Updated: March 2017 – I’ve added a few new travel books to this list since it was first published, both to my ‘must-read’ list and to my read/reviewed list. Overall, not much has changed, there are some great new releases in 2017 and the all-time classics remain.
24 books in 12 months. That’s my standard Goodreads reading challenge. I passed that number last year by committing to reading at least one chapter each day. It’s a small commitment but one that adds up. Consistency pays off when you have a lot of reading to do.
Best New Travel Books in 2016 and 2017
Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders
If you’re looking for off the beaten path (as much as that’s possible these days), obscure destinations or travel inspiration this is the book for you.
Lingo: A Language Spotter’s Guide to Europe by Gaston Dorren
Exploring Europe through its languages and dialects.
The Only Street in Paris: Life on the Rue des Martyrs by Elaine Sciolino
“Sciolino reveals the charms and idiosyncrasies of this street and its longtime residents; the Tunisian greengrocer, the husband-and-wife cheesemongers, the showman who’s been running a transvestite cabaret for more than half a century, the owner of a 100-year-old bookstore… ”
The Geography of Genius by Eric Weiner
A journey around the world showing the connection between creativity and ingenuity to a certain time and place.
The Other Paris by Luc Sante
The side of Paris tourists and expats usually don’t see. “… the city of the poor, the outcast, the criminal, the eccentric, the wilfully nonconforming.”
Ultimate Travel: Our List of the 500 Best Places to See by Lonely Planet
A little coffee table fodder which would make a nice gift.
Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2016 by Lonely Planet
Another collection from Lonely Planet which might inspire you to get out and travel in 2016.
Best Travel Books of All Time
I don’t claim to know the best travel books of all time, I haven’t read anywhere near enough to be able to judge that but below you’ll find some of my favourites and others I’ve yet to read but are consistently highly reviewed.
This page is updated regularly, you may want to bookmark it or come back often.
My Favourite Travel Books
Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer
I had no interest in Mt Everest before reading Into Thin Air but this book tells such a compelling story of the 1996 tragedy I became obsessed with it. What happened on top of that mountain that year was mind-blowing.
Wild: A Journey from Lost to Found by Cheryl Strayed
I didn’t expect to like this as hiking is not my thing but the story is so much more that that. This solo hike was a life changing journey and even though I couldn’t relate to everything it hooked me in.
The Longest Way Home by Andrew McCarthy
I loved every minute of this until the last chapter when it became more about his family but I’m willing to let that self-indulgence slide. Again this is more about the final outcome than the journey but I loved reading about his adventures around the world.
Must-Read Travel Books
A Long Way Home: A Memoir by Saroo Brierley
The memoir of a man who used Google Earth to rediscover his childhood life and home in an incredible journey from India to Australia and back again.
The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner
A journey around the world to discover what makes people happy (or not) in their respective cultures.
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
The story of an Andalusian shepherd boy who yearns to travel the world and sets off on an adventure from Spain to Morocco and then Egypt.
Venice by Jan Morris
An immersive experience of Venetian life, analysing its people, architecture, history, bridges, canals and so much more of this mystical city.
Tracks by Robyn Davidson
“… driven by a love of Australia’s landscape, an empathy for its indigenous people, and a willingness to cast away the trappings of her former identity. Tracks is the compelling, candid story of her odyssey of discovery and transformation.”
A Walk in The Woods by Bill Bryson
Hiking the Appalachian Trail. “Facing savage weather, merciless insects, unreliable maps and a fickle companion whose profoundest wish was to go to a motel and watch The X-Files, Bryson gamely struggled through the wilderness to achieve a lifetime’s ambition – not to die outdoors.”
The Beach by Alex Garland
A 20-something backpacker leaves in search of adventure and a secret island in Thailand, a utopia unspoilt by tourists.
Down Under: Travels in a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson
Observations of life in Australia from the city to the bush and all the deadly creatures spotted along the way.
The Motorcycle Diaries by Ernesto Che Guevara
23 year old Che Guevara’s seven month road trip around South America before he became a revolutionary leader.
Into The Wild by Jon Krakauer
The true story of Chris Mccandleuss, a guy who gave up all his possessions to head into the Alaskan wilderness and live a life off the grid. He only lasted 4 months.
More Travel Books
How Not to Travel the World by Lauren Juliff
I’m a bit prone to travel disasters myself but Lauren takes it so much further her stories are almost unbelievable.
Love with a Chance of Drowning by Torre DeRoche
Travelling across high seas around the world on a small boat sounds like my worst nightmare, I can barely manage a ferry ride without feeling ill. But this is a beautifully written, compelling and inspiring journey with a little romance too.
Paris Was Ours by Penelope Rowlands
A collection of memoirs from Paris. As with all books of this nature, short stories from a variety of authors, some contributions are great and others you’ll want to skip over.
Not Travel Related But Books I Recommended
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
The first half tells a fascinating history of humans and how we, homo sapiens, took over the world.
Reckoning, A Memoir by Magda Szubanski
If you’re not Australian you might not know of Magda but she’s one of the country’s most hilarious comedians and a surprisingly beautiful writer. For me the most interesting stories are from her travels in Poland during the Cold War.
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
An incredible story of a blind French girl and an orphaned German boy during WWII. Their parallel stories in France and the eastern front eventually converge in Saint-Malo. Brilliant and sad.
Elon Musk – Inventing the Future
I knew little of Elon Musk and Tesla / SpaceX before reading his biography. The guy is a genius if not a little (lot) crazy. I immediately ordered a Tesla after reading this.
What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding by Kristin Newman
An interesting take on the life of someone who didn’t follow the finish school, go to uni, get a job, get married, buy a home then die type life.
Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
Steve Jobs was a brutal genius. By all accounts not someone you’d want to spend much time with but he achieved incredible things. It’s not surprising Apple has lost some of its charm since his death.