A good book is a key part of any traveler’s kit. It can, at the very least, be a buffer against the rigors of long flights and bumpy rides. But at its best, the right story can add depth to a place that our too-short stays might never reveal. With vacation season on the horizon, we asked some of the biggest readers at Traveler magazine to share their favorite #TripLit with Intelligent Travel. Here’s what they had to say.
> Keith Bellows, Editor-in-Chief
For anyone who hasn’t been to Mumbai, Rohinton Mistry’s A Fine Balance is the next best thing to being there. The book evokes this cacophonous, filthy, vibrant, exciting city of multiple millions. I might analogize it to Great Expectations where Dickens really showed England — and the underclass of England — as it was. Mistry has done the same thing for India.
> Norie Quintos, Executive Editor
Tony Horwitz’s Confederates in the Attic turned me into a Civil War buff, at least long enough to plan a road trip with friends through Virginia. We tracked down Stonewall Jackson’s left arm in a cemetery in Orange County, then found the rest of the Rebel hero in Lexington (along with Robert E. Lee’s entire body — and that of his trusty horse, Traveler). The trip ended at Appomattox, where Lee surrendered to U.S. Grant. The book provided not just impetus for travel, but context and fascinating insights into what I once considered dusty history. Follow Norie on Twitter @NorieCicerone.
> Amy Alipio, Associate Editor
Bangkok 8, by John Burdett, takes you on a roller-coaster ride through Bangkok’s gritty underworld and introduces the conflicted Buddhist cop Sonchai Jitpleecheep. He’s a memorable protagonist, but the author’s uncommon insights into Thai culture—from the prevalence of religion in everyday life to the heat required of a particular curry dish—elevate this page-turning thriller to a must-read for anyone traveling to this capital city. Follow Amy on Twitter @AmyTravels.
> Dan Westergren, Senior Photo Editor
In Thor Heyerdahl’s memoir, Green was the Earth on the Seventh Day, he recounts how he and his wife went and lived almost like prehistoric people on a remote South Pacific island. I can‘t believe that someone would go to those extremes to find a simpler life. I would love to see that place. Follow Dan on Twitter @DWestergren.
> Marilyn Terrell, Chief Researcher
I recommend any of the Jeeves and Wooster novels by P.G. Wodehouse, but especially Code of the Woosters or Jeeves in the Morning, which instantly transport me to made-up English villages such as Steeple Bumpleigh and Chuffnell Regis, where Bertie gets into impossible scrapes and Jeeves inevitably saves the day. Follow Marilyn on Twitter @Marilyn_Res.
> Drew Onufer, V.P. of Digital and Interactive Products
Chris Pavone’s debut novel, The Expats, is a thriller set between Luxembourg, Paris, and Washington, D.C. It has the suspense and globetrotting of a Jason Bourne mystery, without the murder and mayhem. Pavone wrote this book in a coffee shop in Luxembourg and he brings you there (and to many other European locales) through his great storytelling. Follow Drew on Twitter @Drew_Tweet.
> Rhett Register, Assistant Researcher
Edisto, by Padgett Powell, is a story based in some of the country I love the most—the marshes and barrier islands of South Carolina and Georgia. Hurricanes and juke joints, Spanish moss and faded, sandy beach houses—I read it when I’m stuck in the city but need some island time. Follow Rhett on Twitter @RREGISTER.
>> Now it’s time to hear your favorites. If you had to recommend ONE BOOK to a friend who has some vacation time coming up, what would it be? Tell us in the comments section below or on Twitter by using the #TripLit hashtag.
Photograph by Nasos Zovoilis, My Shot