10 Inspiring Books About Travel, Transformation & Happiness

Get lost without having to leave your home – that’s why I love to read.  I often get caught up in my day to day. Many of my more ambitious friends have also come up to me expressing how stagnant / stuck they feel in their current situations – like they’re not doing enough or gaining enough or advancing enough. It’s often easy to feel this way, and I’m a victim of it as well.

But reading stories of other people, whether they’re fictional inspiration or real-life memoirs, has always helped me gain perspective on how life can actually change, and that maybe, you are capable of doing what you dream of doing.

Positive thinking and a good size pair of b-alls can maybe actually get you there. And reading books that challenge the negative ideas in our head – will inspire you, motivate you and help you start to believe in yourself again.

I recently started adding a load of new books to my Kindle library on my new Kindle Paperwhite, and decided to put together a list of books recommended by my friends and family – books that will inspire you and change your perspective on travel, happiness, love and transformation.  Enjoy. 🙂

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1. The Alchemist

by Paulo Coelho

One of the most read books in recent history, Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist follows a young shepherd boy from Spain to Egypt as he leaves the life he knows to follow his dreams. He goes with the flow, learns to love and learns the meaning of life. The book is filled with inspirational quotes worth bookmarking –

“If you can concentrate always on the present, you’ll be a happy man. Life will be a party for you, a grand festival, because life is the moment we’re living right now.”

2. Beyond the Sky and the Earth: A Journey into Bhutan

by Jamie Zeppa

At age 22, Jamie Zeppa, a Canadian who had never been outside of North America, left her fiancé and what seemed like solid plans for graduate school to move to Bhutan, a remote Buddhist kingdom in the Himalayas.

“I wanted to throw myself into an experience that was too big for me and learn in a way that cost me something”

Beyond the Sky and the Earth is an autobiographical work that details her experiences and transformations after spending three years in Bhutan. It is as much a book about Zeppa’s day-to-day life as it is about the personal awakenings and realizations that she had while living there – inspirational and insightful.

3. Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia

by Elizabeth Gilbert

“Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it. You must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it.”

Most of us have probably heard of and/or seen the film that Julia Roberts played, but this is the real story in the author’s own words. Elizabeth Gilbert shares stories on how she made the difficult choice to leave behind all the trappings of modern American success (marriage, house in the country, career) and find, instead, what she truly wanted from life. Setting out for a year to study three different aspects of her nature amid three different cultures, Gilbert explored the art of pleasure in Italy and the art of devotion in India, and then a balance between the two on the Indonesian island of Bali.

4. Finding Beauty in a Broken World

by Terry Tempest Williams

“Finding beauty in a broken world is creating beauty in the world we find.”

Author Terry Tempest Williams tells the stories of her time spent in three very different places. In Ravenna, Italy, she learns the ancient art of mosaic. In the American Southwest, she does a stint with researchers who are observing a prairie dog town. In a small village in Rwanda, she joins genocide survivors building a memorial from the rubble of war.

What results is a quest for meaning and community in an era of physical and spiritual fragmentation. Each adventure in your life isn’t necessarily a self-contained event; in the end, it’s about the connections you make between them.

5. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

by Cheryl Strayed

“I’m a free spirit who never had the balls to be free.”

In the wake of her mother’s death, with her family scattered, and in the ashes of a failed marriage, Cheryl Strayed made the impulsive decision to hike the Pacific Crest Trail – mostly unprepared and something she had certainly never come close to doing before. Wild powerfully tells the story of her adventure, capturing the terrors and pleasures of a young woman forging ahead against all odds and the healing power of her trip. Cheryl Strayed’s story was eventually turned into a major motion picture starring Reese Witherspoon.

6. Travels

by Michael Crichton

“Often I feel I go to some distant region of the world to be reminded of who I really am.”

Author of Jurassic Park, Rising Sun and Disclosure, Michael Crichton goes a different route and shares a collection of travel memoirs dating back to his medical school days. Crichton weaves a story through time blending his life with his travels, including a very realistic retelling of his climb up Mount Kilimanjaro. Travel is often times tough and it is not always fun (there are moments that will make you second guess going in the first place), but travel will forever be an extraordinary experience.

7. Heat: An Amateur’s Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany

by Bill Buford

A highly acclaimed writer and editor, Bill Buford left his job at The New Yorker for a most unlikely destination: the kitchen at Babbo, the revolutionary Italian restaurant created and ruled by superstar chef Mario Batali.

