Category Archives: Travel

Travel writing, travel books

The Best Books to Read on a Staycation

Sometimes it’s nice to have a break from routine. But instead of packing a suitcase and rushing for flights and eating plane food, it’s refreshing to have a staycation, holiday in your local city and at night read a book in the comfort of your own home. 

We have pulled together a list of the top selling books that the Northern Hemisphere have been enjoying over their summer to share with anyone who fancies a holiday at home…before the frantic festive season begins. 

So slap on some sunscreen (here’s looking at you Melbourne) and pull up a sun lounger as we have six fabulous books to transport you out of your routine.

Summer of ’69 by Elin Hilderbrand

Welcome to the most tumultuous summer of the twentieth century. Every year the Levin children have looked forward to spending the summer at their grandmother’s historic island home, but this year it’s not to be. Blair, the oldest sister, is marooned in Boston, pregnant with twins and unable to travel. Middle sister Kirby is caught up in the thrilling vortex of civil rights protests with her friend Mary Jo Kopechne. And Tiger, the only son, has just been deployed to Vietnam. Thirteen-year-old Jessie, the youngest of them all, suddenly feels like an only child, marooned in the house with her out-of-touch grandmother who is hiding secrets of her own. As the summer heats up, Teddy Kennedy sinks a car in Chappaquiddick, man walks on the moon, and Jessie experiences some sinking and flying herself, as she grows into her own body and mind. 

Honestly, We Meant Well by Grant Grinder

Family vacations always come with baggage.

The Wright family is in ruins. Sue Ellen Wright has what she thinks is a close-to-perfect life. A terrific career as a Classics professor, a loving husband, and a son who is just about to safely leave the nest. But then disaster strikes. She learns that her husband is cheating, and that her son has made a complete mess of his life. So, when the opportunity to take her family to a Greek island for a month presents itself, she jumps at the chance. This sunlit Aegean paradise, with its mountains and beaches is, after all, where she first fell in love with both a man and with an ancient culture. Perhaps Sue Ellen’s past will provide the key to her and her family’s salvation.

With his signature style of biting wit, hilarious characters, and deep emotion, Grant Ginder’s Honestly, We Meant Well is a funny, brilliant novel proving that with family, drama always comes with comedy.

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

This book is everywhere. Wherever we turn, be it online or instore, or on a tram we spot someone reading this book. If the fame of Eat, Pray, Love is anything to go by, we think this book is definitely worth another look at.

 It is the summer of 1940. Nineteen-year-old Vivian Morris arrives in New York with her suitcase and sewing machine, exiled by her despairing parents. Although her quicksilver talents with a needle and commitment to mastering the perfect hair roll have been deemed insufficient for her to pass into her sophomore year of Vassar, she soon finds gainful employment as the self-appointed seamstress at the Lily Playhouse, her unconventional Aunt Peg’s charmingly disreputable Manhattan revue theatre. There, Vivian quickly becomes the toast of the showgirls, transforming the trash and tinsel only fit for the cheap seats into creations for goddesses. Exile in New York is no exile at all- here in this strange wartime city of girls, Vivian and her girlfriends mean to drink the heady highball of life itself to the last drop. And when the legendary English actress Edna Watson comes to the Lily to star in the company’s most ambitious show ever, Vivian is entranced by the magic that follows in her wake. But there are hard lessons to be learned, and bitterly regrettable mistakes to be made. Vivian learns that to live the life she wants, she must live many lives, ceaselessly and ingeniously making them new. ‘At some point in a woman’s life, she just gets tired of being ashamed all the time. After that, she is free to become whoever she truly is,’ she confides. And so Vivian sets forth her story, and that of the women around her women who have lived as they truly are, out of step with a century that could never quite keep up with them.

