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Books About Travel That Make Great Gifts

“The only journey is the one within.” ~Rainer Maria Rilke


travel, books, book recommendations, reading, midlife, midlife women


Over the past nine months, I’ve traveled thousands of miles without a passport, itinerary, GPS or keys!  I’ve visited six continents from my armchair!  Interestingly, half of my book club selections this year have focused on traveling.  These, plus one other, describe journeys taken and journeys imagined.  The following five books illustrate the transformative power of travel.

The Lost Girls bookcover


The Lost Girls: Three Friends. Four Continents. One Unconventional Detour around the World by Jennifer Baggett, Holly Corbett and Amanda Pressner (2010)

This memoir was my January book club selection.

It’s written by three young women who spend one year traveling the world to assuage their wanderlust and to find direction in their personal lives.  They visit many lesser-known destinations where they interact with the locals and meet many fellow trekkers.  I quickly became envious of the vagabond lifestyle!  Although I enjoyed their anecdotes, a travelogue such as this one need not be 500+ pages long!  Their blog, The Lost Girls, is a resource for young women planning excursions abroad.


Riding the Bus bookcover


Riding the Bus with My Sister:  A True Life Journey by Rachel Simmons (2002)

This heart-warming memoir was my book club’s April selection.  I thoroughly enjoyed it despite having read it first back in 2003!

The author spends one year riding the bus in an unidentified Pennsylvania city with her adult sister, Beth who is “otherly-abled”.  Beth is bold, brave and industrious.  Simmons writes of their circuitous trips and intersperses the account with memories of their childhood.  This book offers insight into the challenges of caring for a family member with cognitive disabilities.  It is a story of dysfunction and understanding.


The Unlikely Pilgrimage book cover


The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce (2012)

This is the quirky novel selected as my May book club read.

Harold, a retired man, impulsively departs on a long-distant walk to deliver a note to his friend in northern England who’s dying of cancer.  The walk is a journey of insight, weather, groupies, regrets, “plasters” (the British word for bandages) and forgiveness.  The author slowly reveals the details of Harold’s relationships with his wife, his son and his friend, Queenie.   I found myself chanting a Forrest Gump-like refrain, “Walk, Harold, Walk!”  This book will restore your faith in humanity.

“Life is made up of people putting one foot in front of the other.” ~Harold Fry


For more book recommendations, click over to Phoebe Wulliman Graber’s blog, In Momopause

Phoebe Wulliman Graber

Phoebe Wulliman Graber writes about the newfound freedoms of the empty nest, books, mindfulness and aging on her blog, In Momopause. She is an unapologetic list maker, avid reader, lover of letters and travel. During any given day you may find her nit-picking...literally, as a school nurse or figuratively, because she's a perfectionist.

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Kathy @ SMART Living 365.comm

Friday 6th of December 2013

Hi Phoebe! I have not read any of the these books but I do love to travel so I'll have to make the effort. I particularly like the idea of the first one--I tried to travel as much as possible when I was young and would have adored traveling with girl-friends...but every single one of mine were home bodies and what traveling I did was on my own. It will be interesting to see how the three young women manage and if they end up making me feel relieved or more envious! Thanks! ~Kathy

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