I love reading about travel and adventure. Whether it’s a non-fiction history of a place I’m considering traveling to or a novel set in an exotic locale, I enjoy reading about new places, that places past, and what there is to do there today.
There are lots of books out there I could add to this list, however, I’ve only listed those books I’ve read and really enjoyed. Everything listed here would rank 4 or 5 stars IMO.
If you enjoy this list you might check back from time to time. I will continue to update it as time goes by.
Africa Travel Reads:
Bergeijk comes up with a scheme to make a quick buck– buy a jalopy in Amsterdam and resell it in third world Africa where the car market profit is still good. His drive takes him on a drive filled with trials, from Holland through Morocco and across the Sahara.
Amazon Travel Reads:
In 1925, Percy Fawcett set off into the Amazon in search of the “Lost City of Gold.” He and his crew were never seen again. Grann retells the Fawcett’s story and tries to solve the mystery of what happened to the famous explorer.
American South Travel Reads:
The Haunted Natchez Trace by Bud Steed (Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee)
It was great fun to read these old stories and legends as we drove along the Natchez Trace Parkway. The book notes the mile marker too, making it easy to know when you reach the location of each story. You can even walk the “haunted” trace in different areas searching for the ghosts still believed to inhabit the area and spook the unwitting visitor.
Caribbean Travel Reads:
Vanderhoof and her husband leave their professional lifestyle behind, buy a sailboat and sail the Caribbean for two years. “In lavish detail that will have you packing your swimsuit and dashing for the airport, Vanderhoof describes the sun-drenched landscapes, enchanting characters and mouthwatering tastes that season their new lifestyle.”
Chicago Travel Reads:
Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson (non fiction)
Larson is a master at these books which weave various characters and completely different tales into a single, cohesive story.
Synopsis from Amazon: “The book is set in Chicago circa 1893, intertwining the true tales of Daniel H. Burnham, the architect behind the 1893 World’s Fair, and Dr. H. H. Holmes, the serial killer who lured his victims to their deaths in his elaborately constructed “Murder Castle.”
Trans-Atlantic Cruise Ship Travel Reads:
Thunderstruck by Erik Larson (non fiction)
“Erik Larson tells the interwoven true stories of two men—Hawley Crippen, a very unlikely murderer, and Guglielmo Marconi, the obsessive creator of a seemingly supernatural means of communication—whose lives intersect during one of the greatest criminal chases of all time.
“Set in Edwardian London and on the stormy coasts of Cornwall, Cape Cod, and Nova Scotia, Thunderstruck evokes the dynamism of those years when great shipping companies competed to build the biggest, fastest ocean liners, scientific advances dazzled the public with visions of a world transformed, and the rich outdid one another with ostentatious displays of wealth. Against this background, Marconi races against incredible odds and relentless skepticism to perfect his invention: the wireless, a prime catalyst for the emergence of the world we know today. Meanwhile, Crippen, “the kindest of men,” nearly commits the perfect crime until a cruise ship captain recognizes him as they cruise across the Atlantic.
Ecuador Travel Reads:
Egypt Travel Reads:
Rosemary Mahoney takes a solo journey down the Nile in a 7-foot fisherman’s skiff.
Florida Travel Reads:
Sanibel Flats by Randy Wayne White (fiction)
Marine biologist Doc Ford solves mysteries in and around his marina home at Sanibel Island. Rather than being an afterthought, the location always plays a big part in this series and vivid descriptions give a good feel for this Florida coast area.
Heat Islands by Randy Wayne White (fiction)
Four Corners Area Travel Reads: (Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado)
Cowboys and Cave Dwellers: Basketmaker Archaeology in Utah’s Grand Gulch by Fred M. Blackburn (non fiction)
A great book specifically focused on the Grand Gulch in Utah. Interesting if you are an arcaeology buff but you’ll probably find it pretty dry if you aren’t. Contains some good 19th century photos.
This book tells the story of an anthropologist from the Chaco Canyon National Historic Park who goes missing. “Joe Leaphorn” makes several visits to the park and surrounding sites while investigating.
Grand Canyon Travel Reads:
Using diaries and journals, Dolnick tells the story of the one-armed Civil War veteran John Wesley Powell and nine other men who in May 1869, embark on a journey down the Colorado River and through the, as yet, unexplored Grand Canyon.
The Man Who Walked Through Time: The Story of the First Trip Afoot Through the Grand Canyon by Colin Fletcher (non fiction)
In this book, Fletcher recounts his amazing journeyof walking the entire length of the Grand Canyon. His vivid descriptions of canyon views by day and his experiences sleeping beneath the stars at night give the reader a wonderful feel for the canyon void of visitors.
