6 Inspirational Real Life Stories of Travel and Self Discovery

In partnership with the Guille-Allès Library


These books will take you on a journey of self discovery through the real life experiences of the authors, who embarked on life changing trips to enrich - and sometimes escape from - their everyday lives. If you are tempted by a year 'living Danishly', you're inspired to eat, pray and love or maybe you want to escape into the true story of an ordinary forty eight year old woman who leaves behind her elegant life in LA to experience a nomadic existence all over the world, pick a title and enjoy the journey.

And here's a heads up - you can meet one of the actual, real life authors at the Literary Festival next month. We are delighted to sponsor Horatio Clare's event, together with our charity partner Guernsey Mind. Horatio will be talking about his experiences that led to the book, and there's something for everyone to take away from his story that can help determine how we relate to others and make healthy choices for our own mental wellbeing.




1. Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

It's 3 a.m. and Elizabeth Gilbert is sobbing on the bathroom floor. She's in her thirties, she has a husband, a house, they're trying for a baby - and she doesn't want any of it.

A bitter divorce and a turbulent love affair later, she emerges battered and bewildered and realises it is time to pursue her own journey in search of three things she has been missing: pleasure, devotion and balance.

Even if you’ve seen the film (with the wonderful Julia Roberts as Elizabeth), Eat Pray Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything it’s worth giving the book a read. In this entertaining travel journal, Gilbert manages to find humour in the tragic moments of her journey – through Italy, India and beyond - giving simple answers to the questions we’re all seeking in life. 


2.  Heavy Light: A Journey Through Madness, Mania and Healing by Horatio Clare

Horatio Clare's stories, which document his adventures around the world, have made him one of the most revered travel writers of our times. Welshman Horatio grew up on a sheep farm in the Brecon Beacons, a childhood with no television but surrounded by books. Whilst it may sound like he was living the dream, he had to grow up quickly and he has had to deal with more than his fair share of struggles in his adult life.

In his latest book, Heavy Light: A Journey Through Madness, Mania and Healing, Horatio shares an insight into his most challenging journey - his experience of mental ill health, and he does so with wit, honesty and humanity.


3.  Wild by Cheryl Strayed

At twenty-six, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother's rapid death from cancer, her family broken and her marriage ending. With nothing to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life: to walk eleven-hundred miles of the west coast of America - from the Mojave Desert, through California and Oregon, and into Washington state - and to do it alone.

Made famous by the film adaptation starring Reese Witherspoon,  Wild: A Journey from Lost to Found powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.


4.  Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

Reportedly based on aspects of Gregory David Roberts’ own life (who really was an escaped convict!), Shantaram follows the journey of Lin, a bank robber and heroin addict who escapes from an Australian prison and flees to India. Arriving in Bombay with not much more than a fake passport, Lin begins a new life in the tumultuous and chaotic city in the early 1980s, which the book conjures so well you can almost smell it. 

Meeting all manner of characters and ending up living in a Bombay slum, Lin manages to learn a new language, establish a free health clinic and even join the mafia. A chunky read at 900 pages long, this is a larger than life tale of adventure. 


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5.  Tales of a Female Nomad by Rita Golden Gelman

At the age of forty-eight, on the verge of a divorce, Rita Golden Gelman left an elegant life in L.A. to follow her dream of travelling the world, connecting with people in cultures all over the globe.

In 1986, Rita sold her possessions and became a nomad, living in a Zapotec village in Mexico, sleeping with sea lions on the Galapagos Islands, and residing everywhere from thatched huts to regal palaces. Tales of a Female Nomad is a true story of an ordinary woman living an extraordinary existence all over the world. Be prepared to start packing a backpack after reading this! 


6.  The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell

Denmark is officially the happiest nation on Earth, so when journalist Helen Russell finds herself spending a year in rural Jutland, she decides she'll do all she can to uncover the secrets of the Danes' happiness. But will the long, dark winters and pickled herring take their toll? 

From navigating the nuances of childcare, education, and interior design, to sexism and Lego, The Year of Living Danishly is a funny, poignant record of a year in a different country. It shows us where the Danes get it really right, where they get it wrong, and how we might benefit from living a little more Danishly ourselves. 

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