Recommended Gap Year Reads by Julia Levine Rogers

Cape Town South Africa Beach

Recommended Gap Year Reads
by Julia Levine Rogers of EnRoute Gap Year Consulting

For hundreds of years, tales have been spun about the adventures of travelers in distant lands. Memoirs of these travels serve to inform – and inspire- its readers. The following list compiles travelogues written in the 20th century by authors as famous as Che Guevara to former American Dad writer Steve Hely. They range from serious to hilarious, but they all describe challenging yourself in a foreign location. Even if that location is our own Appalachian Trail! These books just may help you decide where to set your own gap year memoir…

Travel Writing:

"Best American Travel Writing" Jason Wilson: This annual anthology compiles the best travel articles of the previous year for easy, bite-size travel entertainment. Articles come from a variety of publications such as Outside Magazine, Conde Nast Traveler, and GQ as well as online magazines such as Worldhum and Slate. Guest editors like Paul Theroux, Pico Iyer and Anthony Bourdain choose the articles to be published in their editions.

“The Ridiculous Race” by Steve Hely and Vali Chandrasekaran: Hilarious account of two TV comedy writers who challenge each other to a race in opposite directions around the world. The catch? No airplanes. This laugh out loud funny book covered a myriad of countries as the main characters lie, cheat and steal to win the coveted spoils: a bottle of scotch and eternal bragging rights.

“The Snow Leopard” by Peter Matthiessen: The Snow Leopard is considered a classic travel text. Set in 1973, Matthiessen and zoologist George Schaller travel deep into the Himalayan Mountains in search of the elusive snow leopard. The account blends the natural world of Tibet with the spiritual world of the Buddhists who live there, and explores the connection between the two.

“Intothe Wild” by John Krakauer: Journalist Krakauer follows the trail of a mysterious young man who left his life, belongings and family behind to explore North America. After his body was found in an abandoned bus in the remote Alaskan bush, Krakauer attempts to make sense of his unusual life choices and untimely demise.

“Blue Latitudes” by Tony Horwitz: A great choice for those drawn to the high seas, Horowitz retraces Captain James Cook’s original journey through Oceania. It’s both a modern account of the Pacific and an entertaining biography of the fascinating James Cook.

“The Motorcycle Diaries” by Che Guevara: Many people have seen the movie, but Che’s moving account of his travels by motorbike in South America is a must-read. Before he was a revolutionary, Che was simply a medical student on a gap year!

“AWalk in the Woods” by Bill Bryson: Required reading for any outdoor enthusiast or gapper that aims to conquer the Appalachian Trail on their year out. Bryson uses his trademark wit to describe his escapades with his buddy Stephen as they wind their way north from Georgia to Maine.

Reference & Inspiration:

“Journeys of a Lifetime” by National Geographic

“Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2012” by Lonely Planet

“1,000 Places to See Before You Die” by Patricia Schultz

“The World Awaits: How to Travel Far and Well” by Paul Otteson

“The Gap Year Advantage” by Karl Haiger and Rae Nelson

More Travel Writing Book lists:

CondeNast Traveler 86 Great Travel Titles

National Geographic Traveler’s Ultimate Travel Library

Nomadic Matt’s The Best Travel Books