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Travel Writing Book-of-the-Month

Featured in past issues of The Traveler

Travel Writing Book of the Month - Check out our past selections








  • Alaska demands something of those who choose Alaska Passages - Travel Writing Pick-of-the-Monthto live there. The forces that forged the magnificent landscape mold an independence and resilience required for life in Alaska. Alaska Passages contains the voices of some of those people that take on the demands of life in the Far North. In their stories we can all get a taste what it means to live in the Last Frontier. Alaska Passages: 20 Voices from Above the 54th Parallel





  • Though cuisine is a diverse aspect of cultures Food - Real Stories from the Road - July travel writing Pick-of-the-Monthand regions, food is a common language. After all, we all gotta eat, and the act of breaking bread is a bond that people from all corners of the globe can share. Experiencing another's culture through cuisine is the common thread that runs through this Travelers' Tales collection of stories: Food: True Stories of Life on the Road (Travelers' Tales Guides)


  • Our travel writing pick is a little bit different this month. Instead of tales of exotic adventures, we have a book that will help you on your own adventure.Learn Spanish the Easy Way!
    Knowing a foreign language, at least enough to function without causing any problems or embarrassing situations for yourself, is one important aspect for the intrepid world traveler.
    Spanish teacher and author Meg Graham combines phonetic learning and important cultural clues and tips to help readers learn to communicate gracefully and efficiently in everyday situations.
    If you've tried learning Spanish before and found it difficult or the learning process daunting, this book is for you! Ahora Hablo Travel Edition "Seven Simple Steps To Authentic Spanish (Ahora Hablo)


  • I first met Carla at a travel writing conference sponsored and ran by her cohorts, who call themselves the Wild Writing Women. We also spent some time chatting at a local meeting of the Bay Area Travel Writers Association.Carla King - American Borders : May Travel Writing Pick-of-the-Month
    Carla's a funny, intelligent, and well-traveled woman and writer. She also knows her way around a motorcycle. I guess you pretty much have to when you take it upon yourself to ride one through China, or all across Europe, or around the edges of our American Borders.
    This is enlightening and entertaining travel tale of Carla's solo experience circumnavigating America along the borders with Canada and Mexico in a Russian-built Ural sidecar motorcycle - that didn't always work. American Borders: A solo circumnavigation of the United States on a Russian sidecar motorcycle
  • The Traveler thinks one of the most important things you should never leave home without is a sense of humor. In that vain, we present our March travel writing pick-of-the-month, an anthology of stories from funny women out on the road. Travel the world and see how humorous it all really is. The Risks of Sunbathing Topless: And Other Funny Stories from the Road
  • The best travel writing, in our humble opinion, is not so much about a place in and of itself, but the story of a place. The best travel is, after all, a story to be told, or should be. The collection in this year's Best Travel Writing of 2006 holds true to that ideal.
    Facts and figures are important, but are best left to the travel guide or travel brochure. To really get a sense of a place requires someone telling a good story. And that's what you'll find in The Best American Series 2006 edition of The Best American Travel Writing.
    The Best American Travel Writing 2006 (The Best American Series)


  • Do you love to fly the airlines as much as we do here at The Traveler? Do you look forward to walking in stocking feet, carrying the contents of your pockets, your shoes, and the one carry-on bag (sans liquid) to the little chair just beyond security so that you can reassemble yourself and then wait for your flight in anticipation of even more comfort? The Traveler himself is nearly six feet four inches tall, and he tells us how giddy he gets just waiting to board a plane to find his seat made especially for people like him - if only he was six inches shorter.

    But as travelers we must endure, and one way to do that is to have available some light and humorous reading to help take our minds off the rigors of flying in these days of tightened security and airlines bleeding cash and cutting service.
    Elliott Hester knows all too well what can happen in the cabin of an airliner, and he relates his experiences with this amusing and light read. The perfect companion while waiting for your flight to Grandma's house this holiday season. Plane Insanity: A Flight Attendant's Tales of Sex, Rage, and Queasiness at 30,000 Feet

  • After spending five months in Hawaii, Jack London and his wife Charmian set out in the autumn of 1907 aboard the Snark for an eighteen month adventure into the South Seas, journeying to the Polynesian and Micronesian Islands. Drawn largely from his cultural experiences in the Pacific, this is a dark collection of London's tales about the South Sea. Originally published in 1911, the collection includes "Mauki" and "The Terrible Solomans."  South Sea Tales (Modern Library Classics)
  • It seems as if nobody here at The Traveler's offices took it upon themselves to review a new travel writing book for August. We've been hard at work keeping abreast of the latest travel resources, researching new adventures, reviewing articles from our team of travel writers, but no new travel book reviews came across the editor's desk.

