The Travelogue: Books to Get Your Mind Wandering this Summer

by Tanner Colley

Cover photo by: Alfons Morales 

A good book is a ticket to adventure. From the comfort of your favorite lounging spot, you can be anywhere the world (or out of this world) you want to be.

There are hundreds of books outside of fiction that can transport you to wild, vibrant locations in our own country and abroad. If your travel plans are TBD this season, check out some of the books below.

The National Parks: An Illustrated History

Kim Heacox

National Geographic’s The National Parks is a beautiful tribute to some of the most awe-inspiring American treasures. As a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, the book takes you across the country through the eyes of park rangers from coral reefs and glaciers, to sweeping canyons. It’s a portal to the heart of America that sits on your coffee table.

A Moveable Feast

Ernest Hemingway

Le Dome, one of Hemingway’s Parisian haunts

Hemingway is known as one of the most adventurous writers in American literature. While famous for his experiences in World War I as an ambulance driver, big-game hunting in Africa, bullfighting in Spain, Hemingway spent a considerable amount of time in Paris in the 1920s amongst a vibrant community of international artists. He chronicles voices and locations from one of the most fabled eras of world history. Many of the restaurants, clubs, and hotels can still be found in Paris today.

Sea and Smoke

Blaine Wetzel and Joey Ray

View from Willows Inn on Lummi Island

Sea and Smoke is a cookbook that sheds light on food local to the foggy islands of the Pacific Northwest. It celebrates ingredients, sights, and smells to show the close relationship native Pacific Northwesterners have with their region.

On the Road

Jack Kerouac 

Kerouac, on the road

On the Road desribes the travels of one of America’s famous voices of the Beat Generation as he traveled across the United States with his friends. The voice of the novel/memoir is Kerouac, raw and unfiltered, with his finger on the pulse of 1950s America: the jazz, the people, and the hunger of a generation for a new American experience. Kerouac’s goal was to channel the frontier spirit and voice of America’s pioneering days. Think if Lewis and Clark writing of their American explorations from the vantage point of a ’47 Cadillac.

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

Annie Dillard

Dillard in her cabin at Tinker Creek

Tinker Creek records her time spent in the wilderness near her home in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. While Dillard says the book is not a part of the nature writing genre, it’s hard to not notice her conscious effort to increase her understanding of the nature around her. One of my favorite parts of the book is Dillard writing about a walk she took beside the creek and came face to face with a wild weasel. At first, she was startled. As her mind raced, trying to figure out what to do next and figure out what the animal was, she and the weasel were locked into a staring contest. As soon as she realized what it was and her mind identified it as a “weasel,” the weasel raced off into the underbrush. Sometimes when we label a feeling, a thought, it runs away.

Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness

Edward Abbey

Arches National Park

I’ve saved my favorite for last. In the late 1950s, Abbey spent time as a park ranger in the Arches National Monument (now Arches National Park). In the remote, almost alien, landscape of the Utah desert, Abbey describes its flora, fauna, and wild geology. Much like Thoreau in Walden, Abbey muses on our relationship with wilderness and the lengths we go to for solitude and adventure.