The Best Travel Books of Summer 2017
Introducing the best travel books of summer 2017!
With summer well underway and the amount of beach days slowly dwindling, there’s no better time to crack open this season’s best literary newcomers. Even if you can’t squeeze a vacation in with the few remaining days, this reading list will do the job of whisking you away and make you feel as if you’ve traveled long and far. From conquering fears of the ocean deep to unmasking with the inner lives of India’s nouveau-riche, there’s a story for every type of traveler. For my 2016 list, click here.
DON’T FORGET TO ENTER MY ANNUAL BOOK GIVEAWAY!!!
IF YOU ARE INTO THE IDEA OF “MAKING IT”, TRY… THE WINDFALL BY DIKSHA BASU
It’s true what they say: “more money, more problems.” From new kid on the block Diksha Basu comes the heartwarming comedy of a lower middle-class Delhi couple who are bestowed with an unexpected fortune. They quickly trade in their shabby lifestyles for the luxuries of the upper crust, but soon realize that their newfound luck might not be so lucky after all. While dealing with the unforeseen consequences of their new economonic status on their marriage and friendships, the couple’s only son studying in New York is also having a difficult time navigating his place as an Indian in the globalized world with a forbidden love affair.
IF YOU’RE A FAN OF GASTROTOURISM, TRY… GRAPE, OLIVE, PIG: DEEP TRAVELS THROUGH SPAIN’S FOOD CULTURE BY MATT GOULDING
This summer, I discovered I’ll be headed on my first all-expenses paid trip to Barcelona with my new job. To do some research, I’m resorting to Grape, Olive, and Pig, the second title in an immersive new genre of food and travel writing cooked up Roads & Kingdoms co-founder Matt Goulding. This 368-page book is chockful of arresting photographs and meticulous writing that bring to life the tastes and aromas of Spain: from the sparkling wines of Basque country to the honeyed pastries of Salamanca. For anyone who has reduced Spanish cuisine to the mere trappings of paella and tapas, you’ll have a fresh new appreciation of this much overlooked Western European fare.
IF YOU’RE AFRAID OF WHAT’S LURKING UNDERNEATH, TRY… THE SHARK CLUB BY ANN KIDD TAYLOR
One fateful Florida day, young Maeve Donnelly experiences two things that will change the course of her life forever. First, she gets kissed by her crush Daniel, and then… gets bitten by a shark. The unexpected happens: instead of being completely traumatized, the incident fuels a lifelong obsession with the sea. Years later, now a world-renowned marine biologist, she returns home to the sandy shores of Florida where she encounters Daniel, her first love… but with her new romance, Nicholas, in tow. Forget the romance. Ann Kidd Taylor’s decadent descriptions of what lies beneath the water’s surface is what you’ll fall in love with.
IF YOU’RE INTO LEARNING ABOUT YOUR FAMILY HISTORY, TRY… THE BEST WE COULD DO: AN ILLUSTRATED MEMOIR BY THI BUI
Thi Bui’s searing debut captures the fears and the wistfulness of the immigrant experience so poignantly, you will feel your heart ache and swell throughout the sojourn. Across the pages, Bui recounts a life marred by loss as boat people having escaped the Fall of Saigon. In muted black and red inkwash, she expresses the pain of being reared by a hardened father and a loving, but distant, mother, tracing back through a series of unfortunate events that shaped her parents’ present day realities.
IF YOU’RE PRONE TO IMAGINING THE WORST CASE SCENARIO, TRY… DO NOT BECOME ALARMED BY MAILE MELOY
This is every vacationing parents’ worst nightmare come true. Thirtysomething cousins Liv and Nora plan a Central American family fun holiday for their spouses and young children. But their hopes for a dream vacation are soon destroyed when the kids disappear. While the adults succumb to despair and turn on one another, their children rely on newly discovered facilities in a desperate fight to stay alive. Suspenseful and fastpaced, the story hones in on how fragile and misplaced the American sense of security truly is.
