Blue Sky Kingdom: An Epic Family Journey to the Heart of the Himalaya by Bruce KirkbyFeaturing: Canadian TV journalist Bruce Kirkby, his introverted wife Christine, their highly intelligent autistic seven-year-old son Bodi, and their free-spirited three-year-old son Taj.
What happened: From British Columbia, they slow traveled (no planes!) for three months, making their way to South Korea, India, China, and Nepal, and then stayed at a Buddhist monastery for three months.
For fans of: rich, uplifting family travelogues; the Travel Channel's Big Crazy Family Adventure, which covers the first part of their trip.
The National Road: Dispatches from a Changing America by Tom ZoellnerWhat's inside: 14 entertaining, evocative essays filled with incisive musings on change and place and covering the author's eclectic travels, usually in a car, across the U.S. over three decades.
Locations include: Spillville, Iowa (where Dvořák composed Symphony No. 9); a porn studio in Los Angeles; the streets of St. Louis; a Mormon historical site after hours; his grandmother's house in Arizona.
For fans of: William Least Heat-Moon's classic Blue Highways; Paul Theroux's Deep South; James and Deborah Fallows' Our Towns.
Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness by Edward AbbeyWhat it is: a classic account, first published in 1968, of author Edward Abbey's experiences, observations, and reflections as a seasonal park ranger in 1950s Arches National Monument in Utah, including a trip by boat down Glen Canyon.
Want a taste? "The ravens cry out in husky voices, blue-black wings flapping against the golden sky."
Read this next: for a newer contemplative look at the desert, try Ben Ehrenreich's Desert Notebooks; for another lyrical look at national parks, pick up Terry Tempest Williams' The Hour of the Land.
Leave Only Footprints: My Acadia-to-Zion Journey through Every National Park by Conor KnightonThe impetus: his fiancée unexpectedly called things off (and then got engaged to her co-worker), leaving him at a crossroads.
What it is: a thematically arranged (Animals, God, Ice, Love, People, etc.), personal look at 59 U.S. national parks over the course of a year.
Did you know? As part of a video series on the National Park Service's 100th anniversary in 2016, the author, a CBS Sunday Morning correspondent, also did TV segments at several of the locations he visited.
Upstream: Selected Essays by Mary OliverWhat's inside: a lyrical collection of essays by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Mary Oliver, who died in 2019, that describes her lifelong wanderings in nature and how it inspired her creatively.
Why you might like it: Oliver contemplates artistic labor, observation, and great thinkers and writers of the past.
Want a taste? "I could not be a poet without the natural world. Someone else could. But not me. For me the door to the woods is the door to the temple."
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