7 Books You Must Read While Visiting Places in South America

There’s no better travel companion than a good book. A great travel story keeps the feeling of wanderlust alive inside of you and inspires you to continue on or to begin your journey. A good book helps you learn more about and understand the place where you’re traveling.

Travel books: there's nothing like an awesome, travel-inspired book to keep you company while on the road. Here are my top picks for book to read while traveling South America!

Here are 6 books you must read when traveling to places in South America:
There’s no better travel companion than a good book. A great travel story keeps the feeling of wanderlust alive inside of you and inspires you to continue on or to begin your journey. A good book helps you learn more about and understand the place where you’re traveling.
Here are 6 books you must read when traveling in South America:

1. The Motorcycle Diaries by Ernesto “Che” Guevara

places in south america
Photo by Danielle Sarmiento on Flickr
There’s a reason that this book appears on almost all recommended travel reads. This memoir recounts the travels of Ernesto “Che” Guevara and Alberto Granada through various places in South America. They travel mostly by motorcycle, but also by boat, hitchhiking, bus, and several other means. The story provides powerful accounts of their experience with people throughout the continent. It’s a travel memoir that beautifully describes the continent, as well as a story of self-discovery.
When to read it: In various places in South America.
Favorite quote: “What do we leave behind when we cross each frontier? Each moment seems split in two; melancholy for what was left behind and the excitement of entering a new land.”

2. My Invented Country by Isabel Allende

Isabel Allende is one of my favorite authors and this is one of my favorite books of hers. She writes about her life, past and present, and how she feels as if she’s from two countries. The book circles around two major events: the assassination of Salvador Allende (her uncle) in Chile on September 11, 1973 and the U.S. terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. The book provides insight into Chilean life and history. It also expresses the feelings that many immigrants feel while trying to settle into a new country.
When to read it: While traveling in Chile or when starting over in a new country.
Favorite quote: “Believe me, there is nothing so insufferable as a saint, I wouldn’t sic one on my worst enemy.”
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This book is a hilarious account of Newman’s travels to countries like Argentina, Brazil, Iceland, and New Zealand. It’s different from most travel memoirs because it’s very realistic and incredibly funny. The way she describes the Argentinean and Brazilian men will make you want to find a Latin romance of your own. She travels both alone and with others and writes her thoughts in a way that’s relatable for all travelers.
When to read it: When traveling in Argentina or Brazil
Favorite quote: “I wanted love, but I also wanted freedom and adventure, and those two desires fought like angry obese sumo wrestlers in the dojo of my soul.”

4. In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin

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Inspired by a piece of “Brontosaurus skin” in his grandmother’s cabinet, Chatwin decides to venture to Patagonia in search of his own. He writes a beautiful travel memoir which describes the landscape and the people. He interviews people who have ended up there from other places and locals. The whole story is framed as his search for his own piece of Brontosaurus skin, but the real story is in the people he meets and his experiences.
Where to read it: While traveling in Patagonia.
Favorite quote: “It’s an old sailor’s idea that every ship has a rope with one end made fast to her bows and the other held by the loved ones at home.”
Sara Wheeler travels from the north to the south of the world’s longest country, Chile. This book is special because the author does an amazing job of connecting history to location. If you’re going to Chile, this is a must-read because it provides insight into the country’s corrupt political past. A past which is still very present in Chilean daily life.
When to read it: While traveling through Chile (especially in the Atacama Desert)
Favorite quote: “It was unutterably peaceful. At that moment the past held no regrets and the future no fears; I could have given up everything worldly to live the rest of my life on that island.”

6. Walking the Amazon by Ed Stafford

Ed Stafford was the first person to travel the entire length of the Amazon River on foot. And he describes his incredible journey in this book. Even while facing danger every day- such as jaguars, snakes, and storms-Ed managed to complete his journey successfully. This adventure was not only a personal feat but an effort to raise awareness about environmental issues, such as deforestation
When to read it: While visiting the Amazon Rainforest, camping, or any nature trip.
Favorite quote: “A lazy, bored brain latches on to negativity and problems and exaggerates them until they become out of perspective and all-consuming.”

7. 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

places in south america 
Gabriel García Marquez writes about the country of Macondo, a fictional representation of Colombia. This story revolves around the lives of several generations of the Buendía family and many of the events in the novel correspond to real historical events. This book is a great way to try and understand the history and culture of Latin America.
When to read it: While traveling in Colombia 
Favorite quote: “There is always something left to love.”
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What are your favorite travel reads? Is there anything you would add to this list?

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Brittany Mailhot is a freelance writer, blogger, and personal freedom advocate. She began living a location independent lifestyle shortly after graduating from college and continues to share her experiences to inspire others to say f*ck it to the 9-5 and live their dreams! She's always available to answer questions by email or on social media so don't be afraid to reach out!