To me, travelling brings with it the state of mind in which I can reflect on my life. For a couple of weeks or months, nothing is the same: I’m out of my comfort zone and can look back on my ‘old life’ with a little (emotional) distance. The travelling itself, the lessened privacy and comfort, the homesickness and the sometimes very inspiring contacts with new people can give rise to questions in your mind: do I live my life the way I want to? Do I dare to fully make use of my talents and gifts? Am I withdrawing from things because of fear? Have I been careless or irresponsible in some situations? What do I think about my relationships and friendships?
These kinds of questions can also pop up when reading a good book. And that’s why I love to read inspiring, philosophical books while travelling, to help me think about my life and to gain new insights. But there are so many books! Which one to choose? Let me guide you: I made a list of some very good books to read while travelling!
1. Eleanor Roosevelt – You Learn by Living
Born from an addicted father and a harsh mother and raised by her very strict grandmother in a boarding school in London, Eleanor Roosevelt married Franklin, who then became the President of the United States of America. The frightened, insecure Eleanor slowly turned into one of the most inspiring role models of the twentieth century. In this book, written shortly before her death, Eleanor writes about the lessons she learned while living on this Earth: how to live a meaningful and happy life. Learning to learn, conquering your fears, and motivating others to do their very best are some of the lessons she writes about. Eleanor Roosevelt has a nice style of writing, alternating between anecdotes, stories, and thought-provoking quotes.
2. Jan Geurtz – Addicted to Love
If you’re ready for a personal challenge, then read this book! With a very critical theory this author will start to change your view on one of the most important part of our lives: our relationships with others. Geurtz argues that everyone of us makes a fundamental mistake in building relationships. Deep down we reject ourselves and to compensate this, we start basing our identity and self-esteem on the appreciation and approval of others. As a result, a crippling web of tricks and patterns develop to guarantee acceptance and to prevent rejection from happening. But these tricks and patterns do not work and deepen your self-rejection, and worsen your relationships. In this book, Geurtz takes you on a journey through your own collection of faults, inviting you to step aside and start loving yourself again. Very interesting!
3. Paulo Coelho – Like the Flowing River
If you’re in the mood to think about life, this is a very nice book. In a series of short essays and columns, Coelho takes you to several places on Earth where he learned some very important lessons, heard some beautiful stories and met some inspiring people. You get to know a little bit about his philosophical and spiritual mind. Coelho shows that everyone of us can influence life by making the right choices and living consciously. Truly every part of the book contains a life lesson or fundamental question, but the book is still a wonderful read.
4. Brené Brown – Daring Greatly
Such a good book! Whether you like psychology books or not, this book will make you think about how we connect to other people and how we live our lives. The whole world is full of perfectionism, staying strong, and power. Showing vulnerability is regarded as something undesirable and unpleasant. But with this book, Brown shows the facts of vulnerability, based on years of scientific research: vulnerability is essential to connection with others. Daring to let go of your insecurities and instead showing your vulnerability will result in more meaning and satisfaction in life. Brown shows a light on several defense mechanisms we all use to prevent ourselves from feeling this vulnerability. She also shows ways to let go of these defenses and to embrace your vulnerability.
5. Allain de Botton – The Art of Travelling
A very nice book to read just before you go on holiday. Because why do we even plan holidays and travels? What do we expect from travelling and what makes a travel live up to your expectations or not? Allain de Botton writes from different philosophical point of views about travelling. You can never escape yourself when travelling, for example, and travelling is a state of mind that isn’t dependent on the amount of miles you travel. Or did you know you could also travel through your own bedroom? If you want to know, read this interesting book, written in a humorous and intelligent fashion.
6. Don Miguel Ruiz – The Four Agreements
Be impeccable with your word. Don’t take anything personally. Don’t make assumptions. Always do your best. These four apparently simple things are discussed in this book. But don’t let the simplicity fool you. The author explains the ways in which these four agreements will change your life once you truly start applying them. It makes you realise just how important these four agreements are. It will change the way you live your life, the way you treat your friends and family, the way you look at yourself and the way you try to make this world more positively.
Do you prefer reading a story? Then the following books could be interesting for you.
7. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry – The Little Prince
This beautiful story is sometimes called the fairy tale for adults. And it’s actually true. In this super thin book, you read the story of The Little Prince. The Little Prince is an enthusiastic little guy that lives on a very small planet and travels to seven other planets, all inhabited by fools. The last planet is our planet, on which the prince meets the author of the book. Bit by bit you get to know The Little Prince better and you will hear him telling about his adventures on other planets. It’s a truly beautiful fairy tale with countless idealistic and philosophical messages in it. Heart-warming!
8. Mitch Albom – The Five People You Meet in Heaven
What will happen when you die? Will you go to heaven or hell, will you be reborn, or do you just simply disappear? Albom does not write about these three known options, but gives you another completely different point of view on dying. The main character of this book dies in a tragic accident with a roller coaster in the theme park he works at. In the hereafter he meets five people. Five people that played a very important role in his life or in which lives the main character played an important role himself. These five people explain important things about his life. They teach him to forgive, to love, and to realize that every little thing you do or don’t do in this life will have (big or small) consequences for your future and that of others. Let this book take you on an interesting journey!
9. Pascal Mercier – Night Train to Lisbon
I’ve been reading this book partly in Dutch and partly in German. Both versions of the book surprised me with the beautiful way the author plays with words. It gives everything a philosophical touch, making you look differently at the world. The story is about Gregorius, a dusty, very organized teacher of Classical Languages in Bern. In the midst of a lesson Gregorius suddenly realizes how time is slipping through his fingers. This frightens him so much that he immediately leaves the school and books a night train to Lisbon the very same night. In Lisbon, Gregorius starts to collect information about the life of an author that makes him think about life. It’s an enthralling search, an inspiring collection of philosophical considerations. The story is about the paths not taken, the choices not made, the lives not lived. It’s just a wonderful book.
Enjoy your journey!