Recommended especially for younger readers, but we all really love these:
You Are Here, Personal Geographies and Other Maps of the Imagination by Katherine Harmon. (Non-fiction. Recommended for older readers)
Far From Shore, Chronicles of an Open Ocean Voyage by Sophie Webb. Ms. Webb is an artist, and marine biologist. My daughter’s inspiration on how to combine her main loves. (Recommended for readers of various ages.)
Traveling Man, The Journey of Ibn Battuta, 1325-1354 by James Rumford. A book geared toward young readers about a non-European early explorer. Ibn Batutta was from Morocco, too, so this is an extra-favorite favorite of mine. (Recommended for readers of various ages.)
Seafaring Women, by Linda Grant De Pauw. Delightful, and sometimes disturbing, stories of strong and sometimes tough women who might inspire admiration, and perhaps a desire to (if they were still living) keep a safe distance. (Chapter book. Recommended for more experienced readers.)
The Adventures of Marco Polo, by Russell Freedman. The illustrations make this book: the collection of original work and prints of tapestries, antique maps and the like is simply lovely. Recommended for children ages 10 and older, as it is not a picture book or an easy read.
Uncommon Traveler: Mary Kingsley in Africa, by Don Brown. Mr. Brown is both author and illustrator of a growing list of children’s picture books (different Don Brown from the Da Vinci Code guy!). His desire to grow familiarity with lesser-known historical achievers has made of him one of our favorite authors. This volume is about Mary Kingsley, an English spinster-turned-African-explorer, but we also enjoyed his account of Alice Ramsey, the first woman to drive across the U.S. continent in an automobile, and the story of daring aviator Ruth Law. (ages 5 and up)
How I Learned Geography, by Uri Shulevitz. I love just about all of Mr. Shulevitz’ books, but this one is a fond favorite.
General Recommendations (not particularly for younger folks)
Pyonyang, a graphic travel-memoir by Guy Delisle. Mr. Delisle, an animator by profession, spends a couple of months in North Korea for a job and records his observations in cartoon form. Humorous, alarming, cynical…you won’t be able to put this one down.
Mark Twain’s Innocents Abroad. This book is endless fun (over 400 pages of fun). Twain was never been one to restrain himself from the temptation to ridicule others who act ridiculous, so why would he during a months-long trans-Atlantic cruise? Especially when his fellow travelers, tour guides, and the natives are practically begging to be immortalized by their absurd antics.
J. Marten Troost’s Sex Lives of Cannibals, but even better is his Headhunters on my Doorstep, written while re-visiting the South Pacific several years later, with the insights and humility that come from battling an alcohol addiction, but still with the same wry sense of humor. Just try not to laugh while reading this one.
Shantaram, by David Gregory Roberts. A journey into the soul of India that makes me want to start over and discover it fresh all over again.