Looking for some holiday shopping inspiration? You’ve come to the right spot! I’ve listed below some of the best food and travel books recently released, which also happen to be written by friends. So yeah, it’s biased, but jeepers, I’ve got some mega-talented friends. However, ask anyone who may know these great folks or their writing and I’m certain they will be quick to highly recommend the expertise, wit, humor and other wonderful qualities that each of these writers has poured into their latest masterpieces.
So, if you or someone you know loves cooking, travel, adventure or wildlife, consider making them happy with a good read this year! I mean, who doesn’t love books for Christmas?
For the foodies or budding chefs:
Following my dear friend Amy’s IG cooking stories is somewhat akin to all of the Pinterest projects I take note of and want to tackle — I’m not sure anything will ever turn out but I’m going to keep trying. I’m sure most of you will have much better luck (she’ll make a cook of me yet!). Amy’s simple approach to cooking inspires me every time I watch her create meals (get your dose of social inspo @amyrrosen on IG). She makes it look so easy, and I am hoping to soon master some of the recipes from her latest cookbook, Kosher Style.
“For the bubbes and the balabustas, the keepers of Jewish kitchens and the enthusiastic neophytes, comes a cookbook that celebrates how many Jews eat today.
In the Jewish culture, as in many others, bubbes, saftas and nanas are the matriarchs of the kitchen and thus the rulers of the roost. They are culinary giants in quilted polyester muumuus and silk slippers who know how to make the Semitic linchpins cherished from childhood–the kugel, the gefilte fish, the matzah ball soup and the crispy-skinned roasted chicken. They all have their specialties but, of course, they won’t be around to feed us forever, and that will be a loss indeed. But it will be an even bigger loss if the recipes we grew up on pass away with them, along with those special connections to our past. That’s what prompted Amy Rosen, journalist and cookbook author, to spirit the classic recipes from her grandmothers and other role models into the 21st century. All of the dishes in Kosher Style are inspired by the tables and tales and chutzpah of the North American Jewish experience. They also happen to be kosher.
Kosher Style is for anyone who likes to cook and loves to eat, and it’s especially for those yearning to create new shared memories around a table brimming with history, loved ones and maple-soy brisket.”
Buy it here for $35.
Dirty Food by Julie Van Rosendaal
Ever since I saw the potential cover (Julie had posted it on social media), I couldn’t wait for the release of her latest book, dirty food. Is there anything better than a saucy mess? I don’t think so but then again, I live for sauces! Anyhow, what I love most about Julie’s writing and approach to cooking is that she unapologetically shares her love for all that is tasty – clean or dirty.
“Search for “clean” in online bookstores, and there are over 8,000 results in the cookbook category; the hashtag #cleaneating has been used over 43 million times on Instagram (with #eatclean and other similar terms in the same ballpark). Julie Van Rosendaal’s Dirty Food cookbook is a joyful pushback against this amorphous, abstract buzzword and its connection with ideas of purity and goodness. With recipes like Eton Mess, Sloppy Joes, Dirty Rice and Sticky Buns, Dirty Food contains a wide variety of dishes that celebrate the pleasure we derive from food, and its ability to bring people together to socialize, comfort and enjoy each other’s company—when it comes to food, there should be no guilt in pleasure.
Dirty Food is the first in a new series of small format, single subject cookbooks by Julie Van Rosendaal that aims to give home cooks confidence in the kitchen with versatile, cookable recipes that are useful, unfussy and easily adapted to suit personal tastes and the seasons.”
Buy it here for $19.95.
For the those interested in family adventure travel:
Don’t Try This at Home: One Family’s (mis)Adventures Around the World – Rob Krause and Daria Salamon
I was fortunate to meet Rob and Daria this spring when we hosted an official book launch together of our respective titles. Their book is an essential read for those traveling with families – with no sugar coating. I love the honesty, humour and humility woven throughout. The authors brilliantly depict how real travel looks with children, and the trials, tribulations and celebrations of a year spent exploring the world.
“Rob Krause and Daria Salamon sold their car, rented out their Winnipeg home, and packed up their two young children to embark on a 12-month journey around the world. In this dual retelling of their ambitious year abroad, Don’t Try This at Home chronicles the hilarious and sensational misadventures of a Canadian family as they travel across 15 different countries in the Southern Hemisphere. In an honest reflection on parenting, marriage, and living for a year on a tight budget, Krause and Salamon take readers through some of the world’s most stunning vistas while meeting the challenges of foreign customs, broken-down buses, stomach bugs, personal loss, and their often less-than-enthusiastic children.”
Buy it here for $21.
Though this book may be about places to see in Australia, you’ll want to add it to your list for inspiring spots for family travel. If you’ve read any of Robin’s bestselling other books, (hello, you may know him from: ALL THE BUCKET LIST BOOKS – found here) you won’t need any convincing to add this to your collection or to buy a copy for those who dream of travel abroad.
“Renowned international travel writer Robin Esrock has scoured the planet in search of bucket-list-worthy experiences, infusing his adventures with humour, quirky facts, intimate photography and worldly insight. He’s swum with piranha and bungeed off TV towers, but nothing could prepare him for travelling across Australia with his two young kids.
His advice is simple: DON’T DO IT!
