Books have the ability to transport us to another land. One of the world's greatest feelings is to be so engrossed in a book that we forget who we are and become enthralled in somebody else's story.
Recently I have started listening to audio books. This allows me to consume the stories whilst I'm on the road on a long car journey or I even listen to them whilst I'm at the gym. Audio books may be great but nothing will ever quite replace a hard copy of a paper book.
Reading a good book is an investment. A book can plant an idea or trigger a creative spark that can lead your life into a totally new direction. No other medium has quite the same power and influence as a really good book. Some of these books have certainly altered the way I view the world and the way I live my life.
This post is slightly stray from my usual theme of adventure. Even though some of the books would definitely fit the adventure/travel category, I enjoy reading a wide breadth of books on different subjects. Here are some of my favourites.
by Daniel Keys.
Quite possibly one of my favourite books to start the list. Flowers for Algernon takes you on an emotional rollercoaster. It follows the story of a mentally disabled man called Charlie who undergoes an experimental programme to improve his intelligence. The programme was previously successful with a highly intelligent lab mouse called Algernon. It follows their progression through this experiment. The book is different as it is written in a first-person narrative from the viewpoint of Charlie as his intelligence improves. I would not have previously considered myself a science fiction fan, but this book made me reconsider my previous judgement of the genre.
With the rapid development of artificial intelligence and scientific breakthroughs in our current reality, this book is a reminder of some of the ethical questions that we may or may not get wrong when experimenting with human life. I would recommend this book to absolutely everybody. This story is heartbreaking and beautiful.
By Alistair Humphreys.
The first of the two Alistair Humphrey books. This autobiographical account of Alistar's around the world cycle ride is what really triggered my decision to take up cycle touring and go out on my first real adventure. I read this book whilst I was stuck in the largest British base in Afghanistan, Camp Bastion. At the time I was working in a staff role in a large headquarters which was as boring as it sounds. Once I had downloaded it to my kindle I could hardly put it down. As soon as I returned from Afghanistan, I decided to go on my own cycle trip. Not quite as exotic or hardcore as Alistair's but we all have to start somewhere. This book is in two parts. Once you have read this go and read Thunder and Sunshine, the second part. Both books stand alone as great adventure stories told with Alistair's eloquent and humorous manner.
By Ranulph Fiennes.
Ranulph Fiennes has written more books than the number of adventures I have been on! A true warrior. He has grit, determination and a resilience that is unparalleled by anybody I can think off that is living today.
This book is a must read for any budding adventurers. Ranulph can, at times be pretty abrupt and get straight to the point. It's probably one of the main reasons I enjoy reading his books. He is honest and open throughout. Especially poignant is how he writes about the death of his wife. Ranulph is possibly the greatest ever adventure to have ever lived. Pioneering, brave and stubborn. They don't make them like him anymore.
by Erich Maria Remarque
This novel was originally written in German and was released in 1929 under the original title: 'Im Westen nichts Neues'. When translated this means 'In the West Nothing New'. Remarque was a German veteran of World War I. The account of the Great War from the viewpoint of a German soldier is often overlooked in the UK and the US. The story describes the basic training (in which there are still clear parallels) and his deployment to the Western front. It addresses the gritty reality of death in war: what it feels like to take another life. Highly recommended for anybody that is serving in the Armed Forces or for anybody with a keen interest in the human element of war.
by Enid Blyton
My favourite childhood book. A genuine classic. This series of books is probably what really triggered my sense of adventure. I would read all of the Enid Blyton Faraway stories and would feel like I was actually meeting Saucepan Man and Moonface and his friends in the tree. I should go back and read them again. I'll probably enjoy them even more now.
by Alistair Humphreys
A fantastic book of inspiration for anybody that's unsure about where to go for their first adventure. Micro-adventures are just that. Short, accessible adventures that everybody can make time for at some point in their life. The book is full of beautiful pictures and detailed accounts of the micro-adventures that you can easily go on. It is a perfect book for somebody that wishes to change their life for a world of adventure. Pick one of the micro-adventures in the book and go and put your own swing on it. It contains the details of numerous microadventures that Alistair has tried and describes. You can walk, cycle, paddle, swim, or use any other type of human powered transport to get out into the wild. Climb a mountain. Sleep outdoors. You will feel much better for it.
by Yuval Noah Harari
This book blew my mind. Well written and actually understandable. As Homo Sapiens, we should do our most to learn as much as we can about where we came from. This book has given my life a completely new perspective. Out of all of these books, this is the one I would probably recommend first. It answers many questions and raises much more. By looking at our past, we can better understand our future. After reading this book, you will suddenly feel like you have gained an inordinate amount of intelligence.
by Rolf Potts
I only read this for the first time recently. Highly recommended by Tim Ferriss, I thought I would give it a look. I was not disappointed. Great book! Short and easy to read but full of useful advice and tips. Another book that has given me a new perspective on my future and how I travel. Now it's time to implement some of the lessons in this book for my next travels and adventures.
Please leave some recommendations in the comments of your must read books and what makes them special.