn Bilbo into a thief.

Magic, hobbits, dwarves, dragons, treasure, and an adventure of a lifetime make this story irresistible. Following Bilbo through Middle Earth on his first adventure is enough to give you that feeling of wanderlust. Remember your first big trip? You will be remembering that and hoping to rekindle that novel feeling after reading this story. The Hobbit is a classic, and if you haven’t read it yet, what are you waiting for?

Get your copy here: Amazon

Howl’s Moving Castle – Diana Wynne Jones

This is a children’s book, but I still reread it occasionally. Howl’s Moving Castle follows Sophie Hatter, a young girl who will inherit her family’s hat shop. In this world, the oldest child inherits the family business while the younger children go out to seek their fortunes elsewhere. Sophie is a very talented hatmaker, but she grows tired and wishes to go out into the world like her sisters.

A fateful encounter with a witch leaves Sophie in a condition that leads her to the decision to go out and seek her fortune with or without her family’s blessing. Sophie ends up cursed by the witch to be an old woman. As an old lady, Sophie finds that she is much braver than she was before and wanders off to find the wizard Howl, who is notorious for eating young women’s hearts.

This book is so special to me. I keep reading it again and again because it reminds me that I can be brave and go out into the world and meet new people. Introverts will relate to Sophie, especially when she is “in disguise” as an old woman. I recommend this book to everyone, but if you are a parent, give this book to your child so that they can learn to be brave and to seek their dreams out in this big world.

Get your copy here: Amazon

Kafka on the Shore – Haruki Murakami

I will start by saying that books by Murakami are quite an undertaking. His stories are weird and complicated, and you will find yourself wondering what you just read. This is one such book. Kafka on the Shore is set in Japan and follows two characters: a teenage boy named Kafka Tamura, and an older man named Nakata. Kafka runs away from home to search for his missing mother and sister and to escape an Oedipal prophecy (you read that right). Nakata suffers from a wartime affliction that made him a bit simple-minded, and he is drawn toward Kafka for a reason that he does not understand. This book contains talking cats, fish and leeches falling from the sky, people walking around in spirit forms, and Colonel Sanders shows up at some point. I couldn’t put it down.

Throughout the book, Murakami describes Japan in vivid detail even amongst the crazy plot of this story. I love to read books set in countries that I want to visit. It gives an idea of the culture and of what a day looks like in that place. Kafka on the Shore will take you on an adventure through Japan that you will not soon forget. I recommend this book to people who like a complicated story, and who like to be surprised. Kafka on the Shore will blow your mind while making you want to pack your bags and fly to Japan.

Get your copy here: Amazon

Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden

Another story set in Japan, Memoirs of a Geisha transports you to historical Kyoto in the mind of Chiyo, a young girl who goes from being a fisherman’s daughter to being sold to a geisha boarding house in Gion. Chiyo grows up in the boarding house as a servant until one day she is allowed to train as a geisha. The book follows her progression from a girl to a woman called Sayuri as she becomes a successful geisha only to be separated from everyone she knows because of the war.

The story has love and loss, rivalry and regret. It is one of my all-time favorite books, because Chiyo, or Sayuri, is such an interesting and complex character that I find myself cheering her on and just wanting what is best for her. Memoirs of a Geisha will really suck you into the story, and leave you smiling.

This book is one that inspired me to visit Japan. I knew a little about Gion before visiting Kyoto thanks to this book. If you love historical fiction and Japan, this is the book for you. Chiyo’s story is one that is hard to put down.

Get your copy here: Amazon

The Chronicles of Narnia – C.S. Lewis

Another children’s book series that everyone should read, The Chronicles of Narnia is one of the greatest adventures ever written. My personal favorite book in the series is the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, which follows the Pevensie children through a wardrobe and into the magical world of Narnia. I remember reading these books as a child and dreaming of going on adventures in Narnia. Heck. I dream about going to Narnia as an adult. But just like our world, Narnia has its problems too.

This book reminds us that no matter where you are nothing is perfect. Each book in the series has is own story connected to Narnia. You will travel to many different places throughout the series and have the time of your life.

The Chronicles of Narnia is a tale that will leave you craving an adventure of your own. I recommend this series to literally everyone regardless of your age. It will inspire children to dream big and it will remind adults of that childlike passion for new places and adventure.

Get your copy here: Amazon

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy – J.R.R. Tolkien

If there is a more epic adventure than the one to destroy the one ring, let me know. I will probably argue. The Lord of the Rings follows young Frodo Baggins, nephew of Bilbo Baggins. Frodo’s fate is decided when his uncle Bilbo leaves behind the ring that he found while on his journey through the Misty Mountains. This is no ordinary ring, but the one ring of power, the ring that Sauron once used to wage war on Middle Earth, and it must be destroyed. Gandalf comes in again to give a little hobbit a very big quest. The characters are more complex and the side journeys more exciting all leading to Mordor where the fate of Middle Earth will be decided.

I get excited just thinking about this story. Everyone who reads this book wants to see Middle Earth (well, maybe not all of it). The Shire and Rivendell, and Gondor would be amazing destinations if they existed. Thankfully New Zealand fully embraced Lord of the Rings after the films were made, so we can now visit Hobbiton, and even have a pint at the Green Dragon. These books remind travelers that “Not all those who wander are lost”.

Get your copy here: Amazon

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants – Ann Brashares

Ann Brashares gave us all a gift in the form of a pair of pants. Four best friends are leaving for the summer and before they all part ways they find a pair of jeans that mysteriously fit them all perfectly. So they form the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and decide to each take the pants for a week at a time. The pants go with Lena to Santorini, Greece, with Carmen to South Carolina, with Tibby who stays in their hometown and also to Baja California with Bridget. The girls each have their own adventures, but they still feel connected with each other as they wear the pants.

There are five books total in this series, each containing a new adventure. This book will remind you that no matter where you are in the world, you will still be connected with your friends and they will always be there for you no matter what. So if you are worried about leaving your friends behind and traveling the world, pick up this book and remind yourself that friendships thrive no matter how far apart you are.

Get your copy here: Amazon

There are so many great books out there, but these inspire me to go out and see the world, and they will inspire you too! If you haven’t read these yet, I wholeheartedly recommend each one. If you have read them, which one is your favorite? Also, I would love to hear about books that have inspired you to travel! Leave them in the comments below. I love to talk books!

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