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Ultimate Travel Library—Western Europe

* Indicates a book that appears in our feature "Around the World in 80+ Books" published in the April 2002 issue of National Geographic Traveler.

*Heidi's Alp: One Family's Search for Storybook Europe, by Christina Hardyment (1987). It's a family affair as Hardyment and her four young daughters head out on a 4,000-mile (4,537-kilometer) road trip in search of the landscapes that inspired their favorite fairy tales.

Here is Where We Meet, by John Berger (2005). "The dead don't stay where they are buried," the narrator's long-dead mom confides to him while sitting on a park bench one steamy afternoon in Lisbon. "The dead…can choose where they want to live on Earth." In this innovative novel, the narrator sets off on a journey in the company of ghosts across Europe's history and varied landscapes, from the 1943 London Blitz to a Paleolithic cave, a market in Krakow, and Madrid's Ritz Hotel.

The Palace of the Snow Queen, by Barbara Sjoholm (2007). Inspired by her childhood fascination with Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale, "The Snow Queen," author Sjoholm visits Scandinavia in winter during three different years. She observes the construction of the Icehotel in Kiruna, Sweden, and later spends a night there, watches films at an outdoor ice cinema, takes a dogsledding trip across the Finmark Plateau, and reads letters from all over the world at Santa's Post Office in Rovaniemi, Finland.

The Pillars of Hercules, by Paul Theroux (1995). The seasoned travel writer roves the Mediterranean coast by foot, horseback, train, and boat, hopscotching from pristine beaches to unspoiled villages from the Spanish coast and the French Riviera to Corsica, Sicily, and ultimately, North Africa.

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