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Books to Spark Wanderlust

April 23, 2020 by Kate Abderholden

Whether you’re at home dreaming of travel, or preparing for a trip and looking to bring a book along for the journey – we’ve got you covered! We’ve collected a few book recommendations about some of our favorite adventure destinations from all over the world. Follow Inga Aksamit’s journey on the grueling John Muir Trail, discover the mummy buried in ice in Italy, explore Patagonia’s history with Bruce Chatwin. Books have a way of transporting you, so get lost in these stories and then join us for your next adventure off the pages.

Happy reading!

Hiker’s Patagonia

An exhilarating look at a place that still retains the exotic mystery of a far-off, unseen land, Bruce Chatwin’s exquisite account of his journey through Patagonia teems with evocative descriptions, remarkable bits of history, and unforgettable anecdotes. Fueled by an unmistakable lust for life and adventure and a singular gift for storytelling, Chatwin treks through “the uttermost part of the earth”—that stretch of land at the southern tip of South America, where bandits were once made welcome—in search of almost-forgotten legends, the descendants of Welsh immigrants, and the log cabin built by Butch Cassidy. An instant classic upon publication in 1977, In Patagonia is a masterpiece that has cast a long shadow upon the literary world.

When the country below the Rio Negro was an unknown wilderness, Hudson went to Patagonia to secure specimens of a rare species of birds but was shipwrecked on the coast of Patagonia, and had a weary tramp to El Carmen. Afterwards, when on a visit to a friend, he met with a revolver accident which rendered him partially helpless and restricted the field of his observations.

In these enforcedly idle days he made minute and careful observations of the bird animal and human life about him and of the physical features of the country which he compiled in his widely acclaimed 1893 book “Idle Days in Patagonia.” His work provides a very vivid picture of both animate and inanimate nature in one of the least known portions of the Southern Hemisphere.

Walking Japan

Learning to Bow has been heralded as one of the funniest, liveliest, and most insightful books ever written about the clash of cultures between America and Japan. With warmth and candor, Bruce Feiler recounts the year he spent as a teacher in a small rural town. Beginning with a ritual outdoor bath and culminating in an all-night trek to the top of Mt. Fuji, Feiler teaches his students about American culture, while they teach him everything from how to properly address an envelope to how to date a Japanese girl.

Pilling’s exploration begins with the 2011 triple disaster of earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown. His deep reporting reveals both Japan’s vulnerabilities and its resilience and pushes him to understand the country’s past through cycles of crisis and reconstruction. Japan’s survivalist mentality has carried it through tremendous hardship, but is also the source of great destruction: It was the nineteenth-century struggle to ward off colonial intent that resulted in Japan’s own imperial endeavor, culminating in the devastation of World War II. Even the postwar economic miracle—the manufacturing and commerce explosion that brought unprecedented economic growth and earned Japan international clout might have been a less pure victory than it seemed. In Bending Adversity Pilling questions what was lost in the country’s blind, aborted climb to #1. With the same rigor, he revisits 1990—the year the economic bubble burst, and the beginning of Japan’s “lost decades”—to ask if the turning point might be viewed differently. While financial struggle and national debt are a reality, post-growth Japan has also successfully maintained a stable standard of living and social cohesion. And while life has become less certain, opportunities—in particular for the young and for women—have diversified.

Summit Kilimanjaro

The Snows of Kilimanjaro and Other Stories contains ten of Hemingway’s most acclaimed and popular works of short fiction. Selected from Winner Take Nothing, Men Without Women, and The Fifth Column and the First Forty-Nine Stories, this collection includes “The Killers,” the first of Hemingway’s mature stories to be accepted by an American periodical; the autobiographical “Fathers and Sons,” which alludes, for the first time in Hemingway’s career, to his father’s suicide; “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber,” a “brilliant fusion of personal observation, heresay, and invention,” wrote Hemingway’s biographer, Carlos Baker; and the title story itself, of which Hemingway said: “I put all the true stuff in,” with enough material, he boasted, to fill four novels. Beautiful in their simplicity, startling in their originality, and unsurpassed in their craftsmanship, the stories in this volume highlight one of America’s master storytellers at the top of his form.

