The most recommended tourism books

Who picked these books? Meet our 20 experts.

20 authors created a book list connected to tourism, and here are their favorite tourism books.
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Book cover of The Final Call: Investigating Who Really Pays For Our Holidays

Rachel Dodds Author Of Are We There Yet? Traveling More Responsibly with Your Children

From my list on traveling more responsibly with children.

Who am I?

I love travel and I'm also passionate about making the world more sustainable. When I was 13, on vacation in Mexico, I saw raw sewage running down the beach. My father said to me, "you can choose to be part of the solution or part of the problem." I think that set me on a track that we need to help animals, the environment, and those who do not have a strong voice. Even if I can only do one thing better – that's still better than not doing anything at all! I'm passionate about traveling more responsibly with my family because we ultimately make life better for our children and also for ourselves.

Rachel's book list on traveling more responsibly with children

Rachel Dodds Why did Rachel love this book?

I read this book where Leo Hickman describes so many of the places I have been to which are no longer as amazing as they were when I visited them. It outlined how too many tourists and irresponsible choices can harm both the environment and the communities we visit. I came away shocked and stunned but it inspired me to write a book on the solutions!

By Leo Hickman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

No industry in the world employs more people or is the world's largest foreign currency earner than tourism. Long billed as the cleanest industry for developing countries to invest in, tourism seems to offer everyone involved a positive experience.
This is the official line, anyway. In truth, the reality is much more complex . For The Final Call Hickman travels the world on a range of holidays and finds that behind the sunny facade of pools, smiling locals, sightseeing trips and exquisite cuisine is an ugly reality and it is spreading unchecked to all corners of the globe. But none…


Book cover of Ours to Explore: Privilege, Power, and the Paradox of Voluntourism

Claire Bennett Author Of Learning Service: The Essential Guide to Volunteering Abroad

From my list on international volunteering.

Who am I?

I first volunteered overseas as a teenager. Driven by an insatiable desire to change the world, I helped to found a rural development organisation, PHASE, but found myself confronted with and paralysed by the complexities of the aid world. So as not to become jaded, I since shifted my focus to tackle what I believe to be the root causes of injustice in the world through global education, including researching and writing Learning Service: The Essential Guide to Volunteering Abroad. I now mainly work as a consultant to improve the ethical practices of volunteer organisations.

Claire's book list on international volunteering

Claire Bennett Why did Claire love this book?

This excellently researched and hot-off-the-press book delves into the roots of the phenomenon that we call “voluntourism” today, examining how colonialism, paternalistic attitudes, and even racism underlie the assumption that the rest of the world needs “help” from the west. Going right back to the eighteenth century, and pulling together the disparate threads of tourism, aid work, and missionary activity, this book seeks to unpack the dark past of the industry and explores why good intentions can end up doing harm. The book also proposes a path for the future of equitable travel that puts at its heart the overseas communities that the industry purports to help.

By Pippa Biddle,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The tourism business is one of the largest industries in the world, and the two-billion-dollar volunteer and service-based travel market has been identified as the future of tourism. "Voluntourism," or the combination of volunteer service and tourism, is valorized by governments, NGO's, travelers, and the thousands of non- and for-profits that facilitate trips, as the best of what tourism can be. Despite the accolades, the very same flaws rampant in early voluntourism, including xenophobia, racism, paternalism, colonialist attitudes, and a 'west knows best' mentality, are pervasive. Framed as a service experience, an alternative spring break, or a religious mission trip,…


Book cover of Let Us Now Praise Famous Gullies: Providence Canyon and the Soils of the South

Drew A. Swanson Author Of Remaking Wormsloe Plantation: The Environmental History of a Lowcountry Landscape

From my list on why American parks look the way they do.

Who am I?

I grew up a farm kid and then worked as a park ranger fresh out of college. This background draws me to the history of American preservation, where so much that seems natural also has deep cultural roots. I find the American South—with its combination of irony and tragedy, beauty, and flaws—the most fascinating place on earth to study. Or maybe I’m just pulling for the home team.

Drew's book list on why American parks look the way they do

Drew A. Swanson Why did Drew love this book?

This history of Providence Canyon in southwestern Georgia explores a seemingly ironic state park: one dedicated to preserving a network of massive erosion gullies formed by poor cotton farming. But Providence Canyon is so much more than ironic, as this book beautifully illustrates. Yes, improvident farming harmed the land—as was the case across much of the South—but the spectacular gullies of Stewart County came from the intersection of human abuse and terrifyingly fragile soil structures. And they are somehow sublimely beautiful, despite their grim past. The park is perhaps the perfect place to witness the way in which human and natural actions are always tied together. Come for the gullies, stay for the lessons!

