Thursday, June 23, 2011

Travel Thursday: My Favorite Travel Books

I'm increasingly interested in travel, so this is a new feature about various travel-related topics. :) Today, inspired by a post from my friend Maria, I'll discuss my favorite travel-related books! Not travel guides (although I do flip through a Fodor's now and then to learn more about a place).



My favorite travel book - and one of my favorite books in general - is The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner. He's a correspondent for NPR. In each chapter, he travels to one of the statistically happiest countries in the world to understand why its people are so happy. He also goes to the unhappiest country. If you want to know what countries they are, you'll have to read the book! It's uplifting and, above all, fascinating.


Julie and Julia inspired me to read Julia Child's memoir, My Life In France. I'm pretty sure this book was the kickoff to my current fascination with expat life (which will be the subject of another TT post).

bbsunburned bbwoods

Bill Bryson was born in the US, but lived in England for many years, and has spent notable time in many other places. Every time I see one of his books at thrift, I buy it, but I haven't read them all yet. My favorites are In A Sunburned Country (Australia) and A Walk In The Woods (the Appalachian Trail).


I love Peter Gethers' trilogy of memoirs about his incredible cat, Norton. The second book, A Cat Abroad, covers the year they lived in the south of France. Although far too much rabbit is eaten (with gusto) in this book, it's otherwise wonderful. :)


Travel is only part of Nicholas Sparks' memoir, Three Weeks with My Brother. The story of a once-in-a-lifetime trip around the world with his brother is intermingled with the history of their family. As you might expect with Nicholas Sparks, it's all very dramatic - I mean, the family stuff is practically the Book of Job. But it's compelling.



As I said in my May review, Maureen Johnson's 13 Little Blue Envelopes (and its sequel, The Last Little Blue Envelope) is about a teenager's madcap trip through Europe. It's lots of fun and made me regret that I never did the European backpacking/youth hostel thing.


Sometimes I feel like a walking advertisement for the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series. I mention them almost every time someone asks me for book recommendations. They're set in and around Gaborone, Botswana, Africa. I have to admit I was never very interested in Africa until I read these books, but Botswana is as strong a character as Mma Ramostwe and Mma Makutsi - and I admire its spirit and heart!


I also reviewed Anna and the French Kiss recently - it's a wonderful modern YA romance set in Paris. I dare you not to want to visit Paris after reading this!

What other travel books should I put on my to-read list?


  1. I love books where they travel. :) I'm really anxious to read Anna and the French Kiss. Also, I, too, have a bit of a fascination with expat life!

    I'm blanking on book recommendations, but will let you know if any come to mind.

  2. Good choices! I have read most of these and loved them, (except for 13 envelopes). Bill Bryson is one of my literary heroes-I've read everything by him. And Geography of Bliss was one of the greatest things I've ever read!

    Read John Shors! The two I loved best that were travel-based (they're fiction though) are The Wishing Trees and Dragon House. So beautiful but definitely have tissues nearby. They are deep but have EXCELLENT endings!

    Oh, and 1001 Arabian Nights, for sure (if you havent already)

  3. Yay! I'm so glad you did this too :)

    Let's see... I can pick up "Geography of Bliss" from the library as soon as I get around to doing so, I've just started "Sunburnt Country" (or "Down Under" as my version is called), I've just ordered "13 Little Blue Envelopes" from Amazon, and I already own and love "My Life in France" and "Anna and the French Kiss". Not too shabby, eh?

    In fact, the only book I don't agree with you on is "The No 1 Ladies..." - guess it just didn't appeal to me much. I'm annoyed, because I really wanted to love it!

    As for recommendations - basically any book on my list that's not already on yours. However mostly I'd recommend "Under the Tuscan Sun" by Frances Mayes. Lovely, lovely book! :-D