From our archives:
If you’ve read all the standard travel books for your dream destination, but long for another level of understanding of the place, to know how it actually feels to go there, consider one of these first rate memoirs. Travel memoirs provide many of the joys of pleasure travel (escapism, learning about a new culture, listening in on strange conversations, relaxation) without the stresses (heat, crowds, getting lost). Whether you are planning a trip at the moment or spending time at home, we recommend these adventure-filled tales for cold winter nights and poolside Miami afternoons alike. Let us know your favorite travel memoirs in the comments section or on Twitter @.
Água Viva by Clarice Lispector
Of all the books listed here, this is the most unique in form—following the wandering train of thought of this intense Brazilian writer. She writes this narrative like a meandering philosopher, discovering the strangeness of the world around her. A wonderful and strange book that you shouldn’t miss.
Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson
Maybe a unique choice in light of Brexit, however this memoir is Bryson’s classic, witty take on his travel throughout Britain. He examines the history, the architecture, and the idiosyncrasies of the country he came to know and love before he returned home to the US.
The Country Between Us by Carolyn Forché
Even if you’re not a big reader of poetry, you may be familiar with Forché’s famous prose poem “The General.” This book of poetry details Forché’s time in El Salvador during the 1970s when country was caught in a time of great political strife. With a well-traveled, and all knowing voice Forché paints the beginnings of her journey to becoming a hugely important political poet.
Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Some of you may be familiar with the movie starring Reese Witherspoon (a role in which she was nominated for her second Oscar), but the book is worth reading all the same. This book follows one young woman’s journey to find herself in the midst of tragedy while she backpacks the Pacific Crest Trail alone—a type of trek that she had absolutely zero experience making. It’s funny, heartwarming, moving, and may inspire you to plan your own wilderness adventure.
The Motorcycle Diaries: Notes on a Latin American Journey by Ernesto Che Guevera
This narrative follows Ernesto Guevero’s nine month journey through South America as a young med student with his best friend in 1952. On his journey, he witnesses the many injustices faced by the people he encounters throughout South America. By the diary’s end, Guevera wishes to see a united Latin America, and declares that he’s ready to fight for the poor.
No Reservations: Around the World on an Empty Stomach by Anthony Bourdain
Way more than a companion piece to the popular Travel Channel show of the same name, this memoir documents Bourdain’s first three years of travel and eating around the world. He shares adventures with his film crew as he examines the ways people around the world live and eat.
Miles From Nowhere: Around the World Bicycle Adventure by Barbara Savage
This book follows Barbara and Larry Savage’s 23-country bicycle journey over two years. Over many miles, these two meet people from all over who both support their crazy adventure, and who think it’s an odyssey of madness. A great read about the desire to see as much of the world as possible.