The most recommended transportation books

Who picked these books? Meet our 11 experts.

11 authors created a book list connected to transportation, and here are their favorite transportation books.
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Book cover of Breaking Barriers: Travel and the State in Early Modern Japan

Jilly Traganou Author Of The Tôkaidô Road: Travelling and Representation in EDO and Meiji Japan

From my list on travel in premodern and modern Japan.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an architect from Greece who traveled to Japan in the 1990s as an exchange student. Visiting Japan in the early 1990s was a transformative experience. It led me to a career at the intersection of Japanese studies and spatial inquiry and expanded my architectural professional background. I did my PhD on the Tokaido road and published it as a book in 2004. Since then I have written several other books on subjects that vary from the Olympic Games to social movements. In the last 16 years, I've taught at Parsons School of Design in New York where I am a professor of architecture and urbanism. My current project is researching the role of space and design in prefigurative political movements.

Jilly's book list on travel in premodern and modern Japan

Jilly Traganou Why did Jilly love this book?

Vaporis’ Breaking Barriers gave me the background knowledge to understand how developed the system of travel was in Edo Japan. Both in relation to the infrastructure and the regulations imposed by the Bakufu under the Tokugawa regime. I was particularly impressed to learn about the sankin kotai, which is the travel expeditions of the regional lords (the daimyo) for their mandatory alternate residency in Tokyo, and the different protocols and checks across the roads.

Despite the harsh laws of the Tokugawa’s system of roads, barriers, relays, and permits, I was surprised to discover the social reality of the roads and how travelers managed to overcome the regulations and escape from social restrictions. I also enjoyed the multiplicity of sources that Vaporis is using to describe the culture of the road beyond the official records: from diaries and literary sources to woodblock prints.  

By Constantine Nomikos Vaporis,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Travel in Tokugawa Japan was officially controlled by bakufu and domainal authorities via an elaborate system of barriers, or sekisho, and travel permits; commoners, however, found ways to circumvent these barriers, frequently ignoring the laws designed to control their mobility. In this study, Constantine Vaporis challenges the notion that this system of travel regulations prevented widespread travel, maintaining instead that a "culture of movement" in Japan developed in the Tokugawa era.

Using a combination of governmental documentation and travel literature, diaries, and wood-block prints, Vaporis examines the development of travel as recreation; he discusses the impact of pilgrimage and the…

Book cover of Animals Go Vroom!

Nancy Raines Day Author Of Applesauce Is Fun to Wear

From my list on sharing laughs with toddlers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I believe laughing together is a big part of the glue that bonds people together. Humor has gotten me through my toughest times—and given me much joy in the good times. Laughing over my books with one or both of my toddler grandsons will always be cherished memories for me. Likewise, I love hearing about moments of connection for other readers bonding over Applesauce Is Fun to Wear, Baby’s Opposites, Baby’s Firsts, and Pirate Jack Gets Dressed. Picture books should appeal to the ear as well as the eye. Coming from a family of musicians, I’m partial to rhyme, as you might guess from most of my picks here.

Nancy's book list on sharing laughs with toddlers

Nancy Raines Day Why did Nancy love this book?

This book is full of unexpected delights from beginning to end.

The first spread states, “ROAR!! Goes the…” opposite a cutout that shows a tiger driving. The next spread says, “…TRUCK that rumbles up the road,” and shows the tiger driving a truck with a crate of tacks tumbling onto the road.

Likewise, “Hiss…goes the CAR that gets a flat tire,” driven by a snake. A parade of vehicles gets held up behind them until a coyote-driven police car (Awooo!) and beaver-driven tow truck (chomp!) save the day.

Cushman’s illustrations contain even more visual jokes. The sloth passing the pile-up on the sidewalk while pushing a tennis-ball-footed walker made me laugh out loud, even without a vehicle- or animal-loving toddler to read it to.

By Abi Cushman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Animals Go Vroom! as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 2, 3, 4, and 5.

What is this book about?

With a nod to Richard Scarry, this inventive picture book surprises readers with every turn of the page!