Two planes collide over the Grand Canyon in the 50’s and half a century later a diamond lost in the crash shows up and brings the unsolved case back into the light.
Greece Travel Reads:
Euryidice Street: A Place in Athens by Sofka Zinovieff (non fiction)
The Gates of Fire: An Epic Novel of the Battle of Thermoipylae (historical fiction ~ unabridged) by Steven Pressfield
Seen through the eyes of a Spartan slave, Pressfield brings to life one of the most famous historic battles of all time.
The Mole family decide to move to a Greek paradise but impulsively buy a falling down home with no water, electricity or much of anything else. This is their story of trying to make their home liveable while making a life in beautiful surroundings amongst a cast of colorful characters.
Hawaii Travel Reads:
I love this author’s easy to read style which manages to be both historically informative and entertaining. I have a hard time putting this book down every night and I ran home after work in order to get back to it. It paints a wonderful picture of Hawaii in the early 20th century but never does it feel like the author is trying to educate you. It’s just a great, captivating novel.
Las Vegas, NV Travel Reads:
Las Vegas Then and Now by Su Kim Chung (non fiction)
A history of Las Vegas that is fairly short and fun to read with more pictures than text.
A history book for non-scholars. It is just enough for someone who wants an overview of the city but isn’t all that interested in becoming an expert.
Mexico Travel Reads:
Another story (I seem to be drawn to these stories) of a couple chucking their life in America to move into a fixer-upper in in the charming sixteenth-century hill town of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.
New York — Long Island Travel Reads
The Gold Coast by Nelson DeMille (fiction)
A Wall Street lawyer finds his life turned upside down when a Mafia crime boss moves into the mansion next door and he winds up not only representing the gangster on a murder charge but befriending him as well. The book is set on the “Gold Coast” a historically posh neighborhood on Long Island. This isn’t one of my favorites; I’d probably give it 3 stars. Because of that, I hesitated to add it to my list but it does do a good job of giving you a feel for its Long Island area. It also has a lot, over 200, 5 star reviews on Amazon so clearly, its a favorite with a lot of other people. Those two arguments win it a spot on the list.
Pennsylvania Travel Reads:
The Emperor’s of Chocolate: Inside the Secret World of Hershey and Mars by Joel Glenn Brenner (non fiction)
Hershey and Mars build candy empires in this biographical history that tells the story of the race to be candy king. If you’re planning on visiting the town of Hershey and all of its candy sites, you will really appreciate having read this history first.
Peru Travel Reads:
Cradle of Gold: The Story of Hiram Bingham, a Real Life Indiana Jones, and the Search for Machu Picchu by Christopher Heaney (non fiction)
Puerto Rico Travel Reads:
Precinct Puerto Rico by Steven Torres (fiction)
The first in a series of police procedural mysteries featuring Luis Gonzalo, the sheriff of the small town of Angustias. Torres introduces the reader to Puerto Rico while telling a page turning story.
Death in Precinct Puerto Rico by Steven Torres (fiction)
Message in the Flames by Steven Torres (fiction)
(If you’re only going to read one, choose this one. This was my favorite of the first three books).
South Pacific Travel Reads:
Martin Troost packs his bags and moves to his idea of paradise — the remote South Pacific island of Tarawa — only to find paradise wasn’t what he thought it would be. “With The Sex Lives of Cannibals, Maarten Troost has delivered one of the most original, rip-roaringly funny travelogues in years—one that will leave you thankful for staples of American civilization such as coffee, regular showers, and tabloid news, and that will provide the ultimate vicarious adventure.”
Lost in Shangri-La by Mitchell Zuckoffngri-La (non fiction)
“Amazon Best Books of the Month, Mau 2011: Near the end of World War II, a plane carrying 24 members of the United States military, including nine Women’s Army Corps (WAC) members, crashed into the New Guinea jungle during a sightseeing excursion. 21 men and women were killed. The three survivors–a beautiful WAC, a young lieutenant who lost his twin brother in the crash, and a severely injured sergeant–were stranded deep in a jungle valley notorious for its cannibalistic tribes. They had no food, little water, and no way to contact their military base. A perilous rescue by plane became their only possible route to freedom. A riveting story of deliverance under the most unlikely circumstances, Lost in Shangri-La deserves its place among the great survival stories of World War II.” –Lynette Mong