In one of the most acclaimed travel and adventure books of the past year, Rick Ridgeway chronicles his trek from the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro to the Indian Ocean, through Kenya’s famed Tsavo Park. His tale is, according to The Boston Globe, “a gripping account of how it feels to be charged by an incensed elephant and kept awake at night by the roaring of stalking lions.” But it is more than an adventure story. The Los Angeles Times noted that “the pace of walking gives Ridgeway time to contemplate his great theme and the great men and women who have struggled with the conundrum of whether man can live at peace with the beasts.” Ridgeway examines the effects of colonial expansion on the indigenous people, the landscape, and the animals, and contemplates the future for all of them.

Machu Picchu Inn-to-Inn Express

A special illustrated edition of Hiram Bingham’s classic work captures all the magnificence and mystery of the amazing archeological sites he uncovered. Early in the 20th century, Bingham ventured into the wild and then unknown country of the Eastern Peruvian Andes–and in 1911 came upon the fabulous Inca city that made him famous: Machu Picchu. In the space of one short season he went on to discover two more lost cities, including Vitcos, where the last Incan Emperor was assassinated.

In 1911, Hiram Bingham III (novel above) climbed into the Andes Mountains of Peru and “discovered” Machu Picchu. While history has recast Bingham as a villain who stole both priceless artifacts and credit for finding the great archeological site, Mark Adams set out to retrace the explorer’s perilous path in search of the truth—except he’d written about adventure far more than he’d actually lived it. In fact, he’d never even slept in a tent.

Turn Right at Machu Picchu is Adams’ fascinating and funny account of his journey through some of the world’s most majestic, historic, and remote landscapes guided only by a hard-as-nails Australian survivalist and one nagging question: Just what was Machu Picchu?

Tour du Mont Blanc

For centuries the Alps have been witness to the march of armies, the flow of pilgrims and Crusaders, the feats of mountaineers, and the dreams of engineers. In The Alps, Stephen O’Shea (“a graceful and passionate writer”―Washington Post) takes readers up and down these majestic mountains. Journeying through their 500-mile arc across France, Italy, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Germany, Austria, and Slovenia, he explores the reality behind historic events and reveals how the Alps have profoundly influenced culture and society.

In a mountain resort in the Alps, Hitler built his ‘Eagle’s Nest’ from which he conceived and directed the war. Skiing resorts were turned into training centres for mountain warfare, plans were made to invade Switzerland, and concentration camps were seeded. But the Alps were also cradles of resistance — home to US and British spies and double agents, along with French, Italian and Yugoslavian allies. There were tales of courage, heroism, self-sacrifice and armed struggle. Storming the Eagle’s Nest brings together these stories of the definitive account of this crucial arena of the Second World War, in which Europe’s exclusive playground became a battlefield.

Rafting the Middle Fork of the Salmon River

The story of the American West is the story of a relentless quest for a precious resource: water. It is a tale of rivers diverted and dammed, of political corruption and intrigue, of billion-dollar battles over water rights, of ecological and economic disaster. In his landmark book, Cadillac Desert, Marc Reisner writes of the earliest settlers, lured by the promise of paradise, and of the ruthless tactics employed by Los Angeles politicians and business interests to ensure the city’s growth. He documents the bitter rivalry between two government giants, the Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in the competition to transform the West. Based on more than a decade of research, Cadillac Desert is a stunning expose and a dramatic, intriguing history of the creation of an Eden–an Eden that may only be a mirage.

In this true story of adventure, author Jack Nisbet re-creates the life and times of David Thompson—fur trader, explorer, surveyor, and mapmaker. From 1784 to 1812, Thompson explored western North America, and his field journals provide the earliest written accounts of the natural history and indigenous cultures of the what is now British Columbia, Alberta, Montana, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon. Thompson was the first person to chart the entire route of the Columbia river, and his wilderness expeditions have become the stuff of legend. Jack Nisbet tracks the explorer across the content, interweaving his own observations with Thompson’s historical writings. The result is a fascinating story of two men discovering the Northwest territory almost two hundred years apart.

Best of the Dolomites

The discovery of a prehistoric man in a glacier in 1991 captured headlines throughout the world. Subsequent investigations into the body itself–and the extraordinary artifacts found close by–heralded one of the most important archaeological events of our time. Combining scientific authority with masterful storytelling, Spindler creates a fascinating portrait of one of humankind’s most ancient ancestors.