The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters by Balli Kaur Jaswal

Full of warmth and laugh-out-loud funny, the new novel from the author of Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows. British-born Punjabi sisters Rajni, Jezmeen and Shirina have never been close – so when their dying mother instructs them to go on a pilgrimage across India to carry out her final rites, the sisters are forced together as they haven’t been for years. Rajni is an archetypal eldest child – bossy, knows best, always right – but her perfect son dropped a devastating bombshell before she left and now she’s floundering. Middle sister Jezmeen was always a loudmouth, translating her need for attention into life as a struggling actress. But her career is on the skids after an incident went viral and now she’s desperate to find her voice again. Shirina has always been the perfect sister, who confounded expectations by having the most traditional arranged marriage of them all and moving to the other side of the world. But her perfect marriage isn’t what it seems and time is running out to make the right choice. Each sister has her own reasons for agreeing to this ludicrous trip, and as the miles rack up, the secrets of the past and present are sure to spill out. 

We Came Here to Forget by Andrea Dunlop

Katie Cleary has always known exactly what she wants: to be the best skier in the world. As a teenager, she leaves her home to live and train full time with her two best friends, all-American brothers Luke and Blair, whose wealthy father has hired the best coaches money can buy. Together, they are the USA’s best shot at bringing home Olympic gold.

But as the upward trajectory of Katie’s elite skiing career nears its zenith, a terrifying truth about her sister becomes impossible to ignore—one that will lay ruin not only to Katie’s career but to her family and her relationship with Luke and Blair.

With her life shattered and nothing left to lose, Katie flees the snowy mountainsides of home for Buenos Aires. There, she reinvents herself as Liz Sullivan, and meets a colourful group of ex-pats and the alluring, charismatic Gianluca Fortunado, a tango teacher with secrets of his own. This beautiful city, with its dark history and wild promise, seems like the perfect refuge, but can she really outrun her demons?

In alternating chapters, Katie grows up, falls in love, and races down the highest peaks on the planet—while Liz is reborn, falls into lust, and sinks into the underground tango scene at the bottom of the world. From the moneyed ski chalets of the American West to the dimly lit milongas of Argentina, We Came Here to Forget explores what it means to dream, to desire, to achieve, and what’s left behind after it all disappears.

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in . . . well, everything. Her identical twin sister Amy, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancé is something out of a romantic comedy (ugh) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of online contests (double ugh). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man. Olive just has to get through twenty-four hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party – except for Olive and Ethan – gets food poisoning, there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs. Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him becomes a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of . . . lucky. The Unhoneymooners is a heartwarming and hilarious romance perfect for anyone who has ever felt unlucky in love.

Enjoy!

Wanting to get away from it all? We have your holiday inspiration sorted.

The sun is starting to shine a little brighter and with a little more heat in Melbourne (today is expected to be 32 degrees) which signals that the festive season is looming and diaries may be starting to fill with weddings, parties and family bbqs. For those of you living in the Northern Hemisphere where Winter is starting to knock on the door, a getaway may be in order. We’ve scoured the ever growing travel genre of books and have found some of the most enticing books covering the wonderful world of travel. 

So get your suitcase and passport at the ready because we think these titles may just convince your inner traveller to head away for a well deserved break. 

Epic Hikes of the World by Lonely Planet

With stories of 50 incredible hiking routes in 30 countries, from New Zealand to Peru, plus a further 150 suggestions, Lonely Planet’s Epic Hikes of the World will inspire a lifetime of adventure on foot. From one-day jaunts and urban trails to month-long thru-hikes, cultural rambles and mountain expeditions, each journey shares one defining feature: being truly epic. In this follow-up to Epic Bike Rides and Epic Drives, the Lonely Planet Team share our adventures on the world’s best treks and trails. Epic Hikes is organised by continent, with each route brought to life by a first-person account, beautiful photographs and charming illustrated maps. Additionally, each hike includes trip planning advice on how to get there, where to stay, what to pack and where to eat, as well as recommendations for three similar hikes in other regions of the world. 

Alone Time by Stephanie Rosenbloom

The average adult spends about a third of his or her waking time alone. Yet research suggests we aren’t very good at using, never mind enjoying, alone time. Rising to the challenge, travel writer Stephanie Rosenbloom explores the joys and benefits of being alone in four mouth-watering journeys to the cities of Paris, Istanbul, Florence and New York, in four seasons. This is a book about the pleasures and benefits of savouring the moment, examining things closely, using all your senses to take in your surroundings, whether travelling to faraway places or walking the streets of your own city. Through on-the-ground observations and anecdotes, and drawing on the thinking of artists, writers and innovators who have cherished solitude, Alone Time illuminates the psychological arguments for alone time and lays bare the magic of going solo.

