Read something: Guide & Other Books

A decent guidebook doesn't just point out attractions it teaches you about a country in a way the Internet probably won't. Country related fiction is full of history and culture. What could be better than not just visiting, but starting to understand. A decent books where to start.

Let's be fair, you're not going to find all the answers on the internet and at some stage will need some more information.
That's why a few pages have been put together to recommend the best guidebooks, planning guides and travel reading. All recommendations can be viewed in more detail and hopefully bought through Amazon in the United Kingdom, America and Canada. Please read the note below to see why this is important.

Following an Amazon link and making a purchase (of anything not just what is recommended) is a big thank you for any advice you have found useful and is really how this site survives (for more info see footer). You don't have to buy what's recommended here - it can be anything as long as you click through a link on this site first. You could even bookmark this page and at a later stage return to it, click through and shop as normal. Many thanks.

ReadingRemember the beauty of Amazon is that if you want to, you can buy books for research and send them back when you're done or if they don't meet your requirement. Items are well priced (30% off most) and delivery is free if you pick up a few items.

  • Whether you know exactly where you want to go or have no idea, the books recommended on this page are perfect for planning your trip and can save you a lot of time when on the ground. Not all the information will be useful, but a lot of it, especially the maps and routes. There are some brilliant planning guides available, that if you miss and find when you return you'll probably kick yourself. Click the above link to read more and see all recommendations.

  • AfricaWith something like fifty countries its difficult to recommend guides without breaking the continent down into different regions. These regions are generally visited independently, the North, West, South and East (South and East sometimes combined) and since most of these regions are not frequently visited, the number of good guides are few and far between. Click the above link to read more and see all recommendations.

  • L AmericaLatin America takes in a fair few countries, so travellers tend not to stick to one. Apart from Brazil or Mexico it's quite common to travel in several countries on one trip and not uncommon to cover the whole region.

    For this reason regional guide books have been concentrated on here, picking out the best and naming and shaming the worst. Fiction in this region is very strong and you could do much worse than reading all the recommended fiction listed. Apart from in a few places, books are hard to get on the ground in Latin America. Click the above link to read more and see all recommendations.

  • If you are just visiting one or two countries such as Spain or Italy, you will find either the Lonely Planet or Rough Guide and many other guides (although many are not aimed at independent travellers) to a very high standard. If you want quick facts and good budget recommendations try a Let's Go guide. Considering the expense of travel within Western Europe and the huge number of things to see and do in any large city, many travellers tend to restrict their travels within small hubs (e.g. London, Prague, Paris, Rome) in which case mini-city guides might be a better resource and are normally of a high standard.

  • AsiaAsia is a big one, so you will only find a selected few guides which are really the pick of the bunch we have come across. Also, the recommended reading in this section is not to be missed as are the planning books by Mark Elliot. Any one of the fiction books recommended are an excellent read and great background to life in Asia, with Indian based fiction/fact standing out. Click the above link to read more and see all recommendations.

  •  Australia has long been the country of choice for year out European and American travellers, which means there are loads of guidebooks to choose from. The same goes for New Zealand. In both cases Lonely Planet guides are by far the most popular. Many would say because of this, there are some better options. Click the above link to read more and see all recommendations.

  • Travelling is the perfect time to read and in all honesty you generally find yourself doing it in order to pass the time. Picking the right books can really help you get under the skin of a culture and to have a much better and more measured understanding of it. Take the excellent 'Wild Swans' for example, a book about life in China during the last 100 years. Anyone who has read this will know and understand China so much better than, you might venture, someone who has been there, yet not read it or something similar.

    Head ScarfNot combining reading a book like this with a visit, is only getting half the wonder. Even if you are not a big reader, you are strongly encouraged to give it a try. If you are not sure what to go for then on this site are a number of pages recommending a few books that you can't go wrong with. None are deeply written or boring, many talk through a backpacker's point of view, many are funny and a good number are probably unlike anything you might have read before. To see these pages click on the links above to select the region you are interested in.

    Click here to learn more about the various different publishers of guidebooks. Their strengths, weaknesses and general background.

AmazonA word about Amazon links: If this site has helped you or you are going to pick up any of these books anyway, please do the site a favour here and help to support it. Here's the deal: by clicking on an Amazon link for either the USA, UK or Canada, that ends in a purchase, about 4% commission is received at no cost to the buyer.

This site has taken up hundreds of hours already, and is always being up-dated, but the major cost is that of hosting. No one is going to get rich with this commission, it just means that part of the web hosting costs can be paid for and banner/google ads are kept off this site.

If you want to recommend a book or reckon that something has been left out, please get in touch.

"Most new books are forgotten within a year, especially by those who borrow them."

— Evan Esar