The Best Books for Armchair Travel, According to Our Experts
Discovering the world is the lifeblood of our business, and if you travel with us, you must be the same way. So whether we’re chartering a floatplane to reach the northern wilderness of British Columbia or curled up at home with a book that dives deep into an enthralling travel tale, it’s the same to us.
Ok, almost the same.
While you wait to hit the road again, we asked B&R Travel Experts to share their favourite books that will transport you to new corners of the globe while social distancing. Here’s what they suggest.
Turn Right at Machu Picchu, by Mark Adams
Travel Expert: Veronika Macas
In 1911, Hiram Bingham III climbed into the Andes Mountains of Peru and “discovered” Machu Picchu. While history has recast Bingham as a villain who stole both priceless artifacts and credit for finding the great archeological site, Mark Adams set out to retrace the explorer’s perilous path in search of the truth—except he’d written about adventure far more than he’d actually lived it. In fact, he’d never even slept in a tent.
The Shipping News, by Annie Proulx
Travel Expert: Dane Tredway
When Quoyle’s two-timing wife meets her just deserts, he retreats with his two daughters to his ancestral home on the starkly beautiful Newfoundland coast, where a rich cast of local characters and family members all play a part in Quoyle’s struggle to reclaim his life.
As Quoyle confronts his private demons—and the unpredictable forces of nature and society—he begins to see the possibility of love without pain or misery. A vigorous, darkly comic, and at times magical portrait of the contemporary North American family.
Short Walks from Bogota, by Tom Feiling
Travel Expert: Steph Gulledge
For decades, Colombia was the ‘narcostate’. Now travel to Colombia and South America is on the rise, and it’s seen as one of the rising stars of the global economy. Where does the truth lie?
Writer and journalist Tom Feiling journeyed throughout Colombia, down roads that were until recently too dangerous to travel, to paint a fresh picture of one of the world’s most notorious and least-understood countries. Vital, shocking, often funny and never simplistic, Short Walks from Bogota unpicks the tangled fabric of Colombia, to create a stunning work of reportage, history and travel writing.
Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China, by Jung Chang
Travel Expert: Steve Wilson
An engrossing record of Mao’s impact on China, an unusual window on the female experience in the modern world, and an inspiring tale of courage and love, Jung Chang describes the extraordinary lives and experiences of her family members: her grandmother, a warlord’s concubine; her mother’s struggles as a young idealistic Communist; and her parents’ experience as members of the Communist elite and their ordeal during the Cultural Revolution.
The Blue Sky, by Galsan Tschinag
Travel Expert: Chris Litt
In the Altai Mountains of northern Mongolia, the nomadic Tuvan people’s ancient way of life is colliding with the pervasive influence of modernity. For the young shepherd boy Dshurukuwaa, the confrontation comes in stages.
First, his older siblings leave the family yurt to attend a distant boarding school, followed by the death of his beloved grandmother and with it, the connection to the tribe’s traditions and deep relationship to the land.
But the greatest tragedy strikes when his dog dies after ingesting poison set out by the boy’s father. His despairing questions to the Heavenly Blue Sky are answered only by the silence of the wind.
Pachinko, by Min Jin Lee
Travel Expert: Orsolya Kako
In the early 1900s, teenaged Sunja, the adored daughter of a crippled fisherman, falls for a wealthy stranger at the seashore near her home in Korea.
He promises her the world, but when she discovers she is pregnant—and that her lover is married—she refuses to be bought. Instead, she accepts an offer of marriage from a gentle, sickly minister passing through on his way to Japan.
But her decision to abandon her home, and to reject her son’s powerful father, sets off a dramatic saga that will echo down through the generations.
A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway
Travel Expert: Georgia Yuill
Written when Ernest Hemingway was thirty years old and lauded as the best American novel to emerge from World War I, A Farewell to Arms is the unforgettable story of an American ambulance driver on the Italian front and his passion for a beautiful English nurse.
Set against the looming horrors of the battlefield—weary, demoralized men marching in the rain during the German attack on Caporetto; the profound struggle between loyalty and desertion—this gripping, semi-autobiographical work captures the harsh realities of war and the pain of lovers caught in its inexorable sweep.
The Crow Road, by Iain Banks
Travel Expert: Dane Tredway
Prentice McHoan has returned to the bosom of his complex but enduring Scottish family.
Full of questions about the McHoan past, present and future, he is also deeply preoccupied: mainly with death, sex, drink, God and illegal substances.