The Best Travel Books of 2019 on The Next Somewhere

Here is a roundup of the best travel books of 2019!

Turn the page on this decade and welcome 2020 with 20 new travel books that will transport you to every corner of the globe. Swim with the fabled “mermaids” of Jeju Island, answer the call of the wild in Northern Canada, and rub shoulders with Delhi’s elite in a Jane Austen meets India dramedy. There are books that will help you plan that RTW (round-the-world) trip you always dreamed of and books that will teach you how to perfectly assemble a Croque Monsieur sandwich just like the French. From literary fiction to coffee table tomes, illustrated travelogues to haunting anthologies, the world is completely at your fingertips with these new travel books.





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travel books 2019 lets eat franceLet’s Eat France!

by François-Régis Gaudry 

Named The Best Food Book of the Year and Best Book to Gift (for more gift ideas, click here), this encyclopedia of all things French cuisine is a must-have for any food lover. An actual behemoth, there are profiles of over 1,250 specialty foods and 260 culinary personalities, covering 350 food-related topics, as well 375 recipes of iconic dishes like coq au vin and ratatouille.

Buy on Amazon Prime for $23.27 (originally $50).

travel books 2019 into the jungleInto the Jungle

by Erica Ferencik

A cautionary tale set in the deep jungles of Bolivia, this epic thriller follows Lily Bushwold, a foster child-turned-backpacker who follows her heart rashly into the Bolivian wild. She discovers a lawless world filled with poisonous wildlife, villainous poachers, mystical shamans, and river-tribes on the brink of extinction, and is forced to rely on her resourcefulness and resilience to survive the treachery of the jungle.

Buy on Amazon Prime for $9.04 (originally $27.99).

travel books 2019 somewhere in the middleSomewhere in the Middle: A journey to the Philippines in search of roots, belonging, and identity

by Deborah Francisco Douglas

Fil-Am writer Deborah Francisco Douglas’s memoir chronicles her time in the Philippines as a Peace Corps volunteer. As a half Filipina raised 100% American, Douglas’ assignment in the Philippines is a welcomed opportunity to explore her unfamiliar heritage. But she quickly learns that one’s sense of belonging is not automatically determined by biology, but rather earned as one adapts to the ways of a host culture. As someone who has lived abroad many a times, this is the most honest depiction you’ll get of what it’s like to live abroad.

Buy on Amazon Prime for $10.35 (originally $16.95).

travel books 2019 polite societyPolite Society

by Mahesh Rao

A Bollywood retelling of Jane Austen’s beloved comedy Emma. The well-known character finds new life in the beautiful and slightly vapid Ania Khurana, whose cure to boredom is to play matchmaker to the loveless of Delhi’s glamorously wealthy. But the little matchmaker soon finds herself outmatched not only by the petty gossip of high society, but also the entrance of new players in the age-old game of love.

Buy on Amazon Prime for $18.69 (originally $26).

travel books 2019 island of sea womenThe Island of Sea Women

by Lisa See

A historical fiction based on the real life heroines of Jeju Island, known in their native tongue as haenyeos. For centuries, women on Jeju have carried out the tradition of freediving for crustaceans as a means of income. But today, the tradition has all but died out and only a few haenyeos remain. This tale revolves around two free-spirited friends, who become sea divers, and whose friendship ebbs and flows under the crashing tides of death, war, marriage, and even technology.

Buy on Amazon Prime for $12.89 (originally $26).

travel books 2019 if they come for usIf They Come For Us: Poems

by Fatimah Asghar

One of my favorite travel books this year, Pakistani-American Fatimah Ashgar astounds in a haunting collection of poems that will resonate intimately with women of color, and strike a chord with all desi women. Her masterfully written verses bend time, recount hardship, and redeem transgressions, all while capturing the experience of being a Pakastani Muslim woman in contemporary America. If you are fan of understanding the nuances of identity, place, and belonging, this book is for you.

Buy on Amazon Prime for $9.99 (originally $16.00).

travel books 2019 miss burmaMiss Burma

by Charmaine Craig

Author Charmaine Craig’s interpretation of her family history is a fascinating introduction into one of the world’s most turbulent political situations. The protagonists of this story are star-crossed lovers Benny, a British colonial, and Khin, a Karen woman whose ethnic tribe has long been persecuted by the Burmese government, and their daughter Louisa who becomes the country’s first beauty queen. Louisa’s loyalty to her kin is put to the test in the wake of her newfound fame and Burma’s descent into totalitarianism.

Buy on Amazon Prime for $8.79 (originally $16).

travel books 2019 cantorasCantoras

by Carolina De Robertis

Cantoras sits at the crossroads of politics and sexuality that is very relevant in this day and age, despite being set 40 years in the past in faraway Uruguay. In 1977, Uruguay’s authoritarian dictatorship has decreed homosexuality a punishable crime. Five queer women escape the violence and form a sanctuary in an isolated coastal village, becoming a makeshift family liberated in light of displacement. It’s all the more compellling given Uruguay’s current standing as Latin America’s most gay-friendly country.

