We can only hope that 2021 will be the year we get to travel again and explore this amazing world we live in. For the time being, we will need books – both fiction and non-fiction – that will help us decide which places we want to travel to first.
150 Hot Spots in Canada, The Best Parks, Conservation Areas and Wild Places
It might be more likely we travel within our country first and if that is the case, this Firefly Book offers 150 amazing places in Canada you need to check out! This includes Labrador’s newest national park Akami-Uapishk-Kakkasuak-Mealy Mountains National Park Reserve or Spruce Woods Provincial Park in Manitoba, home to that province’s only native lizard, the prairie skink. There is also a special interest section, including the best multi-day backpacking trails and treks and best Aurora viewing spots.
Firefly Books also offers a variety of other Hot Spots books including 110 Nature Hot Spots in Ontario; 125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta; and 110 Nature Hot Spots in Manitoba and Saskatchewan to add to your excursion lists.
A Paddlers Guide to Algonquin Park
An amazing thing about Algonquin Park is that it is big – 4,741 square miles featuring 2,400 lakes and 1,200 kilometres of streams and rivers – so if you are looking to travel and avoid crowds, it may be the place to check out.
And A Paddlers Guide to Algonquin Park by Kevin Callan from Firefly Books features stories and photographs by the author as well as maps and information you need to go on your own adventure trek in this beautiful piece of nature.
The Toronto Book of the Dead
Whoever said Toronto wasn’t interesting has never read Adam Bunch’s The Toronto Book of the Dead from Dundurn Press. The book features short stories that are full of information and connections to the city including Lucy Maud Montgomery, who wrote Anne of Green Gables, and Frank Sinatra’s I’ll Never Smile Again.
You would think Northern Alberta in the middle of winter wouldn’t inspire travel, but Elinor Florence’s book Wildwood, about Molly who, in order to claim her inheritance, must live in an abandoned farmhouse for a period of time. We experience the beauty of all the seasons, including winter in Alberta, through the eyes of Molly, who grew up near a desert. And much like Molly, we celebrate that time of ice and snow melting as spring comes again. Wildwood is from Dundurn Press.
Once we can extend our borders a bit, it’s important to know the best times to travel to certain places. Thankfully, we have DK’s Where to Go When.
This beautiful coffee table books offers more than 100 destinations and the best time to travel to them based on a “natural wonder”, festival or adventure. There is lots of beautiful photographs and important information such as closest airports, how to get around and the average temperature.
DK Smithsonian also celebrates the journey itself.
In DK Smithonian’s Journey, An Illustrated History of Travel, travellers can learn about the history of the people who first traveled as well as how they traveled with sections including Age of Discovery to Taking Flight. There is no shortage of information and beautiful photographs and interesting illustrations that guide you through humans desire to explore the world.
DK Smithsonian also helps you add a number of places to travel to thanks to its book, Natural Wonders of the World. There are mouth-dropping photos of places, creatures and plants that call this planet home. While we can’t travel at the moment, this book will help you add new places to travel to and, n the meantime, allow you to live vicariously through its pages.
DK Smithsonian’s Great City Maps celebrates the cities, landmarks and maps of some of the world’s best places to travel.
Each map is featured over a double page spread and offers a visual tour with points of interest such as the pyramids of Cairo and the Old London Bridge. “See how certain cities, and cartographic techniques, changed over time. More than just a bird’s-eye view, this irresistible book tells the tales behind the cities from the hubs of ancient peoples to modern mega-cities, and profiles the iconic cartographers and artists who created each map.” Quebec City makes an appearance in this book.
You might need a map for Japan, but you should also be reading DK Eyewitness’ Be More Japan, the art of Japanese living.
This book will encourage you to put Japan on your travel list. The book gives a brief overview of this country’s history and is then divided into sections: A View of Japan; Timeless Japan, including of focus on Ikebena, Bonsia, Origami; Innovation (including the love of vending machines); Creative; Entertaining; and Healthy Japan. There are lots of pictures and information in this book without feeling overwhelming.
