The best nonfiction books for travelers that will make you laugh, cry and question the author's life choices

Who am I?

I was born in Santiago, Chile, took my first steps in Antwerp, Belgium, and grew up in British Columbia, Canada. In other words, I was a third culture child with an identity crisis that carried on into my twenties. These books have helped me turn my past mistakes into a craft others can enjoy. Like many of the authors on my list, I’ve said yes to just about anything and lived with people from every walk of life. I’m an expert in making mistakes, but I have done one thing well, and that’s learning from people who think differently than I do. 


I wrote...

Living with the In-Laws

By Nolan Yuma,

Book cover of Living with the In-Laws

What is my book about?

Nolan Yuma, an untamable wild child, moves in with his in-laws and stays—even after his partner leaves the nest. Well, they're not his in-laws (they only refer to themselves as such)—they're his girlfriend's parents who have semi-adopted this aspiring actor. He goes from sharing a one-bedroom apartment with a family of three to a multi-million-dollar townhouse on a golf course. Familial frictions snowball as Nolan returns home from stripping gigs, becomes obsessed with academia, travels to Asia and Europe with his girlfriend, and discovers the family's rocky past. Through this semi-autobiographical collection of essays, Nolan Yuma's unmistakable voice and brutal self-honesty leave you laughing and wanting more.

The books I picked & why

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Me Talk Pretty One Day

By David Sedaris,

Book cover of Me Talk Pretty One Day

Why this book?

As someone who changes their residency and social security number more often than their toothbrush, I love a good book about acculturation. The way Sedaris describes his struggle to learn French will leave any language nerd laughing out loud. As a Canadian, I’m a little like an American (sorry if that pisses off both Americans and Canadians). Anyway, the cultural observations between Americans and French people are accurate and hilarious. And, as always, Sedaris doesn’t hold back from telling you about all his flaws and mistakes. 

Me Talk Pretty One Day

By David Sedaris,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Me Talk Pretty One Day as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A new collection from David Sedaris is cause for jubilation. His recent move to Paris has inspired hilarious pieces, including Me Talk Pretty One Day, about his attempts to learn French. His family is another inspiration. You Cant Kill the Rooster is a portrait of his brother who talks incessant hip-hop slang to his bewildered father. And no one hones a finer fury in response to such modern annoyances as restaurant meals presented in ludicrous towers and cashiers with 6-inch fingernails. Compared by The New Yorker to Twain and Hawthorne, Sedaris has become one of our best-loved authors. Sedaris is…


The Caliph's House: A Year in Casablanca

By Tahir Shah,

Book cover of The Caliph's House: A Year in Casablanca

Why this book?

Shah, a self-proclaimed “broke writer,” somehow affords a Moroccan mansion with maids, gardeners, and endless renovations. He doesn’t bother to develop his wife and kids as characters—they get even less attention than an extra in a movie. But at least you get to see Morocco through his self-obsessed eyes, which, fortunately, pay a lot of attention to detail. His immaculate use of sensory details will give you a traveling experience for even less than a Ryan Air flight. The book is a prime choice for anyone who wants to dive into Moroccan culture with all its superstitions. 

The Caliph's House: A Year in Casablanca

By Tahir Shah,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Caliph's House as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the tradition of A Year in Provence and Under the Tuscan Sun, acclaimed English travel writer Tahir Shah shares a highly entertaining account of making an exotic dream come true. By turns hilarious and harrowing, here is the story of his family’s move from the gray skies of London to the sun-drenched city of Casablanca, where Islamic tradition and African folklore converge–and nothing is as easy as it seems….

Inspired by the Moroccan vacations of his childhood, Tahir Shah dreamed of making a home in that astonishing country. At age thirty-six he got his chance. Investing what money he…


Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly

By Anthony Bourdain,

Book cover of Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly

Why this book?

Bourdain’s honesty and self-deprecation are second to none. Maybe that’s why people from every walk of life loved him. He might have been a douchebag from time to time, but he was as authentic as they come, and in a world where it’s difficult to know what is real and what is fake, we need people like him.

Kitchen Confidential brings you into the kitchen of world-class chefs, criminals, illegal immigrants, millionaires, and a mixture of all the above. Even though there is a lack of plot and secondary character development, the book keeps you engaged because of Bourdain’s voice.

Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly

By Anthony Bourdain,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Kitchen Confidential as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE CLASSIC BESTSELLER: 'The greatest book about food ever written' 'A compelling book with its intriguing mix of clever writing and kitchen patois ... more horrifically gripping than a Stephen King novel' Sunday Times 'Extraordinary ... written with a clarity and a clear-eyed wit to put the professional food-writing fraternity to shame' Observer _____________________________ After twenty-five years of 'sex, drugs, bad behaviour and haute cuisine', chef and novelist Anthony Bourdain decided to tell all - and he meant all. From his first oyster in the Gironde to his lowly position as a dishwasher in a honky-tonk fish restaurant in Provincetown;…


Merde in Europe

By Stephen Clarke,

Book cover of Merde in Europe

Why this book?

Okay, fine, this book isn’t actually nonfiction, but it’s so accurate and believable that it may as well be. You might not question Clarke’s life choices, but you’ll question Paul West, the protagonist. Have you ever wanted to know what it’s like to be a bureaucrat? Neither have I. But that didn’t stop me from reading this book. As someone who has had to deal with funcionarios  (Spanish government employees), bureaucrats aren’t high on my list as people I’d invite to a dinner party, but this book gave me a chance to learn about their lives at a safe distance. I learned something new and laughed out loud on almost every page.

Merde in Europe

By Stephen Clarke,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Merde in Europe as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE POST-BREXIT EDITION - brand new chapters with extra EU chaos for Englishman Paul West.

An Englishman, Paul West, goes to Brussels to work for a French MEP. There he gets an insider's view of what really goes on in the massive madhouse that is the EU Parliament. With the referendum on the horizon, things are even more hysterical than usual.

When the Brexit result comes in, Paul has to make a decision. If he wants to work in Europe, should he apply for a French passport?

But can an Englishman really become French?
Can he sing the bloodthirsty 'Marseillaise'?…


Aphrodite: A Memoir of the Senses

By Isabel Allende,

Book cover of Aphrodite: A Memoir of the Senses

Why this book?

No puedo escribir una lista de libros para viajeros solo en inglés. Margaret Sayers Peden es una traductora maravillosa, pero los libros de Allende siempre son mejores en español, en particular un libro sobre comida y sexo. El “sabor” de inglés no es lo mismo que el “sabor” de español. Leí este libro en inglés cuando tenía la edad del pavo y en español durante mi veintitantos. No cuestioné las decisiones de la vida de Allende, pero este libro me hizo reflexionar por mi cuenta. Todo hombre que quiera entender a las mujeres y la comida debe leer este libro.

Aphrodite: A Memoir of the Senses

By Isabel Allende,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Aphrodite as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From an internationally acclaimed author, this is a magical, fascinating book exploring the intimate relationship between food and sex.

This book of recipes, sensuous stories, aphrodisiacs and lovers' spells is an irresistible fusion of Allende's favourite things. Lavishly illustrated, this fascinating, personal guide to all things erotic encompasses a multicultural history of seduction through food, ancient and modern stories and poems about sex and eating, titillating recipes and advice. Chapter titles include: Cooking in the Nude; The Spell of Smell; Death by Perfume; Table Manners; With the Tip of the Tongue; The Orgy; Sins of the Flesh; Love Potions, and…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Morocco, restaurants, and France?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Morocco, restaurants, and France.

Morocco Explore 28 books about Morocco
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And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

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