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Eat, Pray, Love "presents the memoir of a magazine writer's yearlong travels across the world in search of pleasure, guidance, experience and wholeness."
There have been some wonderful books with the theme of self-discovery through travel, as in Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. Their journeys have been life changing for them and perhaps also for the reader.
Arctic Dreams: Imagination and Desire in a Northern Landscape by Barry Lopez.
This classic won the 1986 National Book Award. This book is based on a number of extended trips the author made into the Arctic region. His descriptions of the flora and fauna not only evoke the northern landscape, but give a true sense of the Arctic's importance to the health of our planet. More than twenty years after its publication this book has an even more important message for us.
Blue Latitudes by Tony Horwitz
A wild and fun travel narrative focusing on Horwitz's adventures sailing on a recreation of Captain's Cook's ship. Like Eat, Pray, Love it is well written and a lot of fun to read.
The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan.
In this book, Pollan examines the relationship between plants and humans. The Botany of Desire is structured around four different plants and how they reflect human desires, just as Eat, Pray, Love is structured around three different places and how they spur self-discovery.
The Bread of Angels: A Journey to Love and Faith by Stephanie Saldaña
A romantic memoir of a young woman's year in Damascus. In 2004, 27-year-old Stephanie Saldaña traveled to Syria on a Fulbright fellowship to study the role of the prophet Jesus in Islam. She was also fleeing a broken heart. It was not an ideal time to be an American in the Middle East--the United States had recently invaded Iraq, refugees were flooding into Damascus, and dark rumors swirled that Syria might be next to come under American attack. Miserable and lonely, Stephanie left Damascus to visit an ancient Christian monastery carved into the desert cliffs. In that beautiful, austere setting, she confronted her wavering faith and met Frédéric, a young French novice monk. As they set out to explore the mysteries entwining Christianity and Islam, Stephanie slowly realized that she had found God again--and that she was in love with Frédéric. But would Frédéric choose God or Stephanie? (From publisher description)
Grace (Eventually) by Anne Lamott
Wherever you look, there's trouble and wonder, pain and beauty, restoration and darkness--sometimes all at once. Yet amid the confusion, if you look carefully, in nature or in the kitchen, in ordinariness or in mystery, beyond the emotion muck we all slog through, you'll find it
eventually: a path, some light to see by, moments of insight, courage, or buoyancy. In other words, grace. Lamott knows and lives by this belief, most of the time. In these essays, she recounts the missteps, detours, and roadblocks in her walk of faith. (Publishers description)
Holy Cow: An Indian Adventure by Sarah Macdonald
In her twenties, journalist Sarah Macdonald backpacked around India and came away with a lasting impression of heat, pollution and poverty. So when an airport beggar read her palm and told her she would return to India-and for love-she screamed, "Never!" and gave the country, and him, the finger. But eleven years later, the prophecy comes true. When the love of Sarah's life is posted to India, she quits her dream job to move to the most polluted city on earth, New Delhi. For Sarah this seems like the ultimate sacrifice for love, and it almost kills her, literally.
And I Shall Have Some Peace There: Trading in the Fast Lane For My Own Dirt Road by Margaret Roach
Margaret Roach worked at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia for 15 years, serving as Editorial Director for the last 6. She first made her name in gardening, writing a classic gardening book among other things. She now has a hugely popular gardening blog, "A Way to Garden." But despite the financial and professional rewards of her job, Margaret felt unfulfilled. So she moved to her weekend house upstate in an effort to lead a more authentic life by connecting with her garden and with nature. The memoir she wrote about this journey is funny, quirky, humble--and uplifting--an Eat, Pray, Love without the travel-and allows readers to live out the fantasy of quitting the rat race and getting away from it all. (Catalog summary)
Kabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil by Deborah Rodriguez with Kristin Ohlson
Soon after the fall of the Taliban, in 2001, Deborah Rodriguez went to Afghanistan as part of a humanitarian aid group. Surrounded by people whose skills--as doctors, nurses, and therapists--seemed eminently more practical than her own, Rodriguez, a hairdresser and mother from Michigan, despaired of being of any real use. Yet she found she had a gift for befriending Afghans, and once her profession became known she was eagerly sought out. Thus the idea for the Kabul Beauty School was born. Within that small haven, the line between teacher and student quickly blurred as these vibrant women shared with Rodriguez their stories and their hearts. (From publisher description)
The Last American Man by Elizabeth Gilbert, a 2002 finalist for the National Book Award, is by the same author as Eat, Pray, Love. It is the true story of Eustace Conway, who moved to the Appalachian Mountains when he was a teenager. Based on several reviews, it seems to have the same humor characteristic of Eat, Pray, Love.
