Six inspiring travel books for your Christmas wishlist

Including Ahmed M. Badr's While the Earth Sleeps We Travel and Melissa Harrison's The Stubborn Light of Things, these bright new books offer some itinerant inspiration for those dark winter nights. 

By Sarah Barrell
Published 7 Dec 2020, 08:00 GMT

All the best travel books to serve as gifts for your loved ones this Christmas.

Photograph by Getty Images

1. Fifty Words for Snow, by Nancy Campbell

Award-winning author Nancy Campbell takes 50 words for the white stuff from around the globe and uses them as a sparkling prism to reveal what snow means to different cultures. Snow isn’t silent and isn’t always white, she observes — and this is just a starting point for her exploration of the language that describes myriad snowscapes, from mountain peaks and ancient glaciers to boreal cities and Baltic landscapes. (Elliott & Thomson, £12.99)

2. The Ordnance Survey Great British Treasure Hunt

Can you solve over 350 clues on a puzzle adventure from your own home? Winter lockdowns may be the time to test your mettle against the Ordnance Survey, the world’s leading producer of maps since its establishment in 1791. The cartographic hunt focuses on 40 new British maps, taking in such iconic spots as Loch Ness and the cloisters of Cambridge, and involves cracking codes and solving anagrams on the trail of mythical treasure. (Trapeze, £14.99)

3. The Stubborn Light of Things, by Melissa Harrison

If you haven’t heard Harrison’s soul-soothing podcast, then this eponymous nature diary, following her move from south London to the Suffolk countryside, should be a joyful reason to do so. It’s the perfect companion piece to this chronicle of her journey to uncover the nature that lurks, often unnoticed, on our doorsteps wherever we live, and celebrate its way of signalling the seasons. (Faber & Faber, £14.99)

4. While the Earth Sleeps We Travel, by Ahmed M. Badr

In 2018, Iraqi-American poet and former refugee Badr travelled to Greece, Trinidad and Tobago, and Syracuse, New York, holding storytelling workshops with displaced youth living in and outside of camps. Combining his poetry with the personal narratives and artistic offerings of young refugees, this collection of stories, poetry and art offers unheard perspectives of those travelling in search of home. (Andrews McMeel, £14.99)

5. Best American Travel Writing 2020 

As chosen by series editor Jason Wilson and guest editor Robert Macfarlane: the best travel writing essays published within the past year. Taking in an existential reckoning at an avalanche school, an act of kindness at the Mexican-American border and a moral dilemma at a Kenyan orphanage, these are tales that inspire and comfort. Or, in Macfarlane’s words, ‘transport readers to other worlds, and imagine alternative presents and alternative futures’. (Mariner Books, £12.99)

6. Spirited: Cocktails from around the world

’Tis the season to be jolly, but if you need a little help getting there, try this glossy compendium of exotic libations from around the globe. Penned by cocktail doyenne Adrienne Stillman, this is a guide aimed at the at-home bartender, spotlighting hundreds of cocktail recipes from the past 500 years, including classics and lesser-known regional favourites from 60 countries. For a bold start, try the jägerita, a Jägermeister margarita created in London and popularised in Portland, Oregon. (Phaidon, £35)

Published in the Jan/Feb 2021 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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