Category Archives: Reading Lists

Reading List: Indonesia

Read before you go! Today we’re taking a look at some recommended reading of one of the growing tourist destinations, Indonesia! Take a look at some of these jewels from and about Java, Bali, and other popular locations.

Lyall Watson. Gift of Unknown Things. Examines symbiotic relationship of a community and its environment on an unnamed island.

Tim Flannery. Throwim Way Leg. A scientific expedition into Papua New Guinea.


Simon Winchester. Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded. A fascinating, interdisciplinary look at the 1883 eruption of Krakatau from the author of the Professor and the Madman.

Tom Severin. In Search of Moby Dick. Search for the globe’s last whale-hunters in the remote village of Lamalera, in Nusa Tenggara.

Christopher Koch. The Year of Living Dangerously. A stark account of a journalist living in Sukarno’s Indonesia during 1965.


Helen & Frank Schreider. Drums of Tonkin. A team of husband and wife documents their 1963 voyage from Sumatra to Timor.

Jose Manuel Tesoro. The Invisible Palace. A nonfiction account of the murder of a journalist in Yogyakarta during the Suharto regime.

book3Giles Milton. Nathaniel’s Nutmeg: True and Incredible Adventures of the Spice Trader Who Changed the Course of History. A depiction of 17th century Indonesian trader Nathaniel Courthroupe and his struggle to save a nutmeg-laden island from the Dutch.

Interested in booking a trip to Bali or any one of Indonesia’s gorgeous islands? Call us for more details, 503.224.0180 or email

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Reading List: Pacific Northwest & the Columbia River

Time for another reading list from your agents! Today we’re taking a look at some of our favorite nature and historic books on the Pacific Northwest and the Columbia River…

Robin Cody. Voyage of a Summer Sun: Canoeing the Columbia River. A canoe trip from the headwaters of Columbia to Astoria

William L. Lang and Robert C, Carriker. Great River of the West: Essays on the Columbia River. Essays from historians and anthropologists on the history, culture, and mythos of the river.

Robin Cody. Another Way the River Has. Old and new essays about life on and around the Columbia River, from Estacada to Ilwaco.

John Logan Allen, Marjorie Burns, and Sam Sargent. Cataclysms on the Columbia. All about geology of the area, Bretz floods, etc

R. Gregory Nokes. Massacred for Gold. The 1887 massacre of 30 Chinese on the Oregon side of Hells Canyon.

William Dietrich. Northwest Passage: The Great Columbia River. Another engaging history of the Columbia river.

Bill Mercer. People of the River: Native Arts of the Oregon Territory. An insightful and compelling study on the rich artistic heritage of Native Americans and their unique designs, materials, motifs.

Marge and Ted Mueller. Fire, Faults, and Floods: A Road & Trail Guide Exploring the Origins of the Columbia River Basin. Fifty-three trails on and over cliffs, walls, potholes, caves, and rivers through the Pacific Northwest. Includes maps, photographs, and illustrations. 

Planning a trip to the PNW? Call us for more details! Wittravel is based in Portland, Oregon, giving us a terrific base from which to design a “naturesque” vacation just for you.

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Reading List: New Zealand

New Zealand: Hiker’s Paradise, Land of Kiwi Birds and Kiwi Smoothies. Let’s take a look into what makes NZ tick:

Alexander Elder.Straying from the Flock: Travels in New Zealand. Love ir or hate it, a great travel memoir about New Zealand.

Scott Cook. NZ Frenzy: New Zealand South Island. An off-the-beaten-path guide to New Zealand’s south island.

Kate Llewellyn. Lilies, Feathers and Frangipani. A short book written in journal-style, revealing odds and ends about NZ culture.

Joe Bennett. A Land of Two Halves. The amusing account of Bennett’s hitchhiking and wandering in the countryside.

Keri Hulme. The Bone People: A Novel. One of the best-known NZ novels, this is the story of a half-Maori artist and her journey into culture clashes, mystery, and love.

Katherine Mansfield. New Zealand Stories. A collection from one of the finest kiwi authors.

Andrew Stevenson. Kiwi Tracks: A New Zealand Journey. One traveler’s journey into the primeval forests, glaciers, beaches of NZ armed with only a rucksack.

Polly Evans. Kiwis Might Fly. A motorcyclist’s account through the landscapes of NZ.

Witi Ihimaera. Whale Rider. A bittersweet story about a Maori girl and her destiny, against the backdrop of heavy subjects such as seixism, tradition, faith.

Michael Cooper and John McDermott. Wine Atlas of New Zealand. A guide to navigate through Pinots, Savs, and Rieslings of the Hawkes Bay region.

