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10 must-read books that will push you to travel solo and seek adventure

Tanvi Dubey
3rd Jul 2016
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Are you in a place where you feel things are closing around you, and you are drowning and you want to do something to escape it all? All you need to do is to take that one step, pick up that one book that will motivate you to set out on your journey and help you find answers that you are looking for.

Here are some books about travel, adventure, self-discovery, and healing with female protagonists who struggled with the questions and doubts that most of us have at some point in our lives. So take that first step and get started:

1) Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

The book is about the journey of a woman’s search for pleasure, devotion and balance. After her marriage breaks, she decides to do something different. She travels across Italy, India and Indonesia, where she discovers what she is looking for. She indulges in the culture and food in Italy. She finds enlightenment in India, and love and happiness in Indonesia. The book has also been made into a movie.

2) Down the Nile by Rosemary Mahoney

This one is all about sheer adventure and the thrill of it. Rosemary Mahoney was determined to take a solo trip down the Nile River in Egypt. She manages to get a skiff (a light rowing boat or sculling boat, typically for one person) and takes it down the Nile. She dressed like a fisherman and covered her hair so the locals do not recognise her as a foreigner out in the waters without a Captain to guide her. The book talks about the sights and scenes she sees along with the hurdles she faces and how she overcomes them.

3) Wild by Cheryl Strayed

The loss of her mother, and her subsequent divorce from her husband of six years propelled her to take up a 1,100 miles long hike. She hiked along the Pacific Crest Trail, a stretch of wilderness rolling from Mexico to Canada over nine mountain ranges – the Laguna to the Cascades for two months.

Cheryl published her memoir 17 years later detailing her experiences on the hike. The book speaks of how the journey of a thousand miles impacted her emotionally. A good book to tag along with, if its peace you are searching for, just like Cheryl.

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4) Now is the Time to Open Your Heart by Alice Walker

The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Color Purple, and other books like Possessing the Secret of Joy, and The Temple of My Familiar, writes about a women’s spiritual journey.

Kate, the protagonist, daydreams of beautiful mountains and rivers and eventually garners the courage to take up a journey and heads to Colorado River. Kate ditches her life and the unhappiness she is living through and drives herself to take a step forward. The spiritual journey that Kate takes in her quest for self-discovery makes for an emotional and moving read.

5) Tales of a Female Nomad: Living At Large in the World by Rita Golden Gelman

“I move throughout the world without a plan, guided by instinct, connecting through trust, and constantly watching for serendipitous opportunities.” — writes Rita in the preface of this book.

After her children had grown up and her marriage had dissolved and she was at the verge of a divorce, at the age of 48 Rita decided to follow her dream. She left Los Angeles and became a nomad. She travelled across the world connecting with people across cultures.

This book is for all those women who think that they are too old to chase their dreams and follow their heart. It is a book about chasing your dreams and exploring a world that has great experiences to offer.

6) Under the Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy by Frances Mayes

Set against the Tuscan countryside, this book is about overcoming tragedy and fear. After her nasty divorce, Frances Mayes is in the Tuscan countryside restoring her villa, something she bought on a whim in the hope that it would change her life. Living in Italian countryside, she talks about cooking, gardening, and painting – what she calls skills and not chores. The book talks about how she restored the villa and also includes recipes. This memoir of Frances Mayes was made into a movie and was titled the same as the book.

7) Without Reservations: The Travels of an Independent Woman by Alice Steinbach

This book is for all the women who think of travelling solo but don’t. It is about how Alice takes off from her life to travel solo and discover the world and herself in the process. She sends herself postcards as she discovers each city and the emotions each of these places invoke. It is a story about discovery, life, cities and the emotions connected with it.

8) Traveling with Pomegranates by Sue Monk Kidd

This is about a mother-daughter duo Sue and Ann who travel together to Turkey, France and Greece; each grappling with their own challenges. Sue is dealing with writer’s block and midlife challenges, while her daughter is struggling with heartbreak and questions about a career.

Not only do the women seek answers to their problems but also as they travel together, they build new and strong bonds. This one is for mothers and daughters!

9) The Pelee Project by Jane Christmas

This one is especially for the single mothers out there who are juggling lives, family, and careers singlehandedly. In the midst of the chaos and madness that life and responsibilities present, Jane is in the midst of a car crash.

She walks away from the crash, takes off from work for three months and moves to an island with her daughter. Pelee Island is a remote community with less than 200 people, right in the middle of Lake Erie in North America. The book is about her experiences with the community and living on the island with the community and her experiences in the new chapter of her life.

10) Forty-Something Phoenix: A Travel Memoir by Marlayna Glynn Brown

This book shares lessons from Marlayna’s journey. She travelled for six months and through 14 countries. Marlayna has been a single parent and solo traveller, and she found love and self-acceptance in the disparities and similarities in cultures and their histories.

Each of these books has something to offer – advice, tales of adventure, thrill, solo experiences, and interesting details about countries and cultures. As the world around you pulls you down, you can always seek out these books for sanctuary.

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