Ultimate Travel Library—Introduction

The only thing better than a good travel book is going there yourself.

It's just a book, just ink on paper. But be careful when you open it. There's a universe inside. A good travel book has wings and the ability to transport us, word by word, tale by tale. It introduces us to the people and places that make travel—and, one could argue, life itself—worthwhile. Good travel stories are, in a word, magic. Not only do they show us the world, they help us define our place within it.

We asked dozens of travelers (writers, photographers, explorers, editors, and others) to name the books that have most enriched their sense of place and best informed their peregrinations. To their picks, we've added our own to offer here our ultimate library of travel books—not guidebooks, but novels and narrative nonfiction and classic photography books. It's designed to take you on a globe-spanning literary ramble, a journey that amplifies Traveler's editorial mission: to celebrate the world around us and to suggest where your next journey might begin.

Books marked with an asterisk first appeared in an April 2002 Traveler magazine feature by George W. Stone, entitled "Around the World in 80+ Books."

Did we omit your favorite travel book or praise a title you detest? Send your thoughts to travelbooks@ngs.org. We'll add books to our library on a regular basis, so keep checking back.

Help us keep this information fresh. We strive to maintain the accuracy of all information presented here, and we encourage readers to help us in that effort. If you spot a factual error of any kind, please alert us by e-mailing travelbooks@ngs.org. Thanks!