There are few subjects that stir the imagination quite like travel. Embarking on far-flung adventures is one of the most rewarding and life-affirming things that anyone can do, but for most of us exploring the world is an occasional luxury and for the rest of the time we are limited to day-dreaming about our next exciting voyage.
During such times, one popular way to gain travel inspiration is by reading travel-related books and literature. Each year, a huge number of travel-themed titles are released, spanning everything from entertaining memoirs and travelogues to immersive novels. For anyone keen to pick up some of the latest releases, we’ve selected 10 of the best travel books to hit the shelves in Spring 2020.
Wild Horses of the Summer Sun: A Memoir of Iceland (by Tory Bilski)
Sturdy, versatile and boasting incredible endurance, the Icelandic horse is a regular protagonist in the country’s national folklore. For author Tory Bilski, however, the importance of this long-lived and hardy equine breed has migrated from myth to reality. After more than a decade of visiting Iceland, she decided to share the experience of her annual ‘horse sabbaticals’ in this witty and often poignant book, in which she explores her evolving relationship with the country, the people she’s met, the horses she’s rode, and – perhaps most touchingly – herself. Delving into notions of freedom, independence, expression, nature and adventure, Wild Horses of the Summer Sun is a magical, thought-provoking memoir that is centred on horses and yet so much more.
PUBLISHER Pegasus Books BUY AT amazon.com
The Journey Matters: Twentieth-Century Travel in True Style (by Jonathan Glancey)
Distinguished architecture writer and critic Jonathan Glancey takes readers on a potted journey through some of the most glamorous voyages enjoyed by travellers across the 20th century. Exploring the history of the routes taken, as well as the social and political milieus of the time, each journey brings to life the sense of magic and adventure that went hand in hand with iconic trips such as the LNER’s Art Deco Coronation streamliner from King’s Cross to Edinburgh, crossing the Atlantic by the SS Normandie, travelling by steam train from Manhattan to Chicago on board the New York Central’s 20th Century Limited, and sleeping aboard the Graf Zeppelin.
PUBLISHER Atlantic Books BUY AT amazon.com
Hidden Places: An Inspired Traveller’s Guide (by Sarah Baxter)
Written by travel journalist Sarah Baxter, Hidden Places takes readers off the well-trodden tourist trail to discover the destinations that didn’t make it into the guide books. Through informative text and stunningly hand-drawn illustrations, the book transports you to magical and remote locations such as an ancient gateway to the Mayan underworld, a mysterious underwater monument sunken off the Ryukyu Islands in Japan, and a prehistoric village covered for centuries by a vast sand dune in the Orkney Islands.
PUBLISHER White Lion Publishing BUY AT amazon.com
The Frozen River: Seeking Silence in the Himalaya (by James Crowden)
It’s been almost half-a-century since James Crowden jacked in his distinguished role in the British Army to embark on an epic journey to the remote region of Ladakh in the Northern Himalaya, but his evocative recounting of the trip makes it seem like yesterday. During his time there, he truly immersed himself in the local culture and traditions, learning the ancient Buddhist practice of meditation while watching the community face the early challenges of globalisation and the threat it posed to their way of life.
PUBLISHER Harper Collins BUY AT amazon.com
Patterns of India: A Journey Through Colors, Textiles, and the Vibrancy of Rajasthan (by Christine Chitnis)
Containing more than 200 incredible photos depicting everyday life in the kaleidoscopic north Indian state of Rajasthan, this visually arresting book is a delight for anyone with an interest in Western Indian culture. Featuring essays and pictures by photographer and writer Christine Chitnis, the book perhaps most interestingly delves into the symbiotic relationship between the region’s distinct culture and five specific colours that crop up time and again in everything from religion and politics to food and dress.
PUBLISHER Penguin BUY AT amazon.com
The Hound from Hanoi (by Moire O’Sullivan)
A wild and frantic canine caper that transports readers from Hanoi to the Himalayas, this moving tribute to the author’s late husband reveals why a serendipitous opportunity to rescue a Vietnamese street dog from its destiny of becoming someone’s dinner was the catalyst for a long-lasting relationship. The four-legged protagonist goes by the name of Tom, whose life takes a dramatic turn after being rescued from a street vendor. Together with his doting new owners they embark on a whirlwind tour through Vietnam, Nepal and Cambodia, facing all sort of (literal and metaphorical) hurdles along the way – helping to prove beyond doubt that from adversity can come strength and happiness.
PUBLISHER Sandstone Press BUY AT amazon.com
A Time of Birds (by Helen Moat)
The experience of exploring foreign climes with the wind in your hair and the spirit of discovery in your heart is one that truly captures the essence of why we travel. In this contemplative account of her time cycling across Europe with her teenage son, traversing the banks of the Rhine and Danube while ruminating on both the beauty around her and her own childhood in Northern Ireland during The Troubles, Helen Moat finds herself reflecting on how Europe is a continent that is ultimately shaped by tumultuous times. This is a book that certainly isn’t shy of venturing into melancholy territory, but retains a wistful quality that makes every page a delight.
PUBLISHER Saraband BUY AT amazon.com
This Much Country (by Kristin Knight Pace)
A tale of renewal and transformation, this heart-wrenching memoir tells the story of a woman left rudderless by a devastating divorce. Until, that is, she took up the chance to stay at a friend’s cabin near Denali National Park in Alaska for a period of reflection and to look after the cabin owner’s eight sled dogs. Throughout the ensuing winter, she embarked on a journey of discovery, learning about reserves of strength she never knew she had as she embraced the challenges of living in one of the world’s most remote regions. This journey ends in the ultimate redemption – a new marriage to a kindred spirit and, having fell in love too with her canine companions, entry into an epic 1,000-mile dogsled race.
PUBLISHER Grand Central Publishing BUY AT amazon.com
My Four Seasons in France: A Year of the Good Life (by Janine Marsh)
The short hop across the Channel from Britain to France is a well-trodden path for those seeking the good life, with thousands moving between the two countries every year. Janine Marsh and her husband Mark were among those to do just that – and this book tells their story with warmth and humour. Dreaming of swapping their well-aid city jobs for the idyllic countryside of northern France, the duo took on a labour of love in the form of a dilapidated old barn that they planned to renovate into their dream home. But the romantic vision they had was not quite what transpired, with various obstacles – from inclement weather to eccentric neighbours to broken arms – all getting in the way of their master plan.
PUBLISHER Grand Central Publishing BUY AT amazon.com
The Lost Pianos of Siberia (by Sophy Roberts)
Award-winning journalist Sophy Roberts doesn’t do things by half. When she decided to write a book that explored her passion for music and travel she did so by journeying through one of the harshest landscapes on earth – the vast Russian province of Siberia. As well as tundra, coniferous forest and mountain ranges, dotted throughout this enormous region that encompasses most of Northern Asia are large numbers of grand pianos. Harking back to Russian’s golden era, these pianos have played a vital role in the nation’s political, cultural and social history. During her three year odyssey, Roberts embarks on a quest to find the piano that best defines Siberia and its fascinating past.
PUBLISHER Doubleday BUY AT amazon.com