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The best travel books of 2020 (so far)

It's only January, but we've already spotted a few travel gems to keep your bookshelf warm. Discover the year's ever-evolving list of quality travelogues, memoirs and guides...

Two of the top travel books for 2020 (Images c/o publishers)

1. The Journey Matters: Twentieth-Century Travel in True Style, by Jonathan Glancey 

Atlantic Books

What is it about the golden age of travel that continues to fascinate us? The elegant glamour of a more civilised era? The romance of adventure in a world that still contained come cartographic unknowns?

It certainly sounds more fun that having your knees jammed into your chest in economy class in 2020. Glancey creates 15 little novellas with a fictionalised narrator as the lead character embarking on the classic experiences (as well as five real accounts of his own journeys).

As he crosses the Atlantic on the SS Normandie, flies with Imperial Airways from Southampton to Singapore and dines aboard the Graf Zeppelin, Glancey combines his passion for the era with an insight into the social and political clouds brewing over the heads of the passengers; it’s easy to forget that the renewed interest in travel was one of the few shiny aspects of the era.

Sometimes these can feel exposition-heavy – and with a whiff of wish-fulfilment – but the joy really is in the minute detail: he captures everything from the itineraries to the gearboxes to the menus. For anyone with an obsession with the Golden Age of Travel, this will be the first class ticket.

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2. Handbook of Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises, by Mark Carwardine


In his latest book, wildlife expert – and the go-to person to ask anything and everything about ceteceans – Mark Carwardine has teamed up with top biologists to present an in-depth (and soon to become indispensable) guide to these creatures of the deep, shedding light on their differences with a set of handy illustrations, migration maps and quick-yet-comprehensive ID guides.

An illuminating, informative read from the most authoritative voice in the business, and an essential read for anyone dreaming of adding a whale-watching stop off on a forthcoming adventure.

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3.Stories of the Sahara, by Sanmao


Sometimes, all travellers want to find is a sense of belonging in a world that doesn’t make sense.

Free-spirited explorer and novelist Sanmao picks up on this theme in Stories of the Sahara, casting off societal conventions to go on a ground-breaking adventure across the world’s largest hot desert.

Coloured by her own memories, this travelogue takes us from eye-opening experiences in desert bathhouses to divine rainstorms, while reminding us that adventures into the unknown are key.

How else are we to discover sides of ourselves we never knew existed?

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4. 1,000 Places to See Before You Die: The World as You’ve Never Seen It Before, by Patricia Schultz


When Schultz’s original coffee-table travel book was first published in 2003, it took us on a visual journey of the world continent by continent. The latest re-imagined edition does the same job, but this time it comes in even prettier packaging.

With 1,100 all new photographs and 544 pages of lively text highlighting the globe’s must-visit destinations, this version is even more inspiring.

From the misty landscape of the Huangshan mountains in China to the Byzantine wonderland of Cappadocia in Turkey and bright-eyed cheetahs on the lookout in Kenya, this handy guide on where and when to go in the world is filled with useful travel tips and will have you booking your next trip in no time.

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