    Truth be told, we may have done it on purpose. It's times like these that we bring out some of our favorites from the past, and there's none better than our hero - Mr. Mark Twain. We've been feeling like we could use a good dose of Twain lately.

    In Letters from Hawaii we get Twain's impressions of the Sandwich Islands, later to become the Hawaiian Islands, through his regular dispatches for the Sacramento Union in 1866.

    Twain observed the world in which he lived, but he is timeless in the way he can bring to bear a sense of place, filtered through his own sardonic wit and ironic twist of phrase. We think this should be required reading for all visitors to Hawaii - or anyone else interested in reading a great American writer, traveler, and philosopher.  Mark Twain's Letters from Hawaii

  • Imagine you've decided to pull up stakes to your comfortable first-world existence and move to a small atoll in the Gilbert Islands. Imagine that, since you've no idea really what to expect, you pack some sweaters because, even though you are moving to the equatorial Pacific, it will surely be cool in the evenings. That you never again touch those sweaters, which soon become a bit rancid in the searing humidity of said equatorial Pacific atoll, is but the very first of many surprises of life on the island of Tarawa in the Republic of Kiribati. One thing is for sure: it is very hot.

    J. Maarten Troost faces his ordeal of discovery on a remote Pacific atoll with wit and irony, bringing the reader along as he discovers that living on a tropical island isn't exactly they way he'd heard it would be back in the "civilized" world. For one thing, it is very, very hot (did we mention that?) Funny, informative, and eminently readable: The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific

  • The natural synergy between photography and travel is explored in these exquisite, lavishly illustrated, and instructive pages that demonstrate how artful camera use can record the true spirit of a place. On this thrilling worldwide tour, the author shows traveling nonprofessional photographers how to bring home memorable pictures of people, festivals, wildlife, architecture-even aerial and underwater shots. Learn and discover the art of travel photography with Spirit of Place: The Art of the Traveling Photographer

  • This isn't your typical travelogue. Dennis Jon's true life account of two weeks spent in Thailand take us through the culture and landscape of the country, including its famed nightlife. An unflinching account of a journey unfolding in real time, Jon takes us on a trip that dances on the line between fantasy and reality, and in the end forces him to finally face what he is running from: himself. A review copy was provided from the author, and the book is now only available from a Thai-based publisher. Insightful, entertaining, and a bit provocative. The Butterfly Trap
  • Eric Hansen has spent a lifetime doing what most of us only dream of: traveling the world in search of adventure and enlightenment. His witty and expressive prose bring it all out in this sagacious, insightful, sometimes poignant, and always fun collection of travel essays. Hansen is a master storyteller. The Traveler took this book along with him to the Big Island, not sure what to expect. He was pleasantly surprised and found it hard to but the book down.
    The Bird Man and the Lap Dancer : Close Encounters with Strangers
  • No, it's not great literature, but if you've ever had any questions about anything related to air travel (especially the part that happens while you're on the plane) then this little book probably has the answer.
    If you're an aviation geek like The Traveler, then you'll have a lot of fun with this book.
    Also great for jurors that find themselves with plenty of time to fill while waiting to do your part in administering justice. Ask the Pilot: Everything You Need to Know About Air Travel
  • Sand in My Bra?
    Yes, that's right! Adventurous women telling humourous tales of their mis-adventures traveling the globe. The Traveler's attention was, admittedly, caught by the title of this Traveler's Tales anthology. His attention was maintained by well told and amusing stories.
    Sand in My Bra and Other Misadventures: Funny Women Write from the Road (Travelers' Tales)
  • We love to start every new year by featuring some of the best American travel writing for the previous year. 2006 is no different; with the 2005 edition we have essays from Tom Bissell, John McPhee, Pam Houston, Ian Frazier, William Least Heat-Moon, and more.

    Through the eyes of this expert observers and story-tellers, we see a clear picture of the world we inhabit. The Best American Travel Writing 2005 (The Best American Series (TM))


  • We recently spent a couple days in Key West, and found what every west coast boy already knows: watching the sun set like a great orange ball into the vast blue ocean is the best way to end the day. The Traveler may still think that Hawaii is the place for him, but he can understand why Hemingway and Truman - among many, many others - found Key West as a "Paradise". That The Traveler isn't among them is of little consequence.

