This piece originally appeared on Travel+Leisure.
Before travel became a widely accessible pastime, visiting the far corners of the world was the purview of a privileged few—traders and soldiers first, then adventurers and explorers, and later still the occasional aristocrat stepping off the genteelly trammeled path of the Grand Tour. Everyone else had books.
Even in our hyper-connected, tech-driven age, books remain an invaluable repository of information and experience. Few places on earth inspire such frenzied flights of fantasy as India, and many books have been written about it over the years. We’ve chosen six great tomes from the last decade that offer readers several places and experiences guaranteed to inspire a trip. So ready your favorite reading chair, but keep the computer handy—you may be booking tickets sooner than you think.