By Paul S. Sutter,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Let Us Now Praise Famous Gullies as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Providence Canyon State Park, also known as Georgia's "Little Grand Canyon," preserves a network of massive erosion gullies allegedly caused by poor farming practices during the nineteenth century. It is a park that protects the scenic results of an environmental disaster. While little known today, Providence Canyon enjoyed a modicum of fame in the 1930s. During that decade, local boosters attempted to have Providence Canyon protected as a national park, insisting that it was natural. At the same time, national and international soil experts and other environmental reformers used Providence Canyon as the apotheosis of human, and particularly southern, land…


Book cover of Necromanticism: Traveling to Meet the Dead, 1750-1860

Philip R. Stone Author Of 111 Dark Places in England That You Shouldn't Miss

From my list on 'dark tourism’ and our difficult heritage.

Who am I?

I first turned to the ‘dark side’ of travel when a student of mine introduced me to ‘dark tourism’. Sadly the world is littered with places of tragedy where our misfortunes are exposed by dark tourism. As a social scientist, I have been writing about visiting our significant dead for over 20 years. I am fascinated as to why particular deaths are remembered, by whom, and how our dead are (re)presented within visitor economies. I have lectured and published extensively within academia, as well as being a media consultant. I continue to tell tales of our dead and how we attach cultural importance to certain kinds of death. 

Philip's book list on 'dark tourism’ and our difficult heritage

Philip R. Stone Why did Philip love this book?

This book enlightened me by learning that people have long travelled to visit the dead. With ‘dark tourism’ initially portrayed as an imitation of postmodernity, Westover dispelled that perspective. Instead, I learnt that travelling to meet the dead had long been a feature of the literary tourism landscape. A provocative play on the word ‘necro’ with visiting deceased authors’ homes, haunts and graves during the Romantic period, Westover offers an inspired contribution to understanding Romanticism within the context of death studies and travel history. I argue that in an age of antiquarian revival and a love of books, the emergent ‘Necromantic’ culture that created touristic habits continues to the present day. To that end, Necomanticism exposes a nexus of book love and memorial ritual that has deeply influenced (Western) literary culture. 

By Paul Westover,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Necromanticism is a study of literary pilgrimage: readers' compulsion to visit literary homes, landscapes, and (especially) graves during the long Romantic period. The book draws on the histories of tourism and literary genres to highlight Romanticism's recourse to the dead in its reading, writing, and canon-making practices.


Book cover of Holidays in Heck

Philip R. Stone Author Of 111 Dark Places in England That You Shouldn't Miss

From my list on 'dark tourism’ and our difficult heritage.

Who am I?

I first turned to the ‘dark side’ of travel when a student of mine introduced me to ‘dark tourism’. Sadly the world is littered with places of tragedy where our misfortunes are exposed by dark tourism. As a social scientist, I have been writing about visiting our significant dead for over 20 years. I am fascinated as to why particular deaths are remembered, by whom, and how our dead are (re)presented within visitor economies. I have lectured and published extensively within academia, as well as being a media consultant. I continue to tell tales of our dead and how we attach cultural importance to certain kinds of death. 

Philip's book list on 'dark tourism’ and our difficult heritage

Philip R. Stone Why did Philip love this book?

P.J. O’Rourke, a former war correspondent cum travel author of Holidays in Hell, informs us that there are rules about travelling for fun. One of those rules is that tourists must find the most crowded airplane and be treated as self-loading freight! However, O’Rourke does not travel for fun. Yet, I discovered in this book that his travels to places associated with the odd or macabre are fun – and indeed funny. O’Rourke travels with his wife and young family and we accompany them as he reveals witty and irrelevant perspectives on the places he visits. In his concluding thoughts, when he asks what is the point of the Washington Memorial, it was then I realised I had chuckled all the way through this droll travelogue as a backseat passenger.  

By P. J. O'Rourke,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Humorous essays from the #1 New York Times–bestselling author on travel, late-life parenting, and other perils.
 
P. J. O’Rourke, hailed as “one of America’s most hilarious writers” by Time, is the author of the classic travelogue Holidays in Hell, in which he traversed the globe on a fun-finding mission to what were then some of the most desperate places on the planet, including Warsaw, Managua, and Belfast.
 
