Awakening

Welcome to The Window Seat, the new Omio magazine. Our first issue, titled “Awakening,” features inspirational and practical stories to ease you back into a travel mindset.

The best travel books can transport you anywhere. Credit: Shutterstock

Book Voyage!

Awaken your hunger for travel with our expert recommendations for today’s best travel books

Sometimes you don’t need to travel to visit a new destination. A well-written travel book, be it fiction or guidebook, can transport you from the comfort of your own home or daily commute to another place. To kickstart your wanderlust, we’ve asked six experts in the online and publishing worlds to offer recommendations on their favorite books about travel.

Sabina Urraca is the author of “Las niñas prodigio” and has written for El País, Vice and other Spanish publications.

Which book would you take to a desert island?
Lydia Davis’ “The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis” and “Essays,” they complete each other, feed each other and establish a relationship [between each other]. I could spend months alternating between the two, comparing the tales to the essays, creating bridges between them.

Which travel writers from your own country (or language) would you recommend?
Sergio C. Fanjul is the writer of my generation, who has best portrayed the Madrid that many of us know. In his book “La ciudad infinita,” [he describes] a crazy place, a mixture between a crazy present and an overwhelming, dystopian past…But, to me, it is the most beautiful portrait of my city I have ever read. Moreover, it works as a lure for the city’s own inhabitants…once you’ve read it…you’ll be drawn to those places described in the book.

What travel guide book can you not live without?
When I was little, I loved Routard Guides. My parents had loads of them. I would spend our trips fascinated with the descriptions of the places, such as: “The traveler, tired after a whole day’s walking, cannot miss this small tavern in the heart of Lisbon…With luck, the owner, old Adília, will be in a good mood on that day.” I don’t know what they’re like now but there was a time these travel guides were like stories.

Florian Pontais is a French bookstagrammer who illustrates his two passions: books and food.

What book inspired you to visit a destination?
When I read “Pereira Maintains” by Antonio Tabucchi and “The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis” by José Saramago I knew I wanted to go to Lisbon. They both give a very different image of the city and this intrigued me.

Which new travel books are you most looking forward to reading?
“Literary Places” by Sarah Baxter. I love to read local writers when I travel. Baxter connects famous writers to the places where they set their books, from Elena Ferrante’s Naples to Victor Hugo’s Paris.

Let your mind drift to the idyllic gulf of Naples. Credit: Nicolas Pierson/Unsplash

Which travel writers from your own country (or language) would you recommend?
Sylvain Tesson and Nicolas Bouvier. But I also have a thing for older travel writers, from Stendhal to Flaubert, Pierre Loti and Isabelle Massieu.

Chiara Sgarbi is an Italian bookstagrammer with more than 12,000 passionate followers.

What book inspired you to visit a destination?
“The Songlines” by Bruce Chatwin. It is about the roots, traditions and culture of the first inhabitants of Australia. The concept is very interesting and hard to get from a Western perspective…this book helped me travel in a more curious way. I was grateful to read these topics and to go there as well, getting a full experience.

What travel guide book can you not live without?
Lonely Planet is the one I use the most. It is full of useful details to organize long or short trips. I particularly like the pages about history and culture, these chapters go beyond practical information and [help you] understand about the country you are visiting.

Just reading about Australia’s coastline is enough to take your breath away. Credit: Daniel Sessler/Unsplash

Which new travel books are you most looking forward to reading?
“The Golden Atlas: The Greatest Explorations, Quests and Discoveries on Maps” by Edward Brooke-Hitching. I would love to read this book as it is a collection of adventures from travelers and explorers with amazing illustrations and hard-to-find maps. I am fascinated by times when travel was hard but people were eager to discover.

Anna Diekmann is an Editorial Manager at Gestalten, a publishing house in Germany.

Which book would you take to a desert island?
My favorite book is “La sombra del viento” by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I’ve read it at least four times and could read it over and over again. The book makes you want to explore the mysterious Barcelona of the mid-20th Century, which is described so vividly.

Which new travel books are you most looking forward to reading?
Simone Harre’s “China, wer bist du?” about the Chinese society she got to know during her five-year-long travels. I can’t wait to read the book as Stephan Orth’s “Couchsurfing in China,” made me interested in a country I do not know much about.

Which travel writers from your own country (or language) would you recommend?
I am a huge fan of the journalist Phillip Laage who recently published a critical and philosophical book, “Vom Glück zu reisen,” about traveling in today’s world.

Angela Sangma Francis is the author of the award-winning book “Everest” published by Flying Eye Books.

What book inspired you to visit a destination?
“Invisible Cities” by Italo Calvino. This is a bit of a cheat, as the [cities] aren’t real. The 55 cities constructed by Calvino resemble a place we might know…Esmeralda could be Venice with its network of canals, for example. “Invisible Cities” does what the best books should; it pushes you to discover the world, its cities and inhabitants from a different position…to use your imagination to go as far as you can.

Which book would you take to a desert island?
The dictionary. It’s a book, a fountain of knowledge and a game.

What travel guide book can you not live without?
There’s a collection of guide books for children called “This Is…” written by Czech artist, Miroslav Sasek. Starting with three in the series, he went on to publish 18 more. Graphically stunning they can be read over and over again.

Tom Beer is the editor-in-chief of Kirkus Reviews, the venerable book-review magazine, based in New York City.

What book inspired you to visit a destination?
I’m not sure there’s a direct correlation, but a lavishly illustrated edition of Nancy Mitford’s “Madame de Pompadour” (now sadly out of print, though you can get the text from New York Review Books) sparked a youthful case of Francophilia and interest in French history.

Which new travel books are you most looking forward to reading?
I can’t wait to read “The Adventurer’s Son” by Roman Dial, an Alaskan ecologist and wilderness expert. Dial’s 27-year-old son Cody disappeared in the jungles of Costa Rica in 2014, and Dial traveled to that lush Central American country to try and find out what happened. The book sounds like an irresistible and moving blend of mystery, travelogue and grief memoir.

Which travel writers from your own country (or language) would you recommend?
Anything by Bill Bryson—born in the United States, and a longtime resident of the United Kingdom—is worth reading, especially “Notes From a Small Island” and “A Walk in the Woods.” Probably my favorite travel writer in the English language—though she considers herself a writer, period—is Jan Morris. Try her 2001 masterpiece “Trieste and the Meaning of Nowhere.”

Explore the depths of Costa Rica’s jungle with “The Adventure’s Son.” Credit: Crystal Mirallegro/Unsplash