Hiss! Screech! Roar! It's a noisy day in Bumperville! But are the sounds what you think they are? That Honk! must surely be a goose. But turn the page and it's the taxi that a goose is driving! Using cleverly placed die-cuts, this inventive book hints at what is making the sound, but with each turn of the page, it's an eye-opening surprise and part of an unfolding story that is part guessing game and part giggle-inducing caper. Abi Cushman is the…

Book cover of Moving Times: Mobility of the Future

Andreas Schneider Author Of Enlightened Mobility: How we can surpass symbolic climate action & make transport carbon-free

From my list on how to make transport and mobility sustainable.

Why am I passionate about this?

I found my passion for sustainable mobility while working on my PhD thesis about electric cars at a time when no one was interested in electric cars. I am fascinated by the disruptive forces in the transportation space. With my long-term work experience in management consulting, corporate, academics, and startups, I’m trying to make a contribution to making transport carbon-free.  

Andreas' book list on how to make transport and mobility sustainable

Andreas Schneider Why did Andreas love this book?

This book paints a detailed picture of how the future of mobility will look like.

It explains what the hype around electric mobility, autonomous driving, car sharing, and ride-hailing is about. It is a great introduction for everyone who wants to get started in understanding the future of sustainable mobility and carbon-free transport.

By Julian Weber,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Will we really soon no longer be sitting behind the wheel of our own car, but will only be taken to our destination by driverless electric taxis? Should cities introduce car sharing? What role will electric scooters, cable cars or man-carrying drones play in the mobility systems of major cities? This book finally explains in a generally understandable way what is really behind buzzwords such as electric mobility, autonomous driving, digitalization and mobility services such as car sharing or ride-hailing, how far advanced these technologies are today, and above all in what relationships and dependencies they are to each other.…

Book cover of An Evacuee's Journey

Sharon K. Mayhew Author Of Keep Calm and Carry On, Children

From my list on children persevering through WWII.

Why am I passionate about this?

My life has been blessed by having British grandparents who lived very long lives. Grandad was in the RAF and Nanny sewed for the War Effort during WWII. They rarely spoke of their experiences until they reached their early 90s. Their memories, other family members, and friends inspired me to research the children who persevered through Operation Pied Piper. I also visited related locations in England gathering more information. The Greatest Generation had a huge impact on who I am as a person and how I treat others. My recommendation list is a sampling of some of my favorite books about perseverance. 

Sharon's book list on children persevering through WWII

Sharon K. Mayhew Why did Sharon love this book?

This is an excellently organized non-fiction, kid-friendly (or adult) book about WWII. It explains everything from an evacuee’s journey, to ration books, how everyone helped in the War Effort, various battles, a super timeline, and a glossary. It even offers titles of other books to find more information.

By Peter Hepplewhite,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked An Evacuee's Journey as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This series is about transport and travel during different eras in history. Set in 1939, this title follows the journey of evacuee Joe Thompson from Sunderland to the countryside of East Yorkshire. The reader witnesses Joe's experiences of wartime Britain along the way, with the text providing the background to the social conditions of that time. Topics covered include preparation for war, how evacuees were chosen by foster families, health and welfare in Britain, homesickness, farmwork, schooling, rationing, the Battle of Britain and the Blitz. Complete with timeline and glossary.

Book cover of The Merchant Seamen's War

G.H. Bennett Author Of The War for England's Shores: S-Boats and the Fight Against British Coastal Convoys

From my list on Britain and the Battle of the Atlantic.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m the son of a wartime merchant seaman who in 1944 joined ship at age 16 after becoming an orphan. The sea remained his life’s passion even after he got kicked off ship in 1947 as a result of poor eyesight (he was long-sighted and you’d kinda think that a good thing on being a deck officer). I grew up with the stories of the war at sea and guess what: It rubbed off, and in his later life we wrote books together. And so, dear reader, here we are. Welcome to my world.

G.H.'s book list on Britain and the Battle of the Atlantic

G.H. Bennett Why did G.H. love this book?

