Summer is the perfect time to kick back, relax on the beach, sit on the porch, swing in a hammock, and most importantly…read. But what about travel books? No, we’re not talking guidebooks or big picture books showcasing exotic destinations. Instead, here’s a look at five recently published books written by people either on a journey—or about one. The authors are travelers, adventurers, and even politicians. Plus, they’re great reads. You’ll be able to travel with them—and through them. So, enjoy the last weeks of summer…no beach required.
In this travel memoir, Sam Neumann tells the story of how he arrived in Denali, Alaska one day as a college student with a smile and a great sense of adventure. Less than 24 hours later, he was standing behind the counter of a filthy gas station. With satire and sarcasm, Neumann details the best, the worst, and the most awkward summer of his life working at this gas station at the edge of the breathtaking Denali National Park.
In the midst of Iceland’s financial collapse in 2009, Icelandic comedian Jon Gnarr founded the Best Party in 2009 to satirize his country’s political system. He promised to get the dinosaurs from Jurassic Park into downtown parks, offered free towels at public swimming pools, and vowed to break each one of his campaign promises. When his campaign to become the Mayor of Iceland’s capital strangely started succeeding, he found himself meeting international leaders and making serious changes in his country. From a funny radio show host to the Mayor of a European capital, Jon Gnarr candidly tells his story of how it all happened.
Amanda Lindhout grew up in a violent household from which she escaped by flipping through endless issues of National Geographic and imagining herself in exotic places. At 19, she saved her waitressing tips to live out her childhood dream. She went on a long backpacking journey through Latin America, Laos, Bangladesh, India, Sudan, Syria, and Pakistan. In 2008, she was kidnapped and held hostage for 460 days. She would visit “the house in the sky,” an imaginary place where she stored the memories of her travels to survive her captivity.
Kristin Newman wanted an escape from her fast-paced job as a sitcom writer as well as her friends, all of whom had settled down and were having babies. So she decided to travel the world, mostly alone, for many weeks each year in search of the art of “vacationship.” In this memoir, Newman writes about her many romantic adventures with attractive locals from around the world, all of whom provided an emotional connection, but did not tamper with her sense of freedom. From Israeli bartenders to Finnish poker players to Argentinian priests, Newman uses candid reflection, humor, sexiness, and inspiring language to tell her story.
Emily Straub’s novel The Vacationers is about one Manhattanite family’s trip to the Balearic island of Mallorca instead of the usual Hamptons. They pick this spot hoping that the sunsets, mountains, and beaches will help them escape the mounting tension back home. However, as with most family vacations, things don’t go according to plan, and jealousies and quiet secrets are brought to light. Through an irrevocable change, this family struggles to remain whole. Readers found this New York Times Bestseller to be an enjoyable read full of wry humor and tremendous heart.
For more great travel books, check out:
- 4 Travel Books to Get Excited About in 2014
- Beyond Beach Reads: 5 End-of-Summer Travel Memoirs
- Traveler’s Booklist: What to Read Before Visiting Asia
By Jessica May Tang for PeterGreenberg.com