So, you’re saying to yourself: “OMG! Christmas is just a week away and my shopping’s not done!”
Not to worry.
Here are ten books from my own library of travel writing that you can be happy giving as gifts to your favorite travelers this holiday season.
Just click a book’s title to order it directly from Book Passage. Some may be available in hardcover, paperback, and e-book editions.
Road Fever (Tim Cahill). Legendary travel writer Tim Cahill takes you on the ultimate road trip, beginning near the tip of South America, and ending at the end of the road in the Arctic. Along the way, Tim and professional endurance driver Garry Sowerby encountered “engine trouble in Patagonia. Sadistic troopers in Peru. Document hell in Colombia. Ice slick roads in Alaska.” And those are just a few of the misadventures that befell them during their 15,000 mile journey.
Travel As A Political Act (Rick Steves). Noted for his European travel shows on PBS, the American who took us to Europe where even Arthur Frommer may not have gone before, “explains how to travel more thoughtfully—to any destination. He shares a series of field reports from Europe, Central America, Asia, and the Middle East to show how his travels have shaped his politics and broadened his perspective.”
Lights, Camera…Travel! (Andrew McCarthy, Don George, editors). Andrew McCarthy was a Hollywood actor (Pretty in Pink); now he’s a contributing editor to National Geographic Traveler, and has been on the faculty of the Book Passage Travel Writers & Photographers Conference.
Don George is c0-chair of that conference, and a long-time freelance travel writer and editor. Together they’ve assembled a collection of over thirty stories told by Alec Baldwin, Malcolm McDonald, Brooke Shields, and others.
Here’s Andrew and George in conversation:
Maya Roads: One Woman’s Journey Among the People of the Rainforest (Mary Jo McConahay). If the world would indeed come to and end on December 21, 2012, it would make little sense to give this book to someone as a Christmas gift. But trust me, we’re not all going to disappear next week.
McConahay drew on her three decades of traveling, living and working in Central America to tell this tale of the Mayans, past and present.
North to The Night (Alvah Simon). Does living on a 36’ sailboat, frozen in the ice above the Artic Circle during winter with only a pussy cat for company sound like a fun vacation? Regardless of your answer to that question, you’ll enjoy reading Alvah Simon’s voyage of discovery.
Looking For Alaska (Peter Jenkins). If Simon’s trip sounds a bit over the top, opt for a tamer adventure and pack up the family, relocate to Alaska, and replicate Peter Jenkin’s odyssey, learning how the residents of the 49th state cope with living far from the rest of their fellow Americans down in the “Lower 48.”
Snake Lake (Jeff Greenwald). As long as you’re thinking about heading far from the madding crowd in urban America, why not go to Kathmandu, especially if its country, Nepal, is in the throes of a revolution against its ruling monarchy? But this book isn’t just about war, there’s a love element, too.
From Beirut To Jerusalem (Thomas L. Friedman). Nepal isn’t the only place on the plane where people have been up in arms against each other. The Wall Street Journal called Pulitzer Prize winning reporter Friedman’s book “a sparkling intellectual guidebook…an engrossing journey not to be missed.”
A Vineyard in Tuscany: A Wine Lover’s Dream (Ferenc Máté). Yorkers Ferenc and his wife, Candace, buy a 13th-century friary, renovate their centuries-old abode, plant a vineyard, and end up making top-notch wine. I have spent a lot time in the “wine country” north of San Francisco, which is often compared to Tuscany—one of my favorite travel all-time destinations. So following in the Mátés footsteps is something I could drink to!
Need more suggestions for holiday gift books? Have a “personal shopper” at the Book Passage bookstore help you out.
And the Book Passage “Aunt Lydia Book Club” (aka the “Aunt Lydia Book Club),” makes giving the gifts that keep on giving—books much easier. Here’s how it works:
- Register for the Aunt Lydia Book Club.
- Add the gift recipient’s name, age, and contact information.
- Indicate how often you’d like a gift book to be sent.
- Set the length of the book club membership.
- List the book categories or genres desired, such as armchair travel, biography, or politics.
- Provide more information about the reader to help the store pick the right books to send.
- Add any personal message you’d like included each time with complimentary gift card.
(From time to time travel writer Dick Jordan posts book reviews under the “Armchair Travel” and “Book Review” sections of his online travel magazine, Tales Told From The Road. His last post to the Book(ed) Passage blog was A "Serious" & "Trashy" Summer Reading List. Dick is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. When Dick isn’t traveling, you can usually find him hanging out with other members of Left Coast Writers at the Book Passage in Corte Madera on the first Monday evening of each month.)