The 10 Best Books About Trains Available Today

Written by Alan Lemus
Updated: April 7, 2023
© Richard N Horne, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons – License / Original

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Key Points

  • Our list of the 10 best books about trains includes something for every train enthusiast: how they work, a children’s book, scenic routes, the history of trains, facts and photographs, the types of trains, and even literary reflections.
  • When you’re shopping for a book about trains, keep the following criterion in mind: recipient, type of book, and format.

As a train lover, it is hard to resist anything to do with trains. There is a high chance that you have a personal collection of items about trains: toys, magazines, movies, wallpapers, and more. One thing that will remain constant with your enthusiasm is that you will always want more collectibles.

Books on trains do an excellent job of immortalizing this form of transport and drawing in newer enthusiasts. They tackle different topics on trains, such as their history and engineering. They also enable us to understand and appreciate how this mode of transport has evolved over the centuries.

You are in the right place if you are looking for the best books about trains, as we present you with a list of 10.

  1. Train Aerodynamics: Fundamentals and Applications
    • 402 pages.
    • An in-depth and technical look at train mechanics, primarily on aerodynamics.
    • Touches on crucial subjects like basic flow patterns from bridges.
    • Suitable for train and engineering enthusiasts.
    Check Amazon
  2. My First Book of Trains: All About Locomotives and Railcars for Kids
    • 72 pages.
    • Recommended by customers for children ages 4 through 6.
    • Simple and precise language
    • Large and clear illustrations to keep the young readers hooked
    • A trivia section to check on comprehension
    Check Amazon
  3. Lonely Planet Amazing Train Journeys 1
    • 304 pages.
    • It is the work of more than 200 travel writers.
    • The profiles contain crucial details like photos, ticket options, timetables, and stops.
    • The book is available on Kindle or as a hardcover option.
    Check Amazon
  4. Train: The Definitive Visual History
    • 320 pages.
    • Detailed explanations with high-quality illustrations.
    • Accurate depictions.
    • Meet the innovators behind the iconic locomotives and engines.
    Check Amazon
  5. The Big Book of Trains (DK Big Books)
    • 32 pages.
    • Recommended by customers for children ages 3 through 8.
    • The book uses simple and easy-to-comprehend language.
    • Each page has a close-up picture of the trains with informative text. 
    • It helps the readers differentiate the different types of trains.
    Check Amazon
  6. Around India in 80 Trains
    • 288 pages.
    • An eloquent story flow, using several literary devices.
    • Gorgeous cover art.
    Check Amazon
  7. TICKET TO RIDE: AROUND THE WORLD ON 49 UNUSUAL TRAIN JOURNEYs: Around the World on 49 Unusual Train Journeys
    • 320 pages.
    • In-depth and captivating descriptions of the trains, routes, and various destinations.
    • The book is available on Kindle and paperback.
    • The author uses simple language to pass his thoughts.
    Check Amazon
  8. Trains: The World's Most Scenic Routes
    • 144 pages.
    • A simple four-color book.
    • Use of high-resolution photos to depict the railway routes.
    • Clear and precise descriptions.
    Check Amazon
  9. Lonely Planet Kids How Trains Work 1 (How Things Work)
    • 24 pages.
    • Recommended by customers for children ages 6 through 8.
    • An excellent follow-up to How Cities Work and How Airports Work.
    • Not available on Kindle.
    • Superb illustrations and astounding facts.
    • The book introduces the readers to various famous train routes around the world.
    Check Amazon
  10. Parallel Lines : Or, Journeys on the Railway of Dreams
    • 320 pages.
    • Available only in paperback.
    • An amazing story flow.
    • A captivating plot and background.
    Check Amazon

A-Z-Animals’ Top Picks for the 10 Best Books About Trains

1. Train Aerodynamics: Fundamentals and Applications by Chris Baker, Terry Johnson, Dominic Flynn, Hassan Hemida, Andrew Quinn, and 2 more

Train Aerodynamics: Fundamentals and Applications is the ultimate guide if you are into trains and are interested in their operation. The book, published in 2019, is the work of Chris Baker, Dominic Flynn, Hassan Hemida, and others. 

This book gives you a comprehensive outlook on how trains operate with respect to their aerodynamics. It looks at the early history of trains up to the 1930s and the developments that followed, leading to the 21st century. 

Train Aerodynamics also looks at the state of train facilities, touching on possibilities for improvement. The book is technical and ideal for enthusiasts who understand the basics of train engineering.

The cover is subtle, with a photo of a train that hints at what to expect when you read it. You can get the book in paperback or Kindle. The 402-page book weighs only 1.39 pounds. You may want to save this title for a special occasion since it’s the priciest title on our list by far.

