Armchair Travel

Although technology has changed the method, people have always found ways to share their tales of travel. Posting selfies has replaced sending postcards and the photo album has moved to social media, but the urge for friends and family to participate vicariously remains the same.

Most often those seeking to memorialize their trips are vacationers, but there also are travelers who embark on longer, less recreational journeys of discovery. They often take a more personal approach, perhaps seeking their family roots or revisiting the landscape of their childhood. Others follow the route of a traveler from an earlier period of history. Some concentrate on nature, others on history. Some follow a route simply to find out what is there.

The NLS collection has hundreds of travel titles. This minibibliography offers a selection of travel accounts that allow readers to share a journey without going out.

Digital braille and talking book titles can be downloaded from the NLS BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download) service. Contact your local cooperating library to register for BARD. Registered users may also download audio titles on iOS and Android devices using the BARD Mobile app. Braille titles may be downloaded using the app on a device linked by Bluetooth to a refreshable braille display. To find your local cooperating library, go to or call toll-free 888-NLS-READ (888-657-7323).



The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America
by Bill Bryson

Writer describes his cross-country journey to revisit what he deems the “magic places” of his youth, beginning with his hometown of Des Moines, Iowa, and including the Rocky Mountains. Reminisces about his childhood and his father as he recounts adventures across thirty-eight states and 13,978 miles. Some strong language. 1989.
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A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail
by Bill Bryson

Bryson relates the adventures and misadventures of two totally unfit hikers as he and longtime friend Stephen Katz traverse the 2,100-mile Appalachian Trail. Returning from more than twenty years in Britain, Bryson set out to rediscover his homeland, but the two men find themselves awed by the terrain and stymied by the unfamiliar local culture. Some strong language. Bestseller. 1988.
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Castles, Follies and Four-Leaf Clovers: Adventures along Ireland’s St Declan’s Way
by Rosamund Burton

Journalist recounts her walk along St. Declan’s Way, from the Rock of Cashel in County Tipperary to Ardmore in County Waterford, as she sought to reconnect with her Irish heritage. Describes local scenery and life. Explores Christian and pagan tales related to sites along the ancient road. 2011.
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In Patagonia
by Bruce Chatwin

Inspired by a piece of skin on display in his grandmother’s living room that supposedly had been taken from a brontosaurus found in Patagonia, Chatwin hiked through that part of South America that includes the southernmost regions of Argentina and Chile. Includes many tales of his encounters with local characters and other travelers and many anecdotes about the region. 1977.
Download DB14867

Tales of a Female Nomad: Living at Large in the World
by Rita Golden Gelman

Children’s author and self-proclaimed “modern-day nomad” recounts her travels since 1986 when, on the verge of divorce at age forty-eight, she abandoned her upscale California existence. Gelman’s serendipitous lifestyle takes her around the world—from the Galapagos to Thailand and beyond—where she connects with locals, learns their customs, and shares their lives. 2001.
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To America with Love
by A.A. Gill

British columnist for Vanity Fair explores parts of America not usually seen by tourists. Adventures include traveling to Colorado, where distant uncles once lived; visiting the Creationist Museum; and taking a wrong turn in New York City. Examines the prejudices Europeans have with regards to Americans. 2011.
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Lands of Lost Borders
by Kate Harris

Memoir of a bicycle trip across the ancient Silk Road from Istanbul, Turkey, to the Greater Himalaya mountain range. Details her experiences on the trip and reflects on the personal revelations she had while traveling. Unrated. Commercial audiobook. 2018.
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Roads to Quoz
by William Least Heat-Moon

The word-maven author of Blue Highways (DB18700) chronicles another journey on the back roads of America. This time Heat-Moon and his wife, who is known as Q, pursue the enigmatic “quoz”—anything strange, incongruous, or peculiar with connections to the cosmos. Their meandering starts with the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas. 2008.
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Sun after Dark: Flights into the Foreign
by Pico Iyer

Travel writer describes arduous trips to exotic and desperate places—Bolivia, Haiti, Tibet, Cambodia—as well as literary voyages through the writings of W.G. Sebald and Kazuo Ishiguro and spiritual journeys through people he meets, including the Dalai Lama and Leonard Cohen. 2004.
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The Wild Places
by Robert Macfarlane