IF YOU’RE A FAN OF PLOT TWISTS, TRY… BEAUTIFUL ANIMALS BY LAWRENCE OSBORNE
Bangkok-based travel writer Lawrence Osborne is back with another conversation on morality set against the backdrop of a Christmas faraway destination. His previous books have been set in Morocco, Cambodia, and France. The newest psychological thriller takes place on a sultry Greek island where two vacationing girls, Naomi and Samantha, discover a handsome stranger on the brink of death during their hike through the hills of Hydra. Faoud, a migrant from Syria and a casualty of the war ravaging his homeland, are taken in by the two innocent girls, but the well-meaning friends set into motion a cataclysmic chain of events.
IF BACKPACKING AROUND INDIA IS ON YOUR BUCKET LIST, TRY… THE MINISTRY OF UTMOST HAPPINESS BY ARUNDHATI ROY
Twenty years after her bestselling debut The God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy has returned with a sophomore triumph. The Ministry of Utmost Happiness is a tender portrait of India, evinced by endearing characters across time and space. Not restricted to one location, Roy’s words will carry you across the Indian subcontinent where you will encounter army intelligence officers and hijras (India’s “third-sex”), children loved, and children lost. It’s a rich tapestry of the human experience woven together in one achingly hopeful love story.
IF YOU ARE FASCINATED BY THE SECRETS OF “CLOSED OFF” COUNTRIES, TRY… THE ACCUSATION: STORIES FROM INSIDE NORTH KOREA BY BANDI
Under the pseduonym “Bandi”, meaning Firefly, the author bravely pens fictional tales inspired by real world accounts under the North Korean dictatorship. Set during the Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il regimes, each of the seven short stories expose the brutality of the Communist nation upon the liberties of its people. From former war heroes to the citizens of the elite, at the heart of the every story is the terrible truth that no one is free from oppression, no matter their station. It is said that these manuscripts were smuggled on 750 sheets of paper for over eight years into South Korea. The author is believed to be still living in North Korea.
IF YOU LOVE A GOOD MYSTERY, TRY… SEANCE INFERNALE BY JONATHAN SKARITON
This might not be the typical “beach read” but if you’re a thrill seeker, the gritty, graphic writing of newcomer Skariton should keep you occupied. The historical fiction revolves around inventor Augustin Sekuler, who en route to Paris in 1890 to unveil his invention of the world’s first motion picture camera, vanished into thin air. The protagonist Alex Whitman, a movie memorabilia dealer, falls into a rabbit hole of madness and mayhem on his hunt for the mythical “Séance Infernale,” believed to be the first film ever made.
IF YOU HAVE AN AFFINITY FOR GETTING LOST, TRY… WATCH ME DISAPPEAR BY JANELLE BROWN
Putting a fresh spin on the overplayed-yet-irresistible Gone Girl plot, Watch Me Disappear centers around the tragic loss of Billie Flanagan, a beloved mother of two gone astray on a solo hike. The family she leaves behind struggles to cope: her daughter Olive retreats into herself, while her son Jonathan drowns his sorrows in cheap booze. But a year after their mother’s mysterious disappearance, Olive has a vision of her mother still very much alive, launching a search into her tumultuous past for answers of her present-day whereabouts.
IF YOU’RE FEELING A BIT LONELY, TRY… MEN WITHOUT WOMEN: STORIES BY HARUKI MURAKAMI
Surreal storyteller Haruki Murakami deconstructs the abstraction that is loneliness through seven short fictional tales centered around the inner worlds of men. Even though each piece is meant to stand alone, he is able to thread together his collection through the subtle repetiton, demonstrating that even in loneliness, there exists interconnectedness. For existentialists, this book will surely do you in as you contemplate the dichotomies of the universe: man versus woman, inner self versus outer self, and even the tug and pull of our personal microcosms against the external macrocosm.
IF YOU’RE BLUE ABOUT THE QUESTIONABLE STATE OF CUBAN TRAVEL, TRY… HAVANA: A SUBTROPICAL DELIRIUM BY MARK KURLANSKY
For the majority of my lifetime, Cuba has been off-limits to Americans thanks to decades’ worth of geopolitical tensions. President Barack Obama finally lifted the travel ban back in 2015, but it was recently overturned by the current Trump Administration. I’m finding solace from the tragic news through this gorgeous history of Havana, which chronicles 500 years of Caribbean capital’s history and unique identity influenced by different facets of its culture (musical, culinary, political) and external players like the Spanish, Russians, Africans, and Americans.
