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Beacon Senior News

See the world while staying home

May 05, 2020 09:14AM ● By Victor Block

The deserts of Dubai as mentioned in "The Falcon Thief."

8 books to sustain the travel bug

Hop aboard the fabled Orient Express train. Pedal the route of the famous Tour de France Monisha Rajesh bicycle race. Explore the colorful canals and history-rich streets of Venice.

So what if you can’t make these inviting journeys right now? You can still take virtual trips that immerse you in the sights, sounds and other appeals of those and other places, and experiences, by reading about them.

The books described below—some new, some old—are rated among the most outstanding travel writing in recent years. Let your eyes do the walking and your imagination can lead you to places you may have visited, and others you’d like to when things return to normal.

travel books trains

The luxurious Venice Simplon Orient Express is one of the globe-straddling rail journeys described in Monisha Rajesh's "Around the World in 80 Trains."

1) “Around the World in 80 Trains” by Monisha Rajesh describes a globe-straddling rail journey through North America, Europe and Asia. It includes a high-altitude ride in Tibet, a trans-Canadian journey, and the luxurious Venice Simplon Orient-Express. In addition to descriptions of train trips and destinations, the author brings to life fascinating people she encounters along the way.

2) “French Revolutions: Cycling the Tour de France" by Tim Moore. Pedal power is the mode of transportation that moves author Tim Moore as he attempts to cover the entire course of the legendary French bike race. Moore is one of the select writers of comic travelogues, and his words make enjoyable reading for everyone from serious bikers to those who have never set foot on a pedal.

3) “The Journey Matters: Twentieth-Century Travel in the True Style” by Jonathan Glancey. Excursions rather than destinations are the focus of this book. The author brings to life the Golden Age of Travel, when getting to a destination was as important and enjoyable as being there. He augments accounts of journeys he took—like crossing the Atlantic on the SS Normandie and flying from England to Singapore with England’s Imperial Airways, a British airline that operated from 1924 to 1939— with equally intriguing stories by fictionalized narrators. 

Jan Morris' "The World of Venice" captures the city's essence better than any other book.

4) “The World of Venice” by Jan Morris. When it comes to books about destinations seldom, if ever, has the essence of a city been better described than in this.award-winning tome. It's not a guide or history book, but rather one that absorbs the reader into the character and life of that magnificent city. Venice comes alive almost as if the reader were there enjoying its architecture, canals, curiosities and, above all, its people.

5) “1,000 Places to See Before You Die” by Patricia Schultz covers the world in scope. The latest edition takes almost 500 pages illustrated by some 1,100 photographs to highlight what the author considers to be the Earth’s “must-see” attractions. They cover the gamut from the Cappadocia region of Turkey—a geologically moonscaped area of rock towers—to cheetahs hunting for prey in Kenya to China's rugged Huangshan Mountains.

This book is available now as an eBook through OverDrive for Mesa County Libraries and Montrose Regional Library cardholders.

6) “Hidden Places” by Sarah Baxter. While only 25 destinations are highlighted, they live up to the book’s name in terms of both obscurity and appeal. Included are little-known citadels that are reachable only on foot, jungle-blanketed remains of the great Mayan civilization, and underwater ruins buried deep in the Pacific Ocean.

Mayan ruins buried in the jungle are one of 25 must-see destinations in Sarah Baxter's book, "Hidden Places."

7) “Lonely Planet's Best Travel Destinations.” More accessible sites are previewed in the 2020 edition of this annual collation of hot spots, which ranks the Top 10 countries (number one is Bhutan), cities (Salzburg, Austria) and best value destinations (Indonesia). Other “Best” ratings include new places to stay and new food experiences.

8) “The Falcon Thief” by Joshua Hammer. Those who prefer to combine a bit of intrigue with their travel reading are likely to find this book to be a page-turner. The story is a fact-based crime adventure about a wildlife detective seeking to apprehend a globe-trotting smuggler who spent two decades capturing rare birds and their eggs. The story whisks readers from the Matobo National Park in Zimbabwe and the deserts of Dubai to the volcanoes of Patagonia and frigid tundra near the Arctic Circle.

This book is available as an eBook through OverDrive for Mesa County Libraries and Montrose Regional Library cardholders.