Celebrating Readers: Top Travel Books

What’s not to like about travel?  New sights, sounds, tastes, beautiful scenery, different cultures, tranquility or excitement (or both)… even if drop-everything-and-go travelling is not an option right now, it is still fun to indulge in some armchair travel and plan a dream trip.  Whether you like your travel glamorous or rugged, by car or in a plane, there’s a great read waiting here for you!

Destinations of a Lifetime: 225 of the World’s Most Amazing Places by National Geographic

Destinations of a Lifetime is a stunning coffee table book that inspires wonder and daydreams.  As befits a National Geographic publication, the photography is amazing – whether it is of a rugged landscape, or a rustic market stall.  These 225 Amazing Places have been chosen from around the world for their natural beauty, architecture and cultural history.  From wildlife reserves to mountain ranges to palaces and even train stations, they remind us that the world is a big and amazing place. Each profile also includes travel tips and how to visit places “like a local”.

Slim Aarons: La Dolce Vita by Slim Aarons

Slim Aarons built his career on photographing “attractive people doing attractive things in attractive places”.  La Dolce Vita is a collection of his society portraits – chronicling the lives of aristocrats and celebrities for over 50 years.  We see his subjects at home and at play all over Italy – in villas, vineyards, palazzos and on yachts.  The stunning scenery provides perfect backdrops for elegant displays of sumptuous wealth – Slim Aaron’s vision of La Dolce Vita is never crass, but nostalgic and effortlessly glamorous.

The Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson

Twenty years after the journey immortalised in Notes from a Small Island, Bill Bryson travels around Britain again, to see what has changed – and, as he cheekily reveals, because his agent wants him to write a sequel.  Time has not diminished his love for his “Small Island”, but has enriched it with authority – he makes a passionate plea here, as a seasoned campaigner for preserving the landscape and heritage of rural England. Bill Bryson also enjoys showing his grumpier side as he derides the bad manners and crassness so evident nowadays.  The Road to Little Dribbling is another perfect blend of affable humour, naughty wit and eye for the ridiculous that Bill Bryson fans know and love.

Walking the Camino: a Modern Pilgrimage to Santiago by Tony Kevin

Travel is usually about external stimulation such as new sights and sounds, but can also promote inward contemplation – particularly when walking alone on a long trek. Tony Kevin, an overweight, disaffected retired diplomat, does just that when he treks across Spain along the Camino – the ancient pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela. During his eight-week journey he experiences physical and mental exhaustion, picturesque  scenery, ancient tradition and spiritual nourishment.  Walking the Camino offers fascinating insights about why the Camino is still relevant and appealing – and in fact is experiencing a revival, travelled each year by hundreds of thousands of pilgrims from many different nations and creeds.

The Route 66 Encyclopaedia by Jim Hinckley

Route 66 is one of the world’s iconic travel routes, and Jim Hinckley has the wealth of knowledge to help guide us along it.  True to its name, The Route 66 Encyclopaedia is jam-packed with information, photographs and memorabilia about the history, landmarks, and personalities associated with this road. It is a guidebook, a cultural history as well as a tribute.  With alphabetically-arranged entries, Jim Hinckley has created the definitive reference for “the Main Street of America”.

Pretty Good Number One: An American Family Eats Tokyo by Matthew Amster-Burton

You may already know Matthew Amster-Burton and his daughter Iris from the book Hungry Monkey, a chronicle of Matthew’s attempt at turning little Iris into an adventurous eater.  A few years on, Iris is six – still an idiosyncratic eater – and Matthew takes his whole family to Tokyo for a month.  Based out of a tiny apartment, Matthew and his family immerse themselves in the daily life (and food) of this often impenetrable city.  Part guidebook and part diary, I find Pretty Good Number One both endearing and inspirational, because it shows that travelling with children can be delicious and fun.  Cool fact: one fan took Pretty Good Number One as his only guidebook on his Tokyo trip – and ate magnificently.


Holidays in Hell
and Holidays in Heck by P. J. O’Rourke

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As the hard-living foreign correspondent for Rolling Stone magazine (who knew that they would have one!?), P. J. O’Rourke filed despatches from troublespots around the world, including Mexico, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.  These thought-provoking and hilarious pieces, published as Holidays in Hell, mash politics and pop culture with black comedy.  Holidays in Hell became an instant classic and a game-changer for travel writing.Fast-forward to the present, and P.J. O’Rourke, retired “sh*thole specialist”, now travels for leisure like everyone else.  In Holidays in Heck, let P.J.’s caustic wit and gonzo ways show you the unexpected horrors and hidden dangers of travelling to nice places.

Check out our recommended travel reads on our Pinterest board.

About Karen Seligman

Karen Seligman is a newly-qualified librarian working in a public library. As a book- and library-lover from way back, she finds nothing better than being surrounded by books and other library-lovers! Karen’s past lives as a law graduate, corporate warrior and research scientist continue to inform her wide-ranging tastes in reading material, with her favourite genres including historical fiction, fantasy, food writing and popular science.