By: Gigi Manukyan
There is nothing more I love than a good read, especially one focused on my greatest love, travel. Here are my top picks to help unlock the adventurer in you.
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Every “Best Travel Books” list compiled includes Coelho’s The Alchemist. Literally, every. The books follows a shepherd named Santiago, whose recurring dream leads him journey to the Egyptian pyramids. The story is mystical, transcending through time and space, and serves an important message. Your Personal Legend “is what you have always wanted to accomplish. Everyone, when they are young, knows what their Personal Legend is.” What’s your personal legend?
Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain
I could not make a list of travel books without including the autobiography of one of my greatest influences, the late Anthony Bourdain. His groundbreaking shows, No Reservations and Parts Unknown, have exposed people to the underrated parts of the world, and given a voice to underrepresented minorities. While his name is synonymous with travel in American pop culture, this was not always the case for Bourdian. As a follow up to his first autobiography, Kitchen Confidential, Bourdain reflects on the hardships he faced in life, including poverty, drug addiction, and alcohol abuse, before fame. Medium Raw is the perfect gift for travel addicts and foodies alike.
Eat, Pray, Love by Liz Gilbert
Yes. This is another common book on these travel lists, and has sparked a lot of controversy amongst female travelers. While some view this as yet another self-help book written by a privileged white woman, it does explore an important message: there is life after love. Got that, Cher? Author, Liz Gilbert, goes on a quest of self-determination through Italy, India, and Indonesia. Each country represents a different part of her journey: eating in Italy, the power of prayer in India, and finding love and inner peace in Bali. Gilbert’s novel-turned-movie first introduced me to the island of Bali, and inspired me to visit. My only word of advice is to not read this novel while hungry, you’ll be salivating all over the pages during her Italy travels.
Orhan’s Inheritance by Alina Ohanesian
Alina Ohanesian’s book tells the tale of Orhan Turkoglu, whose eccentric grandpa’s death leads him to a nursing home in Los Angeles. On the backdrop of the Armenian Genocide, it weaves through back and forth through time to demonstrate how individuals can learn from their past. During his stay in Los Angeles, Orhan learns about the atrocities suffered by the Armenian people in the hands of the Ottoman Turks, and questions his own identity as a Turk. If you want a great blend of history and fiction, then pick up this book!
Blood and Vengeance by Chuck Sudetic
Not all travel books are going to be positive stories about self-discovery—sorry, Liz Gilbert. Journalist, Chuck Sudetic, chronicles his experiences covering the Bosnian War and subsequent genocide. The Bosnian War and leading up to it is an extremely confusing and messy situation to sum up. However, Sudetic’s book offers a unique perspective that most Western journalists failed to incorporate: the personal stories of Bosniak individuals. If you want to learn more about the Bosnian War and don’t know where to start, I highly suggest this book. Sudetic sparked my interest in this wonderful country, which led me to a three month stay in Bosnia & Herzegovina.
Black Dog of Fate by Peter Balakian
Another autobiography. Another book about self-discovery. However, this one is a bit different. Peter Balakian describes his life growing up in the US as the child of Armenian Genocide survivors. While ignorant of his cultural roots growing up, once in college, Balakian explores his Armenian identity and learns of the genocide. This eventually takes him on a journey through Syria to learn more about the sufferings of his ancestors.