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Love exploring the world but would rather not leave the comfort of your favorite reading spot? We get it, especially during these times of self-quarantine when actual travel isn’t happening.
Thankfully, some of the best journeys can be taken right on the page. These new travel memoirs will fuel your literary wanderlust… but be warned, they’re inspiring and might just motivate you to start planning your next trip off the page once travel bans are lifted.
Regardless of whether you’re a full-time homebody or you have more stamps in your passport than Rick Steves, you’ll enjoy these recent releases.
The Adventurer’s Son: A Memoir by Roman Dial (Released Feb 18, 2020)
Sure to be a classic in outdoor literature right alongside Into the Wild, this is the riveting account of the author’s 2-year quest to discover what really happened to his son, who disappeared into an untracked rainforest in Costa Rica.
Amazon Woman: Facing Fears, Chasing Dreams, and a Quest to Kayak the World’s Largest River from Source to Sea by Darcy Gaechter (Released March 3, 2020)
The most life-changing and inspiring journeys often seem to be the solo kind. In this part memoir, part feminist manifesto, the author chronicles her harrowing 148-day journey to kayak the entire Amazon River. She was the first female ever to do so, and this story is filled with courage and strength in the face of many challenges, including 25 straight days of raging Class Five whitewater, “illegal loggers, narco-traffickers, murderous Shining Path rebels, and ruthless poachers in the black market trade in endangered species.”
Spirit Run: A 6,000-Mile Marathon Through North America’s Stolen Land by Noé Álvarez (Released March 3, 2020)
Publishers Weekly said of Noé Álvarez’s Spirit Run: “Álvarez debuts with a spellbinding narrative of his coming to terms with his place in America today … This literary tour de force beautifully combines outdoor adventure with a sharp take on immigration.” The son of working-class Mexican immigrants, Álvarez leaves behind a life of labor in Yakima, Washington to take part in a Native American marathon from Canada to Guatemala. On the run through mountains, deserts, and towns in the Mexican territory his parents left behind, he develops a renewed connection with the land.
Nala’s World: One Man, His Rescue Cat, and a Bike Ride Around the Globe by Dean Nicholson (Forthcoming Sept 29, 2020)
This one won’t be published until late summer, but we couldn’t resist including it here. Mark your calendar for the inspiring adventure of the Instagram phenomenon @1bike1world and his “life-changing friendship with his rescue cat, Nala” as the duo bikes their way around the world.
See You in the Piazza: New Places to Discover in Italy by Frances Mayes
From the bestselling author of Under the Tuscan Sun (which also inspired the movie that made us all want to pack up and move to Bramasole), this is the book to pick up if you love epicurean travel narratives. It’s like taking a vacation as you read of Italy’s hidden pleasures, peppered with inventive new recipes celebrating Italian cuisine.
To the Island of Tides: A Journey to Lindisfarne by Alistair Moffat
A journey through historical landscapes awaits in this travel memoir in which the author travels through Scotland and northern England to Lindisfarne (aka the Holy Isle). Famous for its monastery and full of history, the island is often found to be spiritually renewing. This book is part personal journey, part mediation on the power of place.
Wild Womenby Mariella Frostrup
The cover of this one pretty much says it all. Women and their amazing adventures over land and air — from Constantinople to Crimea, Antarctica to the Andes. This is a collection of more than 50 of the most epic adventures ever experienced and told by women, from the 1700s to present day.
The Unlikeliest Backpacker: From Office Desk to Wilderness by Kathryn Barnes
Curious about what a long-distance backpacking trip realistically looks like? This entertaining memoir chronicles a British couple who jump ship from their ordinary (read: boring) lives, disconnect from the modern world, fly to America, and hike the Pacific Crest Trail — with no prior outdoor adventure experience.
Read this one if you’re interested in modern restaurant culture and hungry for the next time you can dine out post-quarantine. This story, full of artistry and flavor, encompasses a 4-year globe-trotting adventure in which a food critic chronicles his travels with the renowned Danish chef of Noma, René Redzepi, and meets many other acclaimed chefs along the way.
Collection of essays more your style? This series of essays spans the author’s 30 years of travel to some of the most remote parts of the world while carrying little more than a worn backpack and a diary. From her first solo trip to Australia to a harrowing bus journey in Pakistan to the icescapes of Antarctica, this collection covers a whole lotta places and a whole lotta emotions.
For the literature lover, this book takes you on an illuminating journey through 25 key locations of literature’s best and brightest authors, movements, and moments. There are also full-page color illustrations (always a win) to accompany travel journalist Sarah Baxter’s prose.
Thirst: 2600 Miles to Home by Heather Anderson
By age 25, Heather “Anish” Anderson had already hiked the Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail, and the Continental Divide Trail (aka the “Triple Crown” of backpacking). In her new memoir, she writes of leaving her job and marriage just a few years later to return to the mountains, sharing an inspiring message of courage for those in need of a confidence boost.
Naomi is the book club editor of Greatist Reads and a copy editor at Greatist. She loves focusing on all things books, beauty, wellness, and mental health. She’s also a YA fantasy author and bookstagrammer. You can find her (and her cat) @avioletlife.