Six of the best books for finding your Zen in 2023

Find your happy place with these titles exploring destinations that are good for the mind, body and soul.

By Sarah Barrell
Published 23 Dec 2022, 09:18 GMT
Six new books exploring destinations that are good for the mind, body and soul.

Six new books exploring destinations that are good for the mind, body and soul.

Photograph by National Geographic Traveller UK

1. A Therapeutic Atlas: Destinations to Inspire and Enchant 

The School of Life’s collective of philosophers, writers and psychotherapists have put together this ode to travel that aims to liberate the mind. Through journeys to the tops of the Malvern Hills and the wilds of Sicily, it discovers that places offering therapeutic release are often in unexpected spots. The School of Life, £22.

2. No Signal: Living in the Heart of Nature – Ten Portraits

French photojournalist Brice Portolano records five years travelling from Alaska to Patagonia and Lapland to Iran, portraying people who have dared to start life anew, far from phone signal or data connections, and in doing so, have found harmony away from civilisation as we know it. TeNeues, £35.

3. Quiet Escapes: 50 Inspiring Destinations to Find 
Your Zen

Regular National Geographic Traveller (UK) contributor and award-winning journalist Emma Thomson offers insightful ways to swap the hustle and bustle of daily life for the expansive quietness of the world’s remotest corners and sacred grounds, from island retreats to urban oases and more. Quercus, £22.

4. Human Playground: Why We Play

Channel your inner child and remember how good it feels to exert yourself just for the thrill of it. Accompanying the Netflix TV series of the same name, photographer Hannelore Vandenbussche travels the globe meeting the likes of Ethiopia’s Donga stick fighters and Cuba’s female boxers to explore how playing sport unites humanity. TeNeues, £59.95.

5. Thermal: Saunas, Hot Springs & Baths

As winter sets in, consider the healing power of warmth (and the expensive central heating kind). This photographic book celebrates thermal therapy, promising a warm mind, body and soul with cosy images of some 50 places around the world, from an ancient sacred hot spring in Turkey to a sauna on a snowy Alaskan peak. Chronicle Books, £18.99.

6. Britain’s Sacred Places: A Guide to Ancient and Modern Sites That Stir the Soul

Journalist Martin Symington has updated his 2011 guide for the slow traveller, with tours taking in cathedrals, temples, saintly shrines and stone circles. New locations include Goat’s Hole Cave on the Gower Peninsula, burial site of the Red Lady of Paviland, who dates to around 31,000 BC. Bradt, £11.99.

Published in the January/February 2023 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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