Literary Places by Sarah Baxter

Bringing together engaging text and stunning hand-drawn illustrations, Literary Places (Inspired Traveller’s Guide) takes readers on an enlightening journey through the key locations of literature’s best and brightest authors, movements and moments. Explore the plains of La Mancha with Don Quixote, take a Holden Caulfield tour of Central Park, or roam the Yorkshire moors with Cathy and Heathcliff. Author Sarah Baxter explores literary locations from around the globe, including vibrant urban centres, tranquil creative sanctuaries and places that inspired classic stories. The evocative text outlines each location’s history and culture, combined with biographies of the authors or stories from the literary works that make the place significant.

Hungry by Jeff Gordinier

Feeling stuck in his life, New York Times food writer Jeff Gordinier met Rene Redzepi, the Danish chef whose restaurant, Noma, has been repeatedly voted the best in the world. A restless perfectionist, Redzepi was at the top of his game but looking to shutter his restaurant and set out for new places, flavours and recipes. This is the story of their four-year culinary adventure. In the Yucatan jungle, Redzepi and Gordinier seek the perfect taco and the secrets of mole. On idyllic Sydney beaches, they forage for sea rocket and wild celery. On a boat in the Arctic Circle, a lone fisherman guides them to, perhaps, the world’s finest sea urchins. Back in Copenhagen, Redzepi plans the resurrection of his restaurant on the unlikely site of a garbage-filled empty lot. Hungry is a memoir, a travelogue, a portrait of a chef, and a chronicle of the moment when daredevil cooking became the most exciting and groundbreaking form of artistry.

Around the World in 80 Trains by Monisha Rajesh

Captured with wit and warmth, energy and zest, one woman ‘s attempt to circumnavigate the globe in eighty eventful train journeys. When Monisha Rajesh announced plans to circumnavigate the globe in eighty train journeys, she was met with wide-eyed disbelief. But it wasn’t long before she was carefully plotting a route that would cover 45,000 miles almost twice the circumference of the earth coasting along the world’s most remarkable railways; from the cloud-skimming heights of Tibet’s Qinghai railway to silk-sheeted splendour on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express. Packing up her rucksack and her fiancé, Jem, Monisha embarks on an unforgettable adventure that will take her from London’s St Pancras station to the vast expanses of Russia and Mongolia, North Korea, Canada, Kazakhstan, and beyond. The ensuing journey is one of constant movement and mayhem, as the pair strike up friendships and swap stories with the hilarious, irksome and ultimately endearing travellers they meet on board, all while taking in some of the earth’s most breathtaking views. From the author of Around India in 80 Trains comes another witty and irreverent look at the world and a celebration of the glory of train travel. Monisha offers a wonderfully vivid account of life, history and culture in a book that will make you laugh out loud and reflect on what it means to be a global citizen as you whirl around the world in its pages.

My Tiny Atlas by Emily Nathan

As much an armchair travel companion as a guide to planning your next trip, My Tiny Atlas contains 300 lush, surprising, and stunning photos, along with stories about far-flung locales and tips for experiencing a new location like a local. From Tiny Atlas Quarterly, one of the most trusted sources for authentic, unusual, and inspiring travel photography, this book takes you to every continent and all corners of the world, from Paris, San Francisco, London, and Buenos Aires to the Arctic Circle, Tanzania, Tahiti, and Mongolia. My Tiny Atlas visually explores new destinations with an intimate, insider’s view, not of the usual monuments and tourist attractions, but of the real people, mouth-watering food, verdant flora, bustling streets, wild animals, epic views, lazy rivers, architectural gems, and other details that make you feel what it’s like to truly be in another place, whether or not you ever leave home.

Enjoy!

The art of stillness

The place that travel writer Pico Iyer would most like to go? Nowhere. In a counterintuitive and lyrical meditation, Pico Iyer takes a look at the incredible insight that comes with taking time for stillness.

In our world of constant movement and distraction, he teases out strategies we all can use to take back a few minutes out of every day, or a few days out of every season.

It’s the talk for anyone who feels overwhelmed by the demands for our world.