I am not a frequent or world traveler so it’s been fun compiling a list of books for of places that I’ve always wanted to visit. Guatemala was my fourth grade school report assignment and Vietnam is where family-in-law members are originally from. And, stories by friends of Malawi visits have given me glimpses of this struggling country and its people. Being a knitter, stories from Scotland always peak my interest even when there are not sheep involved. And, I work mainly with non-fiction information so it’s logical that my suggestions include non-fiction as well as fiction.
The coffee industry in Guatemala is the setting for The Taste of Many Mountains by Bruce Wydick. Four young graduate students there for a research project follow the path of coffee beans from where they are farmed through the business side of buyers, co-ops, and roasters. They learn about tragedy and fortune from a peasant family who for generations have been in the industry. Women Street Artists of Latin America: art without fear = Grafiteras y muralistas en América Latina : arte sin miedo by Rachel Cassandra includes photos and descriptions of art work by twenty female artists from seven nations in Latin America which discuss themes of social justice, artist process, community, visibility, feminism, and more.
Murder of A Lady: A Scottish Mystery by Anthony Wynne was originally published in 1931 and reprinted in 2016. Mary Gregor, sister of the laird of Duchlan, has been found stabbed to death in her bedroom at Duchlan Castle but the room is locked from within and the windows are barred. Add in a detective, fast talking servants, a lady amateur sleuth, and one tiny clue of a fish scale left on the floor for this who-done-it. Highlands: Scotland’s Wild Heart by Stephen Moss is a companion book to an upcoming BBC television series, hopefully available in the U.S. at some point, about this northern wilderness. It vividly depicts a year period of these land and sea animals and natural history of mountains, moors, islands and ocean.
A Memory This Size and Other Stories received the Caine Prize for African Writing in 2013. These short stories are from the 14th annual Caine Prize shortlist as well as those of 12 writers from six different African countries. Most of the stories are in contemporary settings with titles like “Foreign Aid” and “The Strange Dance of the Calabash” which establish intrigue with the reader from the start. The Peace Corps Welcomes You to Malawi: A Peace Corps Publication for New Volunteers by John McCracken is a53-page online Peace Corps publication. It provides a country overview, information about living conditions and volunteer lifestyle, your healthcare, and Peace Corps training content.
The Alaskan Laundry by Brendan Jones has Tara working her way up in the fishing industry and making a new home on a tugboat in Alaska. She’s also dealing with mother’s death and doesn’t have a great relationship with her dad. Published in 1991 and reprinted, Coming into the Country by John McPhee is about a kayak and canoe journey through the Brooks Range wilderness. McPhee shares his familiar style of observation in talking about the people, their surroundings and politics.
The Given World by Marian Palaia starts in 1968 with Riley, a young teen, living in Montana, falling in love with a boy on a reservation and becoming pregnant. The journey to find her brother Mick who is missing in Vietnam takes her to San Francisco and then back to Saigon. Palaia’s debut novel provides detail and beauty of both the many people that Riley meets on her journey. Graham Holliday seeks out the best street food in Hanoi, Saigon, and throughout Vietnam in Eating Việt Nam: Dispatches from a Blue Plastic Table, a food and travel memoir.
How to choose what to read for this category? You can always ask a librarian for ideas; visit your local library or consider trying out Your Next Five Books, where you tell us about what you’d like to read and we send you five recommendations. Here are some book lists to also try:
- Extreme Travel SPL Staff Picks
- Traveling Abroad with Kids SPL Topic Guide
- Travel Book Reads in GoodReads
- Travel Fiction / Travel of Place by Library Booklist
Happy travels and Book Bingo!
~ posted by Marion S.