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World Book Day: our favourite travel books

To celebrate World Book Day we asked the National Geographic Traveller team to reveal a travel book that has amazed or inspired them

Published 9 Apr 2019, 00:03 BST
World Book Day 2019: our favourite travel books
Reading by a lake.
Photograph by Getty

How to Travel, by The School of Life
Connor McGovern, assistant editor
This isn’t a guide to a place, but rather to travel itself. The collection of eight thought-provoking essays has enlightened me on what drives us to jet off in the first place, why we choose the places we do and how we can enjoy the experience even more. It made me realise all the things I wasn’t fully appreciating: since picking it up, I’ve developed a newfound love of eating alone, I’m reassured there’s no shame in travelling purely for a spot of sun, and I’ve even learnt to appreciate the wonders of the airport (yes, they exist!).

Point it: Traveller’s Language Kit, by Dieter Graf
Becky Redman, art editor
My foreign language skills are very limited, so this fantastic, pocket-sized picture dictionary comes with me on all my travels abroad. Perfect for communicating most of the basics, all you have to do is point to the relevant photo. The food section is my favourite — I never have to mime ‘aubergines’ ever again!

The Mists of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley
Maria Pieri, editorial director
The fantasy novel retells the Arthurian tales from a female perspective. It’s inspired many family visits to Cornwall, the highlights of which have included King Arthur’s reputed birthplace and nearby Tintagel Castle, the market town of Camelford (Camelot, some say) and Dozmary Pool (where Excalibur is said to lie).

The Map Tour: A History of Tourism Told Through Rare Maps, by Hugh Thomson
Josephine Price, online editor
I’ve always loved old maps, so I was happy to discover this fascinating, recently published book, which traces the parallel evolution of tourism and cartography. Brimming with obscure maps, personal anecdotes and diary extracts from travel writers throughout history, it’s an incredible collection that charts the story of travel from 1700 to the present day.

Days in the Caucasus, by Banine
Farida Zeynalova, assistant editor, National Geographic Traveller Food
This is Azerbaijani-French writer Banine’s account of growing up in Baku during the turbulent early years of 20th century. Her powerful prose vividly recalls such momentous occasions as her family becoming overnight millionaires, only to lose it all in the Bolshevik Revolution, and abandoning her husband to flee to Paris. It’s wry, moving, and wildly unfamiliar.
On sale from 18 April 2019.

Golden Hill, by Francis Spufford
Jo Fletcher-Cross, editorial manager
This isn’t, strictly speaking, a travel book — it’s a novel, set in 1746, that follows the mysterious adventures of a young British man who’s just arrived by boat in New York. I found the descriptions of the nascent Big Apple as a small, mercenary, dangerous colonial town particularly evocative. I also loved returning to New York after reading the book and trying to trace the locations mentioned (The Van Cortlandt House Museum in the Bronx, the oldest surviving building in the borough, is a good place to start).

Into the Wild, by Jon Krakauer
Nicola Trup, associate editor
This is the book I wish I’d written. It follows in the footsteps of 24-year-old American Christopher McCandless, who, inspired by the writing of Emerson and Thoreau, gave away all his belongings and left home to travel the country in search of oneness with nature. It’s clear from the start that things didn’t end well for him, but if, like me, you ache for the great outdoors, it’s hard not to admire McCandless’s aims. I was also left with a burning desire to visit Alaska, which I will fulfil one day.

World Book Day is 7 March 2019

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