Five Books to Satisfy Your Wanderlust Addiction Before Summer Ends

Jennifer DeSimone
January 16, 2024

The staff at Under30Experiences is known to get into a lot of animated discussions about current non-fiction reads. As diverse as our staff is, so are our reading preferences. From health and nutrition to personal development, leadership skills, and business acumen, we read it all.

If we all were closer there would be no doubt that we would be trading our Kindles with one another. 

One genre that is lesser talked about is fiction, particularly travel fiction. There are so many beautiful gems – some classics, others more recently sitting on the New York Times best seller list.

With only a few weeks left of summer, here are my five personal recommendations of books to feed into your wanderlust addiction.

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

This 900+ page plus read is a beast, and is to this day one of my all time favorite books. I was drawn tot he cover when I first saw it at Kramer Books in DC. Shantaram is the only book I called in sick to work for just so I could finish reading it. Told through the eyes of Lin, an escaped convict who finds himself in India, this book possesses all of life’s experiences from crime and redemption, to pain and love, ultimately figuring out who we are as a person and what we stand for.

Favorite quote - “There are no mistakes. Only new paths to explore.” 

The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo

Anyone who has read this book always speaks of it with reverence. Coehlo’s pinnacle piece, The Alchemist has inspired and captivated the hearts of millions across the world. I remember picking up this book at Barnes and Nobles the summer after I graduated college, quickly finding myself in Spain and Egypt, and reading about love, fear, passion, dreams, desire – the ingredients needed to live a bold life. A transcendental experience, this book framed so much of how I look at the world.

Favorite quote: “And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

The most haunting tale on this list, and my most recent read, Homegoing is what this country needs and should be required reading for all high school students. Gyasi’s stories starts in Ghana at the start of the slave trade and takes us from the Gold Coast, to Kumasi, Birmingham, and Harlem. Told by various generations across more than 200 years, it is the story of love, perseverance, hope, duty, and the systems that to this day affect us as a people. The writing took me back to my first trip to Ghana and I could taste the fufu during every dinner scene. 

Favorite quote: "There should be no room in your life for regret. If in the moment of doing you felt clarity, you felt certainty, then why feel regret later?”

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

The title of Kevin Kwan’s book threw me off. I decided to get Crazy Rich Asians (note: no comma between crazy and rich) since I took was about to embark on my own Asian adventure. Kwan’s story follows Rachel Chu, a professor from the US, and her boyfriend as they visit his family in Singapore for a friend’s wedding. What she doesn’t know if that this is the wedding of the year and her boyfriend is heir to a multi-billionaire dollar empire. What ensues is a fantastically funny exploration of one of the timeless moments in our lives: meeting the parents. Yes, this story is full of stereotypes and its far-fetched, but even the author makes fun of the story, and himself, in the footnotes. The story continues in China Rich Girlfriend and the film is currently in production.

Favorite quote: "At least when it comes to food, there's no snobbery in Singapore."   

The Beach by Alex Garland

As soon as I arrived on Railay Beach, Thailand, I thought about Leonardo DiCaprio’s film of the same name. Unknown to me, it is because the movie was actually filmed here. The Beach is the only book I have not yet read on this list, but I felt like I had to include it because the setting of the book is by far the most beautiful place I have been to. Garland’s book follows backpacker Richard as he seeks to find the ideal.

Favorite quote: - yet to be discovered! 

Bonus Reading

And for all you non-fiction junkies, one of my favorite travel pieces is “The Kindness Diaries”, a story of a man, his motorcycle, and his quest to travel the world on the best currency we have: kindness.

Happy reading!

Jennifer DeSimone
Currently based in Austin, Jennifer is the Chief of Community for U30X. She has a passion for creating connections, community, and opportunities for more empathy. In her spare time you can find her on her yoga mat, whipping up something yummy in the kitchen, or reading a good book.


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