Macfarlane recounts his journeys in search of the remaining “wild places” in England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. Describes his adventures to remote islands, beaches, marshes, forests, and mountaintops as he simultaneously reflects on the interconnectedness of nature and humanity and his transformed understanding about the notion of “wildness.” 2007.
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The Snow Leopard
by Peter Matthiessen

Account of a journey that began in September 1973, when the novelist-explorer set out with field biologist George Schaller to the Crystal Mountain across the Himalayas on the Tibetan plateau. Schaller wished to observe the rutting of the blue sheep, and Matthiessen, a student of Zen Buddhism, hoped to find the Lama of Shey. 1979.
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The Longest Way Home: One Man’s Quest for the Courage to Settle Down
by Andrew McCarthy

Actor and travel writer McCarthy discusses the impact his travels have had on his psyche. Describes climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro; visiting Baltimore, Maryland; and boating on the Amazon. Details the ways the trips helped him grow up, learn about himself, and better relate to others. 2012.
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Trieste and the Meaning of Nowhere
by Jan Morris

Travel writer Morris reflects on history, earlier adventures, friends, convictions, and change. She chose Trieste as her subject because of its personal resonance, reexamining herself in the context of this Adriatic city to which she has been drawn for more than half a century. 2001.
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The World: Travels 1950–2000
by Jan Morris

Collection of essays by noted Welsh journalist and travel writer records her observations over a fifty-year career of “wandering and writing” in every inhabited continent. Describes witnessing landmark historical events, visiting most of the world’s great cities, and sampling many different cultures. 2003.
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Full Tilt: To India with a Bicycle
by Dervla Murphy

An Irishwoman recounts the rigors and joys of a four-thousand-mile bicycle trip she undertook in 1963 through nine countries. She describes episodes of hunger, heat exhaustion, unbearable terrain, remote cultures, and several incidents of personal danger, but through all, she revels in the adventure of her journey, the grandeur of her surroundings, and the hospitality of the people she met. 1986.
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At Home and Abroad
by V.S. Pritchett

Travel essays by an English novelist, critic, and short-story writer. These pieces, written between 1925 and 1966, are portraits of countries, cities, and cultures. Included are essays on Greece, Ireland, London, Paris, American Appalachia, and several South American countries. 1989.
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Two against Cape Horn
by Hal Roth

Tale of high adventure at sea. Author Roth and his veteran sailor-wife sail from California in their eight-ton Whisper to the islands and breathtaking fjords of Chile and the crosswinds of the Cape. Shipwrecked twenty-four miles from the Horn for nine days, they are finally rescued by a Chilean torpedo boat. 1978.
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There and Then
by James Salter

Collection of essays by the author of All That Is (DB76675). Details his travels across the world, including trips to Japan, Paris, the Alps, and the Rocky Mountains. Includes reminiscences from his time as a soldier during World War II. Unrated. Commercial audiobook. 2005.
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Journey into Silence
by Jack Denton Scott

Describes an arctic journey by plane, bus, coastal steamer, and diesel ketch to a remote lake north of Norway. The trek brings the author into contact with explorers, scientists, sailors, bears, seals, and rare birds. 1976.
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Three Weeks with My Brother
by Nicholas Sparks

A memoir chronicling the around-the-world adventure of author Nicholas Sparks and his brother, Micah, in 2003. Leaving wives and families at home, the brothers journeyed to Machu Picchu, Peru; India; and the Australian outback remarking on milestones in their lives, childhood remembrances, and truths about loss and hope. Bestseller. 2004.
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Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
by Cheryl Strayed

Author recounts the three-month, 1,100-mile solo hike she took on a whim in 1995, after years of devastating personal losses. Describes her encounters with rattlesnakes, locals, fellow hikers, and her own thoughts during her trek from Los Angeles to Washington State on the Pacific Crest Trail. Strong language. Bestseller. 2012.
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Fresh Air Fiend: Travel Writings, 1985–2000
by Paul Theroux

Fifteen years of articles and essays that explore the connections between traveling and writing. Recounts camping trips in Maine and visits to European cities, rivers in Africa and China, and Pacific islands. Includes essays on the author’s and others’ books and on travel writers like Bruce Chatwin. Some strong language. 2000.
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The Great Railway Bazaar: By Train through Asia
by Paul Theroux

An American novelist’s account of a four-month trip in 1973. Traveling through Turkey, Iran, India, Southeast Asia, Japan, and London, he writes of his encounters with a motley collection of hippies, businessmen, prostitutes, and fellow tourists. Strong language. Some descriptions of sex. Bestseller. 1975.
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The Old Patagonian Express
by Paul Theroux