Buy on Amazon Prime for $15.89 (originally $26.95).

travel books 2019 three daughters of eveThree Daughters of Eve

by Elif Shafak

One aging polaroid. Three Islamic women. A charming professor. And a scandal that rocked their idyllic way of life. At a dinner party, a beautiful Turkish woman named Peri must come to terms with the faces in the polaroid even when the world around her is on the brink of chaos from encroaching terrorist attacks. From one of Turkey’s most powerful literary voices comes a story about faith and femininity, where past and present violently collide in modern-day Istanbul.

Buy on Amazon Prime for $10.31 (originally $18).

travel books 2019 natalie tan book of fortuneNatalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune

by Roselle Lim

A strained relationship finds reconciliation at the dinner table in Roselle Lim’s moving family saga. Seven years ago, Natalie Tan estranged herself from her agoraphobic mother to pursue her dreams of becoming a chef. But she is forced to return home to San Francisco’s Chinatown after her mother’s untimely death. Upon her return, she learns she has inherited her grandmother’s restaurant and will be successful only after she’s cooked three recipes from her grandmother’s cookbook that can help her once-vibrant neighborhood return to its former glory.

Buy on Amazon Prime for $8.65 (originally $16).

travel books 2019 the riverThe River

by Peter Heller

Part mystery, part thriller, The River will have you holding onto the edge of your seat as you paddle down the Muskwa River in the Canadian Rockies. Wynn and Hack are two college buddies with a thirst of adventure. Their idyllic summer canoeing trip is interrupted by a threatening wildfire and the voices of a mysterious couple in the night, signaling dangers on unexpected fronts in one of the most remote places in the world.

Buy on Amazon Prime for $23.36 (originally $25.95).

travel books 2019 the sweetest fruitsThe Sweetest Fruits

by Monique Truong

Set in the 1800s, the reader follows wayfaring writer Lafcaido Hearn, whose circumnavigation of the world introduces him to three special women. Told via the women’s voices—a freed slave married to a reporter in America; a Greek woman with her fair share of heartache in Europe; and a samurai’s daughter who falls in love with an English teacher in Asia. They become the subject matter of his latest composition, but ultimately through their stories, become a reflection of his personal life story.

Buy on Amazon Prime for $15.19 (originally $26).

travel books 2019 a year offA Year Off: A Story about Traveling the World— and How to Make It Happen for You

by Alexandra Brown

If you’ve ever asked, “how can I leave everything behind and travel?,” well, this is the book for you. Written by one part of a traveling duo, Alexandra Brown’s essays and photographs of her around-the-world trip is an actionable guide to wanderlusting. Everything you’d want to know—be it solid budgeting, packing lists, designing routes, and even how to leave your job—is seamlessly peppered into this travelogue.

Buy on Amazon Prime for $16.48 (originally $24.95).

travel books 2019 next year in havanaNext Year in Havana

by Chanel Cleeton

Garnering Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club stamp of approval, Next Year in Havana is an alternating narrative between a granddaughter and grandmother, spanning space and time. Freelance writer Marisol Ferrera travels back to Havana at the behest of her beloved grandmother, who fled the country during the Cuban Revolution in the 50s. What awaits her is a deeply buried family secret, accompanied by lessons about strength and sacrifice, and love and loss.

Buy on Amazon Prime for $9.59 (originally $15).

travel books 2019 at hone in the worldAt Home in the World: Reflections on Belonging While Wandering the Globe

by Tsh Oxenreider

Americans Tsh and Kyle are former expats who’ve traded a life of leisure for stability, now parents of three kids in the United States. But the travel itch is one that doesn’t simply go away and with the kids now of age, the two decide to upend their comfy lives for a nine-month adventure, visiting places both old and new, with their youngins. Her family voyage reveals that you can be anchored in something real and meaningful, while being completely adrift.

Buy on Amazon Prime for $12.88 (originally $24.99).

travel books 2019 literary parisLiterary Paris: A Photographic Tour

by Nichole Robertson

From the writer of Paris in Color comes another bijou love letter to Paris. Follow the photographer as she shoots the places and spaces savored by bookworms—think: Orwell’s lipstick-tattooed grave, cozy cafes, and elegant biblioteques. An interplay of photos and quotes from beloved French writers, as well as locations to pen down will surely inspire a book-themed itinerary of Paris.

Buy on Amazon Prime for $10.35 (originally $16.95).

travel books 2019 land of lost bordersLands of Lost Borders: A Journey on the Silk Road

by Kate Harris

Kate Harris makes her brilliant debut with a travel memoir of her bike trip along the Silk Road, that reads as both a tribute to our nomadic birthright, as it does an existential investigation of all the borders in our life, real and imagined. In an effort to honor her teenage dreams to adventure, Harris sets off a yearlong expedition down the fabled route of Marco Polo with her friend Mel and to her surprise, discovers the remaining uncharted frontiers on the planet actually exist—within herself.

