The Grand Tour: A Travel Reading List

Image of the Pacific Ocean from a plane

The Pacific from High Above

I’m a Stranger Here Myself: Notes on Returning to America after Twenty Years Away – Bill Bryson
After living abroad for many years, Bill Bryson returned to make his home in the United States.  I often read travel memoirs of American expats living in other countries.  This book is basically a humorous travel memoir of an American living as an expat in the United States.

Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe – Bill Bryson
Bill Bryson traveled around Europe as a young man in the 1970s.  Luckily for the rest of us, he decided to write about it 20 years later in this book published in 1993.

What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding – Kristin Newman
This is a travel memoir that spans several years of Ms. Newman’s trips to multiple countries.  She is a fantastic travel writer, and she destroys any stereotype of how a woman should conduct herself at home or abroad.  I found her writing to be vivid, relatable, funny, and a little shocking (in a good way).

Schadenfreude, A Love Story: Me, the Germans, and 20 Years of Attempted Transformations, Unfortunate Miscommunications, and Humiliating Situations That Only They Have Words For – Rebecca Schuman.
I studied abroad in Germany for a semester, and found this book laugh-at-loud funny.  Rebecca Schuman captures the essence of being a foreigner living in Germany.

Innocents Abroad – Mark Twain
It feels like travel blogging is a product of the modern age.  It’s really just the next step in a long history of travel writing.  Mark Twain took a grand tour through Europe and the Holy Land in the mid-1800s, and sent dispatches back to the United States to be published on a regular basis.  This compendium of  those stories was first published in 1869, and was Twain’s best-selling book in his lifetime.  Learning about travel in the 1800s from the brilliant Mr. Twain was fascinating.  Be forewarned that Mr. Twain’s writing is filled with the offensive prejudices, language, and stereotypes of the 1800s.

A Cook’s Tour: Global Adventures in Extreme Cuisines – Anthony Bourdain.
I was in the middle of reading this book of global adventures when I found out that Anthony Bourdain died. I went to sleep reading his words one night, and then received that terrible update the next morning. Many people loved him as a chef or a tv personality, but I will always think of him as a writer first. As always, he brought the world to us one experience at a time.

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