During the Battle of the Atlantic, it was the Merchant Seamen of many nations that kept the flow of supplies running across the Atlantic despite attacks from ship, submarine, and aircraft, together with all the normal hazards of storm and sea.

Civilians from diverse backgrounds, multi-ethnic, multi-national, and multi-faith they came together as crews to fight their ships through. This is a sympathetic study that takes us into their world to understand why and how, by dogged determination, they withstood the constant dangers to bring their cargo home.

Book cover of History of London Transport: The Twentieth Century to 1970

Christian Wolmar Author Of Cathedrals of Steam: How London's Great Stations Were Built - And How They Transformed the City

From my list on the history of London’s railways.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have written four books on London and its railway network. As well as Cathedrals of Steam, there is The Subterranean Railway, a history of the London Underground, and more recently, The Crossrail Story, which sets out the background to London’s newest and best railway that is due to open in 2022, and also, Down The Tube, the story of the way the London Underground was part-privatised and then taken back into state ownership. I have written a dozen other books on railways which are not technical tomes, nor aimed at trainspotters, but rather try to explain how railways were the catalyst for creating the modern world. The books on London combine my passion for the capital where I have lived all my life and my passion for the railways which has been a lifelong interest.

Christian's book list on the history of London’s railways

Christian Wolmar Why did Christian love this book?

This is one of the only comprehensive books on the history of London’s transport system and though long out of print and written in the 1960s, it is still the best explanation of how the network developed. It is the starting point for anyone seeking to research this field.

Book cover of The Wardian Case: How a Simple Box Moved Plants and Changed the World

Sonia Day Author Of The Mexico Lunch Party -- A Sisters of the Soil Novel. With Recipes

From my list on the amazing world of plants.

Why am I passionate about this?

During two decades as a gardening columnist for the Toronto Star, I wrote about hundreds of different plants. I also penned, for various publishers, over half a dozen books with titles ranging from Incredible Edibles: 40 Fun Things to Grow in the City and The Untamed Garden: A Revealing Look at our Love Affair with Plants. And in doing so, I got hooked. Even if you aren’t interested in gardening, the botanical world is chock-a-block with terrific stories. My new novel, for instance, published in 2022, begins with an extraordinary tale about a plant called The Corpse Flower which bloomed for the first time in 70 years at Brooklyn Botanical Garden.

Sonia's book list on the amazing world of plants

Sonia Day Why did Sonia love this book?

This book is fairly new, by an Aussie environmental historian. I got hooked from the first page because, once again, it’s well written and I learned stuff about plants that I didn’t know already. The Wardian Case was a kind of travelling greenhouse designed by an English amateur naturalist named Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward in Victorian times. His simple invention made it possible to send plants around the world on the decks of sailing ships -and resulted in the huge array of species for sale in garden centres today. Beautiful plants that we now take for granted  -like roses, rhododendrons, magnolias, wisteria, countless ferns, and more—travelled thousands of miles from their countries of origin in these unpretentious but surprisingly efficient boxes. A great story, with good photos.

By Luke Keogh,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The story of a nineteenth-century invention (essentially a tiny greenhouse) that allowed for the first time the movement of plants around the world, feeding new agricultural industries, the commercial nursery trade, botanic and private gardens, invasive species, imperialism, and more.

Roses, jasmine, fuchsia, chrysanthemums, and rhododendrons bloom in gardens across the world, and yet many of the most common varieties have roots in Asia. How is this global flowering possible? In 1829, surgeon and amateur naturalist Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward placed soil, dried leaves, and the pupa of a sphinx moth into a sealed glass bottle, intending to observe the moth…

Book cover of Jane Foster's Things That Go

Dan Moren Author Of All Souls Lost

From Dan's 1-year-old's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Podcaster Tech journalist Star Wars enthusiast Gentleman thief

Dan's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Plus, Dan's 1-year-old's favorite books.

Dan Moren Why did Dan's 1-year-old love this book?

With colorful pictures of a number of vehicles (including some unexpected entries like “submarine” and “hot air balloon") and descriptions of the sound they make, my kid is absolutely delighted by this simple but eye-catching board book.

