History comes alive when you’re traveling. You have the opportunity to walk in the same footsteps as figures from the past, to see what they saw, and connect with them on a whole new level. Learning about the history of your next travel destination is so important to the overall experience. Do NOT leave home without learning more! That’s why in 2019, I’m vowing to read more about the destinations we’re visiting before we ever step foot in the car or terminal.
Everyone’s travel experiences and goals are different, so while I will be sharing the book titles that I will be reading in 2019, I am presenting 6 categories of books you should read to help you grow as a traveler of places near and far.
1. A Book About the Place You Live
I’m Reading: Fire Pestilence and Death: St. Louis in 1849 by Christopher Alan Gordon.
A look at the city I call home in a particularly tumultuous and defining point in our history. This book, as the title implies, tells the story of the year 1849 in St. Louis and the tragedy it brought our city. This book will inspire us to explore places that are (literally) right in our back yard.
Now, it’s your turn. What books have been written about the place you call home? If you can’t find one that takes place in your exact city, find one that takes place in your state. Write down new local places to explore based on what you’re reading.
2. A Book About a Historic Figure
I’m Reading: American Ulysses by Ronald C. White
This book is a fascinating biography about the life of Ulysses S. Grant. More than anything, this book will teach me more about the city I live in, but it has also inspired me to travel to new destinations. Grant, and many historical figures like him, has seen every inch of this country. One minute he’s a small boy in Ohio, and the next, he’s a solider in California. In reading this book, I am looking for new places to travel where I had never thought to look before.
Pick a book from a historical figure you admire. Where did they come from? Where have they been? What places did they visit in their lives that were particularly inspiring to them? This will create deeper connections with the places you’re visiting.
3. A Book About a Place You’re Going
I’m Reading: Mob at the Spa by Orval Allbritton
I love knowing the history of the places I’ll be visiting before I visit so I feel like I won’t miss out on any places to see while I’m on a trip. Even more than that, I love historical books that read like action packed dramas, and a book on Mobsters in Hot Springs surely cannot disappoint.
If historical books aren’t your jam (I’m okay with being the only one here who reads historical biographies for fun…) then pick up a fictional book that takes place in the city or region you’re visiting. Put yourself in the main character’s shoes. Give yourself the chance to explore the places that they explore. Retrace the steps that your favorite author might have taken as they crafted this story in their head. Visit the same coffee shops they visited, peer off the same overlooks they did, watch the same sunsets. Connect with things you enjoy through joint experiences, and create a deeper connection with the places you’re visiting.
4. A Book About Travel Writing
I’m Reading: The Best American Travel Writing 2018 edited by Cheryl Strayed.
What better way is there to grow as a traveler and as a writer than to read articles written by the greatest that travel writing has to offer. Reading others travel writings will not only inspire me to visit destinations I’ve never even heard of, but it will help me to grow as a writer and to better serve my audience.
This can help your travels, too. Have you ever gotten back from a trip with hundreds of photos that you’ve put on social media or in a Shutterfly album, but never had the right words to express the feeling of being there? Learning how to capture the moment in words will help solidify these memories for you and your family forever.
5. A Book About a Place You Dream of Visiting
I’m Reading: Petersburg by Andrei Bely
One of the most fascinating classes I took in college was a class about the Russian Revolution. It was history that truly taught itself as the historical figures and events jumped off the page vividly. Some day, I would love to visit Russia and see cities, like St. Petersburg, that were torn down on more than one occasion during the Revolution. Some Day.
Our resources are limited, and sometimes our dream destinations need to take the back burner for a few years. This is not an excuse not to travel, even if your travels are only on a local-level. Keep your Dream Vacation in photographs on your wall and in the books you read. Think of it often, but don’t dream about it too much that you lose sight of the other wonderful places to visit. Reading a book about the place you dream of visiting will connect you with the place you long to visit, it will put you in your destination without ever leaving your couch. It will allow you to enjoy the smaller trips along the way as you work to that one place you’ve dreamed of going.
6. A Book That has Nothing to do with Traveling!
I’m Reading: Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King.
Sometimes getting there is half the journey…and other times, you need a book to read on a plane for three hours so you can get your journey started. To alleviate travel anxiety or restlessness on flights, read a book that brings you joy. Find something that you can completely get lost in, which can be a journey all in it’s own.
I am always looking for new books to read that inspire my next destinations. I’d love to hear about what books you’re reading in 2019, and bonus points if they’re connected to your next adventure! Are there any books that I’m reading that you’re adding to your list? Which books should be added to my list in 2019? Leave your reading lists in the comments!