Buy on Amazon Prime for $13.99(originally $16.99).

travel books 2019 the best coast road trip atlas

The Best Coast: A Road Trip Atlas: Illustrated Adventures along the West Coast’s Historic Highways

by Chandler O’Leary

If you’re still on the fence about the west coast being the best coast, chances are you’ll know exactly where you stand after this graphic novel-esque guidebook, highlighting the West Coast’s most notable drives and more off-the-beaten-path backroading adventures through Washington, Oregon, and California. Every page is illustrated with an inexhaustible list of what to do and see during escapades on Pacific Coast Highway, Highway 101, and the lesser-known Highway 99, that will make boring family road trips a thing of the past.

Buy on Amazon Prime for $17.79 (originally $24.99).

travel books 2019 the displacedThe Displaced: Refugee Writers on Refugee Lives

by Viet Thanh Nguyen

What do you get when 17 of the world’s most prominent refugee writers join foces with Pulitzer Prize Winner Viet Thanh Nguyen? The answer is an anthology of essays about struggle, hope, fear, joy, resilience, and courage in the face of dislocation. For those looking for a humanized look at arguably the 21st century’s most controversial global crisis, look no further than this anthology. 10% of the proceeds on each book will be donated to International Rescue Committee, a nonprofit dedicated to providing humanitarian aid and relief to war-displaced refugees.

Buy on Amazon Prime for $11.49(originally $16).

travel books 2019 insurrectoInsurrecto

by Gina Apostol

Gina Apostol has crafted a masterful novel about two women, an American filmmaker and a Filipino translator, whose creative collaboration to write a film script about the Philippine-American War goes sour. Magsalin, a talented translator, reads Chiara’s script, and decides to rewrite the whole script from her perspective. Competing voices vy for attention, illuminating the deeply embedded bitterness among the psyche of the colonized in playful, yet powerful prose.

Buy on Amazon Prime for $11.59(originally $26).


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More Reading Lists here:

🚩 Best Travel Books of Summer 2017

🚩 Best Books of 2016

🚩 Best Travel Books of Summer 2016

👉 If you have any other travel books from 2019 to discover, I’d love to hear your book recommendations in the comments section!

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The Best Travel Books of 2019 on The Next Somewhere

Filipina-American Millette Stambaugh is a thirty-something former expat who has traded her nomadic ways for Philadelphia living. Corporate worker by day, content creator by night, Millette specializes in visual storytelling and joyful journeys and wants to help others find their "next somewheres." Follow her escapades on Instagram, Youtube, and Tiktok @thenextsomewhere.


  • Micaela Gomez

    January 5, 2020

    These all sound so interesting – you’re so well read! I especially can’t wait to check out Somewhere in the Middle, The River and A Year Off (something I’ve always wanted to do!).

  • January 9, 2020

    Fantastic list of books to inspire travel. Some of these books are already on my to read list like The Island of Sea Women and Lands of Lost Borders but I’ve learned about so many other great books and now have Into the Jungle and The River on my wishlist. Next Year in Havana is the only one I’ve read from this list and it does a fantastic job of inspiring travel to Cuba, I very quickly added Cuba to my travel wishlist after reading it!

  • January 9, 2020

    All your listed books are calling me. Woot! Love them all!

  • January 9, 2020

    One thing I feel about this year is I need to read more books and you just presented us with so many options related to travel. Thanks for the collection and I will pickup something which interests me from here.

  • Sam

    January 10, 2020

    Wow, such a great list! I’ve been looking for some new books to start the new year and will definitely be looking to see if I can add any of these to my libby =) Thanks for putting it together!

  • Emma

    January 11, 2020

    I love reading and have been wanting to read more travel blogs this year so I’m definitely getting some of these books!

  • January 11, 2020

    These are some great sounding books. Always looking for my next read and travel themed books are even better. I think Into The Jungle sounds like a good one for me

  • January 11, 2020

    Love the look of these – especially Literary Paris, will definitely have to check it out!

  • January 11, 2020

    I’m always looking for new books. Thanks for sharing this great list! I’ve bookmarked your page and I’ll be coming back soon for some awesome ideas on what to read next.

  • January 13, 2020

    “Into the Jungle” sounds awesome, with a very unique premise. Thanks for the Kindle inspiration!

  • January 13, 2020

    I love how this blog post is set up! Super fun to read and I love the color behind the books

  • Don

    May 9, 2020

    I’ve heard a lot about Haenyeo in Jeju but never heard of any books written! Although it’s fiction, ‘the island of the seas women’ story sounds really interesting. I’m going to have to check it out! Nice list, with the virus going around these days, I’m sure there’s a lot less travel going on, but it’s a good time to do some extra reading!


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