TWO LUCKY READERS WILL RECEIVE ANY BOOK OF THEIR CHOICE OFF THIS READING LIST. CONTEST ENDS FRIDAY, AUGUST 12TH AT midnight EST. WINNER TO BE ANNOUNCED THE FOLLOWING SATURDAY. ENTER NOW!
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Open to all residents worldwide. Winner receives either a hard copy or an electronic edition of book, subject to availability and postal conditions. Multiple entries encouraged. Must be willing to offer valid mailing address to received hard copy. Prize is transferable. Cannot be exchanged for cash money. For any questions, please contact me here.
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Love this! These books all look amazing. I’ve never heard of any of them but they all sound so interesting and feature so many countries that I love. Fingers crossed I win since I’ve banned myself from buying more books until I’ve read more!
I love this! I am so intrigued by the North Korea book — I hope I win but if I don’t I am so eager to add ALL of these to my ever-growing Kindle list. Love your book suggestions always!
Rishabh & Nirali
This is very helpful because we believe a book is the second best companion on any trip (the first being each other ofcourse ) Though we’ve read some of the books listed, it will be a handy list for our next holiday!
Need to change my collection now! I’ll surely check out some of them.. Thank you!
I have just come back from a trip to the DMZ, border to North Korea and was actually thinking of reading a book that tells a bit about the country’s insides. So, thanks for that!
Great list overall
These all sound really interesting! I especially like the look of the book Men Without Women, but I’m a bit of a sucker for an existential read. I find myself reading mostly non-fiction these days, so I’m really on the lookout for some well-written and engaging fiction as well.
I’m about to board a plane to Vienna/Ibiza next week with my little one, so I definitely won’t be reading “Do Not Become Alarmed.” I’m guessing it wouldn’t make my beach vacay very relaxing. Haha. But! If I actually get a spare second to read I’d pick the lightest, fluffiest book on your list…it’s about all the brainpower I have these days sadly… 😉
Wow! So many great recommendations! I hardly know which I want to mention! Okay, the ones that I seriously gravitate toward are Thi Bui’s, The Best We Could Do, Lawrence Osborne’s Beautiful Animals, and Haruki Murakami’s Men Without Women. I read almost every evening before bed, and I just finished Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, and I’m now reading my second Alice Hoffman book, The Third Angel. So far, I actually preferred the classic, They Came to Baghdad by Agatha Christie! Brilliant idea to share novels!! Thx so much 🙂
That is a great list of travel books. I have been looking for inspirational books like these recently, and now after reading your post, my search is easy. Thanks for this.
Really cool Izzy. I’m sad to say I’m not a huge reader, but I’m interested in The best we can do, and the accusation. I have a few books based on North Korean Defectors, their really out of this world. Terrible stories, but inspiring how they risked themselves and some even risk their lives today telling their stories and being activists for human rights in NK. I’m very interested in history as well, thought not knowing much about Vietnam, aside from the obvious, the story of Bui sounds very interesting and I’m definitely going to try get myself a copy. (Got any other recommendations for books similar to that? Kind of deal with those historical moments but focus in on the person/family working their way through it? I’d love to know!
Brian Keith Dye
You’ve got a well rounded selection of books. I even found a couple that peaked my interest. Though my summer plans may confine me to Seoul I think I’ll take your advice and pick up a new book or two to keep me in engaged. It’s been awhile since I read a good book!
Oooh, great list! I’m super intrigued by Men Without Women. I’m definitely adding that to my reading list. And OMG an all expense paid trip?!? What is your new job? What will you be doing in Barca (besides eating all the delish food and enjoying some flamenco)?
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness! I want, I want! I’m intrigued because it’s by Arundhati Roy. His first book remains one of the books that has affected me until now. And I’ve read that book ages ago. Now that he has a new one, I am very intrigued. Thanks for this compilation of books.
