Culture Books

24 books to accompany you for the open road

Drop your phone and get lost--while you're on the way to your destination
From the Vault archives | Oct 22 2018

1. Sultry Climates: Travel and Sex by Ian Littlewood (2003)

A history of erotic opportunities promised (and taken) while traveling.

2. Italian Hours by Henry James (1995)

Charming literary snapshots of Italy’s great cities, written from 1872-1909.

3. Travels in Hyperreality by Umberto Eco (1990)

A collection of essays about simulated attractions across the United States like wax museums 

and Disneyland.

4. A Journey around My Room by Xavier de Maistre (2004) 

A fantasy novel written while the French writer was held captive in Turin, Italy, in 1790 after losing in a duel.

5. Motorworld by Jeremy Clarkson (2006)

The renowned motoring journalist visits 12 countries and writes with humor about their car cultures.

6. The Sailor from Gibraltar by Marguerite Duras (1996)

A novel about a man who suffers a breakdown while vacationing in Florence. Leaving his mistress and his job at the French Colonial Ministry to join a yacht crew, he meets an attractive American sea captain in search of her past lover.

7. Poet in New York: A Bilingual Edition (English and Spanish) by Federico Garcia Lorca (2007)

Considered one of the most important books Lorca has written, this edition has a facing-page translation and captures in free verse the anger the Spanish poet felt about New York when he lived there in 1929-30.

8. My Life in France by Julia Child (2006)

A memoir of the noted TV chef and author, 

from which much of the 2009 movie, Julia and Julia, was based.

9. To the Ends of the Earth by Paul Theroux (1990)

The novelist and travel journalist’s best escapes.

10. The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World by Eric Weiner (2009)

A humorous take on how happiness is culturally subjective.

11. The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton (2003)

Taking insights from various writers and artists,  the author waxes philosophical about our pursuit of traveling.

12. Swissair Posters by Georg Gerster (2006)

A set of the most breathtaking advertising posters Georg Gerster had shot for the Swiss national carrier.

13. Casa Boholana: Vintage Houses of Bohol by Erik Akpedonu and Czarina Saloma (2011)

An in-depth take on the centuries-old homes of Bohol.

14. The Ends of the Earth: From Togo to Turkmenistan, from Iran to Cambodia, a Journey to the Frontiers of Anarchy by Robert D. Kaplan (1997)

Tales of the author’s journalistic undertakings in West Africa and Southeast Asia.

15. Journey to the East by Le Corbusier (2007)

The pioneer of modern architecture as a wide-eyed 24-year-old recording his impressions of the sights and structures of Central and Eastern Europe

in 1911.

16. Looking for Jose Rizal in Madrid: Journeys, Latitudes, Perspectives, Destinations by Gregorio C. Brillantes (2004)

An anthology of essays, travel pieces, and reportage pieces by a Palanca Hall-of-Famer.

17. Sightseeing by Rattawut Lapcharoensap (2005)

A collection of stories set in contemporary Thailand, packed with relatable tales of family bonds, young romance, generational conflicts, and cultural shifting.

18. Playing with Water: Passion and Solitude on a Philippine Island by James Hamilton-Paterson (1987)

A foreigner recalls his stay on a remote Philippine island and his observations on the country’s 

class divisions.

19. Linamnam: Eating One’s Way around the Philippines by Claude Tayag and Mary Ann Quioc (2011)

A comprehensive list of the best go-to food havens in the Philippines, complete with vibrant pictures and detailed descriptions of regional delicacies.

20. Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found by Suketu Mehta (2005)

The author returns to his native India after living in the U.S. for nearly 20 years, only to find that his beloved Bombay is not what he remembered it 

to be.

21. Falling Off the Map by Pico Iyer (1994)

An observant and humorous literary tour of the world’s loneliest and most eccentric places tucked in Iceland, Bhutan, and Argentina.

22. Pacific Rims: Beermen Ballin’ in Flip-Flops and the Philippines’ Unlikely Love Affair with Basketball by Rafe Bartholomew (2010)

An American journalist delves into the Filipino obsession with basketball.

23. The Man Who Ate Everything by Jeffrey Steingarten (1998)

The most mouth-watering and humorous essays Jeffrey Steingarten has written as he travels the world as Vogue’s long-time food critic.

24. The Book of Salt: A Novel by Monique Truong (2004)

Fictional memoir of a Vietnamese cook serving the 1930s Paris household of American writer Gertrude Stein and her partner Alice B. Toklas.