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I’ve realized over the past few years that the books I tend to enjoy reading the most are those that chronicle some kind of travel or adventure. My interest isn’t limited to true stories either, I’m just as interested in fantastic adventures as well.

Right now I’m flying through A Walk Across America by Peter Jenkins. It was written in the 1970s but it’s still a fascinating read today. I love imagining what it might have been like to hike all those miles and to camp along the road, all the way from New York state to the gulf coast of Alabama. A similar backpacking story I enjoyed was On the Beaten Path: An Appalachian Pilgrimage by Robert Alden Rubin. Rubin chose to hike the trail to discover himself after a sort of mid-life crisis and offers great insight into what drives people to hike to find themselves.

Last summer I read Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer about Chris McCandless and his solo adventure around the US. McCandless was eventually found dead in the Alaskan wilderness and his final days and months remain a mystery that Krakauer attempts to recreate through his book. This truly was a gripping story, perhaps one of the most interesting travel novels I’ve read.

I also just finished Dark Star Safari by Paul Theroux about his journey overland from Cairo to Cape Town just a few years ago. This novel does a great job painting a picture of the issues facing African nations and is entertaining in its accounts of the adventures of travel in a third world country.

I’m reminded of Paul’s trip and the way his blog is essentially a novel about his trip visiting friends and parks around the US. Paul recommends Blue Highways and it’s definitely on my list of things to read. That list also includes Kon Tiki and Peter Jenkins’ “Looking for Alaska” so I should be set for a while. I’m also interested in hearing which travel adventure novels you recommend. I plan on putting together a top 10 list when I get a chance to formally rank my favorites.

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  • jbarber

    I remembered a few others I enjoyed: Krakauer’s Into Thin Air, The Endurance, the story of Shackleton’s Antarctic voyage, Boukreev’s The Climb, and even the Grapes of Wrath. I can’t forget Kerouac’s On the Road and Steinbeck’s Travels with Charlie. On further thought, perhaps I’ve read one too many travel books, maybe it’s time to write my own adventure!

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