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Fodor’s Holiday Gift Guide 2017: Books

A banner year for place-based books!

This year, books about travel and place were racking up accolades and making us drool with wanderlust. We’ve rounded up the best from 2017 to ignite your next-trip-planning, or stuff the stockings of loved ones with the gift of vacation pining.

INSIDER TIPDon’t give these away. Keep them for yourself.


1 OF 17

Vacationland: True Stories from Painful Beaches

By John Hodgman

You’ll find plenty of laughs (and strange tales of Maine) in the memoirs from the former Daily Show With Jon Stewart contributor as he explores what it means to grow into middle age.

Where to Read it: By a cozy hearth in a rented New England cottage wearing at least three scarves.

2 OF 17

At Home in the World: Reflections on Belonging While Wandering the Globe

By Tsh Oxenreider

If you are or have ever been worried that having kids will root you or that traveling with kids would be a pain, passively test drive that lengthy road trip with the delightfully curious Oxenreider family as they ponder their place in the world.

Where to Read it: On a plane near a child. It will make landing that much sweeter.

3 OF 17

Homesick for Another World

By Ottessa Moshfegh

Crisp, tight, beautifully crafted short stories that explore the messy beauty of modern human existence: existentialism, loneliness, longing for someplace other than here.

Where to read it: A train ride across Europe and Asia and/or into the depths of your dark, sad soul.

4 OF 17

Things That Happened Before the Earthquake

By Chiara Barzini

A charming coming-of-age fish-out-of-water story of a teenaged girl from Rome who moves to Los Angeles in the 1990s and tries to untangle the, like, mysterious nature of adolescents of the Valley, or whatever.

Where to Read it: SoCal, totally.

5 OF 17

The Windfall

By Diksha Basu

A dramatic inheritance moves a modest Indian family to an affluent suburb of New Delhi, where they struggle, sitcom-style, to find their place in the opulence.

Where to Read it: In a luxury hotel overlooking the Taj Mahal.


6 OF 17

BoutiqueHomes – Handpicked Vacation Rentals

In this collection of more than 60 uniquely designed homes, the creators at BoutiqueHomes curate vacation home architectural marvels in stunning locations.

Where to Read it: In a B&B sleigh bed with sunlight coming through the curtains. Have another cup of coffee–you deserve it.

7 OF 17

All Over the Place: Adventures in Travel, True Love, and Petty Theft

By Geraldine DeRuiter

Her hilarious chronicles of world travel began on fan-favorite travel site The Everywhereist and, millions of page views later, have culminated in this side-splitting memoir.

Where to Read It: Pack this for travels you take with your family, and then use it as an excuse not to talk to them.

8 OF 17

Nature is the Worst

By E. Reid Ross

Cracked writer E. Reid Ross puts together 500 of the most god-awful things that happen in nature—enjoy!

Where to Read it: Poolside at an all-inclusive resort, and really lap up the smugness about things like fresh towels.

9 OF 17

The Schooldays of Jesus

By J. M. Coetzee

The stripped, righteous prose of Nobel Prize-winning allegorist waxes philosophical in the speculative tale of an immigrant society in which everyone arrives unable to recall their past.

Where to Read It: Scandinavia, or somewhere with minimalist/brutalist architecture to project your dystopian fears onto.


10 OF 17

Schadenfreude, A Love Story: Me, the Germans, and 20 Years of Attempted Transformations, Unfortunate Miscommunications, and Humiliating Situations That Only They Have Words For

By Rebecca Schuman

In her memoirs, Schuman unravels her twenties: falling in love with a place and a man who don’t love you back with uproarious self-deprecation.

Where to Read It: Whilst riding the U-bahn.

11 OF 17

Rich People Problems

By Kevin Kwan

Wealth, drama, the modern Chinese diaspora across Asia; this is the third in Kevin Kwan’s wildly popular Crazy Rich Asians series.

Where to Read It: In the tropical gardens of the Shangri-La Hotel Singapore, with oversized sunglasses on.

12 OF 17

The Wayfarer’s Handbook

By Evan S Rice

If you like reading travel blogs and websites (and I DO), then you will enjoy this mishmash of inspiration/motivation/suggested itineraries/wanderlusty self-described “art of travel” book.

Where to Read It: On your smoke break as the winter turns cold.

13 OF 17

The Idiot

By Elif Batuman

In this hilarious novel set in 1995, a Turkish-American girl begins her freshman year as a linguistics major at Harvard and strikes up a romance in which she is strung along via email, language barriers, and gross ineptitude.

Where to Read it: A thermal bath in Hungary.

14 OF 17

So Happiness to Meet You: Foolishly, Blissfully Stranded in Vietnam

By Karin Esterhammer

Ever dream of escaping Western society and all its trappings by resettling to East Asia? Here’s one family’s hilarious and true story of their culture shock.

Where to Read It: Lounging on the Mekong Delta.

15 OF 17

The Golden House

By Salman Rushdie

Like any good traveler, Rushdie points out things about culture we might otherwise be too close to notice in this tale of modern Americans exploring identity in a fraught society.

Where to Read it: On a road trip to find the best diner in America.



16 OF 17

The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story

By Douglas Preston

Lost City! Monkey God! TRUE STORY!

Where to Read It: Somewhere in deep in the jungle of Central America, preferably under a pyramid and wearing a whip as an accessory.

17 OF 17

The Rules Do Not Apply

By Ariel Levy

With wit and fire, Ariel Levy, grown-woman, navigates love and loss on her reporting trip to Mongolia.

Where to Read It: Riding a camel through a frozen desert. What are you doing?!


All photos courtesy of the publishers. 

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