Overland adventures described by Theroux as he journeys by train from Medford, Massachusetts, through Central America and down the Andes mountains to remote Patagonia at South America’s southern tip. His portrayal of cities, countryside, and people includes his meeting with Jorge Luis Borges, the blind poet and Nobel Prize winner. 1979.
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Shadow of the Silk Road
by Colin Thubron

Travel writer, author of In Siberia (DB51481) and Behind the Wall (DB34567), chronicles his journey along the ancient Silk Road from central China to the Mediterranean coast of Turkey. Describes his third-class passages, his encounters with the people of central Asia, and witnessing the war in Afghanistan. 2007.
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The Flâneur
by Edmund White

Novelist, critic, and biographer White, who moved to Paris in 1983, describes his wanderings through the city’s arrondissements, including districts congenial to writers, Black people, Jews, artists, gays and lesbians, and royalists. A flâneur is someone who strolls about a city with no specific purpose yet is attuned to its history and character. Bestseller. 2001.
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Walking the Himalayas
by Levison Wood

British explorer, journalist, and author of Walking the Americas (DB95893) describes his trek the length of the Himalayas, beginning in Afghanistan and ending 1,700 miles later in Bhutan. Describes travel conditions he and his guides encountered, individuals he met, the cultures he was introduced to, and advice he was given. Violence, strong language, and some descriptions of sex. Commercial audiobook. 2016.
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Historical Journeys

One Dry Season
by Caroline Alexander

A retracing of the adventures of Victorian explorer Mary Kingsley (1862–1900) through the modern nation of Gabon, particularly along the Ogooué River. Includes descriptions of what the travel would have been like in Kingsley’s time. Unrated. Commercial audiobook. 2012.
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Travels with Herodotus
by Ryszard Kapuściński

Polish journalist recounts his youthful travels with the Histories of Herodotus (DB58293) as his companion. Recalls reading this work by the fifth-century BCE Greek to gain perspective during assignments in China, Iran, India, Ethiopia, and Senegal, among other places. 2007.
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Around the World in Eighty Days
by Michael Palin

Palin, who suffers from a compulsive urge to travel, was selected by the BBC to retrace the journey of Phileas Fogg in Around the World in Eighty Days (BR09468, DB53171) through Italy, Greece, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, India, and the United States. In diary form, Palin describes his travels, which began at the Reform Club in London on September 25, 1988, and ended there exactly eighty days later without a princess but with a lot of dirty laundry and a film for the BBC. 1990.
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Cities of Gold: A Journey across the American Southwest in Pursuit of Coronado
by Douglas J. Preston

The author chronicles his journey on horseback retracing the path of sixteenth-century Spanish explorer Francisco Vasquez de Coronado across the American Southwest in search of the seven cities of gold. Woven into the narrative are natural history; stories heard from cowboys, Native Americans, and ranchers; and an account of the original expedition. Strong language. 1992.
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The Lost City of the Monkey God
by Douglas J. Preston

Coauthor of the Pendergast series recounts the expeditions he joined to explore what was believed to be the remains of Hernán Cortés’s lost city of gold in Honduras. Describes the area’s history, previous expeditions, and the challenges he and his team faced. Bestseller. 2017.
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Old Glory, an American Voyage
by Jonathan Raban

Living out his Huckleberry Finn (BR10687, DB43591) fantasy, an English critic journeys down the Mississippi River in a sixteen-foot boat. As the river towns of Saint Paul, Wabasha, Hannibal, and Memphis roll by, Raban has moments of solitude and brushes with society on shore. Strong language. 1981.
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Alexander’s Path: A Travel Memoir
by Freya Stark

This journey takes the reader by bus, jeep, horseback, and on foot through country not frequently traveled in the author’s search to find out what Alexander the Great actually did on his march through Lycia and Pamphylia. 1958.
Download DB29284

Travelers with Disabilities

Sites Unseen
by Wendy S. David

Based on her own experiences in Europe and North America, the well-traveled blind psychologist provides tips and tools for taking trips without sighted assistance. Discusses where to go, how to get there, what to bring, what to do, and what questions to ask. 2010.
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Seven-Tenths: Love, Piracy, and Science at Sea
by David Fisichella

