Travel Books to Inspire Your 2012 New Year's Resolutions

In case you’re in need of inspiration for your 2012 New Year’s resolutions, check out our roundup of recent travel titles, ranging from intellectual to aspirational to a little bit off the rails. Whether you plan to ditch the desk job for good in the upcoming year or just go on a bucket list trip to the bottom of the world, these authors will guide you by example. Enjoy from the armchair or get out there and write your own!

Secret Journeys of a Lifetime: 500 of the World’s Best Hidden Travel Gems

A sequel to National Geographic’s Journeys of a Lifetime, this travel-porn doorstopper is of the "100 Places to See Before You Die" subset of travel guide: Plenty of people will add it to their bookshelf, but few will actually read about more than 10 of those travel gems, let alone actually go to them. So, we dare you. Pick five — either because they’re closest to you or they work best with your calendar or just completely randomly — and GET THERE in 2012. We’d recommend starting with the “City Secrets” and “Island Getaways” sections, but for the amateur anthropologist, there’s “Secret History,” or if you need a break from everything, “Last Wildernesses.” (Photo credit: Amazon)

Unreal Estate: Money, Ambition and the Lust for Land in Los Angeles

If you’re among the many, many people who travel to Los Angeles regularly for work, add some subtext and intrigue to your next 7 a.m. American Airlines commuter flight by picking up the latest behind-the-façade venture of Michael Gross (bestselling author of 740 Park and Model: The Ugly Business of Beautiful Women). Turns out many of those beautiful mansions tucked in the hills have a lot more to their history than "a B-list actress once lived here." From railroad magnates to mobsters, Zanucks to porn kings, Gross uncovers many of Los Angeles’ most colorful characters of the past 100+ years through the stories of the houses they built, most of which are still standing. Sitting in traffic for an hour on Laurel Canyon won’t be quite so boring next time. (Photo credit: Amazon)

Serengeti: The Eternal Beginning

If you have dreams of Africa, this book deserves center placement on your coffee table. Not only is it a pictorial treasure, but author-photographer Boyd Norton brings 30 years’ worth of study to bear detailing the environmental and anthropological significance of the Serengeti. Norton is not only a travel photojournalist but an environmental activist, and is donating “a significant portion” of proceeds from the book to his Serengeti Watch, a non-profit he cofounded. The book received enthusiastic praise from his peers, including Jade Goodall, who said “Boyd Norton has captured the magic of this ancient and majestic ecosystem.” (Photo credit: Amazon)

South Pole

Publisher Assouline regularly puts out some of the most beautiful and glossy coffee table books on the market; but this book, surprisingly, is a stark account of the doomed Terra Nova Expedition, created from the diaries of expedition leader Robert Falcon Scott. With additional text by National Geographic News environmental editor Christine Dell'Amore and original photos by team member Herbert Ponting, this is a necessary addition to any history buff's bookshelf.  It's available in three formats including a limited edition extra-large, hand-bound edition billed as "the first luxury art book of its kind." Proceeds from book sales go to the Antarctic Heritage Trust. (Photo credit: Assouline)

The Venice Experiment

If you’ve been saving up money and prepping your Mac to be your “mobile office” and you already have a title for your memoir (or name for your blog) picked out. Here’s the first of two memoirs you might want to add to your list of “If they did it, so can I” inspirational reading. Author Barry Frangipane talked wife Debbie into saying "Ciao" to their business-class American lives and embarking on an adventure inspired by "Under the Tuscan Sun," only with a pared-down income and a Venice flat instead of a Tuscan fixer-upper villa. In addition to being a funny read, this is a true account of what it's like to ditch your desk, follow your dreams, but keep your day job too. (Photo credit: Amazon)

Dispatches from Saint-Tropez: Reminiscences From La Vie en Rose

The second memoir has a plot so in keeping with escapist paperback novels, we had to check twice to make sure it was nonfiction. Indeed, it is the true account of Asim Khan's switch from UK investment banker to permanent member of the jetset community in St. Tropez. The self-published tale is getting good Amazon reviews for the same reason that socialite blogs always get such tremendous traffic: It's decadent, it's fun, it's a bit wicked, and it's somebody's uncensored reality. (Photo credit: Amazon)

Lena Katz

Lena Katz is the author of the Travel Temptations series (SIP, SUN, SNOW), published by Globe Pequot Press in 2009. Lena is also a travel expert for Celebrations/1800FLOWERS and WEtv (online and on-air). She contributes to the South China Morning Post and ABC News online. Lena is a former Orbitz Travel blogger and former columnist for the LA Times. She's been published in Brides Magazine, Robb Rep...(Read More)

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