I admit, I may elaborate on some of the sounds (why should a submarine go “blub blub” when you can say “Dive! Dive! Awwooooga”), but sometimes a book is just a canvas for you to get creative.

By Jane Foster,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Jane Foster's Things That Go as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Introduce little ones to their favorite things that go in this bold and graphic board book by illustrator and textile designer Jane Foster.

In this beautiful and sophisticated board book, children will be introduced to bold images of things that go, such as beeping buses, zooming rockets, and more!

Praise for Jane Foster's ABC and Jane Foster's 123:

"Both titles are stunningly simple, but Foster is able to create some truly arresting images here, making both books pleasurable repeat reads. A fetching and effective introduction to the world of numbers." -starred review, Kirkus Reviews

"It's a book that style-minded parents…

Book cover of Go, Dog. Go!

Emma Kragen Author Of The Twelve Dogs of Christmas

From my list on dog lovers.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love animals, and I always have. I was an only child, but in a house full of animals with two dogs, two cats, fish, birds, and horses. My first words were “doggie” and “kitty” respectively. I work as a filmmaker now, and it seems like sacrilege to say that I only have one cat (and no dogs), but I still ride horses, and hope to expand my personal menagerie in years to come. I am thrilled to recommend my favorite dog books spanning various stages of my life, since these have always been favorites.

Emma's book list on dog lovers

Emma Kragen Why did Emma love this book?

My dad used to read to me every night as a kid, and among my favorites were those of the whimsical Dr. Seuss-esque variety.

While this book isn’t technically penned by Dr. Seuss, it maintains the same whimsy through its illustrations. The simplicity of the text helped me learn to identify words as a small kid. Upon revisiting the book as an adult, I am also delighted by the blunt honesty of the illustrated dogs.

My dad passed away recently, and the memory of him reading this book to me has become even more cherished.

By P. D. Eastman,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Go, Dog. Go! as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 3, 4, 5, and 6.

What is this book about?

Whether by foot, boat, car, or unicycle, P. D. Eastman's lovable dogs demonstrate the many ways one can travel in this condensed, board-book version perfect for babies and toddlers.

Book cover of Energy and Equity

Mikael Colville-Andersen Author Of Copenhagenize: The Definitive Guide to Global Bicycle Urbanism

From my list on unexpected books about cities & urbanism.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an urban designer, author, and host of The Life-Sized City urbanism series - as well as its podcast and YouTube channel. I’ve worked in over 100 cities, trying to improve urban life and bring back bikes as transport. I came at this career out of left field and am happily unburdened by the baggage of academia. I've famously refrained from reading most of the (probably excellent) books venerated by the urbanism tribe, in order to keep my own urban thinking clear and pure. My expertise stems instead from human observation and I find far more inspiration in photography, literature, cinema, science, and especially talking to and working with the true experts: the citizens.

Mikael's book list on unexpected books about cities & urbanism

Mikael Colville-Andersen Why did Mikael love this book?

"Participatory democracy demands low-energy technology, and free people must travel the road to productive social relations at the speed of a bicycle."

Illich’s book - more of a long essay, really - remains astonishingly relevant almost fifty years on. It confirmed countless things that I sensed and suspected on the cusp of my career in urbanism many years ago. His rationality about transport, energy, and democracy is carved out of the finest literary granite. Criticism of this text merely runs off the rock like raindrops. It is my ultimate inspiration for working in urbanism and yet a constant source of dismay that our societies continue to neglect the wisdom within the words. The essay “The Social Ideology of the Motorcar” by André Gorz is a must-read companion to Illich’s visionary words.

By Ivan Illich,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A junkie without access to his stash is in a state of crisis. The 'energy crisis' that exists intermittently when the flow of fuel from unstable countries is cut off or threatened, is a crisis in the same sense. In this essay, Illich examines the question of whether or not humans need any more energy than is their natural birthright. Along the way he gives a startling analysis of the marginal disutility of tools. After a certain point, that is, more energy gives negative returns. For example, moving around causes loss of time proportional to the amount of energy which…