The most effective journey books of 2020

We looked around the archives to pick our favorite travel books for 2020. From adventures far away to adventures in the local area, these books are sure to entertain, inspire and fascinate

EAT THE BUDDHA: The History of Modern Tibet through the People of a City by Barbara Demick

Best known for her reveal book about North Korea, Nothing to Envy, Barbara Demick returns with a familiar style but a new location. She chooses the small town of Ngaba in the Chinese province of Sichuan as her focus, although it is Tibetan in every respect. It uses the intimate, traumatic, and inspiring stories of residents, past and present, to tell the fuller story of modern Tibet.

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WANDERLAND: A Quest for Magic in the Landscape by Jini Reddy

“I want to connect with the spirit of the country. I want to feel heard, cared for, guided. I want signs, synchronicity, all business! ‘writes Reddy. Determined to wring some otherworldly magic from the grass, rocks and rain of Great Britain, she searches for “lost” springs in Hastings. visits a maze in Cornwall and talks to modern day pagan goddesses and the descendants of witches.

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Owls of the Eastern Ice: The Quest for the World’s Largest Owl by Jonathan C Slaght

A rare bird with a wingspan of two meters, the Blakiston fish owl, lives in the pristine and largely untouched forests of Primorye near the borders of Russia, China and North Korea. There are probably fewer than 2,000 of them in the world. Owls of the Eastern Ice is a fun reminder of an extraordinary kind of fieldwork, as well as an informative and much-needed voice for the fish owl.

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INTO THE TANGLED BANK: In which our author ventures outside to contemplate the British in nature by Lev Parikian

From the spiders in his sink and the “impossible balance” of the home garden (“simultaneously with and against nature”) to his “patch” of Norwood Grove and Streatham Common, Welsh bird sanctuaries and even the moon, we are Parikian writes, surrounded by, dependent on nature and very vulnerable to nature – but there is little understanding of it. Into the Tangled Bank is a layperson’s guide to everyday nature and indeed the laypeople who navigate it (where its subtitle comes from), many of whom “naturally do not know they are experiencing nature”.

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DARK, SALT, CLEAR: Living in a Cornish fishing town of Lamorna Ash

Lamorna Ash knows she has set herself an impossible task. The attempt to convey a place and its people entirely on paper. But she tries it anyway, temporarily settles in the Cornish fishing town of Newlyn and lets herself be broken like a wave by its activities, its atmosphere and its people. Dark, Salt, Clear is so soaked from the sea and from fishing that its sides feel almost damp, just like cotton towels in houses by the sea. And Ash is an exciting new talent. A mature voice. And a modest one. Don’t be afraid to channel the insights of those who went before her – Lopez, Didion, Woolf, Thoreau.

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THE FROZEN RIVER: In Search of Silence in the Himalayas by James Crowden

In 1976 James Crowden gave up his career in the British Army and immigrated to Ladakh in the northern Himalayas. There he spent a winter among the Zangskari, one of the most remote communities in the world. In The Frozen River, Crowden tells of his time in Zangskar, and through his eyes we see a disappearing world. Nature, people and traditions hardly changed for hundreds of years, until roads connected the area with the outside world. Crowden witnesses the first vehicles ever to arrive in Zangskar.

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