World Book Night is about celebrating the joy of reading. Nothing quite matches the enjoyment that comes from losing oneself in a good book.

Oh sure, we all have plenty to read for business purposes, but when was the last time you picked up a book just for pleasure? It may have been a classic, read in your local coffee shop, or it may have been the latest chick lit or popular mystery read on your last flight or by the pool. Since World Book Night is about promoting ready and literacy, it’s also my opportunity to share some of my recent favorites reads. I hope you’ll find one you like.

These are all nonfiction travel books this time. sometimes it goes like that.

Remember, reading is for winners. Pass it on.

Thailand's best street foodThailand’s Best Street Food

In Thailand’s Best Street Food, freelance writer and food blogger Chawadee Nualkhair details everything that visitors need to know to track down the most delectable dishes—no matter where they are hidden. Most people think Bangkok is the only place to find great Thai street food, but Nualkhair ate her way across the country and found incredible food stalls everywhere, from Phuket in the south to Chiang Mai in the north. Even seasoned travelers may find it difficult to identify the best venues—never mind figuring out how and what to order.

This wonderful book, full of gorgeous food photos, was sent to me by author Chawadee Nualkhair (you should check our her delicious blog, Bangkok Glutton). We all like the idea of eating street food, but when it comes to doing so in an unfamiliar country, it can be a bit intimidating. Even more intimidating is when the language spoken isn’t our native one and much of the food is totally unfamiliar to us. Chawadee does a great job of breaking our street food options into digestible bites, explaining some of the key ingredients like types of noodles, broth, and other main ingredients, as well as detailing some of the classic Thai dishes.

On my first visit to Thailand, I had guides helping me select the best food choices. On my second visit, I didn’t have a lot of free time to head out to find street food. When I go back this fall, I have a whole lot of places and dishes that I’m salivating to try out.

Thailand’s Best Street Food may have been written as a guidebook, but it’s a great read on its own. And with several recipes included, all modified for a western kitchen, it may find a spot among your other cookbooks.

A Better Life for Half the Pricea better life for half the price

The most comprehensive guide to moving abroad in order to cut your expenses in half, with advice, expatriate interviews, and specific country details for the cheapest places to live. How to cut loose instead of cutting back by having more money to spend each month.

This was another book sent to me by a colleague, Tim Leffel (go check out his blog, Perceptive Travel, one of many projects he’s involved in). Tim has lived and traveled abroad for many years and his advice is golden.

This isn’t how to eke out an existence in a infrastructure-less locations. No, Tim likes living well, enjoying a safe home, good food, and the ability to travel. He wants to live well, and show you how you can do it too. But he doesn’t want the lifestyle to comes with a high price tag. Not only does he make recommendations on where you can live well for cheap, he provides step-by-step practical information on you can actually make the move.

Moving out of the country isn’t on my bucket list, but I know plenty of people facing retirement for whom A Better Life for Half the Price will become an indispensible read.

The Geography of Blissgeography of bliss

The book uses a beguiling mixture of travel, psychology, science and humor to investigate not what happiness is, but where it is. Are people in Switzerland happier because it is the most democratic country in the world? Do citizens of Qatar, awash in petrodollars, find joy in all that cash? Is the King of Bhutan a visionary for his initiative to calculate Gross National Happiness? Why is Asheville, North Carolina so damn happy? 

With a tagline of One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World, I guess it shouldn’t have been surprising that I got a bit irked with this curmudgeonly author. That made it far harder to get through this book than it should have, though.

Travel memoirs always seem a bit self indulgent, and this one is no different, but I felt like the book is more about not being happy than finding happiness. The generalizations were sweeping, lack of enthusiasm for the project abounded, and at times I wondered why I kept at it. Still, I’m glad I did – even though I didn’t find myself very happy while doing so. If you’re wondering if “grump” was an over generalization, it’s not.

The Most Beautiful Walk in the World:  A Pedestrian in Paris most beautiful walk in the world

Thrust into the unlikely role of professional “literary walking tour” guide, an expat writer provides the most irresistibly witty and revealing tour of Paris in years. In this enchanting memoir, acclaimed author and long- time Paris resident John Baxter remembers his yearlong experience of giving “literary walking tours” through the city. Baxter sets off with unsuspecting tourists in tow on the trail of Paris’s legendary artists and writers of the past.

Another travel memoir, but this one was far more enjoyable, dare I say it, happy. If you enjoy literature or Paris, this is one of those books you’ll want to pick up, but even if you don’t (c’mon, really?), there’s plenty to enjoy. This isn’t a walking guidebook, there are no special routes or start here moments. Instead, it’s a history of the city (primarily the Latin Quarter in ther 5th and 6th arrondissements), told my someone who lives and loves the area.

I’ve walked all over Paris, and after reading this book realized just how much of the city I’m still missing out on. I fell in love with Paris just a little bit more after reading The Most Beautiful Walk in the World.

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