Sometimes the best travel guides aren't guidebooks at all. These ten books will help you see travel, food, wine, life, and culture in a new way.
Do you remember the first book that inspired you to travel?
I have several. I vividly remember the details of Anne's voyage from Prince Edward Island to Nova Scotia to attend college in Anne Of The Island, the third instalment in Lucy Maud Montgomery's Green Gables series. I was enthralled by the packing scenes in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. What does one bring when you embark on a long carriage ride to see Charlotte Lucas and Mr. Collins? Early biographies of The Beatles made Liverpool's gritty streets and warm culture feel not that far away.
I bet you have some memorable novels and memoirs that helped inform your travels, too. And now I have some more to add to your list. I'm confident there's something among my list of ten non-travel travel books that will appeal to every reader. These texts will change the way you look at food, drink, towns, cities, forests, fears, and friendships forever. Tuck one into your suitcase for your next trip.
101 Poems That Could Save Your Life (Edited by Daisy Goodwin): If you think poetry isn't for you, this book of bite size poems will change your mind. Whether you're homesick, lovesick, or sick with worry, you'll find something to offer comfort, perspective, and humour.
My Life In France by Julia Child and Alex Prud'homme: Child's description of her first meal in France is the reason why people want to abandon life's more sensible paths and run away to discover a new land.
Blood, Bones, and Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton: The perfect book for people who can still remember the first *real* meal they ate after weeks or months of scrappy backpacking. Hamilton is equal parts enthralling and terrifying.
The Wisdom of Whores by Elizabeth Pisani: Spoiler alert - everything you thought you knew about HIV and, more broadly, the geopolitical world of humanitarian relief, is wrong.
Indonesia, Etc by Elizabeth Pisani: Before she was an epidemiologist, Pisani was a journalist and a damn good one. Her stories of travel in remote and not-so remote Indonesia will make you realize how little you know about, well, everything.
The Path Made Clear by Oprah Winfrey: Gorgeous pictures will remind you that there is a whole wide world out there to explore, while insightful texts demonstrate that everyone has an internal world to navigate as well.
Cozy: The Art Of Arranging Yourself In The World by Isabel Gillies: This book will safeguard you from ever having a bad travel day and, perhaps more importantly, keep you from feeling bad if you can't enjoy a far flung trip this year. Your next feel-good moment could be just a sharpened pencil or jar of applesauce away. It inspired me to create my ever-growing list of what I think is cozy.
Nerve by Eva Holland: A different take on 'facing the fear and doing it anyway', this intimate look at navigating the science of fear is an important reminder that we can make progress on the things that hold us back.
The Survivors by Jane Harper. Think of this novel as an ambassador for all those millions of books that prove how every town, every community has its own stories that run deep beneath the surface, invisible to tourists who see just sun, sea, and sand. Harper's mysteries are set in small town Australia and are sharply written, intensive stories that are full of suspense but aren't scary. It was hard to pick just one work of fiction for this list but I think you'll love Harper's work.
Wine Simple by Aldo Sohm: Even the most casual of drinkers will hugely benefit from this easy-to-read navigation about the world of wine. All your meals, conversations, and parties will benefit from it.
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