On the Road Again: Columbus Day Reads

Today is Columbus Day, a U.S. holiday that commemorates the landing of Christopher Columbus in the New World on October 12, 1492. It was unofficially celebrated in a number of cities and states as early as the 18th century, but did not become a federal holiday until the 1937.

Like Columbus, most people have some level of wanderlust, but few have the same level of opportunity. Seriously, what’s left to discover anymore? And who has the chance, let alone the paid vacation days, to get on a ship and set sail to new worlds? The next best option: do it vicariously.

This is what makes indie books inspired by traveling so perfect.


Acacia by Paul Bondsfield

Paul Bondsfield grew up in a small village in Hampshire and has traveled extensively, but he considers South Africa is his spiritual home. Acacia is his first novel and was borne out of a real painting left him by his Grandmother, who was born and raised in Rhodesia.

The book follows James and Tara Broughton as they attempt to discover a treasure from clues hidden within an old painting. They are drawn into a dangerous chase, pitted against a proud enemy they neither know of nor comprehend.

Touching on family secrets and colonialist invasions, the novel spans various topics and themes, while remaining grounded in a treasure hunt mystery that will keep readers gripped.


WILD Life Stories by William Gray

Zoologist and travel writer William Gray has spent over two decades exploring the world’s wild places on assignment for newspapers and magazines. This collection of 20 short stories is based on his award-winning articles for publications such as The Sunday Times and Wanderlust.

From tracking chimps in Uganda’s rain forests to watching penguins negotiate minefields in the Falklands, William takes you on a series of unforgettable wildlife adventures stretching from Uganda and Ireland and the USA to New Zealand.



The New American Road Trip Mixtape by Brendan Leonard

In the tradition of many writers before him, Brendan Leonard found himself lost when his life plan exploded, starting with the break up of a long term relationship.

At the age of thirty-two, he decided to take off and travel through the American West, hoping to find meaning in life following in (Jack) Kerouac and (John) Steinbeck’s tire tracks.

Sleeping in the back of a beat-up station wagon, Leonard seeks answers—and hopefully, the occasional shower. Part ballad to the romance of the road and part heart-searching treatise on the American Dream, The New American Road Trip Mixtape is Leonard’s raw, often hilarious, barstool storytelling at its best.


More Ketchup Than Salsa: Confessions Of A Tenerife Barman by Joe Cawley

One of the more famous entries on this list, Joe Cawley’s insight into moving abroad is a must-read for anybody who has ever dreamed about jetting off to sunnier climes. Whether a nomad or a settler, there’s something for everyone in this novel, a hilarious travel guide look into what can happen when you decide to leave your disappointing life behind to pursue something more fulfilling.

When Joe and his girlfriend Joy decide to trade in their life on a cold Lancashire fish market to run a bar in the Tenerife sunshine, they anticipate a paradise of sea, sand and siestas. Little did they expect their foreign fantasy to turn out to be about as exotic as Bolton on a wet Monday morning.

Amidst a host of eccentric locals, homesickness and the occasional cockroach infestation, pint-pulling novices Joe and Joy struggle with ‘Brits abroad’ culture and learn that, although the skies might be bluer, the grass is definitely not always greener.


The Road Headed West: A Cycling Adventure Through North America by Leon McCarron

What happens when you swap the nine-to-five for two wheels and a journey of a lifetime? Terrified of the prospect of a life spent behind a desk, without challenge or excitement, McCarron takes off to cross America on an overloaded bicycle, packed with everything but common sense.

Over five months and 6,000 miles, he cycled from New York to Seattle and then on to the Mexican border, facing tornadoes, swollen river crossings, wild roaming buffalo and one hungry black bear along the way. But he also met kind strangers, who offered their food, wisdom, hospitality and even the occasional local history lesson, and learned what happens when you take a chance and follow the scent of adventure.