In Holidays in Heck, O’Rourke embarks on supposedly more comfortable and allegedly less dangerous travels—often with family in tow—which mostly leave him wishing he were under artillery fire again. The essays take O’Rourke…


Book cover of Tourists: How the British Went Abroad to Find Themselves

Paul Dowswell Author Of Aliens: The Chequered History of Britain's Wartime Refugees

From Paul's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Historian Traveler Researcher Educator Musician

Paul's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Paul Dowswell Why did Paul love this book?

I love books that tell me things about history that I didn’t know. Here, Lucy Lethbridge turns in a fascinating non-fiction on the early years of the tourist trade.

The book is full of memorable ‘Fancy That!’ anecdotes and also sheds light on the foibles and snobbery of the British. For example, some feared the arrival of rail transport, which allowed ordinary people to travel to exciting new places, would foster moral lassitude and idleness.

And what about the Swiss health resort of Davos, which almost overnight became a magnet for tourists and invalids seeking clean, rejuvenating Alpine fresh air but was rapidly rendered unfit for purpose because the huge influx of visitors overwhelmed the town’s basic sanitary system?

By Lucy Lethbridge,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

*FOYLES NON-FICTION BOOK OF THE MONTH* 'I really can't recommend this enough - especially if you are going on holiday' Tom Holland 'Delightful ... Lucy Lethbridge has written a glorious romp of a book' Kathryn Hughes, The Mail on Sunday 'It is the paramount wish of every English heart, ever addicted to vagabondizing, to hasten to the Continent...' In 1815 the Battle of Waterloo brought to an end the Napoleonic Wars and the European continent opened up once again to British tourists. The nineteenth century was to be an age driven by steam technology, mass-industrialisation and movement, and, in the…


Book cover of The Dominion of the Dead

Philip R. Stone Author Of 111 Dark Places in England That You Shouldn't Miss

From my list on 'dark tourism’ and our difficult heritage.

Who am I?

I first turned to the ‘dark side’ of travel when a student of mine introduced me to ‘dark tourism’. Sadly the world is littered with places of tragedy where our misfortunes are exposed by dark tourism. As a social scientist, I have been writing about visiting our significant dead for over 20 years. I am fascinated as to why particular deaths are remembered, by whom, and how our dead are (re)presented within visitor economies. I have lectured and published extensively within academia, as well as being a media consultant. I continue to tell tales of our dead and how we attach cultural importance to certain kinds of death. 

Philip's book list on 'dark tourism’ and our difficult heritage

Philip R. Stone Why did Philip love this book?

This was one of the first books that got me thinking critically about ‘dark tourism’. Harrison inspired me to look at how the dead maintain their relations with the living. In turn, the book galvanized my thinking of the many touristic places where the dead cohabit the world of the living. These range from graves, monuments, and memorials, and made me think about how we give the dead a memorialized afterlife. Drawing upon philosophy, history, and poetry, Harrison teaches us that as we follow in the footsteps of the dead, we are not self-authored. Instead, the thought of death shapes the communion of the living. Within the ‘Dominion of the Dead’, the dead become our guardians where we give them a future so that they may give us a past. 

By Robert Pogue Harrison,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Dominion of the Dead as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In The Dominion of the Dead, Robert Pogue Harrison explores the many places where the dead cohabit the world of the living - the graves, images, literature, architecture, and monuments that house the dead in their afterlife among us. This elegantly conceived work devotes particular attention to the practice of burial. Harrison contends that we bury our dead to humanize the lands where we build our present and imagine our future. Through inspired readings of major writers and thinkers such as Vico, Virgil, Dante, Pater, Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Rilke, he argues that the buried dead form an essential foundation where…


Book cover of Pleasure Island: Tourism and Temptation in Cuba

Van Gosse Author Of Where the Boys Are: Cuba, Cold War and the Making of a New Left

From my list on Cuba and the United States.

Who am I?

Van Gosse, Professor of History at Franklin & Marshall College, is the author of Where the Boys Are: Cuba, Cold War America, and the Making of a New Left, published in 1993 and still in print, a classic account of how "Yankees" engaged with the Cuban Revolution in its early years. Since then he has published widely on solidarity with Latin America and the New Left; for the past ten years he has also taught a popular course, "Cuba and the United States: The Closest of Strangers."

Van's book list on Cuba and the United States

Van Gosse Why did Van love this book?

The Machado Era (1924-1933) and the build-up of U.S. tourism are key to Cuba’s later history, but I have always found that period hard to teach. Schwartz does an admirable job of documenting the close connections between business circles in both countries, and the process by which Cuba became a playground for wealthy Americans in the ‘Teens and Twenties, fueling both deep corruption and a powerful anti-imperialism.

