Vicarious Travel: 15 Great Holiday Books

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My favorite present to receive is: 1) a trip somewhere or, barring that, a great book that gets me dreaming about a trip somewhere.

If you have travel-mad bibliophiles on your holiday gift list, here are 15 fun and inspiring books to wrap up:

> Coffee-Table Cool

Their thick pages are filled with luscious images revealing destinations from Mumbai to Moab. Their hefty size ensures no one will accuse you of being a Scrooge.

Wee Wanderlusters

The passport may be the new diploma, so consider these books playful additions to the curriculum.

  • Pop-Up New York, by Jennie Maizels: Brilliantly paper-engineered by Richard Ferguson, this is a pop-up and interactive tour of major sights from Brooklyn to the Bronx, full of who-knew facts and useful tips.
  • Stickyscapes Tropical Adventures, by Isabel Thomas; illustrations by Caroline Selmes: This colorful book pulls out into a panoramic vista featuring the jungle on one side and the sea on the other that kids can decorate with cute (and reusable) stickers. The fun comes with a side of learning: Educational factoids describe animals and their habitat. If it’s a hit, check out the rest of the Stickyscapes series: Polar Adventures, London, Paris, and New York.
  • Little Houses: A Counting Book, by Helen Musselwhite: Musselwhite’s whimsical paper constructions of Japanese tea houses, Amsterdam row houses, Swiss chalets, and more teach young children how to count from one to ten—while also giving them a dose of global architectural design.
  • Hide and Seek: An Around-the-World Animal Search, by Charlene Man: Pre-schoolers have a blast finding the odd animal out in each grouping of critters shown in their natural environments, from Australia to Siberia.
  • Book of Cities, by Piero Ventura: This beloved classic, originally published in 1975, is happily back on the shelves, and the perfect gift for the young and inquiring. The whimsical picture book, written and illustrated by Ventura, “shows how people live, work, travel, and have fun around the world.”

> Purposeful Passions

Whether your travel enthusiasms point you to the great outdoors or to great restaurants, you’ll find something to interest you in these books.

  • London in Fifty Design Icons, by Deyan Sudjic. London’s Design Museum pays homage to its home city by exploring the Big Smoke through its most identifiable design elements, from Abbey Road to the Chelsea football jersey. (Find out where the Yankees logo came from in companion book New York in Fifty Design Icons.)
  • My Couch is Your Couch, by Gabriele Galimberti: The documentarian and photographer hopped across the world for over a year, capturing portraits of everyday people in the Couchsurfing community from Texas to Thailand. This book is the delightful result.
  • Transit Maps of the World, by Mark Ovenden: In case you ever find yourself taking public transportation in Daegu, South Korea, or Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, this updated edition of the first collection of every rapid-transit system on Earth is indispensable.
  • The Soul of Place: A Creative Writing Workbook, by Linda Lappin: Insightful exercises help creative writers of all levels attune themselves to the power of place in order to churn out evocative prose that jumps off the page.
  • Sea and Smoke: Flavors from the Untamed Pacific Northwest, by Blaine Wetzel and Joe Ray: In this keepsake cookbook and ode to Washington’s Lummi Island, Willows Inn chef Wetzel celebrates Pacific Northwest landscapes and cultures.

Amy Alipio is features editor at National Geographic Traveler magazine. Follow her story on Twitter @AmyTravels and on Instagram @amyalipio.

Read anything transporting lately? Share your #TripLit recommendations with the Intelligent Travel community in the comments section below.

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