Like Laura, I’m also intrigued by the North Korean book, as well as the cooking book about Spain (have a blast on your all expense paid work trip!) and Haruki Murakami’s (whose other books are all so solid). While lately I’ve been choosing more Non-Fiction literature, your list is very intriguing and I’ll certainly be on the lookout for some of the above mentioned titles. Hoping to win!
This books look super dope. I’ll be going on a long solo vacation and I’d not mind getting few of them. Thanks for discussing these babies
Red Nomad OZ (Marion Halliday)
Sadly, summer is long gone down here in Australia – but happily, it doesn’t have to be summer for me to appreciate a good book! In fact, winter is a good time to curl up in front of the fire with a new read – and you’ve given me so many I don’t know where to start!! Bookmarked this post so I can do a proper shortlist later – then start reading!
Sandy N Vyjay
Being passionate about books, this was a post that I loved reading. Got to know about so many new books and authors too. Each of the books has a unique favour. But I would like to read Arundhati Roy’s book. I have read, The God of Small Things, and hope to read this one on my next travel.
This is an amazing list. I was recently searching for my next read and now I have a clear list with me. The Windfall and men without women have fascinated me most. Thanks for the wonderful list.
I can’t believe I don’t know any of these books! Looks like there are some real finds. Of course, I am terrified of sharks (there have been numerous sightings far too close to the shore here in Los Angeles) thanks to seeing Jaws as a teen, but I’m curious about the book. 🙂 Honestly, so many of them seem to reveal places and cultures I have yet to experience — places like India and Cuba. Thanks for sharing these authors/books with your readers!
As always I LOVE the graphics on your posts! I love when you do these posts related around book suggestions! It couldn’t have come at a better timing either as I just finished a huge series and feel empty inside without another book! I actually just bought a Haruki Murakami book to read and may want to keep up the steam after reading my first book from him. OR I really like the North Korean book suggestion! Have you read Dear Leader? That one is also really good about a defectors heart wrenching escape. Anyways! I am crossing my fingers that I win this amazing competition!
The Shark Club sounds like such an interesting read. I lived in Florida and the sharks there scare me!! I can’t imagine getting bit by one and then loving the sea and going back to that same spot is crazy yet amazing.
I am not a bookworm but this makes me want to read some books. I want to learn more about North Korea, so that book stood out to me while reading this post. Thank you for the recommendations.
Girl, there are so many great options here! I kept thinking this is the one I would pick, no this one… No this one! haha! I think I landed on The Ministry of Utmost Happiness since we’re going to be backpacking India in March! I would LOVE to read this before we head that way! I will probably check out several of these, though! Great picks!
I haven’t heard of any of these books, but I love new good reads! I love a good plot twist, so Beautiful Animals sounds quite intriguing.
I know that Paige would love just about every one of these to read on our flight to Thailand!
Ooh! I would love to read one of these when I float in my pool since I’ve already been on vacation this year! 😉
LaiAriel R. Samangka ( Thelittlelai: Beyond limits)
Wow, what a great list of awesome books that you have here. each of them is really interesting and some are fun to read as well. Some in book in the list are actually not familiar to me and i’ll surely check them. I also love your sense of recommendation which is really suit to your readers taste. I will try to join the contest and hopefully I’ll be one of the lucky winner to receive one of the books. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.
Love this competition! We have been frequenting some yard sales here in the USA (we dont really get them in SA) and have bought a few books – currently readin. The kite runner after trying to read it a good few years ago! I would love to add a few of these to my collection. Driving from California back to New York and need to have some things to pass the hours while mark drives! Holding thumbs 🙂
Great list, Izzy! I´m finally taking some time off this summer, and I realize that I don´t know nearly enough about Spain´s delightful culinary culture. I am going up to Asturias, Spain, for a few weeks, and I´d love to jump into Grape, Olive, Pig 😀 I hope to see you in Spain when you make it out here! Keep up the awesome work, my dear! You are an inspiration. xxx
I’m loving this list, so many good books to choose from! I’ve got some new ideas now on what book I should read next, thanks! 🙂