5 Walking Books to Inspire You to Pull on Your Backpack and Walk Out the Front Door

Just because we can’t physically travel at the moment doesn’t mean we stop dreaming of travel and planning our next adventure.

What it does mean is that we can walk in the footsteps of others, all from the safety and comfort of our cosy armchair.

Here are five tantalising travel books to inspire and deliver a solid case of both envy and admiration.

Sinning Across Spain by Ailsa Piper

Regular readers of this blog will not be surprised to see this book in my Top 5. I have done a little bit of walking in Spain myself, so it was like a trip down memory lane for me as Ailsa strolled through familiar towns and villages on the Via de la Plata and Sanabres pilgrimage routes on the way to Santiago de Compostela.

Piper decides to fund her walk through Spain by having people pay her to carry their sins on the way to absolution in Santiago de Compostela. Believe it or not, it was the done thing in ancient times by the rich, lazy and sinful who could not be bothered (Sloth? Another sin?) to put in the hard pilgrimage yards themselves.

Piper has an easy style and the story almost takes on the rhythm of her steps. She gently reflects on her daily experience on the Way and contrasts that to what is happening in her sinners’ lives back in Australia.

This book is a must for anyone thinking about walking a camino in Spain. Great atmosphere and insight.

Learn more about Ailsa– HERE. Or buy Sinning Across Spain HERE.

Worldwalk by Steven M Newman

It has been some years since I read this book, but it still resonates with me for its sheer audacity, insanity and simple faith.

In 1983, Newman set out from his home in Ohio (USA) with the plan to walk around the World. As you do!

To make life even more interesting he was determined to par his journey right back to the simplest of existence and vowed not to pay for accommodation. Instead, he would live off what the World provided and any generosity of others. While at first this struck me as him being a bit of a user and taking advantage of people, it evolved into the discovery of the World’s humanity and kindness.

Four years later he strolls back to his home and ‘normal’ life one again. How could you ever adjust?

This is not world-beating literature, but it is an enjoyable and fascinating read, and a fantastic insight into how to bring your dreams to life.

Learn more about Steven – HERE. Or buy Worldwalk HERE.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Yes, this a popular and much-hyped read, but you can’t discount what Strayed achieved both physically and mentally as she strolled the length of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) on the West Coast of the USA.

I have strong admiration for people who tackle seemingly unattainable goals without letting common sense get in the way. While the PCT is a popular and well-known walking trail, Strayed had never undertaken any serious hiking before, she was over-packed and under-trained, and she was an emotional and mental basket case at the time. The PCT broke her and rebuilt her as she walked the entire 2 650miles (4 265km).

This is so much more than simply a walking book. It captures the essence of how to turn your old life on its head and transform it for the better.

Learn more about Cheryl – HERE. Or buy Wild HERE.

Eight Feet in the Andes by Dervla Murphy

Murphy is another of those fearless ladies who simply saw an adventure and set out. In this story. Dervla drags her nine-year old daughter Rachel and a mule called Juana, nearly 2 100km through the Andes mountains in Peru. A truly stupendous adventure with plenty of hair-raising and death-defying moments.

Murphy is a remarkable woman, perhaps a little insane to endanger the life of her child, and the resilience and determination of Rachel should be acknowledged too.

Murphy is a fabulous writer and captures all the humour and hardship of the journey as well as the mist covered mountains and the warmth and welcome (or not) of the locals.

Learn more about Dervla – HERE. Or buy Eight Feet in the Andes HERE.

On the Trail of Genghis Khan by Tim Cope

Like Murphy’s book, while not necessarily a backpacking adventure, this book inspires you to forge your own path and bring your dreams to life. If you have ever wanted to travel extremely remotely and challenge yourself on every level, then this book is for you.

After riding horses and walking 10 000km from Karakorum in Mongolia to Hungary in eastern Europe, Cope was named Young Adventurer of the Year by the Australian Geographic Society and Adventurer of the Year by National Geographic.

This is not an easy read, but well-worth ploughing through to get insights into countries and cultures that we just don’t hear about every day. It opened my eyes and mind to the culture, geography and tortuous political history in some of far-flung countries.

Learn more about Tim – HERE. Or buy On The Trail of Genghis Khan HERE.

Once you carry your own water, you will learn the value of every dropFor me, all these books have a number of common themes running through them:

  • Stamina: The determination to keep pushing on even when everything and everyone is screaming STOP!
  • Resilience: The ability to withstand all sorts of mental and physical stresses in pursuit of a chosen goal.
  • No Need for Perfection: They know that not every day will be pretty or comfortable, and sometimes they will fail, but they are OK with that.
  • Openness of the Mind and Heart: A willingness to open themselves up to the landscape and the people who surround them. To look for the good in people and gratefully accept what the World provides, even if it is home-brewed rocket-fuel vodka and offal stew.

I hope this small selection brings you reading enjoyment and travelling inspiration.

