"It's entirely possible that somewhere on planet Earth there exists a cuisine more unpalatable than that found in Kiribati. I accept this possibility like I accept the possibility of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe. I have never encountered it. I cannot imagine it. I simply accept that there is a statistical possibility of its existence."
14. "Vroom with a View" (2006)
By Peter Moore
From Milan to Rome on a '61 Vespa nicknamed Sophia. If you understand the "Sophia" reference you'll appreciate not just where the Italy-intoxicated Moore goes, but where he's coming from.
No less an authority than Mario Batali blurbed the book as "a brilliant love letter to Italy," and several on our panel agreed.
"Even though she was with Andy she lapped up Alfonso'a attention, and when it was turned elsewhere she sat getting slowly pissed on the enamel-stripping red, all the while giving a blow-by-blow account of what her therapist had said to anyone who would listen. 'I am a beautiful and desirable woman,' she said morosely. 'I've just got to accept that.'"
13. "The Lost Continent" (1989)
By Bill Bryson
The preeminent bard of genial travel laughs embarks on a 38-state tour in search of the vanishing small town America of his youth ... in his mother's aging Chevy Chevette.
"Early Bryson just kills me. Love his line about living in London, the weather there: 'It was like living inside Tupperware.' 'Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe' is also excellent ... just about any Bryson, really." -- Mary Roach, author of "Stiff" and "Gulp."
"As I always used to tell Thomas Wolfe, there are three things you just can't do in life. You can't beat the phone company, you can't make a waiter see you until he's ready to see you and you can't go home again."
12. "Coasting" (1999)
By Dick Flinthart
A swaggering travel guide that takes in the good, the bad and the malignant features of 2,800 kilometers of Australia's East Coast.
The funny endorsement
"My fave travel book is Dirk Flinthart's 'Coasting,' a sort of surf and drugs tour of eastern Australia. It was publicly burned by the mayor of Mackay, or maybe Townsville. Possibly both. I seem to recall the entry for Ipswich, my old hometown, was something like, 'Don't. Just don't. They all play banjo with their toes out there." -- John Birmingham, author of "He Died With a Felafel in his Hand" and "The Tasmanian Babes Fiasco."
11. "Killing Yourself to Live" (2005)
By Chuck Klosterman