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Choosing the right book that can be the difference between a great holiday and a truly memorable one. A good travel book provides context for the things you see, and knits your experience into a wider story about the country. And it’s a reciprocal relationship. A book is so much better when you have a reference point for what author is describing – such as the comforting smell of palo santo wood, or the turquoise glow of Pacific reefs.

When researching books for my recent trip to the Galapagos, I had two criteria. Firstly, I wanted something that made me feel like an explorer: the best travel books haven’t just taught me things; they’ve given me tools to discover new things for myself. Secondly, they had to be short, or easy to read. I’m not a fast reader and I pack light, so I didn’t want any thousand-page tomes. 

Of the titles I settled on; one is fiction, one historical and one scientific, giving three very different view of the country. Ecuador is a diverse and wonderful place, with plenty of history, culture and personal stories to discover. These books helped me to dive into that world; I hope they do the same for you.