Pros and Cons of Train Aerodynamics: Fundamentals and Applications by Chris Baker, Terry Johnson, Dominic Flynn, Hassan Hemida, Andrew Quinn, and 2 more

ProsCons
This book is the ultimate guide for readers who are into trains and their operation.It is extremely pricey.
It provides a comprehensive look into how trains operate from an aerodynamics point of view.
It reviews the history of trains up to the 1930s and the developments that lead to the 21st century.
It’s available in paperback and Kindle formats.
Train Aerodynamics: Fundamentals and Applications
  • 402 pages.
  • An in-depth and technical look at train mechanics, primarily on aerodynamics.
  • Touches on crucial subjects like basic flow patterns from bridges.
  • Suitable for train and engineering enthusiasts.
Check Amazon

2. My First Book of Trains: All About Locomotives and Railcars for Kids by Kristina A Holzweiss MSLIS MA

My First Book of Trains: All About Locomotives and Railcars for Kids by Kristina A Holzweiss MSLIS MA is an excellent way to welcome your young one into the world of trains. It answers common questions about locomotives, such as what powers them, why they come in various shapes, and the different types of trains.

An impressive thing about this book is the large and clear illustrations that show various types of trains and their suitability. Moreover, it has the Terrific Train Trivia, a set of questions your children can answer to help them comprehend what they read.

It is part of the My First Book Of series, which contains other books that may impress your curious young ones. This 72-page book uses simple English, ideal for kids between five and seven years old.

It is available in hardcover, paperback, and Kindle formats.

A sole reviewer said that this was not a good first book: “My kids (two and four) enjoy trains, so I figured this would be a fun book for them. The book does have some good pictures, but the content really feels like it’s meant for older kids. I certainly would not call this a “first book” on trains. Even for older children, the book feels a bit disorganized. Some of the pictures aren’t very helpful. For example, the circus train picture is people meeting a giraffe. It’s not a bad book, but I’m guessing there are much better books on trains out there.

Pros and Cons of My First Book of Trains: All About Locomotives and Railcars for Kids by Kristina A Holzweiss MSLIS MA

ProsCons
This is an excellent first children’s book about trains.The sole negative review said that this was not a good first book.
It answers questions about trains, such as what powers them, why they come in various shapes, and the different types of trains.
The book includes large, clear illustrations that depict various types of trains.
It features the Terrific Train Trivia, a set of questions your kids can answer to help them comprehend what they read.
It’s part of the My First Book Of series, which contains other books that may rouse your child’s curiosity.
This 72-page book uses simple English, ideal for kids between five and seven years old.
It is available in hardcover, paperback, and Kindle formats.
My First Book of Trains: All About Locomotives and Railcars for Kids
  • 72 pages.
  • Recommended by customers for children ages 4 through 6.
  • Simple and precise language
  • Large and clear illustrations to keep the young readers hooked
  • A trivia section to check on comprehension
Check Amazon

3. Amazing Train Journeys by Lonely Planet

You can experience the world’s most intense and memorable tracks courtesy of Lonely Planet’s Amazing Train Journeys. Flipping this book’s pages takes you on train journey adventures you may never have heard of.

It is more of a travel guidebook that introduces you to famous routes and what to expect once you take the trip. The profiles of the journeys include ticketing information, the timetable, and stops. 

The book groups the journeys according to location. In the Africa and the Middle East category, you have routes like Andimeshk to Dorud in Iran and Johannesburg to Cape Town in South Africa. The Americas has the California Zephyr in the USA and the Serra Verde Express in Brazil.

The book includes high-quality photos and maps in the route descriptions. 

This guidebook has 304 pages and weighs 2.34 pounds. You can comfortably fit the book in your bag courtesy of its reasonable dimensions.

There were only a handful of reviews, including one that said that the type was too small. Another said, “Train rides are covered at a very high level. Not enough detail to plan a trip.”

Pros and Cons of Amazing Train Journeys by Lonely Planet

ProsCons
This travel guidebook introduces readers to famous train routes and what you can expect, including ticketing info, timetables, and stops.One reader said that the type was too small.
Journeys are grouped by location such as Africa, the Middle East, and the Americas.Another reviewer said that there wasn’t enough detail to plan a trip.
The book, which has 304 pages and weighs 2.34 pounds, includes high-quality photos and maps in the route descriptions.
Lonely Planet Amazing Train Journeys 1
  • 304 pages.
  • It is the work of more than 200 travel writers.
  • The profiles contain crucial details like photos, ticket options, timetables, and stops.
  • The book is available on Kindle or as a hardcover option.
Check Amazon

4. Train: The Definitive Visual History by DK (Author), Smithsonian Institution (Contributor)

If you’re a history buff and train pundit, Train: The Definitive Visual History by DK (author) and the Smithsonian Institution (contributor) is a must-have. This publication is like a time machine, taking you back to when trains were on their baby feet and their gradual growth in the 19th century.

You will learn more about famous trains and railroad tracks worldwide as you turn the pages. You also appreciate the development of train technology that brings you to the present supersonic trains. 

The highly detailed images show you how the trains were then and now, and it is easy to trace the minor advancements over the years.

Take the trip down memory lane via Kindle, hardcover, or board book versions.

Several reviewers said that some key American systems were missing or misrepresented.

