Travel books I’ve known & loved

I love to travel. I love traveling– the act of getting from place to place. I’m also a voracious reader, so these things go hand in hand. I have not given over to a Kindle or a Nook, and sometimes I feel like I may be one of the only people left reading hard copy books. (Am I?) If I’m going to be away for more than 10 days, there will be at least two paperback books tucked away in my luggage.

So what do I read? Anything I can get my hands on. I love fiction – children’s literature, murder mysteries, law thrillers, and of course, travel literature. Through recommendations from friends, and sometimes just a good feeling at a used bookstore, I’ve picked up some excellent reads. Here’s a list, in no particular order, of what has traveled with me over the last year...

Yes, she did write Under the Tuscan Sun and no, I have not read it (or watched it). But I did read this one, encountering one of the best phrases ever: “Two of my favorite words are linked: departure time.” Be advised this is no backpacker’s tale .. Mayes does let slip that she charters a boat here and rents a villa there; not for the average wallet.

Red, white and $#!T. A hysterical look at a year in the life of a Brit gone Frog, covering everything from food to sex to a house in the country in Paris, France.

This was my first read focusing on (1) women and (2) solo travel. I was not disappointed. To read this book is to travel alongside Gelman – to share her fears and cheer for her success. One day I hope our paths cross and we can post up at a café somewhere and trade secrets.

A gift from my friend Holly, and a true testament to wanderlust. Very different stories from from different locations. Authors write about setting up shop in a foreign country and finding a way to make it their own. Tales range from funny to curious to strange.

One of the women writing in this collection said: “Your first foreign country speaks to you as no subsequent one can.” She was talking about Spain, and about my life. At least, I like to think so!

I was lucky enough to meet Chris this past year at an engagement in Seville during the International Film Festival. He is a charming Brit who once played with the band Genesis, and gave up his life to move abroad. My bias shines through with regard to Andalucia, but he does have a way with words. If you like this, you can look for Parrot in a Pepper Tree and Almond Blossom Society .. but you may have to get them shipped from the UK.

She rides a bike, she encounters troubles transporting said bike, and has the Pyrenees in the background the whole time. Not one of my favorites, but duh – Spain.

I had no idea what this was when I picked it up, but I was surprised to see that it followed an American girl who schlepped to China and worked in a PR firm by day and on a racy TV drama by night. What are the odds? An interesting read.

So this guy won a Nobel Prize for literature. Does this mean I loved this book? No. Sadly, I could not get into a rhythm with his narrative choice (“the traveler” as third person main character). His passion for the topic is clear, but sometimes acted as a roadblock rather than a motivator.

Yes, one more about women traveling solo. What can I say? This is my life! Steinbach takes a sabbatical from real life and tries to “find” herself. She sends herself postcards and dedicates herself to discovering each city, and her own emotions about the place it belongs in her life.

Sue wrote “The Secret Life of Bees,” which I enjoyed. My mom and I both read this one and found several false starts and an overall unsatisfying story. We’ve never traveled together but I daresay this is a damn good excuse to try!

What are you reading? Feel free to leave some recommendations.


8 thoughts on “Travel books I’ve known & loved

  1. I read “It’s Not about the Tapas” on my flight to Madrid last year – I enjoyed it, definitely more than “Eat, Pray, Love” which I REALLY disliked. One of my favorite Spain-related books is “The Alchemist” which I’d recommend for a flight or bus/train ride – very short, easy to read, and fantasy-based, but great for the Spain-obsessed!


  2. You’ll notice Eat, Pray, Love is not on here! As I like to say – a third of the book was appealing (Eat), after that I was disinterested. And yes, The Alchemist is one of my favorite books 🙂


  3. Glad to have lent you two of these. Nothing I love more than sharing books with friends! And, for the record, I did not like Stewart’s book (though I have to read one for a class) or Not About the Tapas.

    Just read Kinky Gazpacho and tore through it – just so it would be over, really.


  4. Ahh nothing like a good travel book. It’s funny how depending on where you are in your life, some books can really speak to you. I know a lot of people disliked Eat, Pray, Love. I know the first time I picked it up (this was way before all the hooplah) I put it back down…flashforward a few years and I found myself sitting and wanting to marvel at something. I had remembered the book and started it again. This time, I so could relate. Now at 42(gulp) I am about to leave my well paying, secure job to follow my passion and be a langauge and culture assistant in Spain. Go figure!


    • I agree – books can say different things at different points in your life. Some things are meant to be read more than once! CONGRATS on your placement this year — just sent you an email, would love to hear all about it.


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