Monkey Dancing: A Father, Two Kids, and a Journey To The Ends Of The Earth by Daniel Glick.
Glick, a journalist and author, traveled with his two children to remote areas of the world to see rare animals and places. The adventures and sights they saw in places that include Borneo, Australia's Great Barrier Reef, Java, the Annamite Mountains of Vietnam, and Nepal are described in an engaging narrative that describes the grim threats to the animals and landscape alongside the account of their personal experiences.
Sideways on a Scooter: Life and Love in India by Miranda Kennedy
When twentysomething reporter Miranda Kennedy leaves her New York job and travels to India with no employment prospects, she longs to immerse herself in the turmoil and excitement of a rapidly developing country.
What she quickly learns in Delhi about renting an apartment as a single woman--it's next to impossible--and the proper way for women in India to ride scooters--perched sideways--are early signs that life here is less Westernized than she'd counted on. Living in Delhi for more than five years, Kennedy experiences friendships, love affairs, and losses that open a window onto the opaque world of Indian politics and culture--and alter her own attitudes about everything. In her effort to understand the hopes and dreams that motivate her new friends, Kennedy peels back India's globalized image as a land of call centers and fast-food chains and finds an ancient place where, in many ways, women's lives have scarcely changed for centuries. (From publisher description)
Tales of a Female Nomad: Living At Large in the World by Rita Golden Gelman.
Rita Gelman the author of over seventy children's books. After her childen were grown and her marriage ended in divorce she decided at the age of forty-eight to sell her house and spend the rest of her life traveling. She usually visits undeveloped countries and stays for a few months or up to a year and then travels on. She's been living her dream for over twenty years.
A Thousand Days in Venice: an Unexpected Romance by Marlena de Blasi
This is the true story of an American chef, divorced and unhappy who fell in love with a man and with the city.
Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson
Three Cups of Tea traces Mortenson's decade-long odyssey to build schools (especially for girls), throughout the region that gave birth to the Taliban and sanctuary to Al Qaeda. In a region where Americans are often feared and hated, he has survived kidnapping, fatwas issued by enraged mullahs, death threats, and wrenching separations from his wife and children. But his success speaks for itself--at last count, his Central Asia Institute had built fifty-five schools. (Publishers description)
Under the Tuscan sun: at Home in Italy by Frances Mayes
This is one of my favorite books. I love to reread passages from it, especially the parts that make me feel the warm Tuscan sun. Frances Mayes found when she began restoring an abandoned villa in the spectacular Tuscan countryside: faded frescos beneath the whitewash in her dining room, a vineyard under wildly overgrown brambles in the garden, and, in the nearby hill towns, vibrant markets and delightful people.
Walking the Bible: A Journey by Land Through the Five Books of Moses by Bruce Feiler
One part adventure story, one part archaeological detective work, one part spiritual exploration, "Walking the Bible" vividly recounts an inspiring personal odyssey--by foot, jeep, rowboat, and camel--through the greatest stories ever told. Feiler explores how geography affects the larger narrative of the Bible and how much these places have affected his own faith. (catalog summary)
A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson.
Like Eat, Pray, Love, this is a work of travel writing that is incredibly fun to read. It is the hilarious tale of Bryson's exploits as he hikes the Appalachian Trail with an old college friend. In addition, Bryson has written many other humorous books about his travels.
A Year by the Sea: Thoughts of an Unfinished Woman by Joan Anderson
During the years Joan Anderson was a loving wife and supportive mother, she had slowly and unconsciously replaced her own dreams with the needs of her family. With her sons grown, however, she realized that the family no longer centered on the home she provided, and her relationship with her husband had become stagnant. Like many women in her situation, Joan realized that she had neglected to nurture herself and, worse, to envision fulfilling goals for her future. As her husband received a wonderful job opportunity out-of-state, it seemed that the best part of her own life was finished. Shocking both of them, she refused to follow him to his new job and decided to retreat to a family cottage on Cape Cod....Over the course of a year, she gradually discovered that her life as an "unfinished woman" was full of possibilities. (Catalog summary)
A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle; illustrations by Judith Clancy
A funny--and often hilarious--month-by-month account of the charms and frustrations of moving into an old French farmhouse in Provence and adapting to a very different way of life.
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig
This classic travel book at first seems to be about a man and his son on a lengthy motorcycle trip through America, but it is a lyrical, evocative, thought-provoking journal of one man's quest for truth and self-discovery.