The Best New Travel Books from A Traveler's Library

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Dec 13, 2010 / 0 comments

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During October and November, A Traveler's Library received a big pile of new books from publishers, and almost all of them will make you want to pack your bag and get on the road (or in the air).

Here's a quick review of some of my favorite recent books--not  the traditional guide book or travel memoir, but books that make you want to GO far away. (For more information about the books, visit A Traveler's Library.)

The Mistaken Wife by Rose Melikan is set in France as Napoleon is rising to power. An American man and British Women have the espionage duty of getting America to withdraw their friendship with the revolutionary government. Terrific depiction of the time and place.

Apples Are From Kazakhstan by Christopher Robbins takes us on a tour of a country that few people have visited, Kazakhstan. As I read the book, I thought that Robbins was doing a great job of giving me a feeling for this remarkable country. But since I had never been there, I sent it to the organizer of a sister city program in Tucson who has been to Kazakhstan many times. He agreed. Great book. And a great place to visit.

Cemetery of Dreams by S. Mostofi. Ms Mostofi grew up in the United States after her family fled the revolution in Iran. She shows us what Iran was like during the time they were holding American embassy personnel hostage. This is a different Iran, the upper educated classes that were mostly non-religious and not in sympathy with the conservative leaders of the revolution. Some eye-opening history and good depiction of place.

George Eliot in Love by Brenda Maddox. This slim book focuses on Eliot's love life, filling in some blanks left in weightier biographies. Not as strong on showing us the landscape of England as a traveler might like, but certainly a good look at an important British literary figure.

The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin differs from most romances because it is written by a man. In this sometimes grueling adventure tale a man and a woman survive a plane crash in the northern part of Utah. If you are an adventure traveler and like mountains, this will make you want to go to the High Unitas--but get there on foot, not by a downed airplane, please.

Come Again No More by Jack Todd, paints life in Wyoming and some other western locales during the Great Depression. I found this book riveting, and true to the Western U.S. that it describes.

A Moveable Feast, edited by Don George, travels the entire world. Nothing to do with Ernest Hemingway's memoir of the same name, this book presents essays about food and travel. A variety of places and meals are recreated by a slew of talented writers.

Museo Guides. I was looking at their three books about movie locations in various parts of the world. (North America, Europe, and Africa, Asia and the Pacific) My only complaint was that they cover too few places, but the advantage is that the writers have expertise in the area they are writing about--and the small book will fit in your purse or pocket, and lead you to sights you might have otherwise missed.

War on the Margins by Libby Cone. This book about World War Two on Jersey, a British Channel Island, came out two years ago, but was reissued in paper back in the U.S. this fall. You probably have heard of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, about another Channel Island, Guernsey. War on the Margins, while it has touches of humor, is a much more somber telling of the experience. Both books have made me determined to visit the lovely islands some time.

City of Tranquil Light by Bo Caldwell tells the story of Mennonite missionaries in China during the early part of the 20th century. The details of their life are fascinating, and you know they are true because she has based the novel on the lives of her grandparents. A good book for historic background of China, and a look at a smaller, rural community.

Book Lust to Go by Nancy Pearl. This former librarian has thousands of fans because of her National Public Radio shows. There is even a Nancy Pearl librarian action figure, I hear. She recommends books of various kinds in her books and radio show, but this one concentrates on books that make you want to travel and inform your trip, organized by place. It certainly belongs on every traveler's bookshelf.

book lust to go


I have other books--a large stack--that were published in the fall, but I have not managed to read them, so I will not talk about them yet. Stay tuned to hear more about books that belong in YOUR Traveler's Library.

Vera Marie Badertscher is a Freelance Writer who blogs about books and movies that inspire travel at A Traveler's Library. She is co-author with Charnell Havens of Quincy Tahoma: Life and Legacy of a Navajo Artist, which will be published in April 2011. You can follow the biographer's journey at the Tahoma Blog.