    In the interest of giving Key West a fair shake, we offer the insights of a place that only an astute cabby would have. Michael Suib may let loose with a cliche now and again (don't we all - or it wouldn't be cliche), but he's likeable enough and his book gives an insider's look of Key West that no west coast boy ever could. A fun and easy read:Confessions of a Key West Cabby

  • I was a fan of this book by the title alone.
    Would it be glib to say "What journey lover wouldn't be?"
    You've got Einstein, brains, and a road trip - it doesn't get any better than that. Except for the William S. Burroughs connection. Tracking down urban myths is a satisfying curiosity. Making a road trip with one is a noble pursuit. The author drives Dr. Harry and Al's brain from the east coast to the west coast. Dr. Harry has been the keeper of Einstein's brain for more than forty years, and wants to take them to (where else) California. I'd read this book again someday. Until then I am your content reviewer.Driving Mr. Albert : A Trip Across America with Einstein's Brain

  • Certainly Mark Twain spoke to his time, he lived and wrote about a world that has since changed in ways he could not have imagined. Nonetheless Twain's dry, insightful wit and powers of observation still serve us well in the 21st century - a great writer in any age.
    Following the Equator (National Geographic Adventure Classics)
  • Get a taste of New England, New York, and New Jersey in the year of America's birth. McCullough's exquisite detail, exceptional knowledge, and superb storytelling skills make this historical account a most enjoyable learning experience. We were all rebels and underdogs once. Travel back in time to the painful birth of a nation with David McCullough's 1776 
  • Who doesn’t long just to pack it all in one day, and just head out with “no direction home, like a complete unknown, like a rolling stone”? If there is such a thing as a guidebook into the soul of America , this is it. Blue Highways : A Journey into America
  • This month we take a look not at travel writing per se, but at travel writers. In Michael Shapiro's A Sense of Place we'll talk with such names as Bill Bryson, Pico Iyer, Tim Cahill, Isabel Allende, Paul Theroux and many others. Names that have highlighted past installments of the Travel Writing Pick-of-the-Month and others that will surely be featured in future issues. Get inside the heads of
    these great travel writers with A Sense of Place : Great Travel Writers Talk About Their Craft, Lives, and Inspiration (Travelers' Tales)

  • From his temporary home in the leafy suburbs of Georgetown, Washington, D.C., Italian newspaper columnist Severgnini turns a curious eye toward Americans, their bureaucracy and labor-saving gadgets. Originally published in the mid-nineties, an added quirk is looking at how much things have changed - and stayed exactly the same. Always a good read.
    Ciao, America! : An Italian Discovers the U.S.

  • A trio of young explorers travel from the high
    slopes of Mt. Otgen Tenger in Mongolia down the full extent of the Yenisey River through Siberia to the Arctic Ocean. If successful in their challenge, they will be the first group to run the world's longest unchallenged river.
    A true adventurer's tale. Lost in Mongolia : Rafting the World's Last Unchallenged River

  • Every year we feature this popular anthology of the best travel writing of the previous year from the top storytellers and authors currently roaming the planet. This year is no exception. The world is not just a place, but also a state of mind.You'll find many differant places and viewpoints with The Best American Travel Writing 2004 (Best American Travel Writing) 

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  • This month we feature John Steinbeck's classic and Nobel Prize winning story of his travels in 1960 across America with his dog Charley. Steinbeck's evocation of a time in America when the Russian's were the enemy-of-the-day and civil rights was causing unrest in the south awakens a sense of the country on the eve of a tumultuous decade. Steinbeck's observations still speak to us decades later, in our current dangerous and uncertain world. Steinbeck is truly a great writer and always a pleasure to read.
    Travels With Charley: In Search of America

  • Sean Condon weaves an amusing, insightful, and self-deprecating story of his move with wife Sally from Australia to their new home in Amsterdam to work on a magazine that shut down shortly after their arrival. The travails of earning legal residency, finding gainful employment, and securing a decent place to live in this city of canals, cloudy weather, cannabis, and culture is a well told story of interest to all ex pats and ex pat wanna-be's. Condon is able to describe life in Amsterdam in intimate detail while giving the reader a look into his head as he ponders the meaning of his own life and his place in the world.
    My 'Dam Life: Three Years in Holland (Lonely Planet Journeys (Travel Literature)

