Whether the people on your list have been naughty or nice (we’ll leave that call to Santa), we’ve picked seven books packed with inspiring travel images, stories, and maps that are perfect for gifting to those with wanderlust—or for keeping for yourself. Make a resolution to explore more in 2017. It doesn’t have to be to another country; it could just be to the neighbourhood next door. These books will get you started.
American Road Trip: Colour Your Way to Calm From Coast to Coast, by Michelle and Brian Sharkey Vaught: Marketed as combining “the fun of a road trip with the stress-relieving benefits of colouring,” this adult colouring book presents tips for a coast-to-coast itinerary, beginning in Memphis and then moving counter clockwise across the country to end up in New Orleans. Visit (and colour in) the covered bridges of Indiana, the redwood forests of California, and the mesas of Arizona.
1,000 Places to See in the United States and Canada Before You Die, by Patricia Schultz: This is part of the best-selling series that launched the bucket list travel book craze. This updated third edition of the U.S. and Canada book now has colour photographs. The book is divided into regions but special indexes at the back break down the thousand destinations based on theme: culinary experiences, for the culturally minded, active travel and adventure, and more. Also included is a checklist that compels you to start marking off places you’ve visited and making plans for where you want to go next.
Map Stories: The Art of Discovery, by Francisca Mattéoli: Cartophiles will drool over this large-size book that celebrates the artistry of vintage maps and the interesting stories behind their creation. An 1893 map of the Kingdom of Siam includes tiny illustrations of a fleet of tall-masted sailing ships plying the Gulf of Siam. A 1519 hand-drawn map of northeast Brazil depicts indigenous tribes going about their daily business. But some maps are notable for what they don’t include: As Mattéoli observes, what’s interesting about 19th-century maps of Peru is that Machu Picchu—now one of the world’s most iconic destinations—does not appear on any of them. (The Hiram Bingham expedition that re-discovered the Inca site didn’t take place until 1911.)
Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders, by Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras, and Ella Morton: This print version of the popular website is a compendium of wonderful and curious finds around the planet. Open to any page and you might find a fascinating small medical museum in Budapest, a bizarre boab tree once used as a prison in Australia, or a house built out of newspapers in Massachusetts.
Maps of the Disney Parks: Charting 60 Years From California to Shanghai, by Kevin and Susan Neary: With the opening of Shanghai Disney earlier this year, the Magic Kingdom’s reach is bigger than ever. Disney fans—both admitted and secret—can chart the expansion of this global fun factory with this collection of colourful maps, from 1951 architectural drawings of an “Unbuilt Burbank Disney Park” to a 1979 Walt Disney World Resort Fun Map to aerial concept drawings of Shanghai Disneyland.
Wild Beautiful Places and Greatest Landscapes: And of course we can’t ignore two great coffee-table books from National Geographic. Wild Beautiful Places and Greatest Landscapes both fill pages with dazzling photographs—the kind you want to immerse yourself in. Wild Beautiful Places also includes vintage photos pulled from National Geographic’s archives, showing early expeditions to places such as Madagascar and Bhutan (where National Geographic sent the first Western journalist in the 1960s).