But if you can’t resist inspiring your family with adventures of a lifetime, be sure to read these rousing, honest and hilarious stories first. From hand-feeding giant bluefin tuna to chasing quokkas, swimming in remote waterfalls to zip-lining ancient forests, Robin explores incredible destinations your kids will never forget. Along with practical, funny and brutally honest advice, 75 Must-See Places is the perfect book to inspire curious parents to tackle the very best of Australia.”
Buy it here for C$34.46.
OK, truth be told, I don’t know John personally – though we are connected on social media. However, a trusted friend recommended that John’s book, released this August, be included on this list. Learning that John spent a ton of time researching in Northern B.C.’s Great Bear Rainforest, a place near and dear to my heart, I was happy to include it. Know someone obsessed with the existence of Sasquatch? This might be a great fit for them.
“This evocative work of nature writing traverses the world’s largest temperate rainforest to uncover the legend of the Sasquatch.
Canada’s Great Bear Rainforest is home to trees as tall as skyscrapers and moss as thick as carpet. According to the people who live there, another giant may dwell in these woods. For centuries, locals have reported encounters with the Sasquatch—a species of hairy man-ape that could inhabit this pristine wilderness.
Driven by his childhood obsession with the Sasquatch, yet trying to remain objective, journalist John Zada seeks out the people and stories surrounding this enigmatic creature. He speaks with local Indigenous peoples and a Sasquatch-studying scientist. He hikes with a former bear hunter.
Soon, he finds himself on quest for something infinitely more complex, cutting across questions of human perception, scientific inquiry, Indigenous traditions, the environment, and the power of the human imagination to believe in—or to outright dismiss—one of nature’s last great mysteries.”
Buy it here for $33.
For those obsessed with wildlife and nature:
Frommer’s Belize (Complete Guides) by Ali Wunderman
It’s not often I run into someone who is equally as obsessed with wildlife. Whether it be birds, bears or wolves, a passion for writing about wildlife (plus conservation and advocacy) is something that connected me to talented writer, Ali Wunderman. Also, with a cover like this – I was sold at first sight. If you are like me and have ever wanted to explore Belize, (yes please!) I’d suggest this guide book is a great place to start.
“Belize is a rising star. With all of the natural allure of Costa Rica, it adds to the mix towering ancient pyramids, superb scuba diving and snorkeling (along the world’s second-longest coral reef system), and a culture that’s warm and welcoming. Author Ali Wunderman has been covering the country for years and uses her expertise to help you craft the vacation of your dreams.
Frommer’s Belize contains:
Exact pricing so there’s never any guessing.
A star rating system to make scanning the book quicker and easier.
Opinionated advice, with no-holds-barred reviews of hotels, tours, restaurants, attractions, and nightlife in all price ranges.
In-depth discussions of the history, cultural and wildlife of the country.
Money-saving tips and tricks to help your dollar go further, whether you’re a luxury-seeker or a backpacker.
Maps throughout the book, and a fold-out map in the back to help you better navigate.”
Buy it here for $14.
110 Nature Hot Spots in Manitoba and Saskatchewan by Doug O’Neill (and me!) and Jenn Smith Nelson
I’m thrilled to promote my dear friend Doug O’Neill’s awesome effort and contribution to 110 Nature Hot Spots in Manitoba and Saskatchewan! It just so happens that we tag teamed this one, so bear with me for this shameless plug for our book! However, I think it would make a wonderful gift – absolutely no bias here, nope. Released in April 2019, this is a great choice for the active nature and wildlife lover in your life. If you haven’t been to either province, or even if you live within one of them, I promise you will be surprised by many of the incredible hot spots and diversity both have to offer.
“An inspiring guide to the best nature getaways in Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
110 Nature Hot Spots in Manitoba and Saskatchewan is a beautifully illustrated guidebook that explores the natural splendor and remarkable recreation of these diverse provinces. Each entry includes a descriptive destination profile, beautiful photographs and at-a-glance information about special features, locations and available activities and amenities. Both provinces are divided into three chapters — south, central and north — and feature Special Interest sections to help readers craft their adventures based on their interests and discover even more hot spots.”
Buy it here for $28.
Though this guide book was released in 2018, I have to promote it! The work of Leigh and Debbie inspired me to pitch the idea for our book. So, we literally have these two ladies (and our publisher, of course) to thank. In much the same way as our book works, you’ll find the best hot spots in the province that go beyond uber-popular destinations to showcase the immense beauty and incredible flora and fauna found in Alberta.
“A guide to the best places in Alberta to connect with the natural world.
Since the first travelers visited the hot springs in Banff during the railway era of tourism, Alberta has been a compelling destination for visitors worldwide. Banff became Canada’s first national park in 1885 and it remains one of the most popular destinations in the nation with towering mountain peaks, massive glaciers, impossibly blue lakes and abundant wildlife. The mountain parks are just one part of a province that is filled with spectacular landscapes. Canada’s fourth largest province is also blessed with thick forests, sparkling lakes and mysterious badlands that conceal the fossilized remains of dinosaurs.
125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta is a reader-friendly guidebook that explores this remarkable splendor and natural diversity. Organized by region, each hot spot entry includes a descriptive destination profile, a colour photograph and a sidebar of at-a-glance information about special features and location.”
Buy it here for $30.
OK – so that’s my list! Have you read these or any recent food or travel books that you’d recommend?
Happy shopping everyone!