One for the Road: Nomad’s Hotel

In the past week, I’ve come across two different thumbs up for a collection of travel essays by Dutch writer Cees Nooteboom. I’ve now added Nomad’s Hotel: Travels in Time and Space to my 2008 “really-must-read” list and wanted to give all of you list-loving readers a chance to do the same. Here’s what I’ve gathered:

First, in the latest issue of Geist, Michael Kozlowski describes the pieces in Nomad’s Hotel as “meditations” and calls it “…less a book of travel stories than a collection of Nooteboom’s musings on travel and impressions of places.” My interest was piqued. Then I found it listed among Rory Maclean’s 2007 recommended reads, where he praises it as, “…a jewel of a travel book, free of pretension, full of easy adventure, fresh with childlike wonder for the world.” Rory wrote a much longer review of the book for the Guardian earlier this year. These two positive reviews were enough for me to take notice of Nooteboom, but if you need more, check out this in-depth look at the fascinating “traveling writer.”

One for the Road: Where Flavor Was Born

The photo on the cover of this travelogue cookbook has my mouth watering! And from what I can tell, the pages in between offer up much more eye candy for hungry travelers who like to cook. Where Flavor Was Born: Recipes and Culinary Travels Along the Indian Ocean Spice Route is a delicious journey that explores the origins of spices from Bali to Zanzibar.

The colorful book is loaded with glossy photos and almost 100 recipes, like this one for Indian Pepper Chicken. Need more tempting? Here are three more freebies that use curry from India, tamarind sauce from Thailand and cloves from Zanzibar. Food writer and TV chef Andreas Viestad (known for his New Scandinavian Cooking show), is the tour guide for this adventure of taste. The book is organized by spice, and includes a glossary for easy reference, which should be helpful when you’re up to your eyeballs in cardamom and coriander in the kitchen!

One for the Road: Into Hot Air

Funny man Chris Elliott has taken his comedy to new heights in his third book, a comic spoof on a classic travel adventure that was released last month. Into Hot Air: Mounting Mount Everest is a novel that pokes fun at, well, just about everything, including the author himself. Elliott’s narrator, also named Elliott, wonders if it really was Sir Edmund Hillary who was the first to scale Everest. The discovery of a diary written by a crazy great uncle begins the questioning, and readers are dragged along on a mysterious and laugh-out-loud journey that includes a cast of all-star celebrities.

Elliott depicts epic adventure at its funniest, and ” …also takes aim at disaster movies, celebrity activism, and reality TV shows like Survivor and The Amazing Race.” As Chris explains in this recent Gothamist interview, CNN and the titles of other folks books did inspire some aspects of his own story: “It’s more or less using Everest and the action-adventure genre as a backdrop for my goofiness.”

One for the Road: Caribbean Journey from A to Y

I’m always on the lookout for creative travel titles geared to kids. Here’s one I came across that can serve as a niche geography lesson, with a review of the alphabet thrown in for good measure. All this and beautiful illustrations too: A Caribbean Journey from A to Y should peak young readers interest with this mysterious subtitle: Read and Discover What Happened to the Z.

Published by editorial Campana (publisher of literature by Latin Americans in both English and Spanish), this educational guide takes young folks on a journey that stretches from Aruba to Trinidad, introducing country names and fun facts about each place along the way. Read an excerpt from letters B and C to get an idea, and be sure to take note of Native American artist Earleen Griswold’s colorful illustrations, drawn during her years s a resident of the Virgin Islands.

One for the Road: Planet Earth

The BBC’s much-praised Planet Earth series was shown in the US on the Discovery Channel earlier this year. It was accompanied by the publication of a companion book, Planet Earth: As You’ve Never Seen It Before, which jumped up some notches on the New York Times bestseller list this week, partially due to an encore presentation of the show.

As another year of traveling comes to a close, the book offers wanderers an opportunity to sit back and truly look at the bigger picture: this astounding planet that we all move upon, and all the amazing creatures we share it with! Over 400 color illustrations create a “visual odyssey” of landscapes, packaged beautifully in 300-pages! The spectacular collection of photos takes readers along to remote and far ranging locations – mountains, forests, deserts and rivers, showcasing natural wonders and wildlife from around the world. Nomads from all walks of life will appreciate this hardbound tribute to our shared home.