Last updated on May 3, 2017
I read a lot, more than the average person—one to three books per week—and I love helping others choose a good read timed to their upcoming travels. My Travel Books by Country page is popular because it curates a list of books themed around destinations, I suggest you head over there for your next trip if you need some relevant reading. But if you’re in the mood for some general travel themed books, below is a list of books I’ve reviewed (links point to in depth reviews) for A Little Adrift’s regular giveaways. It’s always a growing list and I offer a new book giveaway within every newsletter.
River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey
Although Obama’s first book made it onto my reading list last year, it was this account of Theodore Roosevelt’s harrowing journey down an uncharted tributary in the Brazilian Amazon that hooked me. It reads like fiction, but it’s assembled from stories and letter, so it’s a also an interesting way to learn about the 26th president’s character, temperament, and spirit for adventure.
The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner
Weiner travels the world in search of the secret to national happiness. He offers a refreshing, nuanced take on happiness. He visits both the happiest places, and the most profoundly unhappy, in a quest to find a unifying theme. Happiness is subjective, however, and this is the most profound thread throughout. On top of all that, he journeys in and out of a half-dozen countries, and that’s a fun aspect the book too. It’s an intriguing take on a travel memoir with enough substance and research to keep it compelling throughout.
I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
While I Am Malala is surely a heroic tale about the importance of education to fight radicalization, it transcends that into message for the world at large. The story chronicles a young girl’s understanding of her religion, Islam, as well as a fresh perspective on the Middle East conflict. Malala tells her story with unflinching honesty and a clarity of language that speaks louder than any fancy prose could.
Without You There Is No Us: My Time With the Sons of North Korea’s Elite
The North Korea of Kim’s memoir is haunting and claustrophobic. From her position as a teacher at an elite private boarding school in Pyongyang, Kim offers an unvarnished look at the unimaginable level of control and monitoring the government has over the people of North Korea. The book is a look into one of the least understood countries in the world, illustrated through her young college student’s ascent into adulthood under the totalitarian communist government.
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Travel
One of the best books I read in 2014; Strayed has an incredible honesty and vulnerability that makes this a compelling read from start to finish. Her raw honesty about her struggles as she hikes the Pacific Crest Trail resonated with me and reminded me of my early years on the road.
Behind the Beautiful Forevers
This book takes a deep look at poverty in India, and provides a human element and connection to such a rampant problem. The author is a journalist and uses that detachment to follow and report on the interconnected lives of a handful of residents of a Mumbai slum. It’s the detachment that made this an iffy read for me. It’s undeniably well-written, but it’s an uncomfortable read at times because it reads like a novel but the subjects are real.
One Amazing Thing
The author is best known for her short stories and this book shines in that light. After an earthquake hits, the characters are stuck in the Indian Embassy. To pass the time, each of the nine main characters in the book share one amazing thing that has happened in their lives.
Gold Rush in the Jungle
A fascinating look at the current obstacles facing the world’s most endangered animals. Though not a book I would normally read, I found the narrative woven around the issues compelling and adding an immediacy to the issues facing conservationists around the world.