Summer beckons us out of doors and towards new experiences more so than any other season. It has also inspired more books than you could ever hope to read over the course of three months, even if you stayed home. But after reading these seven books, you’ll want to do anything but sit around. We suggest reading them on the plane to somewhere awesome. If you don’t finish, they’ll be equally appropriate as you lounge poolside.
1. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig
A cross-country motorcycle trip and Zen Buddhism might not appear to have much in common, but in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance Robert Pirsig eloquently describes not only their meeting point but how one inextricably benefits from the other. Heavy on philosophical insight, this book documents the father-son road trip in a completely new way.
2. Rice, Noodle, Fish: Deep Travels Through Japan’s Food Culture by Matt Goulding
Even if you’re not a foodie, Matt Goulding’s descriptions of the emotion and passion behind Japanese cuisine, its personalities, and the cultural phenomena are so vivid that you’ll look far beyond the reaches of Tokyo when booking a trip. Goulding is the most prolific food writer in the modern travel sector, and Rice, Noodle, Fish will leave you yearning for your next bowl of noodles.
3. Let My People Go Surfing by Yvon Chouinard
You might not have heard of Yvon Chouinard but you’re probably familiar with his outdoors brand Patagonia. In addition to developing some of the world’s most trusted outdoor gear, Yvon is a long-time activist working towards environmental conservation efforts. Let My People Go Surfing is the story of Patagonia, told from the perspective of a number of incredible trips in the field and the people who made them happen.
4. How Not to Travel the World by Lauren Juliff
If you’re traveling solo this summer, this should be the first book on your list. Lauren Juliff confronts and dismantles the fears of a first-time solo traveler in way that will actually resonate with anyone who has yet to undertake the journey – especially if you need a push to make the final decision. How Not to Travel the World is a thorough manual on how to pack your bags and hit the road without waiting for anyone else, with an in-depth guide to conquering any fear that crops up along the way.
5. Turn Right at Machu Picchu by Mark Adams
Mark Adams is a self-described ‘unadventurous adventure writer’ who details a hilarious account of what happens when a traveler decides to visit one of the world’s most celebrated attractions – and dives deeper than the average tourist in hopes of learning more about what it meant to the Incas. In Turn Right at Machu Picchu, you’ll learn a bit of survival tactics and travel hacking along the way, too.
6. Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan
William Finnegan takes you around the planet on the epic surfing journey that has been his life, a momentous feat considering he is a war reporter by trade. The Pulitzer-winning autobiography is the author’s recounting of his adventures, populated by a rotating cast of simple-minded surf bums, foreign flings, and longtime friends. The storyline of Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life is an aside to the author’s day job as a reporter for The New Yorker, and is nothing short of pure motivation to get out and see the world.
7. Travel As Transformation: Conquer the Limits of Culture to Discover Your Own Identity by Gregory Diehl
If a look within yourself and the places you travel will help optimize your experience, this introspective dive from Gregory Diehl is a must-read. Diehl has lived in over 45 countries and become an expert at making each a part of himself. Travel As Transformation is a deep but uplifting read – perfect for passing time on a long-haul international flight.