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Nine of the best travel books for 2022

We round up the top titles hitting the shelves this season, from travel memoirs and guidebooks to nature writing and fiction with a firm sense of place.

Published 17 Mar 2022, 10:57 GMT
From top left, clockwise: The Best British Travel Writing of the 21st Century; I Came All This Way to Meet You: Writing Myself Home; The ...

From top left, clockwise: The Best British Travel Writing of the 21st CenturyI Came All This Way to Meet You: Writing Myself HomeThe InstantIsle of Wight (Slow Travel); The Quest for Adventure, Discovery and the Great UnknownVillager. 

Photograph by National Geographic Traveller (UK)

1. The anthology: The Best British Travel Writing of the 21st Century

This collection of some of the most exciting travel writing published in the UK over the past two decades was chosen by the likes of Levison Wood, Monisha Rajesh and the book’s editor, Jessica Vincent. Detailing everything from an overnight train journey in Iraq and a swim below the ice in Lake Huron to riding the rapids on Congo’s River Lulua, it features several extracts from stories published in this very magazine. Summersdale, £16.99.

2. The memoir: I Came All This Way to Meet You: Writing Myself Home

From the New York Times bestselling author Jami Attenberg, this is a tale of a life spent on the road — from the highways of the US as the daughter of a travelling Midwest salesman to a young adulthood roaming the globe in search of self-realisation. A bold memoir by way of travelogue, Attenberg’s book explores how we are shaped by place, friendship, independence and class, in a clear-eyed examination of the creative life, and of what it means to find home. Serpent’s Tail, £14.99.

3. The nature travelogue: The Instant 

Bestselling nature writer Amy Liptrot explores the streets, clubs and parks of Berlin, encountering the city’s surprising bounty of wildlife, including goshawks, raccoons and hooded crows. In this part travelogue, part collection of nature writing, the Wainwright Prize-winning author (for The Outrun) once again interweaves the wonder of her outer world — the cycle of the moon over Berlin, the flight paths of migratory birds — with a sudden romantic charge in her personal life. Canongate, £14.99.

4. The novel: Villager

This first run at a full-length novel by Sunday Times bestselling writer Tom Cox tells the tale of an itinerant Californian musician who blows into the West Country village of Underhill to write what will become a series of cult folk songs. But his story is only uncovered decades later when some teenagers find something mysterious buried on the moors. It’s a tale covering two centuries of folklore, psychedelia and ‘earth magic’ — and of rural communities that hold ancient secrets. Unbound, £16.99.

5. The adventurer's tale: The Quest for Adventure, Discovery and the Great Unknown

More than three decades since his first expedition, pioneering adventurer Benedict Allen is still exploring a planet that’s now almost entirely mapped and charted. Treading the line between memoir and meditation on the meaning of travel, Allen delves into what it means to be an explorer in the 21st century and reveals how he’s been shaped by remote communities, illustrating his belief that travel should not be about conquering or marking your place in the world, but letting the world mark you. Canongate, £18.99.

6. The guidebook: Isle of Wight (Slow Travel)

In the latest of Bradt’s Slow Travel guides to British regions, writer Mark Rowe celebrates England’s largest island in all its surprising diversity. Maps and guides cover everything from walking and foraging to biking and history, while detailing the island’s landscapes — downland, estuaries, hills, saltmarshes and meadows — its huge concentration of independent food producers and superlative fossil-rich beaches. Bradt Guides, £15.99.

7. The cookbook: The Ocean Cookbook 2022

Fishermen from 18 countries have united to compile this year’s Ocean Cookbook, partnering with a team of international chefs to rustle up recipes in support of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), founder of the world’s leading sustainable seafood eco-label. The global band of fish-loving foodies includes Umar Papalia, a tuna fisherman from Indonesia’s Maluku islands, working with local chef Ari Galih to create a tuna curry, while Scottish fisherman Andrew Bremner lands the catch for Mitch Tonks’ dish of pan-fried haddock and fennel. MSC, free.

8. The destination deep-dive: Crossed off the Map: Travels in Bolivia

Combining travel writing, history and reportage, Shafik Meghji explores how a country often overlooked by the world has impacted cultures worldwide, noting its unexpected influence on the Industrial Revolution in Europe and the dynastic collapse in China. After a decade of research trips for The Rough Guide to Bolivia, Meghji has produced a book that champions the dramatic landscapes, distinct cultures and diverse peoples of this South American nation, and its deserved place on the modern stage. Latin America Bureau/Practical Action Publishing, £14.95.

9. The family travel book: Shape of a Boy

Learn life lessons from an itinerant writer whose mantra is: “Have kids, will travel.” Journalist Kate Wickers shares frank, self-deprecating anecdotes of her adventures and misadventures with her three boys, taking in the jungles of Southeast Asia, the waterfront in Havana, the searing heat of an Egyptian desert and more. The author’s candid stories reveal how to overcome disappointment on the road, how to say sorry and move on, and how to breed a spirit of parental perseverance, whether you’re travelling with an infant, toddler or teen. Quarto, £9.99.

Published in the April 2022 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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