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Holiday Travel Books Gift Guide 2023

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10 best travel books to inspire wanderlust.

Reading is a wonderful way to travel the world without taking a step. As Lally from Fantastic Beasts said, “A book can take you around the world and back, all you have to do is open it.” Be inspired to see the world with the travel books recommended below. There’s something for all ages.

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Joys of Travel by Thomas Swick 

A relaxing and highly-relatable read where the author captures succinctly all the aspects of travel planning: the anticipation of planning a trip, the nervousness one feels when the day finally arrives, actually being on the trip, and remembering the details afterwards.

And for those who haven’t travelled much yet, this is a great book to feel inspired about planning that trip you’ve been holding off on because the essays cover all the glory and disadvantages of travelling, but most importantly, it talks about the pure joy you feel once you’ve pulled it off.


The Best American Travel Writing 2021 edited by Padma Lakshmi

An anthology of the best travel writing stories where journalists write in-depth about a theme during their travels and tell it through engaging prose. These are travel stories that zero in on a story that is particular to a place.

A lot of the stories are about places where it might be too dangerous for the regular tourist to get to, which reminds us that sometimes travelling isn’t only about leisure, but about uncovering stories about our shared humanity.


Chop Suey Nation: The Legion Cafe and Other Stories from Canada’s Chinese Restaurants by Ann Hui

Writer and journalist, Ann Hui, takes a road trip across Canada where she studies the history of the chop suey restaurant.

Fogo Island, home of the extravagant Fogo Island Inn, off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, is home to a single Chinese restaurant, which inspired the writer to travel across Canada and discover why the quintessential chop suey restaurant is a fixture in every small Canadian town.


I really didn’t want to go on the Goop Cruise by Lauren Oyler 

A great article in Harper’s magazine (which you can read up to 2 free articles online before having to subscribe) about Lauren Oyler’s trip on the Celebrity Beyond cruises in partnership with Goop, Gwyneth’s Paltrow’s health company. The article digs into the idea that maybe travelling on a Goop-themed cruise may not be that appealing. A really fun article to read that gives the opposite of wanderlust: trips that are fun to read about but wouldn’t necessarily be fun to do.


The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle

An adventure story about a group of explorers setting off on an expedition to South America to discover living prehistoric creatures.

There are dangerous situations, close-calls, and extraordinary discoveries of creatures that should be long dead. A wonderful book for younger readers (but good for all ages, in my opinion).


A set of comics where TinTin the journalist, and his trusty sidekick Snowy the dog, travels around the world to stop villains and solve mysteries. Visit Tibet, Egypt, the Americas and other places without getting on a plane or steamboat. It’s the perfect set to inspire wanderlust in younger readers but I say these are classics for all ages. The box set is a great gift for a collection but if you need a teaser I recommend The Secret of the Unicorn. Captain Haddock recounts his adventures on his beloved ship the Unicorn and hilarious mishaps happen. It’s a good one to start if committing to a box set is too overwhelming.


Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery 

The stories about red-haired Anne who inspired travellers as far away as Japan to long to visit the tiny island of Prince Edward Island (PEI) in Canada.

The set of novels are about Anne Shirely, the adopted child of a couple who needed an extra farmhand, but the husband mistakenly adopted a girl instead of a boy. Written in 1908, the level of English could be a bit difficult but doable for any readers who are persistent. I recommend the first book to get the reader hooked before committing to the box set.


Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift 

Lemuel Gulliver leaves home and ends up all over the world. He ends up on the island of Laputa, meets Lilliputians, encounters Yahoos, and other strange and mysterious creatures along the way. Read it for satire, read it for pleasure. Either way, it’s a marvellous book about travel and adventure.


The Hundred-Foot Journey: A Novel by Richard C. Morais 

An Indian immigrant family moves to France where the snobby Madame Mallory detests the family opening a coarse, and rough, but immensely popular restaurant serving Indian cuisine right across from her fine-dining establishment.

Kitchen feud and condescension ensues until Madame Mallory realizes that the young Indian boy has real cooking talent—and takes him in as an apprentice. This story will take you on a journey to India and France through its delectable descriptions of delicious dishes.


Old World Italian: Recipes and Secrets from Our Travels in Italy by Mimi Thorisson 

Read about Mimi’s adventures after moving to Italy with her large family and a dog. It’s a cookbook with marvellous Italian recipes, but there are also good travel stories sprinkled throughout. Food is an excellent gateway to a new culture. Old World Italian is one of the nicest cookbooks out there with beautiful photography accompanying each story or recipe. 


Travel books are great for leisurely (and serious!) reading. Travel by proxy through the characters or discover a new place through cooking. Start inspiring children and teens early to have a sense of wonder and wanderlust. And even though it’s great to read about different places:

It’s better to travel 10,000 miles than to read 10,000 books

Confucius

Reading is wonderful, but seeing the world for yourself is even more rewarding after you’ve read about them. Open the first cover of any of the books recommended above and I hope they help you find the roads best travelled.

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