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Read These Travel Memoirs for a Taste of Adventure

Our list will transport you up mountains and around the world

A woman reads a book on her couch.

A good travel memoir sweeps you away to the cafés of Paris or the wilds of Tibet. And with our passports tucked away during this COVID-19 crisis, now is the ideal time to revisit a classic or discover a fresh take before it’s our turn to hit the road again.

In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson

Synopsis: Bill Bryson lands in Australia unable to remember the name of the country’s prime minister, a nod to all the facts overlooked about this far-away continent. But like his other sojourns (Notes from a Small Island, A Walk in the Woods), he manages to mix fact and funny as he explores this expansive island populated with friendly locals and sometimes less friendly wildlife.

Signature quote: “This is a country where even the fluffiest of caterpillars can lay you out with a toxic nip, where seashells will not just sting you but actually sometimes go for you.”

The Sweet Life in Paris: Delicious Adventures in the World's Most Glorious - and Perplexing - City by David Lebovitz

Synopsis: Ahh Paris. We all have that destination that provides the backdrop for those live-abroad-for-a-spell daydreams. In this book, California pastry chef and cookbook author David Lebovitz relocates to Paris to start anew. This book mixes sweet recipes with stories of learning how to live like a Frenchman, from the adoption of a nonchalant attitude to middle-age nude sunbathing to the need to change out of sweatpants to take out the trash.

Signature quote: “You don’t want anyone else, such as a neighbor (or worse, one of those garbagemen in their nifty green outfits), to think you’re a slob, do you?” 

Lands of Lost Borders: Out of Bounds on the Silk Road by Kate Harris

Synopsis: Calling all cyclists! This memoir covers the 10,000-kilometre journey Harris and a friend made cycling the Silk Road from Turkey to India. The award-winning debut also examines the greater desires of an explorer’s heart, that longing for “deserts and polar tundra, mountains and glaciers” that was a world away from Harris’s Ontario childhood home. It’s a siren call for the wanderlust set, and shares the author’s wonder of the world and our choices in how we want to live in it.

Signature quote: “Every day on a bike trip is like the one before—but it is also completely different, or perhaps you are different, woken up in new ways by the mile.” 

A Cook’s Tour: Global Adventures in Extreme Cuisines by Anthony Bourdain

Synopsis: Few authors have had the influence and acclaim of the late Anthony Bourdain. In his lifetime, Bourdain took us on voyages that focused on food, but at their heart, were celebrations of people and their homes. Here Bourdain introduces us to places like Vietnam, Morocco and Russia, and contextualises the food with meaningful encounters. In addition to historical references, there are disarming tidbits told with Bourdain’s confidence, curiosity and humour that make him the ideal travel companion.

Signature quote: “No matter how good a drinker you might think you are, don't forget that the Russians—any Russian—can drink you under the table.” 

Honouring High Places: The Mountain Life of Junko Tabei by Junko Tabei and Helen Y. Rolfe

Synopsis: Historically, the world of mountaineering—and mountaineering literature—has been a man’s world. So, this collection of essays by pioneering mountain climber Junko Tabei (curated and re-told by Canadian author Helen Y. Rolfe) provides a refreshing departure. Tabei shares lessons learned from a life marked by harrowing alpine experiences and famous firsts, having been the first woman to summit Mt. Everest and the Seven Summits. Most of us will never climb Everest, but this account of the experience provides its own inspiration.

Signature quote: “It was dawn and neither wind nor a wisp of cloud was evident. In front of me lay the route to the summit, a long white ridge that we would follow. Every other peak—Makalu, Lhotse, Pumori—was vibrant in its presence. The scenery was one of crystal clearness, like the air we breathed.”

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Image credit: iStock.com/adamkaz