Finally realizing a long-held desire to learn first-hand the experience of restaurant cooking, Buford soon found himself drowning in improperly cubed carrots and scalding pasta water on his quest to learn the tricks of the trade. His love of Italian food then propelled him on a global journey: to Italy, to discover the secrets of pasta-making and even how to properly slaughter a pig. Throughout the book, Buford stunningly details the complex aspects of Italian cooking and its long history, creating an engrossing and visceral narrative stuffed with insight and humor.

“If you’re cooking with love, every plate is a unique event—you never allow yourself to forget that a person is waiting to eat it:”

8. Tracks: A Woman’s Solo Trek Across 1700 Miles of Australian Outback

by Robyn Davidson

Robyn Davidson was in her mid 20s when she decided to leave her hometown and walk across 1,700 miles of hostile Australian desert to the Indian Ocean, with only four camels and a dog.

“The two important things that I did learn were that you are as powerful and strong as you allow yourself to be, and that the most difficult part of any endeavour is taking the first step, making the first decision.”

Enduring sweltering heat, fending off poisonous snakes and lecherous men, chasing her camels when they get skittish and nursing them when they are injured, Davidson emerges as an extraordinarily courageous heroine driven by a love of Australia’s landscape, an empathy for its indigenous people, and a willingness to cast away the trappings of her former identity. Tracks is the compelling, candid story of her odyssey of discovery and transformation.

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9. The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living

by Dalai Lama

“When life becomes too complicated and we feel overwhelmed, it’s often useful just to stand back and remind ourselves of our overall purpose, our overall goal. When faced with a feeling of stagnation and confusion, it may be helpful to take an hour, an afternoon, or even several days to simply reflect on what it is that will truly bring us happiness, and then reset our priorities on the basis of that. This can put our life back in proper context, allow a fresh perspective, and enable us to see which direction to take.”

Nearly every time you see him, he’s laughing, or at least smiling. And he makes everyone else around him feel like smiling. He’s the Dalai Lama, the spiritual and temporal leader of Tibet, a Nobel Prize winner, and a hugely sought-after speaker and statesman.

If you ask him if he’s happy, even though he’s suffered the loss of his country, the Dalai Lama will give you an unconditional yes. What’s more, he’ll tell you that happiness is the purpose of life, and that the very motion of our life is toward happiness.

The Art of Happiness is the book that started the genre of happiness books, and it remains the cornerstone of the field of positive psychology. Through conversations, stories, and meditations, the Dalai Lama shows us how to defeat day-to-day anxiety, insecurity, anger, and discouragement. Together with Dr. Howard Cutler, he explores many facets of everyday life, including relationships, loss, and the pursuit of wealth, to illustrate how to ride through life’s obstacles on a deep and abiding source of inner peace. Based on 2,500 years of Buddhist meditations mixed with a healthy dose of common sense, The Art of Happiness is a book that crosses the boundaries of traditions to help readers with difficulties common to all human beings.

10. The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment

by Eckhart Tolle

“Any action is often better than no action, especially if you have been stuck in an unhappy situation for a long time. If it is a mistake, at least you learn something, in which case it’s no longer a mistake. If you remain stuck, you learn nothing.”

The Power of Now has sold over 2 million copies worldwide and has been translated into over 30 foreign languages. Much more than simple principles and platitudes, the book takes readers on an inspiring spiritual journey to find their true and deepest self and reach the ultimate in personal growth and spirituality: the discovery of truth and light.

I have yet to finish all 10 of these books, but I am starting out with 3 of them – The Power of Now, Eat Pray Love and Wild – which I bought + downloaded onto my new Kindle Paperwhite.


It’s got twice as many pixels as the old Kindle – easier on the eyes and comes with built-in light and wifi. I took it with me to Costa Rica, and started The Power of Now on the plane and took it straight to the beach. The screen also makes it comfortable to read in direct sunlight – unlike that of many tablets/e-readers. I also didn’t have to charge it once during my whole trip.

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You can check out all the details + specs on the brand spankin’ new Kindle Paperwhite here.  If you have any books to add to this list, leave a comment for us below! I’ll be adding way more to my Kindle library for the new year. 🙂

Thank you so much for reading this post! For inspirational photos + updates, join our community on facebook and follow me on instagram: @projectinspo.

With love,


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