The Best Travel Books of Spring

15 May

Stephanie Kirkland offers a dazzling exposition on urban transformation -- and a great history lesson to boot -- in

Though it might not be quite time to hang up your winter coat for good, a bushel of books have sprouted to inspire a bout of warm-weather wanderlust.

There’s something here for fans of every genre: memoir, fiction, adventure, natural history, history, even poetry. But what binds each of these books together is a compelling tale and a great sense of place.

Check out our top picks for spring, then let us know what’s on your #TripLit list (or recommend a perennial favorite) by leaving a comment:

  • Paris Reborn: Napoléon III, Baron Haussmann, and the Quest to Build a Modern City (Stephanie Kirkland): A vivid historical narrative about how the City of Light got its Second Empire good looks.
  • Walking Home: A Poet’s Journey (Simon Armitage): A renowned English poet walks 256 miles in 19 days along Britain’s Pennine Way, giving a poetry reading in a different village each evening in exchange for a bed.
  • Chasing Alaska: A Portrait of the Last Frontier Then and Now (C.B. Bernard): A reporter follows in the footsteps of an explorer ancestor who hiked, boated, and fished his way through Alaska, collecting Native artifacts along the way.
  • Gold Rush in the Jungle: The Race to Discover and Defend the Rarest Animals of Vietnam’s “Lost World” (Dan Drollette, Jr.): A veteran science writer reports on the Southeast Asian region where scientists fight to protect rare and endangered animals like the barking deer and the Kouprey forest ox from poachers.
  • The Turk Who Loved Apples: And Other Tales of Losing My Way Around the World (Matt Gross): This collection of never-before-published essays from The New York Times’s former “Frugal Traveler” columnist provides insight into the life and times of a professional travel writer.
  • Strange Stones: Dispatches from East and West (Peter Hessler): An anthology of essays by The New Yorker’s former Beijing correspondent on China, Japan, Nepal, and the U.S.
  • Fast Times in Palestine: A Love Affair with a Homeless Homeland (Pamela Olson): In this soulful memoir, a Stanford grad who spent two years living in Ramallah takes readers into the mundane, ancient, tragic world behind the news headlines.
  • Between Man and Beast: An Unlikely Explorer, The Evolution Debates, and the African Adventure that Took the Victorian World by Storm (Monte Reel): In this true-life adventure tale, gorilla fever grips Victorian England after amateur naturalist Paul du Chaillu brings back the first specimen from his daring expedition to what is now Gabon in West Africa.
  • New England Notebook: One Reporter, Six States, Uncommon Stories (Ted Reinstein): Quirky characters and who-knew attractions throughout New England fill this collection of stories and anecdotes.
  • The Paradise Guest House (Ellen Sussman): A survivor of Bali’s nightclub bombing returns to the island to attend a one-year memorial ceremony of the tragedy in this descriptively evocative novel about healing and second chances at love.
  • The Last Train to Zona Verde: My Ultimate African Safari (Paul Theroux): The master travel writer returns to Africa for what he says is the last time for a journey that takes him from Cape Town, through Namibia, to disheartening Angola.

The Best Travel Books of Spring

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