Travel Books, by Ryan Carlson

January 26, 2007 |

 There are a few travel books that really make me wish I was immortal so I could travel and see even more of the infinite experiences this vast world offers. Here's my top three:

National Geographic Atlas of the World, Eighth Edition
It's simply the best and most expansive atlas out there. If I were banished to a desert island, this would be the book I'd take with me.

The Travel Book, A Journey Through Every Country in the World, published by Lonely Planet
This book consists of two page spreads, which provide wonderful insight into the culture and highlights of each country and territory, replete with big, beautiful photos.

The Cities Book: A Journey Through The Best Cities In The World, published by Lonely Planet
It's very similar to "The Travel Book," but the focus turns to the top 200 cities around the globe. I don't necessarily agree with the order they are listed in, but the list is comprehensive enough.

Other honorable mentions:

1001 Natural Wonders: You Must See Before You Die
This is a beautiful book, and it is great to pull ideas from.

1,000 Places to See Before You Die: A Traveler's Life List
Most of the listings are accompanied by upscale options, but I've found it to be a good resource and then I do it with cheaper methods.

The Concise Dictionary of World Place-Names
A good quick reference that sated my curiosity about how towns like Rotorua were named.

Two conversations I remember with fellow travelers in Brazil on different occasions always push me into taking a trip when I'm undecided. Sitting around with other twenty somethings, one guy mentioned, "ya know, if we're lucky, we'll only be able to live, what, another 50 years?" The other conversation arose when I discussed taking a lot of time off with a former technology executive who's been traveling for seven years straight, and to this someone mentioned, "you can always make more money, but you can never make more time."

In addition to the portrait of Sir Richard F. Burton that hangs in the place of honor in my apartment, I also draw inspiration from books such as A Sense of the World, which is the story of a blind man who traveled extensively throughout the world in the 19th century.

To close, I found the excerpt of an Alexander Pope poem that an author included in a book about Burton, which is also appropriate to describe many on the list,

With pleasure too refined to please,
With too much spirit to be e'er at ease,
With too much quickness ever to be taught,
With too much thinking to have common thought, You purchase pain with all that joy can give, And die of nothing but a rage to live …





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