  • Imagine driving 15,000 miles from Tierra del Fuego at the Southern tip of South America to Prudhoe Bay in Alaska; and doing it in less than twenty-five days fueled mostly on beef jerky and frozen milkshakes. Well, you don't have to imagine it because Tim Cahill has done it for you! Cahill's classic story of beating the Guinness Book of World Records for this drive with professional driver Gary Sowerby is a fun and humorous tale told by one of the masters of travel writing. This month's Travel Writing Pick is Road Fever (Vintage Departures)
  • Thanks to the Interstate Highway System, it is now possible to travel from coast to coast without seeing anything. -Charles Kuralt
    It's Mike Marino's mission in life to stay off the interstate as much as possible and see everything. His insightful, informative, and lighthearted look on things has appeared in past Traveler issues and now are part of his new book. Mike's style embodies the best of the American Road, the pop culture that grew up around it, and what you'll find out there - off the interstate
    The Roadhead Chronicles: Popculture and Chrome Meet Asphalt and Art

  • Travel is a learning experience, most times the lessons learned are learned the hard way. It always seems worth it in Ayun Halliday's account of her world travels; some would say her "bohemian" world travels and mean it as a high compliment - the only way to fly! Adventure is always best accompanied with a good laugh. Halliday delivers both with No Touch Monkey: And Other Travel Lessons Learned Too Late (Adventura Books Series).
  • Read the account of famed travel writer - and Traveler favorite - Bill Bryson's account of journey to Africa as the guest of CARE International. Bryson arrived in Kenya with a set of mental images and expectations gleaned from television and low-budget Jungle Jim movies from his Iowa upbringing. All that was wiped away the instant he experienced the vibrant reality of Kenya and its people. This is a sometimes lighthearted, sometime serious, but always enlightening account of daily life in Africa. Bryson donates all proceeds of this book to CARE International. Africa is calling this month with Bill Bryson's African Diary
  • Paul Theroux is on of the best travel writers ever to have trotted the globe and told the story of what he has discovered; both in himself and in the world. This is Theroux's first collection of essays and articles devoted entirely to travel writing. A Traveler favorite - Fresh Air Fiend: Travel Writings, 1985-2000
  • Our travel writing pick this month is a down-to-earth practical guide to traveling smart. Travel Wisdom is packed with useful information on things like packing like a pro, managing travel money, staying healthy while traveling, travel etiquette, dealing with setbacks, and much more. Humorous anecdotes are interspersed throughout. This book provides useful information for all travelers, especially those interested in group travel and cruising. Everyone will find something useful in Travel Wisdom: Tips, Tools, and Tactics for All Travelers
  • Good travel writing is a window on the world. The best travel writing enlightens us and helps us to understand other places, people, and cultures. Sometimes it just helps us to understand ourselves and our own culture. The Best American Travel Writing series has been a regular Pick-of-the-Month for The Traveler, and this year is no different. The world is a funny, beautiful, dangerous, and sometimes tragic place. Explore it all in this collection of The Best American Travel Writing for 2003
  • Some people fancy themselves adventure travelers; Tim Cahill lives the life. In thirty entertaining essays, he takes us to the side of an active volcano in Ecuador, the vast salt mines of the Sahara, in search of of the Caspian Tiger in Turkey, giant centipedes in the Congo and a whloe lot more. There's even adventure to be found in a college writing class in Montana. Cahill's writing is self-effacing, humorous, and informative. If you can't live the life of an adventure traveler, then Tim Cahill is happy to do it for you - somebody's got to. Tim Cahill does it with Hold the Enlightenment
  • Situated on little more than a shifting sand bar on the tip of Cape Cod. Incorporated in 1720, Provincetown is the actual landing site of the Pilgrims; having wintered here before crossing the bay to what is now Plymouth. Provincetown is a world set apart. A please of escape and rebirth, windswept and remote. Michael Cunningham, Pulitzer prize winner for his novel The Hours, takes us on a walk through Provincetown. The stark and compelling landscape, unique haunts, unusual denizens and their habits are shown in exquisite detail. Visit this most unique small American town with Land's End : A Walk In Provincetown
  • Whimsical, humorous, entertaining, and informative. "The Shoes of Kilimanjaro" is a collection of "odd-ventures" experienced by the author. Cameron Burn's view of the world is just quirky enough to suggest to us that humor can be found in the most unlikely places. It can see us through our most vexing situations as we make our way in the world.. A good read and a lot of fun. The Shoes of Kilimanjaro & Other Oddventure Travel Stories

