I am a voracious reader, as well as a lover of travel (but you knew that part, right?). But I don’t read a lot of travel guides. Instead, I learn about a place through my favorite genre, travel nonfiction. When I’m not physically traveling, I can still take a voyage through a good book. Here are a few of the books that I love.

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Tales of a Female Nomad

This book really lit my travel fire. I’ve been through much of Europe, but lately have wanted to go somewhere…uncomfortable. Somewhere where I as an English-speaking white woman am in the minority. Rita Golden Gelman travels and lives in Bali, Indonesia, Guatemala, New Zealand, and more. She gets to the heart of a community, and makes friends everywhere. I admired her ability to stay open to serendipity.

Two Towns in Provence

I read this while in Provence, which was perfect. Despite the fact that MFK Fisher is writing about Marseille and Aix in the 1950s onward, the towns are still much the same. I love that. She perfectly portrays la vie en rose through her daily visits to cafes, parks, and her favorite haunts.

1,000 Places to See Before You Die

I confess: I haven’t read this book completely yet, but I figure I’ve got a few years before I die, so I’ve got some time. I love getting other people’s recommendations (in this case, author Patricia Schultz’s) on travel destinations and finding out what they love about a place.

How to Eat a Small Country

This is the perfect travel nonfiction book: it has a great sense of place, but it’s also the story you care about. The author, Amy Findley (who I have such a writer’s crush on) does an excellent job of showing us how the place (France) changes her story. Travel changes us all, and I love seeing that in a book. There’s a lot of food in the story, which I love as much as travel!

Books, Baguettes and Bedbugs: The Left Bank World of Shakespeare and Co

I’ve never been to the world-renowned Shakespeare and Co bookstore in Paris, but this book makes me want to. There’s a culture and camaraderie in the store that Jeremy Mercer portrays beautifully. Visiting the book shop is on my list for my next trip to Paris!

Food Journeys of a Lifetime: 500 Extraordinary Places to Eat Around the Globe

Another book I’m slowly working my way through. When I travel, I often plan trips to restaurants or food destinations, so this book, put out by National Geographic, is guaranteed to help me. Now I just have to make a bigger list!