Travelling Cat Chronicles
Travel and see Japan through the eyes of a cat named Nana, who is exploring this beautiful country with her person, Satoru, visiting friends and taking in the sites including Mount Fuji, who even Nana says is “pretty darn impressive.” Travelling Cat Chronicles is by Hiro Arikawa and Penguin Random House.
In The Woman in the White Kimono, we travel between the present, when a young woman is caring for her dying father and finds a letter that changes everything, and 1957, when Naoko Nakamura, 17, falls in love with an American sailor against her parents’ wishes. Through this beautiful book, we learn more about the country, past and present, and how the two stories connect. The Woman in the White Kimono is by Ana Johns and from HarperCollins Canada.
Next stop in our travels is India courtesy of the Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda. Here we see India through the eyes of Somer, who in 1985 is going to that country for the first time, to see her husband Kris’ family and adopt a little girl name Asha. We also see India in 2004, when Asha, now a young adult, returns to the home of her birth and meets her family for the first time.
While is this part of the world, and before heading to Europe, we stop in Cyprus, a Mediterranean island between the Middle East and Europe.
Author Nadia Marks sets a lot of her books in Cyprus and shares stories of families the secrets they have. In Secrets Under the Sun from PGC Books, three childhood friends come to back to the island for a funeral and learn things about each other. I learn that I would love to visit many of the places Marks talks about in this book. I want to feel the heat of summer, see the beauty of its beaches and smell and taste the citrus fruits that seem to grow in abundance there. And eat: everything they talk about.
The Little Paris Bookshop
A floating library (there is one) and exploring France while floating down the Seine sounds fantastic. But in Nina George’s The Little Paris Bookshop, the reason for the adventure is sad. Mr. Perdu finally opens a letter he received from his lost love more than 20 years ago. Determined to find her, he detaches the book barge from the banks of the Seine and goes on a journey through France.
My Oxford Year
My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan allows us to live vicariously through American Ella Durran, who, at age 24, reaches her goal of attending the historic campus on a Rhodes Scholarship, while also getting a position in a rising political star’s presidential campaign, working remotely. Through Ella, we get to see the beautiful and historic Oxford University campus, where we can dream of browsing through the library and hanging out at a pub or two. My Oxford Year is from HarperCollins Canada.
Seaside living sounds fantastic, and In The House of New Beginnings by Lucy Diamond, you meet some wonderful women who each appreciate the ocean they are fortunate to live near. This book inspires you to head to the seafronts in the U.K. and to walk along the ocean shores and enjoy its beauty. The House of New Beginnings is from PGC Books.
The Beach House isn’t in the U.K, but rather in Nantucket Island, off of Cape Cod, Massachusetts where just the title makes you wish you were in a house by the ocean, “throwing open the doors in your living room and stepping out into the sand.” We meet a host of wonderful characters at the beach house and get to watch them learn about themselves and each other.
If you are at a beach, you should be hunting for sea glass, a beautiful and relaxing hobby.
In Teri Hall’s A Sea Glass Journey Ebb and Flow, you learn what sea glass is and the life it takes on afterward including jewelry. The pictures make me wish the ocean was close enough so I, too, can be hunting for more sea glass to add to my collection. A Sea Glass Journey is from Nimbus Publishing.
Sea glass is also important to the two main characters in Miranda Dickinson’s Somewhere Beyond the Sea. The two main characters use the beach and sea glass as a way to bring magic back into their lives. It’s clear the author loves the ocean and her enthusiasm makes me want to be there, too. Somewhere Beyond the Sea is from PGC Books.
There is no better place to end than the Galapagos Islands. I can’t say that for a fact, but I know it in my heart to be true – there is no other place I want to be right now. Galapagos, A Traveler’s Introduction by Wayne Lynch and Firefly Books firmly cements this as my No. 1 travel destination and I will get there before we, as a species, ruins it. Glorious pictures of the animals, birds and reptiles that call this amazing place home and lots of information. This is the location I dream about when I am armchair travelling.
Here’s hoping that 2021 will be a time of adventure and travel in our own backyards and beyond.
A copy of these books were provided by DK Canada, Dundurn Press, Firefly Books, HarperCollins Canada, Nimbus Publishing, Penguin Random House and PGC Books for an honest review. The opinions are my own.
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