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  • We've had the opportunity to review an advance copy of a new book from first-time author Jeanine Lee Kitchel. Her tale is an engaging one that sparks everyone's imagination who has ever pondered the possibility of pulling up stakes and reinventing themselves in a new and exotic land. Follow Jeanine and her husband as they retire from the hustle and bustle of their silicon valley jobs and follow their quest to begin a new life in Puerto Morelos, a small fishing village on the Quintana Roo Coast, and to pursue the study of the Maya and the pyramids. This is an adventure that is fun to read, and an inspiration to anyone dreaming of the day when they can retire and live a quiet life in a new land. Where the Sky is Born: Living in the Land of the Maya
  • This month we features Bryson's latest book "A Short History of Nearly Everything". Bryson takes us on the ultimate journey as he presents our current scientific understanding of the world around us. From the unimaginable vastness of the universe to the unbelievably infinitesimal and strange word of quarks and protons and all the tiny bits of matter that make up everything we see. It's a journey of discovery for the curious but scientifically untrained among us - which is most of us. Bill Bryson presents fascinating and complex ideas in his usual easy and humorous manner. Another highly recommended book for anyone the least bit curious about what makes our universe - and ourselves - tick. A Short History of Nearly Everything
  • An anthology of travelers' tales from a most unique writing group known as Wild Writing Women. These twelve women travel the globe and bring their adventures to life in this collection of stories. From traveling through China on a motorcycle, to playing with fire on the edge of Volcano in Hawaii (a Traveler favorite), to experiencing the supernatural in Scotland and falling in love in Moscow, these women share their unique experience in a most entertaining and fascinating collection of stories. The Traveler Especially likes the fact that the Wild Writing Women are from his home town of San Francisco! A fine collection of stories from a great group of writers: Wild Writing Women, Stories of World Travel.
  • Regular readers of TheTraveler know that I love Bill Bryson's writing. He makes you laugh and teaches you a thing or two in the process. He's just a joy to read! So what better pick this month than his highly acclaimed tale of walking the Appalachian Trail. It's great summer reading with A Walk in the Woods
  • An inquiry into the human desire to travel and the ways in which the travel experience is affected by anticipation and memory presents a series of thought-provoking and humorous essays on airports, museums, landscapes, holiday romances, hotel mini-bars, and master artists, offering suggestions on how to render travel more fulfilling. The Traveler found this book a delight to read. The Art of Travel
  • Critics either loved or hated Craig Nelson's account of his worldwide adventures; from exotic and remote Indonesia to the Amazon Jungle and deep inside east Africa. Nelson does occasionally leave the reader wondering just what he is trying to say, but this is mostly a humorous, entertaining, and informative traveler's tale. Let's Get Lost
  • Travel to the South Seas, with tales of history and adventure. A look at the exploration of Captain James Cook in the South Seas in the late nineteenth century, and the irreversible impact that contact had on the native people living, until then, an existence in natural abundance, isolated from the rest of civilization. An interesting travel story and a great history lesson. Alan Moorehead's The Fatal Impact.
  • A slight departure from the usual travel literature we feature at The Traveler but a departure well worth it. Learn of a quiet life on the Left Bank of Paris, the wonders of the piano, and the passion of those that care for them. The Piano Shop on the Left Bank.
  • Bill Bryson is one of the premier travel writers of our time, his insightful humor brings a delightful and informative picture to wherever he is in the world. With In a Sunburned Country Bryson takes the reader through the history, culture, people, and awesome landscape of the land Down Under - Australia. Before you now it, you feel as if you've almost been there yourself. Bryson makes it look easy, and you always get a good laugh in the process. Highly recommended. In a Sunburned Country
  • Think travel writers are always cool, always have it together when they journey to new places to write about? Not so! At least not all the time. This humorous and entertaining book tells of some travel disaster stories encountered by authors of the renowned Lonely Planet series of travel guides. Lonely Planet Unpacked
  • An uplifting collect\ion to satisfy the wanderlust in those who travel for pleasure or business, as well as those who travel vicariously reading about the adventures of others - Chicken Soup for the Traveler's Soul.

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  • An insightful and humorous (downright hilarious at times) look at America, and a search for the perfect small town in Bill Bryson's The Lost Continent

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