In May 1915, Italy declared war on the Habsburg Empire. Nearly 750,000 Italian troops were killed in savage, hopeless fighting on the stony hills north of Trieste and in the snows of the Dolomites. To maintain discipline, General Luigi Cadorna restored the Roman practice of decimation, executing random members of units that retreated or rebelled.

With elegance and pathos, historian Mark Thompson relates the saga of the Italian front, the nationalist frenzy and political intrigues that preceded the conflict, and the towering personalities of the statesmen, generals, and writers drawn into the heart of the chaos. A work of epic scale, The White War does full justice to the brutal and heart-wrenching war that inspired Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms.

Classic Galapagos Adventure Cruise

An attractive and comprehensive guidebook, this work has been completely revised and updated by the author. The reader will find an easy-to-use text which details the natural history of the plants and animals found in the Galápagos Islands. Management and conservation of the Galápagos National Park is discussed, and visitor information and notes about the various tourist sites are given. An index and checklist of plants and animals with page references and a glossary of technical terms are provided.

More than any other place on Earth, the Galápagos Islands are the workshop of evolution. Isolated and desolate, they were largely overlooked by early explorers until Charles Darwin arrived there in the 1830’s. It was Darwin who recognized that Galápagos’ isolation and desolation were advantages: the paucity of species and lack of outside influences made the workings of natural selection crystal clear. Since then, every important advance and controversy in evolutionary thinking has had its reflection on the Galápagos. In every sense-intellectually, institutionally, and culturally-the history of science on these islands is a history of the way evolutionary science was done for the past 150 years.Evolution’s Workshop tells the story of Darwin’s explorations there; the fabulous Gilded Age expeditions, run from rich men’s gigantic yachts, that featured rough-and-ready science during the day and black-tie dinners every night; the struggle for control of research on the Galápagos; the current efforts by “creation scientists” to use the Galápagos to undercut evolutionary teaching; and many other compelling stories.

John Muir Trail: Northbound to Yosemite

Here is an entertaining collection of John Muir’s most exciting adventures, representing some of his finest writing. From the famous avalanche ride off the rim of Yosemite Valley to his night spent weathering a windstorm at the top of a tree to death-defying falls on Alaskan glaciers, the renowned outdoorsman’s exploits are related in passages that are by turns exhilarating, unnerving, dizzying, and outrageous.

This lively account of a woman’s trek on the John Muir Trail, which won the Best Outdoor Book award from the Outdoor Writers Association of California in 2015, is a must-read for those who plan to hike the trail. Armchair adventurers will enjoy the tale as well. Written in journal style, the author’s description of the majestic scenery, comradery of trail friends and challenges of the terrain are engaging and informative. Along the way, trekkers will see how she and her husband met obstacles head-on, lightened their load, planned meals and managed daily logistics for more than three weeks on the trail. The John Muir Trail traces an undulating path along the crest of the High Sierra with legendary elevation gains and losses of more 84,000 feet, topping out at 14,505 feet on the summit of Mt. Whitney. Updated to include a northbound section from Horseshoe Meadows to Onion Valley.

Everest Lodge to Lodge Trek

A landmark in travel writing, this is the incredible true story of Heinrich Harrer’s escape across the Himalayas to Tibet, set against the backdrop of the Second World War. Heinrich Harrer, already one of the greatest mountaineers of his time, was climbing in the Himalayas when war broke out in Europe. He was imprisoned by the British in India but succeeded in escaping and fled to Tibet. Settling in Lhasa, the Forbidden City, where he became a friend and tutor to the Dalai Lama, Heinrich Harrer spent seven years gaining a more profound understanding of Tibet and the Tibetans than any Westerner before him.

Following his trek along the length of the Nile River, explorer Levison Wood takes on his greatest challenge yet: navigating the treacherous foothills of the Himalayas, the world’s highest mountain range. Praised by Bear Grylls, Levison Wood has been called “the toughest man on TV” (The Times UK). Now, following in the footsteps of the great explorers, Levison recounts the beauty and danger he found along the Silk Road route of Afghanistan, the Line of Control between Pakistan and India, the disputed territories of Kashmir and the earth-quake ravaged lands of Nepal.

Over the course of six months, Wood and his trusted guides trek 1,700 grueling miles across the roof of the world. Packed with action and emotion, Walking the Himalayas is the story of one intrepid man’s travels in a world poised on the edge of tremendous change.

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About the Author Kate Abderholden

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