We had a lot of time to read during our road trip this summer, and we found some great bookstores along the way. Here are my favorite adventure and travel reads from our many evenings spent reading by the fire:
Follow former NPR correspondent Eric Weiner as he travels across the world to find the secret to happiness. A great mix of wit and social science. For those who are fans of Bill Bryson, it’s a fairly similar type of read (comedy + travelogue).
An intricately-woven tale of a footrace that pits shy Mexican natives against elite American ultra runners, and the science behind their differing methods of success. Christopher McDougall goes all-in, enduring a rather harrowing journey to visit the Tarahumara in Mexico’s isolated Copper Canyons (twice!). I had no idea this tribe existed, and I found their story quite fascinating.
Magazine editor Mark Adams ventures to the jungles of Peru to retrace the steps of Hiram Bingham III, an American academic and explorer (who is said to be the inspiration for Indiana Jones). Bingham is credited with discovering and publicizing many of the ruins in Peru, although there are a few standing allegations to refute this.
Adams follows an eccentric Australian modern-day explorer into the jungle, trailed by coca-chewing Peruvian guides. As a magazine editor, it’s quite entertaining to read about his adjustment to hiking at high altitudes. His descriptions of ancient temples made me want to hop on a plane and start hiking! Later in the book Adams speaks of the allegations against Bingham, and the impacts of tourism on this area of Peru.
The story of the first American to summit all fourteen of the world’s peaks over 8,000 meters (~26,250 feet). He began as a guide on Mount Rainier, and made his way safely through 30 Himalayan expeditions. Ed comes off a bit egotistical at times, but his stories will keep you on the edge of your seat.
Fall in love with the blissful Tuscan countryside, in a way most of us will never be able to see it. Frances Mayes and her husband buy and renovate a large villa in the Tuscan countryside, which slowly transforms into a home away from home. Travel with them as they visit local markets, restore a large garden and orchard, make local and expat friends, learn how to make regional cuisine, and learn about Italian history and customs. I might be a bit biased since Italy is my favorite foreign country, but it’s undeniably a pleasant read. Sequel: Bella Tuscany
A glimpse into the life of an expat living in Mexico. While writing a travel article, Tony Cohan visits places few Americans ever see. He also expresses his conflicting feelings about tourism, as he sees the transformation of authentic Mexican towns into places where foreigners build their own communities. Prequel: On Mexican Time