Gregor Paul. Redemption: How the All Blacks Defied History to Win the World Cup. The story of NZ’s All Black rugby team and their victory in worldwide soccer. 

Alexander Stewart. New Zealand—The Great Walks. As is to be expected in a land of stunning natural beauty, there are some amazing walks and trails to explore in New Zealand. Here’s a comprehensive guide from the Milford Track to lesser known walks.

Almost all of our agents have traveled Australia and/or New Zealand. Call for more information about these gorgeous destinations at 800.821.0401 or email

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Reading List: Thailand

Thailand: Realm of backpackers, massages, rides with elephants. But exactly how much do we now about the Land of the Smiles? Read these informative and intriguing pieces for insight into the country and culture.

David Wyatt. Thailand: A Short History. A detailed account of the region, from prehistory to modern day.

Carol Hollinger. Mai Pen Rai Means Never Mind. An amusing, brilliant depiction of Thai people from the perspective of an American who lived there for five years.

Karen Connelly. Touch the Dragon: A Thai Journal. A Canadian’s take on everyday life in rural Thailand.

Larry Habegger. Travelers’ Tales Thailand: True Stories. Personal narratives of travelers with an intimate touch.

Botan. Letters from Thailand. One of Thailand’s most enduring novels, this book, first published in 1969, is one of the few portrayals of immigrant Chinese life in the country.

Susan Fulop Kepner. The Lioness in Bloom: Modern Thai Fiction about Women. An on about various feminist topics—from sexuality and loneliness to injustice and oppression.

Thongchai Winichakul. Siam Mapped: A History of the Geo-Body of a Nation. A unique perspective of Thailand’s history and politics as shaped by its geography.

Kay Halsey. Food of Thailand. A collection of delicious Thai dishes brought to print by an award-winning food author.

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Reading List: Costa Rica

Costa Rica has been a popular destination for Central American travelers for centuries. We encourage travelers to read before they go, for inspiration and in anticipation. L. Henderson. Field Guide to the Wildlife of Costa Rica. Standard guide to the fauna of the country.

Richard Garrigues. The Birds of Costa Rica: A Field Guide. Standard, portable guide to the birds, complete with pictures and maps.

Barbara Ras and Oscar Arias. Costa Rica: A Traveler’s Literary Companion. Read about the gorgeous savannas and jungles from the best of Costa Rica’s local writers.

Harvey Haber. Costa Rica’s Stories: Tales from the Hot Tropics. A treasure trove of stories about the people and lifestyle of the country.

Enrique Jaramillo Levi. When New Flowers Bloomed: Short Stories by Women Writers from Costa Rica and Panama. Self-explanatory, a great collection of stories. 

J.R. Eagle. Costa Rica: The Wild West of Surfing. Suspenseful and addicting story of an American surfer—part romance, part mystery, part survival tale. Lobo. Assault on Paradise. A sweeping depiction of swashbuckling adventure set against the dark backdrop of Conquistadores and Church in the early 1700s.

Carmen Lyra. Cuentos de mi Tía Panchita. A collection of folktales, published in 1920.




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Nancy’s Reading List for Vietnam and Cambodia

Nancy has spent time exploring the wild countries of Vietnam and Cambodia. She’s come back with a fantastic reading list. Call her up for a chat on these destinations!


 Andrea Warren. Escape from Saigon: How a Vietnam War Orphan Became an American Boy. Thetrueaccount of an orphan and his decades-long struggle with cultural identity.

Edited by Kim DePaul, Compiled by Dith Pran. Children of Cambodia’s Killing Fields. A must-read, hard-going memoirs from survivors. 

Jackie Brown. Little Cricket. The fictional story of the Hmong family, who flees North Vietnam to a refugee campin Thailand, then onward to America. Set in Laos and Minnesota in the 1970s.

Minfong Ho. The Stone Goddess. Another fictional account of the evacuation of Phnom Penh.

Richard Pyle and Horst Faas. Lost Over Laos: A True Story of Tragedy, Mystery, and Friendship. Thestory of four combat photographers who died 4 combat photographers who died in Indochina and the two journalists who kept their memory alive. I enjoyed this book.  After seeing the room dedicated
to the media at the War Remnants Museum, this gave me more detail on events.

David Lamb. Vietnam Now. I’ve read this 3 times.  It’s a timeline of the Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos.  It gives a great insight into what was happening in the 3 countries simultaneously—both in the military and politically.

David Lamb. Vietnam Now, a Report Returns. Excellent follow up to his first book. 

