Scratching your head about what gift to give the traveler in your life this holiday season? Stress no more. Next to a plane ticket itself (or a subscription to TripIt Pro—hint, hint), a book is the ideal present to help inspire new adventures—and satiate the love of travel in between trips.
Here are 18 books to give the traveler(s) in your life. (And maybe one for yourself, too.)
1. Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner
Michelle Zauner grapples with the loss of her mother and reflects on their difficult relationship (one often shaped by food), their trips to Korea, and what you learn about someone only after they’re gone in this powerful memoir.
2. World Travel: An Irreverent Guide by Anthony Bourdain and Laurie Woolever
Considered the late, great Anthony Bourdain’s final word on travel, this travel guide sheds light on the places he loved—and why you should visit them or avoid them. The guide also features many of Bourdain’s closest circle, with essays and anecdotes from those who knew him best.
3. Of Women and Salt by Gabriela Garcia
Set in Cuba and Miami, a tale of resilience, resistance, and the sacrifices generations of immigrant women made (and still make) for their families and themselves.
4. Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Set in the Mexican countryside, Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Mexican Gothic weaves Mexican folklore with the tale of an unlikely heroine tasked with rescuing her cousin from her new husband’s dark past—and the horrors inflicted by a haunted house.
5. The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World by Laura Imai Messina
Gorgeous, heartbreaking, and hope-forming, Laura Imai Messina’s gently-told tale details how we cope with grief, loss, love—and find the will to keep going. Based on a true story about the phone booth in Japan that locals used to call their loved ones after the 2011 tsunami.
6. On All Fronts: The Education of a Journalist by Clarissa Ward
In her memoir, acclaimed journalist Clarissa Ward pulls back the curtain on her personal life and career—giving readers a first-hand account of what it takes to balance being a woman, a mother, and a warzone journalist.
7. The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw
Featuring four generations of characters grappling with sexuality, misogyny, hypocrisy—and who they want to be in the world—The Secret Lives of Church Ladies explores the multifaceted, contemporary lives of Black women in Appalachia.
8. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
The first book in Diana Gabaldon’s wildly popular series is perfect for the lover of all things Scotland, historical fiction, and steamy romance.
9. Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
A love for India at its heart, this epic novel by Gregory David Roberts details the tumultuous life of Lin—one filled with love, loss, torture, and triumph.
10. Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
Beautifully told, Pachinko features four generations of a Korean immigrant family struggling to make a life—and livelihood—for themselves in Japan.
11. The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
This work of fiction gives readers a peek into Hadley and Ernest Hemingway’s marriage, from their budding romance in Chicago to the bohemian party scene of Paris. McLain drew inspiration from the couple’s written exchanges and details how Hadley never stood a chance against the whirlwind life Ernest—along with his mistresses and cohorts—pursued with abandon.
12. A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
This novel by Ruth Ozeki spans the Pacific Ocean and features two characters—young Nao in Tokyo and Ruth on a remote island off Canada—whose connection bridges time and geography.
13. This Must Be the Place by Maggie O’Farrell
Set in County Donegal, Ireland, Maggie O’Farrell’s This Must Be the Place shares the human experience of two people who, after an unlikely meeting, find solace in one another.
14. Food in Cuba by Hannah Garth
This work of nonfiction details the real-life struggles Cuban families have accessing food—and a decent standard of living—in a post-Soviet welfare state.
15. The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christi Lefteri
The daughter of Cypriot refugees, Christy Lefteri weaves this fictitious account of a family’s journey across Syria, Turkey, Greece, and, ultimately, the UK. At once heart-wrenching and inspiring, The Beekeeper of Aleppo illuminates the power of the human spirit in the face of tragedy and loss.
16. Correspondents by Tim Murphy
New England-born Rita Khoury is ambitious and worldly. When her journalism career takes her to wartime Baghdad, she forges relationships that will both shape and haunt her life back home.
17. Against the Loveless World by Susan Abulhawa
Spanning Iraq, Jordan, and Palestine, Against the Loveless World details the plight of a Palestinian woman who refuses to give up any more of herself.
18. The Yellow House by Sarah M. Broom
Winner of the 2019 National Book Award, Sarah M. Broom’s memoir, The Yellow House, tells the story of her family and their relationship to home in a neglected area of New Orleans.