Women Travel: First-hand accounts from more than 60 countries. Edited by Natania Jansz, Miranda Davies, Emma Drew, and Lori McDougall (The Rough Guides, £12.99 in UK)

 

This is the fourth edition of the Rough Guide's Women Travel anthology, and it weighs in now at 700 pages, with stories and reports from more than 60 countries, written by some 80 women. The route is simple, running alphabetically from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, so readers dipping in and out of the book can choose the country whose window they wish to look through. Some of the contributors to this anthology are already well-known writers - such as Margaret Atwood, Kathleen Jamie, Dea Birkett, Isabella Tree - but most of them are ordinary women writing one-off pieces about places that have variously inspired, tested, challenged or changed them in some way.

Sheila Keegan writes about taking her small daughter to India; Nicki McCormick reports from Pakistan, from where she's riding an Enfield motorcyle back to Britain; Tatum Anderson writes about a term spent teaching science at a boarding school in Zimbabwe; Sarah Dale tells of hostessing in Japanese bars; Joy V. Harris compromises with her beach-craving nieces on a long-desired trip to Paris; Sarah Johnstone is shadowed by an unwanted male protector in Tripoli.

What they all have in common is that vital ring of truth, which makes reading this anthology like receiving letters from friends travelling abroad, and which make you want to put your rucksack on again and head off too. At the end of the contributions on each country, there's also an excellent reading list of travel books about that area, with a potted synopsis of each book.