Francois Bizet. The Gate. I’ve read this twice.  The author was in Phom Penh when the Khmer Rouge took over. He was inside the French Embassy with a number of refugees—it was in “lock down” by the KR, who put pressure on the Embassy to release all Cambodians, etc. 

William J Duiker. Ho Chi Minh, a Life. Recommended to me while I was in Vietnam in 2004, I read this book before I returned in 2007.  Heavy going but I felt it was worth it.  I’d heard North Vietnam’s version and South Vietnam’s version, so to read a third party’s version was helpful.

 Jon Ortner. Angkor. Celestial Temples of the Khmer Empire. Photo essay with fabulous photos. Very detailed text of the history, with building plans and good maps.

Edward Gargan. The River’s Tale, a Year on the Mekong. A New York Times correspondent’s travel narrative that delves into the world around the Mekong and its people.

Stephen T. Asma. The Gods Drink Whiskey: Stumbling Toward Enlightenment in the Land of the Tattered Buddha. A spiritual travel narrative / memoir that follows the author’s search for Theravada Buddhism and modern Enlightenment in Cambodia. 

 Ed. Andy Brouwer and Kim Fay. To Cambodia with Love. The collaboration of fifty writers that contains personal essays on this vibrant, historically torn country.

Loung Ung. First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers. Biography/memoir.

Frances FitsGerald. Fire in the Lake. History of Vietnam from feudal times to Communism to the War.

Bill Hayton. Vietnam, Rising Dragon. An examination of social change and economy of Vietnam, in a historical and cultural context.

 Michael Herr. Dispatches. A war correspondent’s biography/memoir in Vietnam.

Tim O’Brien. The Things They Carried. Collection of stories about the daily life of a soldier in Vietnam

Andrew X. Pham. The Eaves of Heaven, a Life in Three Wars. A descriptive family memoir during the tumultuous 20th century in Vietnam—from the French occupation of Indochina, the Japanese invasion, and the Vietnam War.

John Balaban / Nguyen Qui Duc. Vietnam, A Traveler’s Literary Companion. Anthology of folktales, poetry, and essays from Vietnamese writers.

Kristin Kelly. The Extraordinary Museums of Southeast Asia. One of my fellow travelers had this book on our 2004 trip.  It seems to be out of print; Powells found a used copy for me. Fans of museums love this book.

Michael Buckley. Moon Handbooks Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. This is my personal favorite guidebook series.

Our agents Linda and Nancy have traveled Vietnam and Cambodia extensively. Call for more information about these stunning destinations at 800.821.0401 or email

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Reading List: Argentina

As autumn in the northern hemisphere rolls around, travelers are looking to those great southern destinations: Chile, Ecuador, Peru. But there’s one locale that will never lose the charm of its pervading nostalgia, sultry dance, succulent wine, and captivating, diverse landscape. Here’s a reading list to delve into before your trip to Argentina.

Chatwin, Bruce. In Patagonia. Chatwin’s tale of his journey through the Patagonia territory that encompasses 900,000 km of Argentina and Chile.

Dereck Foster and Richard Tripp. Food and Drink in Argentina. A well-written guide to the gastronomy and vineyards of Argentina.

Manuel Puig. Kiss of the Spider Woman. A fantastic narrative of two political prisoners in a jail cell, with elements of magic realism.

Jorge Luis Borges. Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings. Standard introduction to one of the masters of fantastical narrative.

Uki Goni. The Real Odessa. The true chronicle of the smuggling of major Nazi war criminals—Eichmann, Mengele, Priebke and others—to Argentina.

Brian Winter. Long After Midnight at the Nino Bien: A Yanqui’s Missteps in Argentina. The emotional, quirky, informative account of a young American’s reporter into the dark and dramatic crevices of Buenos Aires.

Nicholas Fraser and Marysa Navarro. Evita: The Real Life of Eva Peron. The biography of Eva Peron, paper, actress, president’s wife. Set against the backdrop of the tumultuous postwar Argentina.

Horacio Quiroga. The Decapitated Chicken and Other Stories. Macabre short stories that are Argentina’s answer to the Gothic genre.

Edited by Gabriela Nouzeilles and Graciela Montaldo. The Argentine Reader: History, Culture, Politics. A diverse collection of essays, poems, songs, and comic strips from Argentines such as Juan Peron, Jose San Martin, Ricardo Piglia, Che Guevara, National Commission on the Disappearance of Persons, and others.

Jon Lee Anderson. Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life. The New York Times “Notable Book of the Year,” a thorough biography of Che and his revolution.

Various. An Argentine Passion: Maria Luisa Bemberg and her Films. Tells the little known story of one of Latin America’s popular filmmakers.

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