It’s that time of year where everyone has a “best of” list. I read 71 books in 2019 and here are my top 7 travel-related books of 2019. My favorites range from historical fiction, novels, narratives, and memoirs. If your looking for travel inspiration or arm chair travel, you’re sure to find great travel-related books in this list!
I loved the uniqueness of this book! After the unexplained disappearance of her novelist husband, a woman moves to Paris with her two daughters to follow the clues in an unfinished manuscript left behind by her husband. Paris by the Book uses locations from other books set in Paris (such as Madeline and The Red Balloon) to reveal family secrets as the mother and daughters search for clues to find the husband/father. Paris by the Book uses literary history to tell the unexpected story of the Eady family. It’s a sad, haunting, disturbing, and happy story all at the same time.
I started planning a trip to Mallorca (which was postponed) and discovered Anna Nicholas’ series about her life moving to and living on the island. A Lizard in My Luggage is book one of six in her hilarious series about life on a small Mediterranean island. After a spur of the moment trip to Mallorca, the Nicholas family finds themselves owners of a Mediterranean villa in desperate need of repair well beyond their means. This book and the remaining five books in the series provide a funny look at life in a new country while trying to make historical ruins a family home. The book does a good job of portraying her difficulties in transforming her life, mindset, and career from successful PR agency owner in swanky Mayfair, London to freelance writer living a rural country life on an island.
Part travel narrative and part memoir from the highly successful creator of the travel blog, Nomadic Matt. In 2005, he took his first overseas vacation to Thailand. Little did he know that trip would forever change the direction of his life. Upon returning home, he felt lost in every day normal life and longed to be back out on the road. The travel bug had hit him hard. He devised a plan to take a year off and travel the world. Ten years later, he came home. This is his story of over 500,000 miles, 1,000 hostels, and 90 different countries. He’s a philosophical guy and his memoir deeply analyzes how travel changes us. I really enjoyed his perspective—it’s different than the typical travel narrative. 10 Years a Nomad is well worth reading.
The Lost Vintage is one of those books you absolutely cannot put down! It’s historical fiction set on the grounds of a legendary French Burgundy winery owned by the same family for generations. The book spans from the early 20th century to World War II to the present day slowly revealing family secrets and the on-going damage they cause through generations. I learned so much about winemaking, wine history, and French wine from this book! The fictional winery is located in a village marking the separation between occupied France and the Resistance movement during WWII. This detail sets the stage for the entire plot. I highly recommend!
Faring to France on a Shoe was an eye-opening read! It’s the story of a couple who take their live-aboard barge from the Netherlands to France and back via canals. They live on their barge full-time, taking it out for vacations a few times a year. In fact, the author has several other related books about their barge vacation adventures. Faring to France on a Shoe is a day-to-day account of their canal route giving an in-depth look at traveling by barge. Informative, unique, and entertaining!
This travel narrative follows the historical 750-mile Way of Saint James from a Paris neighborhood across France to the Pyrenees. The author is a food and travel writer living in Paris for many years. Through curiosity and a health crisis, the author finds himself walking across France over the course of several months. With stops at every cultural landmark along the way, he provides a unique look at France’s past and modern problems. I’ve read a lot of books about France, but this one gives a unique perspective of regions and villages rarely visited. Paris to the Pyrenees is an enjoyable read.
My all-time favorite book of the year was Deep Creek by Pam Houston. I admit that I’m very biased in selecting this as my favorite. Everything that Pam Houston writes is my favorite! But…this book took everything up a notch. As a writer myself, I was just in awe of her sentence structure and how she told stories. Deep Creek is part memoir, part life on the ranch, and part life as a traveling writer and teacher. The outdoors are at the heart of everything she does and writes about. This book is a love letter to her 120-acre Colorado ranch, her many animals, and to wilderness everywhere. It’s a beautiful story of a lost woman who found herself in the wild.