Summer is famous for travel. We take family trips, travel to different continents and hit the open American roads in search of fun and adventure. For many of us, however, travel is impossible this year. There are lingering issues related to COVID. Our budgets are tight, or there isn’t enough time off from work or other obligations for a cross-country road trip to the coast.
How do we satisfy our need for travel and adventure when our only option is staying home?
We can read.
Traveling Through Story
Books have always been ways to enter different worlds and explore new lands. From the time we were kids reading Alice in Wonderland or The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, we’ve traveled to Narnia, Avonlea, Paris and beyond as we follow along with Anne Shirley, Peter Pevensie or Madeline. As adults, we can enjoy the same adventure and explore new lands with books, just like we did as kids.
There are heaps of both fiction and non-fiction books to choose from. Here are our Top 5 Travel Book Picks for those of us who want to journey to parts unknown this summer, from the comfort of our own homes.
Top 5 Summer Travel Reading Picks
1. Best American Travel Writing of 2021
Editor: Padma Lakshmi
For a compilation of writing from the world over (West Africa to China and more), this collection of writings is edited by Padma Lakshmi and includes such gems as “Good Bread” (set in France) and “Five Oceans, Five Deeps.” This collection offers something for everyone, letting readers visit many locations and explore the values and cultures among them.
2. The Hero’s Way: Walking with Garibaldi from Rome to Ravenna
Author: Tim Parks
Best-selling author Tim Parks, along with his partner Eleanor, take readers on a journey through Italy’s past and present. Through the story of Garibaldi’s 25-mile journey across the Apennine Mountains, Parks takes readers on a journey highlighting Garibaldi’s courage, determination and ultimate belief, enabling him to endure incredible hardship and lead his men to Ravenna. Anyone interested in history, adventure and moral triumph will enjoy Parks’ guided storytelling and social observation.
3. More Ketchup Than Salsa: Confessions of a Tenerife Barman
Author: Joe Cawley
If you’re looking for award-winning, everyone-is-raving humor, Cawley’s memoir fits the bill. Joe and his wife Joy are tired of their lives hawking fish in England’s dreary market stalls and jump at the chance to open a bar in a far-flung tropical location. Dreams of island-time and easy days fill their heads as they pack up and leave soggy London for the tropics. But, like any good story, conflict and chaos ensue. Dreams turn to nightmares as Joe and Joy navigate a new country, a fledgling business and their own relationship, and readers get to join them for the ride. The British Guild of Travel Writers declared Cawley’s book the “Best Travel Narrative,” and readers agree More Ketchup Than Salsa is witty, charming and a genuine treat.
4. Winter Pasture: One Woman’s Journey with China’s Kazakh Herders
Author: Li Juan
Named one of The Washington Post’s best travel books, The Smithsonian Magazine writes Winter Pasture shatters “the boundaries between nature writing and personal memoir.” We are sold! Li Juan takes readers deep into the mountains of Northwestern China with a Kazakh family of herders who must take their animals to the “winter pasture” for the season. Li Juan writes about the family, the landscape and the lessons she learns experiencing this nomadic, brutal and beautiful life.
5. Alone Time: Four Seasons, Four Cities and the Pleasure of Solitude
Author: Stephanie Rosenbloom
Rosenbloom takes readers on a journey through four cities (Paris, Florence, Istanbul and New York) in four seasons, exploring what it means to travel solo. What does it feel like to meander through the streets of a city with no agenda rather than following along with a group? What does travel feel like as one person, no agenda, no opinions of others to consider, just one lens through which to view the experience? As a staff columnist for The New York Times and a travel writer for decades, Rosenbloom knows how to both write and travel. Alone Time combines both skills.
Benefits of Reading
Aside from travel, reading has other lifestyle benefits. You get a lot of bang for your buck when you pick up a book. Reading enhances cognitive function, attention span and memory. Reading is actually linked to better sleep and stress reduction, all positives no matter our age.
Pick up one of these travel memoirs and take a trip of a lifetime, all from the comfort of your own reading nook, easy chair or bed.
You Might Also Enjoy
If you love reading and want great recommendations, here are a few of our ONC favorites from the past few years.
Evie Drake Starts Over
The Secret Diary of of Hendrik Groen