15 greatest travel books for Christmas 2020 — consultants advocate good presents for pissed off travellers

Jude Brosnan, Stanfords Marketing Manager, recommends …

Bookstore tours of the UK

Louise Boland, £ 16.99, Fairlight Books

An illustrated, slow-moving guide book that pays homage to the eclectic bookstores of Britain, from Hardy Country in Dorset to the Highlands to the Norfolk Broads, Whitby and Wales. Boland offers 18 tours that deal with historic houses, castles, coal mines, distilleries and of course bookstores.

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The Globetrotter’s Guide to Happiness

Kate Morgan, £ 15, Hardie Grant

Perhaps more relevant in a year when travel was restricted, this book examines how different parts of the world seek happiness. Among the 20 philosophies there is Ikigai (the meaning of life) from Japan, Gezellig (cosiness) in the Netherlands and a simple fika coffee break in Sweden, and – if traveling is a little easier – how and where to experience Quelle.

Clanlands: whiskey, warfare and a Scottish adventure like no other

Graham McTavish & Sam Heughan, £ 20, Hodder & Stoughton

The Outlander co-stars and friends Heughan and McTavish take readers on a journey through Scotland to explore the country’s traditions, history, natural assets and culture.

The traveler’s coloring book

Varvara Fomina, £ 9.99, Bradt

This calming coloring book is a wonderful winter companion and invites you to bring people, landscapes, buildings and wild animals from all over the world to life with over 50 illustrations. Each is labeled by one of Bradt Guides’ experienced writers.

Gavin Francis explores the attraction of islands and isolation

Signs of life: With a doctor to the end of the world

Stephen Fabes, £ 18.99, Profile Books

When Fabes left his job as a junior doctor in London to cycle around the world, he found it harder to leave medicine behind than he expected. His six-year adventure is marked by a series of eye-opening encounters, including the frozen body of a monk in the Himalayas, refugee camps and war-torn hospital wards.


Kate McHale Travel Buyer at Waterstones recommends …

Island dreams: depicting an obsession

Gavin Francis, £ 17.99, Canongate

Shortlisted for Waterstones Book of the Year, Gavin Francis examines the attraction of islands and isolation through psychology, philosophy and historical travel, interspersed with finely illustrated maps.

Nala’s world: a man, his rescue cat and a bike tour around the globe

Dean Nicholson, £ 18.99, Hodder & Stoughton

A heartwarming and compelling travelogue in which Nicholson
He rides his bike around the world from Scotland – and three months after his trip he picks up an unexpected companion somewhere between Bosnia and Montenegro.


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Accidentally Wes Anderson: The Story Behind The New Book And Where To Check It In Your Travels

Accidentally Wes Anderson

Wally Koval, £ 25, trapeze

This coffee table band collects goals from the popular Instagram account of the same name. Photography is inspired by the unique aesthetic of Wes Anderson’s films, all of its symmetry, vintage style, and pastel colors – and Koval reveals the fascinating stories behind each location.

The photography is inspired by the unique aesthetic of Wes Anderson’s films

Around the world in 80 trains: an adventure in 45,000 miles

Monisha Rajesh, £ 9.99, Bloomsbury

From London’s Kings Cross, Rajesh and her fiancé embark on an epic adventure that takes them to Tibet and North Korea. As an ode to traveling by locomotives, it is associated with heartwarming human encounters, dizzying chaos and impressive views.

Magdalena: river of dreams

Wade Davis, £ 25, vintage

Navigating Colombia’s mighty Rio Magdalena, Davis chronicles the history of its breathtaking natural wonders and recent battles, from the wetlands to ice-covered Andean peaks, encountering music, literature, poetry and religion along the way.


Brett Wolstencroft Manager of Daunt Books recommends …

Venice – The lion, the city and the water

Cees Nooteboom, £ 20, MacLehose Press

The great Dutch writer turns to travel writing at the highest level. His five decades of visiting La Serenissima and his natural curiosity make him the perfect companion, and the book is beautifully illustrated throughout.

The snow leopard

Peter Matthiessen, £ 16.99, vintage

The story of Matthiessen’s trip to the Tibetan plateau in 1973 in search of a glimpse of the rare and almost mythical snow leopard feels as fresh now as it did 40 years ago. His journey of the heart and search for personal comfort on a tough and dangerous 250 mile hike became a model for modern travel writing that never got better, and it is a pleasure to see it reprinted as a hardcover book.

The Virago Book of Female Travelers

Issued by Mary Morris, £ 14.99, Virago

A wonderful collection of the great female travelers. This is a delicious tasting menu from authors such as Mary McCarthy, Isabella Bird, Willa Cather, Beryl Markham, MFK Fisher, and Joan Didion. Great travel writing has never felt so important, and here it is tied to a rich number of characters who refused to be restricted by social norms.

An ode to traveling by locomotives

The nine lives of Pakistan

Declan Walsh, £ 20, Bloomsbury

For a decade of coverage, Declan Walsh traveled all over this complex and broken nation, from the heat and bustle of Karachi to the wild frontier of Waziristan. His gift is to listen, and in his conversations with Pakistanis, from crusade lawyers to imperial chiefs, the soul of this fascinating and fragile land is revealed.

Green – travel in spring

Tim Dee, £ 18.99, Jonathan Cape

These dark winter days were the inspiration for Tim Dee’s journey, which traced the arrival of spring in Europe and the natural migrations that heralded its arrival. Between the winter and summer solstices, spring moves north at the speed of the swallow’s flight or human walking pace. Dee follows, his erudition and passion for nature pouring in from every side.


Stanford’s travel bookstore, which has been in London since 1853, has launched a crowdfunding campaign to pay for its staff and expenses until at least Spring 2021 and prevent them from closing.

To help: payitforward.london.gov.uk/support-stanfords

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