December is the time for gift giving. I much prefer to give experiences to those I love. This year my daughter and I are going to listen to Vivaldi in one of Philadelphia’s most beautiful buildings, The Masonic Temple. I also gave her and her husband a night in Salem, Massachusetts because Amanda truly wanted to go for Halloween. Alex is getting a school ring for his finals moments at Temple. For my SO, I bought tickets to an audience with the Pope for our trip next April/May. The village decided on the gift of time and we had a leisurely and delightful brunch at one of Main Line’s best eateries, Terrain.
Actually, I try not to be a last minute gift giver. Sometimes it happens. Luckily, most of my family and village enjoy reading. I love to give books as presents. Each one of my friends is different in what they enjoy, but one thing they all have in common is their love of travel. I started looking surfing and found some great lists of travel books that can easily find their way into the hands of someone on your gift giving list. From memoirs to how-tos, these books are sure to make an impression.
Alone Time: Four Seasons, Four Cities, and the Pleasures of Solitude by Stephanie Rosenbloom
- A travel alone book about taking the time to slow down, savor, and try new things. Imagine walking through Paris, Florence, Istanbul, and New York with the pleasure of four different seasons and the solitude to enjoy it. It’s about learning to be and to be with yourself. Bliss. I am buying this and then lending out to my village and daughter.
Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders By Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras, and Ella Morton
- I am a huge fan of Atlas Obscura. I have found myself having gone to some of the sites they list and being inspired by some of their finds. It’s amazing how many hidden gems that are overshadowed by the trendy mainstream tourist centers. I would give this to Jimmy who appreciates the obscure, my kids, and my SO. Let explore it together, guys!
36 Hours: USA & Canada by Barbara Ireland
- Barbara Ireland is traveling the US and Canada 36 hours at a time. This is a great guide that offers itineraries for weekend getaways to “glittering cities, eccentric small towns and heart-stoppingly beautiful mountains and plains”. Erika is a weekend warrior and always on the go. This one’s for her and I may have to borrow it.
Footsteps: From Ferrante’s Naples to Hammett’s San Francisco, Literary Pilgrimages Around the World from The New York Times
- A book that tours the world via literature. Wow. It’s based on the New York Times travel column, Footsteps, which “is an anthology of literary pilgrimages, exploring the geographic muses behind some of history’s greatest writers”. This would be for Susan and my kids. Susan is a traveler, Amanda is an avid reader, and Alex is a film production major.
A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson
- This takes the reader on a journey of the history, ecology, and majesty of the Appalachian Trail which he sprinkles with stories of the people he met along the way. I recently went to Camp Michoux on the Appalachian Trail and it was a beautiful, lonely, and captivating. Amanda is training to walk part of the trail, so this one is for her.
Gastro Obscura: A Food Adventurer’s Guide by Cecily Wong, Dyan Thuras, et al.
- A guide to gross, unusual, obscure, and sometimes inedible delights from around the world. What is not to love about this? I have an infinity for Atlas Obscura and have followed them for years. This guide would be for me. I just hope there are pictures.
Around the World in 80 Books by David Damrosch
- The book grew from the author’s speaking tour based on the Jules Vern character, Phileas Fogg and his trip Around the World in 80 days. His itinerary included trips to England, Europe, Asia and the Americas,. Each talk would include 5 literary works that shaped the city’s identity. 80 books total… When the pandemic derailed his plans, he continued his tour via this book. This one is definitely for my son Alex who is searching for film production ideas.
Pilgrimage: Journeys of Meaning by Peter Stanford
- The author guides you through sacred sites around the world and their historical and spiritual significance. These sites allow for an escape to refocus the mind and soul. Wow. Sign me up. This one is my friend, Bob, who is spiritual.
Wanderlust How to Travel Solo: Holiday Tips for Independent Adventurers
by Lyn Hughes.
- This book outlines how to travel solo from packing to destinations and loneliness. I am seeing a trend in more women traveling solo or maybe I am just noticing it more. My bestie has, and so has Amanda’s sorority sister, Amanda, and me.
How to Shit Around the World by Dr Jane Wilson-Howarth
- A how to stay healthy while traveling book that will make you laugh out loud…yes, please! The good doctor outlines “sanitizing unhealthy water, safely consuming exotic foods, avoiding dehydration, keeping good hygiene on the road, and immunization” and dealing whatever crawls, immunizations, and illness. This would be for my Bestie who has a PhD in Science and appreciates poop humor with her 8 year old son.
This is just a few of the great books out there and a few of my choices. Below are some links to other lists where you can find some great books. Some books on my list are also on the list below and there are books that are repeats on several lists like Anthony Bourdain’s book. Take the time not only to think about who’s on your holiday gift list but pick something up for yourself. Inspire yourself to dream and inspire yourself to see those dreams through. Happy holidays.
More lists to peruse!