Best New Books of 2012 to Inspire Travel

Reading will take you places

“Best of” lists are tricky.  Do you, think that you are getting the absolute, final word on what new books that inspire travel were the best?

Of course not.

Of the thousands of books published that might fit into our loose definition of travel-inspiration, I read fewer than 100 in a year.  And some of the books I read are not brand new.

So, although it would make for a cumbersome title, this list is actually, (inhale) “The 10 or so books published in 2012 that were read by Vera Marie Badertscher during the year, and which were good enough for her to choose to write about them at A Traveler’s Library,  and that she thinks were the best of the bunch she read– in regard to inspiring her readers to travel, regardless of whether they reside in the travel section of the bookstore.” (breathe)

If you missed any of the original articles, please click on the read more links, and enjoy some incredible books for your travel library.

Best Books (to Inspire Travel) of 2012

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 In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Ratner

I wrote about this book in April, to commemorate the date that the Pol Pot rule began to devastate Cambodia. I said:

Vaddey Ratner’s poetry does not sugarcoat the truth, but the story presented through the innocence of youth simultaneously accepts what is and believes in the possibility of better spirits that will set her free. Read more.

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White Truffles in Winter by N. M. Kelby 

Back in February when I first read this book, I though it would be my favorite of the year, and it comes close. I said:

This fictionalized biography of the great French chef, Auguste Escoffier– White Truffles in Winter  – is delicious, scandalous, lascivious, luscious…The writing is lush. The author, N. M. Kelby,  paints the portrait of a man obsessed with luscious food and delicious women. Read more.

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Harmattan by Gavin Weston

In September, I fell in love with this book about a poor family in Africa. Every detail of their lives is sharply real, and I could hardly find a book that would discourage travel more. I said:

I couldn’t get the taste of grit out of my mouth and nose when reading this book. Read more

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The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng

Another September review, Eng was short listed for the Booker prize for the 2nd time with this book.  He didn’t win, but the nomination shows the wonderful value of his writing.  I said: The Garden of Evening Mists combines a history novel, a study of philosophy, and an unusual love story. Read more.

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Paddling North by Audrey Sutherland

In November, I wrote at A Traveler’s Library about the books that an adventurous woman took on her paddling trip in Alaskan waters and I said:

I truly believe that this book should join classic nature adventure books like those by John Muir, Ann Zwinger or Edward Abbey. Read the list of books here.

My complete review showed up at My Itchy Travel Feet, where I said: reading Paddling North‘s philosophical musings will inspire you, her love of nature will make you more observant if you take a cruise ship up the passage, her humor will keep you entertained,  and her gourmet dining in the rough will give you a new perspective on camping in the wilderness. Read more.

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The Yellow House by Patricia Falvey

In July we spent a week talking about Northern Ireland, and this book  was a perfect introduction to the politics of the struggle for independence. I said:

With great skill, author Patricia Falvey layers what seems on the surface to be the story of a complex family with the complex history of a whole people. It is the story of a house that is a home and a country that is a home. Read more.

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Walking Palestine by Stefan Szepesi

In July I devoted a week to adventure books, and this guide book definitely describes an adventure. I rarely write about guidebooks at A Traveler’s Library, but I have never seen one done as well as this. I said:

I came away with a new appreciation for the value of Palestine to the traveler, as well as much more knowledge of the people and the country than I have from shocking headlines and pictures of the Wall. Read more.

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Timbuctoo by Tahir Shah 

Besides being a gorgeously produced work of art, this book, which came to the library in October, is a tour de force by the talented Tahir Shah. I said:

Shah, an experienced explorer of cultures, shows us the contrast of the world of manners and the world of survival of the fittest by packing every page with myriad details. Read more.

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White Fever by Jacek Hugo-Bader

A November book, this one by a Polish journalist, is another of those that does not particularly tempt me to travel, but is great fun to read, nevertheless. I said:

This is the black humor that pervades today’s Siberia and guarantees that the place is crowded with incredible characters–some truly certifiable, some on drugs, but most just sloshing in vodka–perhaps hallucinating in the state known as white fever. Read more.
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The Longest Way Home by Andrew McCarthy

I admitted that I started out not wanting to like this angst-y memoir by a movie star that also arrived in November, but the author won me over. I said:

Andrew McCarthy’s enthusiasm for places is contagious.  I love the way he reveals his awe and vulnerability instead of presenting a cool, sophisticated demeanor. Read more.

I certainly hope you’ve enjoyed the Best of 2012 lists that we’ve dished up here at A Traveler’s Library. If you missed any, scroll down to see: Best children’s books to inspire family travel; best travel food; best movies to inspire travel; best articles about cultural travel, and best music for journeys real or spiritual. (If you’re reading this in your e-mail, you’ll need to click on the link to A Traveler’s Library and go from there.)

About Vera Marie Badertscher

A freelance writer who loves to travel. When she is not traveling she is reading about travel. When she is not reading or traveling, she is sharing with the readers of A Traveler's Library, recreating her family's past at Ancestors In Aprons . She writes frequently for Reel Life With Jane and other websites. Also co-author of a biography, Quincy Tahoma, The Life and Legacy of a Navajo Artist. Contact Vera Marie by e-mail.

12 thoughts on “Best New Books of 2012 to Inspire Travel

  1. This is a great list. Your “concerns” about McCarthy’s book are the same as mine. Good to know it’s really worth picking up!

  2. Looking forward to reading these as well. You are such an amazing reader! I feel accomplished when I get through a YA novel for my mother-daughter book group once a month. (Though I do also read a lot of nonfiction but mostly for work. I guess that’s what you do too…)

    1. Yeah, reading for work. Really tough work, huh? And before I hired myself to review books at A Traveler’s Library, I also read only non-fiction, so it is fun to be exposed to books I probably wouldn’t have picked for myself.

  3. Walking Palestine sounds intriguing; perhaps one place where a travel guide would be handy. A few years ago, I read Raja Shehadeh’s Palestinian Walks: Notes on a Vanishing Landscape and was inspired to walk through that ancient land. Haven’t done it yet…

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