Five great travel books perfect for gift-giving

Travel-related books feed our wanderlust. Here are some worth giving -- and receiving.

1. Drives of a Lifetime: 500 of the World's Most Spectacular Trips, $40, National Geographic

With choices from all over the world, this book has something for everyone ready to take a trip. Even if you weren't planning to take the road less traveled, one look at some of the enticing photos that accompany the narratives -- which include the roads, distance, driving times, when to go and a planning website -- may convince you otherwise, and the interspersed "top 10" lists, such as historic trails and lakeside drives, make choosing even tougher.

2. Art + Travel Europe: Step Into the Lives of Five Famous Painters , $17.95, Museyon Guides

Part of a series that started with music and film, the Art + Travel segment is part history lesson and part guidebook, offering a glimpse into the worlds of van Gogh, Goya, Vermeer, Caravaggio and Munch by showing you the places they lived and worked. Clear reproductions of their works and photos of places such as Arles, France; Delft, The Netherlands; and Madrid illustrate fascinating anecdotes and walking tours of the areas.

3. Make the Most of Your Time on Earth , $29.99, Rough Guides

Guides like this usually bring out the sarcastic in me, but Make the Most is addictive, packed with short blurbs (in tiny type) that will have all but the most firmly rooted ready to sell their belongings and start ticking these off. From the very doable ("Feeling the blues at a Delta juke joint") to the rather less likely ("Traversing the Salar de Uyuni" in Bolivia), the 1,000 ideas nonetheless make for great armchair traveling.

4. Around the World in Eighty Meals , $31.95, Red Rock Press

Don't read this one hungry -- it contains mouth-watering pictures from the restaurants found along the route from Phileas Fogg's fateful journey, as conceived by Jules Verne in 1873, from England, to France, Italy, India, Singapore, Taiwan, China and then the U.S. The book, written by Bon Appetit contributor Nan Lyons, includes recipes and fun trivia and tidbits connecting the original story to the locales.

5. Colorado's National Parks & Monuments , $35, Collier Publishing

Photographer Grant Collier grew up in Denver, and his love for the West comes through in a coffee-table book packed with images of Colorado's best places.