travel books

What we’re reading

On the road or off, it’s good to have a book or two handy.

In addition to book stores, some airports have free book swap stations.

This one we spotted in the airport in Walla Walla, Washington is pretty basic.

This one in the Helsinki Airport is more elaborate.

Need some suggestions on what to read? Here are some travel-related books that have recently arrived in the Stuck At The Airport mailbox.

Atlas Obscura: 2nd edition: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders is out and is full of even more odd, entertaining and must-see spots around the world.

There’s an Atlas Obscura page-a-day calendar and an Atlas Obscura wall calendar out for 2020 as well.

For anyone interested in Roman mythology or who may be traveling to Rome, David Stuttard’s book Roman Mythology – A Traveler’s Guide from Troy to Tivoli may come in handy.

And if you’ve ever been to Massachusetts or New England, you’ll likely recognize the names of just about all of the 25 Pioneer Valley towns that serve as settings for the stories in A Book of Fields – Tales from the Pioneer Valley , by my friend, Stephen Billias.

Greenfield, Deerfield, Springfield, Westfield, Sheffield and Pittsfield are all in here.

Plus one imaginary town and, says Billias, one field that is not a town at all.

What travel-related books are you reading?

(All the links here will take you to Amazon, but if you can, buy these books from your local bookseller.)

It came in the mail. Gear, gadgets and reading material for travelers

Courtesy Library of Congress, via Flickr Commons

All sorts of cool and curious things show up in the mail at Stuck at the Airport headquarters here in Seattle.

Much of it gets adopted and used in our travels. Or shared with our readers.

Here’s a round-up of some recent arrivals I’ll be testing out or bringing along on an upcoming 10 -day trip that will take me to London, Singapore and Hong Kong with just a carry-on bag.

One t-shirt, 10 days?

Clothing made of Merino wool is touted as being super soft and comfortable, lightweight, wrinkle-resistant and magically able to keep you warm in the cold and cool in the heat.

And it’s supposed to be stink-resistant.

The folks at Unbound Merino say their t-shirts, socks, briefs and hoodies can be worn for weeks or months at a time. I’m going to test out one of their shirts – at least for a few days.

More stuff from my BuzzBOX

From my recent BuzzBOX delivery, I’m tucking a handful of Handzies Soap + Water Wipes into my purse, backpack and carry-on bag. Made with natural castile soap, water and essential oils, they smell way better than hand sanitizers and will certainly come in … handy.

Books – about Paris, Japan, and life

E-books and audio books are great, but I still like carrying at least one turn-the-pages book.

I’m a museum fan, so delighted that Running Press sent along The Little(r) Museums of Paris, An Illustrated Guide to the City’s Hidden Gems by Emma Jacobs. The book is due out in June and includes many off-beat spots I’m looking forward to exploring on my next visit.

There’s also new book by travel writer and journalist Pico Iyer – Autumn Light: Season of Fire and Farewells- that Publishers Weekly describes as “an engrossing narrative, a moving meditation on loss, and an evocative, lyrical portrait of Japanese society.”  I will also pack tissues.

Souvenir Sunday: read an illustrated history of travel

Journey – an Illustrated History of Travel, published by DK in association with the Smithsonian Institution, arrived in the mail a few weeks back and our household has been leafing through it since then.

It’s a big coffee table-style book – 440 pages, in full color and pretty heavy – and is separated into 7 chapters, or “ages,” each tackling advances, experiences and the means by which humans have made their way around the world.

Chapters 1 through 3 tackle the Ancient World (including travel in ancient Egypt and the travels of Odysseus and Alexander the Great), travel that powered trade and conquests, including the travels of Marco Polo, and The Age of Discovery, when explorers set out to find “new” parts of the world.

Chapters 4 through 7 dig deep into the ‘The Age of Empires’, ‘The Age of Steam,’ ‘The Golden Age of Travel,’ and “The Age of Flight,’ with lots more achival images, historic maps, artifact images, bits of journals, and works of art.

I was delighted to find a spread on the Wunderkammern – or curiosity cabinets – that collectors began putting together in the 16th century to show off souvenirs such as shells, preserved animals, scientific and mechanical obects, and other odd tidbits they’d picked up on far off journeys or purchased from others who had gone on adventures.

The three voyages of Captian Cook are detailed, as are the inventions and inventors that brought the world flight.

There are sections on the rise of the manufactured souvenir, World’s Fairs, Grand Hotels, luggage labels, national parks, efforts to create maps that accurately reflect the world and parts of it, camping, Route 66, travel to every corner of the world, the Jet Age, space travel – and much, much more.

Towards the end of this big book there’s a section of biographies stretching from Norwegian polar explorer Roald Amundsen, to Amelia Earhart, Thor Heyerdahl, Ernest Shackleton, and Amerigo Vespucci.

This one is a keeper and a good gift for anyone interested in travel or history.

All images from Journey – an Illustrated History of Travel.


Travel and read: titles to consider

Here are some of the travel-related books that have shown up on my doorstep recently.

All are on my ‘must-read’ list for the next few weeks.

Former flight attendant and great writer, Tiffany Hawk, has written Love Me Anyway, a novel about the “complexities of love, friendship and family – and the excitement and loneliness that comes from living everywhere and nowhere, and the surprising detours life can take when you set out to discover the world.”

Author, artist, songwriter (and more), Julia Cameron has written Safe Journey: Prayers and Comfort for Frightened Flyers and Other Anxious Souls :

Pilot and air travel writer Patrick Smith debuts Cockpit Confidential – Everything You Need to Know About Air Travel in early May and it’s jam-packed with information about the nuts and bolts of flying as well as lots of behind-the-scenes information and even a handy glossary. I’ll be circling back around in a few days with details about my interview with Smith on the book.

And, in the guidebook category, I’m thinking of booking a trip to New York City just so I have an excuse to visit all the cool things and destinations described in Secret New York: An Unusual Guide , by T.M. Rives.

What’s on your bookshelf?