|The 1885 frontispiece|
for The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Travel is a common theme in classic and modern novels; there are countless books in which the characters take a journey. These novels are popular for many reasons, but most of all because they are exciting. Many people daydream about going on adventures or trips to far off places, but can’t in their everyday lives. Travel novels make this fantasy possible for readers, even if it is only in their minds. Here are some the most fantastic and adventurous novels with a travel theme ever written.
*Spoilers . . . maybe
Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne
Around the World in Eighty Days is the story Phileas Fogg–a man who bets his peers at a gentleman’s club that he can make it (you guessed it) around the world in eighty days. This was in the time before making it around the world in two or three days was feasible, so try your best to imagine how exciting this would have been for a reader who couldn't hop on a passenger jet on a whim.
Phileas Fogg collects his new servant, Passepartout, and sets off on a whirlwind adventure around the globe. Along the way, he encounters the law, elephants, damsels in distress and even bloodthirsty American Indians. After retrieving his damsel and bringing her with him, picking up the messes that his servant makes, avoiding a lawman and fighting a tribe of American Indians, Fogg makes it back to London just in time to win his bet with a few more snafus to make the ending a Jules Verne classic.
The Time Machine by H.G. Wells
The Time Machine is an interesting tale that is not your conventional travel novel. It is the story of a man, referred to only as the “time traveler,” who is telling a story to a group of men. The story is that of his inventing a time machine and traveling back and forth in time. The novel is narrated by one of the men who listened as the time traveler told his unbelievable tale.
The time traveler used his machine and found himself in the year 802,701 AD. He finds that man has evolved into two subspecies, the Eloi, who are a childlike and peaceful race, and the Morlocks, who are pale, apelike creatures who live underground and hunt the Eloi for food. He tells the men about his time there and how he managed to escape the Morlocks and travel 30 million years into the future before returning home. After he finishes his tale, he leaves again in his time machine and never returns.
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
Sure, The Lord of the Rings takes place in a completely fictional place, but who cares? It's the ultimate hiking novel. A bunch of guys (well, a wizard, some humans, a few hobbits, an elf and a dwarf) band together to hike across a continent to climb the most treacherous volcano in the land. Yeah, there's more to it than that, but there is no doubt that there is a lot of travel going on in this classic fantasy novel.
The Lord of the Rings centers on Frodo, a hobbit who has inherited a ring of power that possesses some serious dark powers. Gandalf, a wizard who likes to hang out and smoke with the hobbits, tells Frodo the ring is bad, and that he must bring it to the elves. Frodo takes his gardener Sam and the two leave home on foot. They bump into Merry and Pippin, two more hobbits, and they are all on their way. Soon, they are set upon by evil ring wraiths. They meet a man who knows of their plight and helps them deliver the ring to the elves. The elves are having none of that, so a fellowship is formed. It consists of the Gimli, Gandalf, Boromir, Frodo, Sam, Merry, Pippin, Legolas and Aragorn. They all go on a hike together. Only two make it to the volcano.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is the tale of the eponymous boy and a runaway slave named Jim. The two find each other after Huck runs away from his abusive father and Jim runs away from a woman who mentions selling him to an abusive owner. At the time, it was illegal to help a fugitive slave, but Huck likes Jim and isn't much for rules, so the two set off on an adventure together that leads them to con men, elaborate schemes and ultimately a reunion with Huck's best friend Tom Sawyer. This is a must-read for kids.
There are so many travel books out there. I know these are really tailored toward my tastes, but if you're into "woman finds herself on trip across Europe" kind of books, there are plenty of those at the library. No matter what your tastes, pick up a book and go on an adventure whenever you want.