“The very finest travel writing,” Mark Mackenzie writes in the introduction to the forthcoming Lonely Planet anthology Curiosities and Splendour, “elevates the everyday to the sublime.” The coming season brings titles that recall the simple pleasures—striking up a conversation with a stranger, or tasting a really good olive oil—as well as the often challenging realities of travel.
An Arabian Journey
Levison Wood. Atlantic Monthly, Feb.
Wood is a British army officer and also the author of four previous books based on his travels by foot through Africa, the Americas, and Asia. His new work details six months in the Middle East, where some of this century’s deadliest wars are ongoing. He questions whether it’s ethical to journey into a war zone, but his doubts are banished, he writes, by the people he meets along the way who beg him to tell the world their stories.
Around the World in 80 Trains
Monisha Rajesh. Bloomsbury, Mar.
British journalist Rajesh swore she was done with trains after an earlier ride on the rails to the four points of India’s diamond-shaped borders, travelling a distance of 25,000 miles. “Little did I know that the railways had followed me home,” she writes. Five years later, and with fiancé in tow, Rajesh sets out to circle the entire globe.
Curiosities and Splendour
Lonely Planet, Aug.
In this travel-narrative anthology, stories bounce around continents and the centuries, from the rise of the Persian empire to the Rocky Mountain frontier. Alongside tales of adventure and exploration are quieter accounts—Edith Wharton, for instance, tours Morocco with an eye for architectural detail, and Henry James describes foggy, expansive London.
Off the Rails
Beppe Severgnini, trans. from the Italian by Antony Shugaar. Berkley, Feb.
Train travel, Italian journalist Severgnini writes, is an opportunity “to understand what we’re like and what we’ve become.” Severgnini recounts decades of observations gleaned from train depots and carriages across four continents, starting with his most recent, a U.S. coast-to-coast trip with his 20-year old son, in a book our review called “funny and perceptive.”
See You in the Piazza
Frances Mayes. Crown, Mar.
Under the Tuscan Sun author Mayes returns to Italy in search of, she writes, “quintessential tastes of each place.” She and her husband, Ed, travel from north to south, sharing every sip and bite along the way. “Readers will want to take their time,” our starred review said, “savoring this poetic travelogue like a smooth wine.”
Spying on the South
Tony Horwitz. Penguin Press, May
Horwitz, a Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter whose previous books include Confederates in the Attic, retraces the route of young travel writer Frederick Law Olmsted, who was sent on assignment by the then-fledgling New York Times to explore the South as the nation splintered into the Civil War. Many of the towns Olmsted described are wisps of their former selves, but the same fault lines remain. On the eve of Horwitz’s journey in a West Virginia bar, for instance, a woman studies him—in his horn-rimmed glass with notebook and pen—and offers this assessment: “Yankee boy, spyin’ on us hillbillies.”
Suzanne Kamata. Wyatt-MacKenzie, Mar.
An American writer who lives in Japan, Kamata describes her experiences traveling around the world with her teenage daughter, Lilia, who is deaf, has cerebral palsy, and uses a wheelchair for mobility. Kamata shares the challenges and joys they encounter as they navigate different cultures and varying degrees of accessibility awareness.
Ten Years a Nomad
Matthew Kepnes. St. Martin’s, July
Kepnes, known as Nomadic Matt, has built an online following some 100,000 strong by advising readers how to hit the road without breaking the bank. He quit his cubicle job in 2006 and now spends about six months of every year traveling, racking up more than 90 countries and hundreds of thousands of miles. He follows the budget guide How to Travel the World on $50 a Day with this book, which the publisher describes as part memoir, part travel manifesto.