I am a reader. I cannot express how much I love books. Books are in my DNA.
And in the summertime, I read books about food and travel. Well, first I read The Great Gatsby (I read that one every Memorial Day weekend). Then I read books about food and travel — bonus points for books that are about both.
It is hard for a reader to pick her favorite books and I took quite some time to sit down and think about what travel memoirs I like the most.
My criteria? I remember them. The ho-hum books I forget what they are about soon after finishing. These books have stuck with me for years.
An Age of License by Lucy Knisley
Lucy is a cartoonist and illustrator, and this graphic memoir is of her time touring Norway, Sweden, Germany, France, and Iceland. It has a kind of 20s angst vibe she is trying to figure out how to do her art while making an actual living. And of course, there is some boy drama, but no 20’s era memoir is without partner drama. It is fun and charming.
My Life in France by Julia Child
This book is a lovely combo of food and travel memoir. Before she was the Julia Child that we all know and love, Julia and her husband Paul moved to Paris for Paul’s job at the foreign service. She knew no one and did not speak the language, but that didn’t stop her.
Wild by Cheryl Strayed
I am sure you have heard about this book or at least watched the movie. But have you read the book? You should. Cheryl decides after blowing up her marriage and losing her mother to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. Alone. Without much backpacking experience.
It is a part adventure and part go-out-and-find-yourself story.
I read it first in the months after my mom died and it stuck with me. I reread it around the time the movie was coming out. Even though I was far enough away from the pain of my mom death (and not to mention well out of my angsty 20’s) to look at the story through different eyes, I still enjoyed the adventure.
Any story of the time that changed someone’s life for the better is worth telling.
Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
I am fascinated by the story of Chris McCandless. For those of you that aren’t familiar, he graduated from college, gave all his money away and hitchhiked around the country before settling in the Alaskan wilderness. Where he, spoiler alert, died alone.
Chris, or Alexander Supertramp as he liked to be called, wanted to live life on his terms without money, responsibility, and belongings to drag him down. He was idealistic in the way that 20-somethings are sometimes and he was also wholly unprepared and irresponsible. That combination is what makes this story so compelling.
Are you a reader? What are your favorite travel memoirs?
PS If you are wondering why I read Gatsby every Memorial Day weekend, I am not sure either. It is a ritual that I have been doing since I bought a used copy at a flea market while living in Iowa.