David Fisichella, a mechanical engineer, chronicles a series of research cruises on which he served as the “eyes” for Amy Bower, a Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute oceanographer with deteriorating vision. He reflects on their experiences together, including surviving a pirate attack, and their courtship. 2010.
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I’ll Push You
by Patrick Gray and Justin Skeesuck

Gray and Skeesuck, friends for the entirety of their lives, detail their 2014 journey along the 500-mile-long Camino de Santiago—with Skeesuck, who has multifocal acquired motor axonopathy, using a wheelchair. Discusses their friendship, the faith that sustained them for their trek, and the people they met. 2017.
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I Didn’t Hear the Dragon Roar
by Frances M. Parsons

An art historian records her solo odyssey through China in 1986. Although she has a hearing impairment and travels independently, Parsons has few difficulties and many adventures as she lectures at schools for deaf students and visits such sights as the Forbidden City, the Tashi Lhunpo Monastery, and the Yangtze River. 1988.
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A Sense of the World: How a Blind Man Became History’s Greatest Traveler
by Jason Roberts

Biography of Englishman James Holman (1786–1857), who lost his visionat twenty-five while serving in the Napoleonic wars and later achieved fame as a world traveler. Quoting from Holman’s memoirs, describes how he fought slavery in Africa, survived captivity in Siberia, charted the Australian outback, and published three books. 2006.
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The Unheard
by Josh Swiller

Swiller, who lost his hearing during childhood, describes joining the Peace Corps at age twenty-three “to find a place,” he says, “past deafness.” Recounts his two-year stint and his attempts to improve conditions in a remote Zambian village plagued by poverty, disease, and violence. Strong language and some violence. 2007.
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A Year of Sundays: Taking the Plunge (and our Cat) to Explore Europe
by Edward D. Webster

Recounts author’s yearlong 1997 European trip with his visually impaired wife, Marguerite, and sixteen-year-old cat, Felicia. Describes putting careers on hold to realize their dream and embarking on “a quest for adventure,” exploring eateries, tourist destinations, and romantic locales in France, Greece, Holland, Spain, Germany, Italy, and Austria. 2004.
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Literary Travelers

A Taste for Travel: An Anthology
edited by Ed Blake

Potpourri of travel pieces for the armchair traveler. Gathered from the writings of such authors as Freya Stark, Robert Byron, Evelyn Waugh, and Paul Theroux, the selections are arranged according to various aspects and themes of travel. 1985.
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American Notes
by Charles Dickens

Acclaimed British novelist chronicles his 1842 trip to the United States and offers observations about North American society. Includes Dickens’s celebrated visit with Laura Bridgman at the Perkins Institution and Massachusetts Asylum for the Blind. Introduction and notes by Patricia Ingham. 2004.
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Download DB74996 (Spanish language)

Better than Fiction
edited by Don George

Collection of thirty-two essays by authors of fiction about their travel adventures. Includes stories from Frances Mayes, author of Under the Tuscan Sun (DB44847); Joyce Carol Oates, author of Carthage (DB78237); Alexander McCall Smith, author of The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency (DB55503); and more. 2012
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Iberia: Spanish Travels and Reflections
by James A. Michener

A long, discursive travelog and interpretation of Spanish history, art, customs, politics, and geography. The author discusses bullfights in depth, describes an immense wildlife preserve in the southern part of the country, and considers the probable causes of Spain’s decline from the glory of its Golden Age. 1989.
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Travels with Charley: In Search of America
by John Steinbeck

Feeling that as an American writer he has lost touch with his country, the author sets out on a swing around the United States to see what it is really like. He travels in a trailer with “an old French gentleman poodle.” Here is the leisurely account of what he saw, whom he talked with, and his conclusions, hopeful and otherwise. 1962.
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The Tao of Travel
by Paul Theroux

Travelers’ visions, insights, and wisdom culled from the writings of Theroux and other literary figures. Robert Louis Stevenson discusses walking for walking's sake, Freya Stark describes the need for solitude, and Henry David Thoreau argues for staying home. Also features Claude Lévi-Strauss, Paul Bowles, Eudora Welty, and others. Bestseller. 2011.
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Life on the Mississippi
by Mark Twain

Memoir of Twain’s career as a steamboat pilot on the Mississippi River in his youth before the Civil War. Twenty-one years later he returns for a trip from St. Louis to New Orleans, reminiscing about the changes and the cities he encounters. Includes a history of the river. 1883.
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