Paris Letters by Janice MacLeod. A classic quit-your-job-to-travel story, with all the romance and wish fulfillment that regularly features in my dreams about moving to Paris–only this is MacLeod’s real life.
Untangling my Chopsticks: A Culinary Sojourn in Kyoto by Victoria Abbott Riccardi. The obsessive attention to detail in Japan’s food culture make it a natural destination for foodies like the Le Cordon Bleu educated Riccardi who leaves her comfy NYC life behind to explore that culture as she attends an elite Japanese cooking school in Kyoto.
The Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux. A modern classic, Theroux’s 1970s train travel adventure throughout the iconic railways of Asia is catnip for anyone who’s ever dreamed of seeing the world by train.
In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson. You may be extra paranoid of Australia’s many dangerous critters after reading this book, but Bryson’s genuine love for the country is infectious, and skyrocketed a country I’d hardly thought about before to the top of my bucket list.
A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush by Eric Newby. Dry British wit and a 1950s mountain climbing adventure that’s more about the journey and companions than the summit.
Danubia: A Personal History of Habsburg Europe by Simon Winder. A captivating, chaotic history of the eccentric Hapsburg Empire in Central Europe and Germany, interspersed with the author’s own travel experiences and musings on the region.
The Consolations of the Forest by Sylvain Tesson. I’ve mentioned this book before, and it’s worth repeating. Tesson takes up residence in a tiny cabin in the Siberian wilderness with a large reading list and ample stores of vodka to keep him company– and despite the very slow rhythm of life in isolation, it’s a compelling and enjoyable read.
Without You, There Is No Us by Suki Kim. An account of Kim’s experiences teaching English in a North Korean college, with fascinating insights into the warped psychology of citizens of the closed-off nation. For further reading, Nothing to Envy, and Dear Leader are engrossing as well.
A Moveable Feast by Earnest Hemingway. A required read. Pick it up if you’ve never had the pleasure (and return often for inspiration).
Alice, Let’s Eat by Calvin Trillin. My favorite type of adventure! Trillin recounts his hilarious, time-zone-jumping quest for great food and interesting eating companions.
Around the Bloc by Stephanie Elizondo Griest. A 20-something makes her way through the Communist bloc, learning as much about herself as the countries that host her…and making us all wish for a second go at study abroad.
While Wandering: A Walking Companion, edited by Duncan Minshull. A wanderlust-inspiring compilation of poetry, fiction and essays about the simple act of walking.
The Edible Atlas by Mina Holland. A primer on food around the world, exploring culture, history and the spread of ingredients, replete with maps, info-graphics and recipes that keep the book light and fun.
A Time of Gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermor. From when long distance walking could still be a journey, and not a curiosity that makes the news, Fermor’s 1930s wanderings took him from London to Constantinople–and will have you aching for adventure as well.
Wild Coast: Travels on South America’s Untamed Edge by John Gimlette. With intelligence, humor and compassion, the author dives headfirst into adventure in a rarely visited part of South America. Gimlette intersperses stories of his travels with fascinating back story on history of the countries, leaving you with a bigger-picture understanding of the region.
Have any favorites to add? Always looking for more additions to my reading list…