July 20, 2024

Adventure Chronicles Forum

Navigating Travel Tales

Fully Booked: Travel books to guide your next vacation

2 min read

It’s summer, which means that it’s time for that hallowed tradition of summer vacation. I have many fond memories of piling into my parents’ light blue and fake-wood-paneled station wagon to hit the road. Many times that meant Adventureland (the sky seats! the swimming pool! the bingo parlor!), but we definitely also set out to see some great American sights: Devil’s Tower (I saw the prairie dogs!), Mt. Rushmore (which my mother referred to as “the faces” for the remainder of her life), Badlands National Park (where I discovered that I was afraid of heights) and Grand Teton National Park (I didn’t understand mountains and thought our station wagon would literally fall off if we went too high).

Other summers, we hitched our camper to the wagon and headed to Backbone or Pinicon Ridge state parks, both in Iowa, where each day would end with my then-favorite meal of hamburgers, baked beans, shoestring potato chips, and Wonder Bread cherry pies cooked in sandwich irons over the campfire.

OK, so I wasn’t the most adventurous kid. These days, though, I often peruse the library’s travel books to get inspiration and details on places I might like to visit. Yes, you can get a lot of travel info online, but there’s nothing like being lost in some alley in some city where you’ve got no signal, and pulling a travel guide or a map out of your bag that tells you how in the heck you get back to where you’re supposed to be. Plus, you’ve got to have somewhere to store all those museum tickets, rail passes and receipts for the best dessert ever.

The Iowa City Public Library carries the big travel series for sure — Lonely Planet, Frommer’s, Fodor’s, Moon and the like. But we also venture out into the more curated books, which, depending on what your summer plans look like, might be exactly what you need. In the spirit of getting out into the great outdoors, I recommend Lonely Planet’s USA’s National Parks and Where Should We Camp Next? by Stephanie Puglisi. The first title is pretty straightforward, with all the required details and in-the-know info you expect from that publisher. Puglisi’s book takes the camping vibe even farther, looking at campgrounds and “unique outdoor accommodations” that are near national parks, monuments of interest and other scenic environs.

If you’re not settled on where to go, though, grab Andrew Nelson’s brand-new Here Not There: 100 Unexpected Travel Destinations and let your imagination roam free.

Whatever your summer holds for you in terms of vacation and travel, make the 910-919 call number range one of your destinations and grab some books!

Candice Smith has been librarian-ing for over 20 years, and recently vacationed in Aruba. This article was originally published in Little Village’s June 2024 issue.


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