15 Books To Read Before You Travel

Tom Malone/Adventure Tribune
Reading and traveling go hand-in-hand. Check out these 15 books before you head out on your next adventure in order to broaden your worldview and make your next journey that much more rewarding.

Before you set off on a worldly destination, it’s important to gather some insight into the culture of the locations you’ll be traveling through. Even more crucial is the practice of learning about the entire global culture so that you can better relate to any person you may encounter on your adventures throughout your life.

So, here are 15 books that you must read before you set off on your next adventure. These books have all been read and tested by members of The Adventure Tribune team. We can personally support their ability to refine your conceptual understanding of the world and the people around us.

1. Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond
The most famous novel by scientist Jared Diamond explain the reasoning behind why Europeans were able to control so much of the world due to a lucky starting set of agricultural products and the elongated East-West axis that gave them access to Chinese and Islamic thought.

2. Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
This out-of-the-box method of applying economic principles to uncommon world issues is a fun read that also explains many of the world’s issues from an economic standpoint.

3. How Soccer Explains The World by Franklin Foer
Soccer is the most popular sport in the world (anywhere outside of the United States, really). The fan base behind every town’s soccer team is fueled by history, social movements, and cultural practices. This book illuminates the diversity of our world through the common lens of soccer.

4. Travels With Charley by John Steinbeck
The Nobel Prize-winning novelist write a semi-autobiographical tale of a journey around the United States. In an attempt to reconnect with regular Americans, Steinbeck evokes the mood of the 1960s in all parts of the country, a mood that hasn’t changed as much as we might think.

5. Across Americana by Tom Malone
Another cross-country journey set in 2012, this novel by The Adventure Tribune’s Editor-In-Chief chronicles a journey from the West Coast to the East Coast. Through encounters with the richest, the poorest, the unhappy, and the content, this novel explores the socio-economic relationship with happiness in the United States.

6. Zealot by Reza Aslan
A controversial, research-based novel by a Muslim author that explores the life of Jesus Christ. The author recounts the climate of Jerusalem in the First Century and explores how Jesus as a historical figure may have fit into the Roman outpost.

7. 1491 by Charles C. Mann
Mann explores the American continents and the thriving cultures that lives within them before Christopher Columbus’ arrival. This novel explains what was here before modern North and South America existed.

8. 1493 by Charles C. Mann
Mann’s follow-up book describes the effect of the Columbian Exchange on modern society. He compares the Americas before Columbus to the entire world as we know it today.

This brilliant professor describes U.S. history from that average person’s perspective, painting a less-than-glamourous view of the country, though strikingly realistic.

10. Collapse by Jared Diamond
Diamond’s follow-up to Guns, Germs, and Steel, this book illustrates how and why certain empires and societies succeed, while many more end up in failure. It paints a picture of Europe as it was under Rome and may explain why it is how it is today, along with the same exploration of dozens of other cultures throughout the world.

11. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
The Nigerian novelist explores the effects of European colonialism on traditional African culture in a grim way. This is a must read for anyone if they want to understand the current state of Africa.

12. Astoria by Peter Stark
The small fishing town on the Oregon Coast used to be the city of the future for Thomas Jefferson and John Jacob Astor. This revolutionary look into a small Oregon town explores the origins of massive global trade and colonialism through the failures of corporate giants.

Another novel by The Adventure Tribune’s Editor-In-Chief explores the contrasting cultures of the U.S. and Spain through the lens of a college student. In Oviedo, students encounter a melting pot of cultures, attitudes, and vices that tempt even the straightest of arrows.

14. The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X and Alex Haley
Narrated by the controversial Civil Rights leader and penned by the author of Roots, this window in the life of a member of the Nation of Islam illustrates the woes of a black man in the early part of the 20th Century, followed by his exploration of Islam around the world. The message of the book doesn’t stop with the 1960s; it still reflects American society today.

15. Salt by Mark Kurlansky
This short history of the world focuses on one mineral that affected so many cultures throughout time: salt. Global trade to civil wars, this common table item has a long and bloody history.

Bonus: Spice by Jack Turner

Much like Salt this book explores the roots of international trade, from the Silk Road to modern Globalization, through the lens of the spice trade. Through the spice trade, cultures and empires rose and fell, creating much of the dynamics of world trade that we still see today.

Tom Malone is the Editor-In-Chief of The Adventure Tribune and author of adventure novels, like Across Americana. He is based in Denver, Colorado, where he adventures through the Rocky Mountains while not traveling abroad.
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