As you might know, I have a huge passion for reading. While Sci-Fi novels are my bread & butter for entertainment, I’ve put together seven of my favorite books for travel, health, and wellness. Enjoy!
I put The Alchemist first because it’s by far my favorite read and one I have no problems reading multiple times (in fact, it’s about time for another re-read). Paulo Coelho’s novel follows a shepherd boy, Santiago, as he travels the world in search of his, “Personal Legend.” He goes through many trials and tribulations once he decides to set out on his quest. Santiago makes friends, finds love, and eventually accomplishes his mission of self-discovery.
I picked up this book at a very tumultuous time in my life. I was going through a quarter-life crisis where my job had closed down while I was simultaneously going through some intense personal issues. During this period, I had an extreme desire to run away from my problems and just start over (by teaching English in Thailand). After reading The Alchemist, I realized that running away from my problems wouldn’t solve anything. I needed to stay put, get back on my feet, and continue searching for my passions. While I don’t know that I’ve fully discovered it yet, I believe that working towards an end goal of personal fulfillment and happiness will lead you toward your Personal Legend.
The Crossroads of Should and Must
So, once I got the inspiration to start searching for and following my passions, what was next? I was at a loss, not knowing what to pursue and how to go about it. A friend suggested the book, The Crossroads of Should and Must. It’s specifically targeted towards helping you to identify what you love and to pursue it intensely.
Without delving too much into what the book has to offer, it gives you exercises that will help you establish what you value and what interests could flourish into much more. One of the exercises that stood out to me was writing two future obituaries, one for your life if you continue on your current path and one where you followed your dreams and kicked ass while doing so. It sounds morbid, but delving into this particular exercise is the kick in the teeth you need if you’re looking for motivation and direction.
The 4-Hour Workweek
This is the first of two Tim Ferriss books you’ll see on this list. It also might be the most familiar book on this list as well. Ever since it was published in 2007, The 4-Hour Workweek been on the must-read list of entrepreneurs and digital nomads alike. Tim uses his own personal experiences to show how he finds Life Hacks that help you become more efficient in your personal and business life. He shares these stories in a no-nonsense yet conversational manner that makes it inspirational without delving into platitudes.
Tim also has a podcast called the Tim Ferriss Show. I’m including this as a part of The 4-Hour Workweek because it takes the concepts he writes about and expounds upon them through interviews. He invites people whom he finds inspirational, whether they be celebrities, entrepreneurs, or Navy Seals, and digs into their rituals and backstories. Doing so provides both him and you with success stories and guidelines to follow in your personal and business life. One of my favorite interviews is Tim’s talk with Jamie Foxx. I didn’t particularly care for Jamie before that interview, but Tim expertly dug some gems that changed my opinion of him entirely.
The Richest Man in Babylon
To travel, you need money, right? That’s one of the main reasons why people say they can’t travel because they can’t afford it. Well, The Richest Man in Babylon is an old and well-renowned book that will give you simple monetary tenants to follow. Each parable is contextually set in ancient Babylon, but they are readily applicable to today’s life.
The rule that stood out to me the most was to make sure to pay yourself with every paycheck you receive. The author states that in resolving debts and buying goods, you’re essentially paying other people with your time and money. If you make it a point to take a certain percentage of your income at every paycheck, then you’re paying yourself before using your money elsewhere. Shifting to this state of mind helped me focus on stashing away money and avoiding impulse purchases. Why pay someone else when you can pay yourself?
Tools of Titans
Tim Ferriss is back at it again with Tools of Titans. While his first book, The 4-Hour Work Week, was all about his own methods of life hacks and efficiency, this book is a simultaneous encyclopedia and SparkNotes of his podcast interviews. Tim has taken his dozens of interviews and boiled them down to several pages of questions and answers each. He then categorizes them into three sections: Health, Wealth or Wisdom.
Tim’s intro to the book summarizes it far better than I could. 1. Success, however you define it, is achievable if you collect the right field-tested beliefs and habits. 2. The superheroes you have in your mind (idols, icons, titans, billionaires, etc.) are nearly all walking flaws who’ve maximized 1 or 2 strengths. Through these two focal points, you can pick out pro-tips (literally) that apply to you and growth-hack the hell out of your life.
The Ultimate Guide to Travel Hacking
I know what you’re thinking, why did it take this long before we get to a book specifically about travel? To be frank, the books I listed before were the most inspirational when it came to my pursuit of travel and quest for personal fulfillment. Each popped into my life at the perfect moment and gave me the little spark I needed to stay on track and continue working, especially when I felt discouraged and didn’t believe in myself. That being said, this book (or PDF in my case) unlocks the secret to budget travel, credit card hacking for free flights.
The Ultimate Guide to Travel Hacking is written by the Travel Blog Guru, Nomadic Matt himself. I’ve been a fan and follower of his for a long time, so of course, I’d buy at least one of his books, right? This one, in particular, is all about using credit cards and their various perks to fly for free! It’s an in-depth guide but is incredibly easy to pick up and learn from. Matt does all of the calculations on what credit cards have the most valuable miles and which offer the best perks.
Following his teachings, I scored two tickets to Portland for less than half the listed price and am building up towards more free trips. Give his book a look, it’s well worth it if you’re wanting to travel often without breaking the bank.
The Art of Happiness
While this is the last book on this list, I believe The Art of Happiness is the most important. It applies to personal development, positive behavior while travel, and living a fulfilling and happy life. The book is written by a psychologist, Howard Cutler, and takes excerpts from his many interviews with the Dalai Lama. He approaches the Buddhist focus on happiness and analyzes it through the lens of Western psychology. It makes the Dalai Lama’s concepts and beliefs digestible for the more skeptical and science-driven thought process that’s prevalent in American culture.
So many sections of this book stood out to me, even in the introduction. In fact, I ran out of hi-liter juice before making it 1/4 of the way through the book. Cutler is an excellent writer, posing his questions scientifically and being sure to point out his skepticism at many points. You can see his change of heart at several points in the book. Through Cutler’s conversations and interview questions, the Dalai Lama’s sense of peace and happiness radiates from every syllable. If I haven’t been effusive enough, I’ll leave you with this simple quote from the introduction of the book. It’s a simple but powerful message which perfectly encapsulates the following ~300 pages, “If you want others to be happy practice compassion; and if you want yourself to be happy practice compassion.”
Those are my favorite books for travel and wellness!
All of the books I listed above have impacted me in some way, shape or form. Have you read them? What are some of your favorite books? Comment below and let me know!