Now, what travel books can you recommend to me?


FEAR has two meanings: Forget Everything and Run or Face Everything and Rise. The Choice is Yours

*This post contains affiliate links to Book Depository. If you buy using these links, I earn a small commission and it doesn’t cost you an extra cent.

#camino #travelinspo #travelreads #armchairtravel #longdistancewalking #walkingbooks #travelwriting #travelbooks #adventurebooks.

24 thoughts on “5 Walking Books to Inspire You to Pull on Your Backpack and Walk Out the Front Door

  1. Face Everything and Rise, love it, I can relate:) Also love the phrase in the book Dune ‘Fear is the mind killer’. Positivity for life!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I like your sentiments. I think they are even more relevant to this iso-life we are living at the moment! We just have to make the most of every day, whatever that looks like. Have a good one. Mel


  2. Hi. A long time ago I read Cope’s book. It’s definitely a winner.

    Here’s a book you might like: The Songlines, by Bruce Chatwin.

    See ya.

    Neil Scheinin

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ah, I loved Songlines! It really opened my eyes and mind to the way our indigenous people moved through their country. It is an amazing concept and read. Thanks for reminding me. I may have to go and find it on the shelf. Mel

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Hi Mel,
    Enjoyed the list and will try to track the first one down. I loved reading Wild, you captured that one well.
    have just fractured my wrist on the weekend cleaning a cupboard and I was on the ground not a ladder of all things. new appreciation of people in casts and breaking something while trekking walking would not be fun.
    stay safe and sane,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh Louise, my commiserations for your tumble. I always thought cleaning wasn’t good for you and your experience just proves it! I hope you are on the mend soon. Take care, Mel

      Liked by 1 person

  4. We’ve just read Into the Wild by Krakauer for book club. Story of the ill fated walkabout of Chris McCandless who perished in the Alaskan wilderness. It’s well written, researched and weaves in the tales of other wanderlust stricken hikers, including the author’s.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is a fascinating read. Interesting to try to understand why people do these sorts of things. Have you read Krakauer’s first book – Into Thin Air. It REALLY opened my eyes to what is involved in an expedition to Everest, especially the psychology and games people play. Happy reading!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I didn’t read that one…Isn’t it about the soccer team whose plane crashed in the Andes? I read Alive in grade school…it gave me nightmares

        Liked by 1 person

        1. No, this one is about how he joined a team to climb Everest. I was dazzled by the logistics of such a thing as well as all the ‘politics’ between the different teams. A fascinating read. Take care, Mel

          Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve read Wlld and the Murphy book, and I think Cope was serialised on TV with some of his travels on National Geographic. I was wracking my brains for a recommend for you, Mel, but nothing much comes to mind. Sorry! 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No problem. Following your glorious walks is inspiration enough! 😉 Have a good day, Melx

      Liked by 1 person

  6. These all sound really good. I saw the movie Wild but never read the book. I need to amend that soon!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The ‘problem’ with doing these sorts of posts is that everyone recommends other great books to read and the To-Be-Read pile grows and grows!! 😉 Happy reading, Mel

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh goodness, I have that problem too! For every book I scratch off my reading list, I add three more!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I’m hearin’ ya! I think I have a year’s supply of unread books waiting for me to pick them up! No pressure or anything!! 😉

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Ahhh, yes, I understand. I have so many books I haven’t read on my shelf at home, yet I can never leave a book store empty-handed. I can’t wait until they open again so I can buy some more! 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

          2. We don’t have a dedicated book store anymore in my little town, but the big chain stores sell a small selection of books….so my To-Be-Read pile continues to grow…and then there is online book shopping!! 😉

            Liked by 1 person

  7. I should definitely put some of these on my reading list for this year!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am waiting for some new ones to turn up in the mail! I got a tonne of fabulous recommendations from this post. Too many books, not enough time! Have a good day, Mel


  8. Try, The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey. A gripper of a true story! Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. WOW! That looks like the ultimate adventure. Who would have thought a US President had it in him? Definitely adding that one to the list! Thanks for the top, Mel


  9. Loved this article ! I’ve only just joined word press and this article is something I’m so glad I stumbled upon ! I identify so strongly with Cheryl strayed and ‘wild’ if I could have done something like that after my mother’s sudden death – it most likely would have been the best thing for me but I couldn’t as I had three children who were grieving just as much as me . However the book eight feet in the Andes has just caught my eye and I’ve ordered it as an inspiration to the journeys I thought I couldn’t take with children but maybe , just maybe – I can ! Thank you ! ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Welcome, welcome, welcome to the wonderful world of blogging. It is an amazing experience and you meet some fabulous people from all over the World. It starts interesting conversations and delivers endless inspiration, but sometimes the hardest thing is to make yourself sit down and write! You will be rewarded if you do, even if it is just giving the ol’ grey matter a good work out. Have a good day and happy writing and dreaming, Mel

      Liked by 1 person

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