By Rosalie Schwartz,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Pleasure Island explores the tourism industry in Cuba between 1920 and 1960, as international travel ceased to be primarily a privilege of the wealthy, incorporating the world's growing middle class. Rosalie Schwartz examines tourists' changing ideas of leisure and recreation, as well as the response of a colonial-era Spanish city turned fleshpot and endless cabaret. The tourism industry mushroomed in and around Havana after 1920, as hundreds of thousands of North Americans transformed the city in collaboration with a local business and political elite. The Depression, exacerbated by a bloody revolution in 1933, plunged the tourism industry into a downward…


Book cover of Europe on 5 Wrong Turns a Day: One Man, Eight Countries, One Vintage Travel Guide

Mary-Lou Weisman Author Of Traveling While Married

From my list on travel memoirs that will both inform and amuse you.

Who am I?

Since I was a kid, “someplace else” has always looked good to me. I turned that passion into a career. I have been a travel writer for the New York Times and travel commenter for Public Radio International. Three of my published books are humorous travel memoirs. I’ve written books about what’s funny when your destination is middle age, the hilarious thrills and disasters that befall you when you’re pretending to be French in Provence, and the gender problems that arise when traveling while married. Bragging is a vice I usually avoid, but I can’t resist telling you that reviewers of my travel books have compared my humor to that of the late Erma Bombeck. I also enjoy giving credit to other successful, amusing humor writers.

Mary-Lou's book list on travel memoirs that will both inform and amuse you

Mary-Lou Weisman Why did Mary-Lou love this book?

The author gets ahold of his mother’s copy of Frommer's 1967 Europe on Five Dollars a Day and uses it as his basis for a contemporary visit. Like his mother, I, too, did the tour in 1967. I was curious to see what had happened to Europe and to my view of it. Of course, most of the restaurants no longer exist, and $5 dollars a day was more like $50 dollars a day, but this travel memoir is full of funny, disastrous, and touching adventures. I admit to a fondness for funny disasters.

By Doug Mack,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Europe on 5 Wrong Turns a Day as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Prepare to Get Lost on the Beaten Path...

When Doug Mack picked up a 1963 edition of Europe on Five Dollars a Day, he stumbled on an inspired idea: to boldly go where millions have gone before, relying only on the advice of a travel guide that's nearly a half century out-of-date. Add to the mix his mother's much- documented grand tour through Europe in the late 1960s, and the result is a funny and fascinating journey into a new (old) world, and a disarming look at the ways the classic tourist experience has changed- and has not-in the last…


Book cover of The Colossus of Maroussi

Anastasia Miari Author Of Yiayia: Time-perfected Recipes from Greece's Grandmothers

From my list on to odyssey across Greece with.

Who am I?

I’m a food and travel journalist, raised by a Greek father and a British mother. I’ve always been obsessed with the fostering of my Greek culture, heritage, and identity and have been particularly interested in the duality of my two identities, since moving to England from Greece as a young girl. During my teenage years in grey and drizzly England, the food we ate as a family transported me to my grandmothers’ white-washed alleyway, dotted with geraniums and bursting with the colours and flavours of Greece. Since then I’ve become obsessed with what food and time-perfected recipes can tell us about our heritage. 

Anastasia's book list on to odyssey across Greece with

Anastasia Miari Why did Anastasia love this book?

The Colossus of Maroussi is a book all wanderers and visitors of Greece should dip into at least once.

It’s a travelogue that drips with humour from the brilliant Henry Miller. It is a collection of fantastic prose inspired by the islands and mainland that Miller visited in the early 20th Century. It offers great wit and wisdom as well as cultural insights that still feel incredibly relevant to Greece today, despite the book being published in the 1940s.

When I think of great travel literature, this book is a classic. It speaks on the Greek people - their strength, stoicism, and humour - and chronicles a time in Greece before mass tourism descended and changed the islands forever.

By Henry Miller,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Colossus of Maroussi as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Like the ancient colossus that stood over the harbor of Rhodes, Henry Miller's The Colossus of Maroussi stands as a seminal classic in travel literature. It has preceded the footsteps of prominent travel writers such as Pico Iyer and Rolf Potts. The book Miller would later cite as his favorite began with a young woman's seductive description of Greece. Miller headed out with his friend Lawrence Durrell to explore the Grecian countryside: a flock of sheep nearly tramples the two as they lie naked on a beach; the Greek poet Katsmbalis, the "colossus" of Miller's book, stirs every rooster within…