Five Favorite: Travel Books that Made Great Films

“Five Favorite” is a feature on thewasofshall where I lay out my five favorite “x”. Sometimes they’re relevant to a season or holiday, mostly they’re not. It’s an all-around fun excuse to give my 100% amazingly awesome opinion. To see previous (and future) topics, click here. To participate, scroll all the way down.

Today’s Five Favorite is a guest post from Caroline over at Culture Coverage! She’s been a bookworm all her life and loves talking about her reads with like-minded people. She always has a recommendation on hand, no matter the topic or situation.

Summer is officially over, and if you’re one of the many people who didn’t have the chance to get away this year — be it due to work commitments, lack of funds, or something else — I’m sure you’ll be mourning the season’s end.

If you’re anything like me, when actual travel can’t happen, you whisk yourself away into the stories and adventures of characters from your favorite books and films. These five titles are my top picks and will have you vicariously wandering the world, whether you’re in the mood to curl up with a good book or just crash in front of the screen.

intothewild So many travel lovers know the bite of wanderlust, the urge to escape to the farthest and most remote reaches of our humble planet. The subject of Jon Krakauer’s biographical best-selling novel Into the Wild took this lust to an extreme reality. Christopher McCandless was an overachiever from suburban Virginia. After graduating college, he abandoned his life and family to travel solo across America. Both book and film provide a chilling tale of “never enough.” McCandless was never fully satisfied with his latest adventure and always wanted to go farther, faster, and wilder. He eventually found his way to the Alaskan wilderness, where his tragic tale took a turn for the worst. Epic both on page and screen, it’s a harrowing tale and one that makes you glad to be curled up in the warmth of your own home.

eatprayloveI must confess that I haven’t actually read Eat, Pray, Love, but the film is one of my favorites when I want to indulge in a bit of travel action. Liz Gilbert is a successful writer with a great husband and a flashy life. However, something just doesn’t feel right. When her marriage begins to break down and she’s forced to file for divorce, she tries to solve her problems by dating a handsome, charming young actor. Still, Liz is unhappy, and it isn’t until she embarks on a round-the-world adventure that she begins to get to the bottom of her dissatisfaction. It’s cheesy and overdone, but the traveling-to-find yourself storyline is one to which every adventure lover can relate. Both film and book showcase three wonderful cultures — Italy, India, and Indonesia — and take readers and viewers on the adventure of a lifetime. The book is definitely one that’s on my list to grab soon!

chocolatEvocative and indulgent, this wonderful tale by author Joanna Harris is as delicious as its namesake. Set in a quiet and sleepy French village, Chocolat documents the arrival of mysterious mother-daughter duo, long-time drifters who plan to open a controversial chocolate shop just as the town prepares for Lent. However, Vianne, the mother, provides so much more for the town’s people than merely sweet treats. Her insightful observations, loving character and gentle nature win many of the townsfolk to her cause, but she creates a rift in the village. The film is probably most well known for the casting of Johnny Depp as the river gypsy Roux; however, many of the books biggest fans claim this actor choice was a mistake. After you’ve read the book and watched its film adaptation, you can decide for yourself.

tracksThis astounding tale is a memoir of Robyn Davidson’s trip hiking 1,700 miles across the Australian desert. Tracks follows her journey from the point she moves out to Alice Springs, learns to train camels, finds her own caravan of the animals to take with her, and embarks on the long and challenging walk. The tale has everything you could want from a rural Australian adventure: wildlife, bush tucker, run-ins with the Aborigines, and, of course, vast plains of endless sands. By far one of my favorite parts is Davidson’s constant reflection on her trip. She notes how she isn’t trying to prove anything or for the fame and recognition; it’s just simply an idea that took her fancy. This refreshing mindset is something unique to travel sagas, which usually have a more profound motive, and gives the story its own individual feel. Personally, I prefer the book because it goes into more detail about the trials of surviving alone in the desert. However, the film showcases the beautiful and impacting terrain of the outback, so for a visual experience, it’s definitely the format of choice.

thebeachAlex Garland’s epic travel novel The Beach brought a young Leonardo DiCaprio into the limelight in its film adaptation released in 2000. It follows an eager backpacker to one of the world’s greatest travel spots: the mighty Thailand. He soon hears of a remote island located just a short boat ride off the main coast. Like all in his situation, he is intrigued and sets off in search of the hidden paradise. What he finds on the island appears to be a dream come true, and it isn’t long before he decides to set up camp for good. However, there’s also a dark side to paradise, as Leo’s character, Richard, soon learns. This story holds one of my favorites twists ever, which is why I don’t want to give away too much detail. It’s a poignant commentary on a very niche segment of society and presented perfectly to audiences in both formats.

Have your own five favorite travel books? Share them! Post them to your blog, link back to this post, and then comment letting me know!

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