Pros and Cons of Train: The Definitive Visual History by DK (Author), Smithsonian Institution (Contributor)

ProsCons
This book is like a time machine that takes you from the earliest days of trains to today’s supersonic trains.Several reviewers said that some key American systems were missing or misrepresented.
You’ll learn about famous trains and railroad tracks throughout the world.
The images are highly detailed so you can easily see how trains have evolved.
The book is available in Kindle, hardcover, and board book versions.
Train: The Definitive Visual History
  • 320 pages.
  • Detailed explanations with high-quality illustrations.
  • Accurate depictions.
  • Meet the innovators behind the iconic locomotives and engines.
Check Amazon

5. The Big Book of Trains by DK 

The Big Book of Trains by DK is perfect for grown kids who want to quench their curiosity about locomotives. It is an excellent book for pre-teen kids, serving as a history tool by taking them to the beginnings of trains in the early 19th century.

This book’s selling point is its presentation, which features pictures of trains from different angles and well-written explanations. The reader will learn about the various types of trains, such as passenger trains, monorails, diesel, and steam trains. Additionally, it focuses on train parts such as boilers, pistons, fireboxes, and more.

The Big Book of Trains has 32 pages and is available on Kindle or as a hardcover book. 

Negative reviews included a couple of readers who were disappointed by the book’s focus on “foreign” trains: “What a disappointment. Bought to read to my kids since we are “into” trains. We only knew three trains. The rest of the book was all foreign trains that most kids haven’t seen or heard of. Not a kid friendly book. I would not recommend.”

Pros and Cons of The Big Book of Trains by DK 

ProsCons
This book is geared towards pre-teens.The book may include too many “foreign trains” for some readers’ preference.
It serves as a history tool by taking them to the origins of trains in the early 19th century.
It features pictures of trains from different angles and well-written explanations.
Readers will learn about the various types of trains, including passenger trains, monorails, diesel, and steam trains.
The book also focuses on key train parts such as boilers, pistons, and fireboxes.
This 32-page book is available in hardcover and Kindle formats.
The Big Book of Trains (DK Big Books)
  • 32 pages.
  • Recommended by customers for children ages 3 through 8.
  • The book uses simple and easy-to-comprehend language.
  • Each page has a close-up picture of the trains with informative text. 
  • It helps the readers differentiate the different types of trains.
Check Amazon

6. Around India in 80 Trains by Monisha Rajesh

Around India in 80 Trains is the perfect book for literature and train lovers on a long journey or a lazy afternoon. Monisha Rajesh is the wits behind this book’s catchy title and story, which explains her complex relationship with her homeland. She goes on a train adventure to view India, and unearths several things about her country, such as the rife inequality.

Her writing is rich, taking you on a wild train trip, with some emotional moments on the way as she discovers her country and part of herself. It is excellent work that anyone who is into literature will love.

You can read Around India in 80 Trains via Kindle or paperback. Alternatively, you may go for the library-bound version.

Many of the negative reviews had to do with the author’s insights about India as an Englishwoman of Indian descent. They included comments such as this one: “…some sarcastic remarks on culture was in bad taste seems to allude that the author does not have respect for alien culture and anything which is different from what she believes in.”

Pros and Cons of Around India in 80 Trains by Monisha Rajesh

ProsCons
The author takes readers on a train adventure across India.Many of the negative reviews had to do with the author’s insights about India as an Englishwoman of Indian descent.
This literary book includes emotional moments where the author uncovers insights about her country.
The book is available in Kindle, paperback, and library-bound versions.
Around India in 80 Trains
  • 288 pages.
  • An eloquent story flow, using several literary devices.
  • Gorgeous cover art.
Check Amazon

7. Ticket to Ride Around the World on 49 Unusual Train Journeys by Tom Chesshyre 

Ticket to Ride Around the World on 49 Unusual Train Journeys by Tom Chesshyre takes readers on an adventurous next-level train adventure.

Chesshyre seeks to know why people love trains so much. He challenges himself to experience the world by traveling via train to get the answers. The book goes into great detail to explain his encounters as he tries out steam locomotives to a ride on a bullet train. On his path, he encounters different people who give him a different perspective on various things as they travel together.

Several readers described the book as being boring and flat. One wrote that it was as “dull as a commuter ride… I like trains, I use trains and at work I even build them. However, this book was incredibly dull and boring. After reading the first story, they all repeat themselves except for some boring experiences which happened on or around his journeys. Better read an old newspaper. Two stars for the fact that he actually undertook the journeys and not invented them.”

Pros and Cons of Ticket to Ride Around the World on 49 Unusual Train Journeys by Tom Chesshyre

ProsCons
The author tries to decipher why people love trains so much.Some readers described the book as being boring and flat.
He goes on a number of adventures on a variety of types of trains, from locomotives to bullet trains, and recounts his encounters with people along the way.
TICKET TO RIDE: AROUND THE WORLD ON 49 UNUSUAL TRAIN JOURNEYs: Around the World on 49 Unusual Train Journeys
  • 320 pages.
  • In-depth and captivating descriptions of the trains, routes, and various destinations.
  • The book is available on Kindle and paperback.
  • The author uses simple language to pass his thoughts.
Check Amazon

8. Trains: The World’s Most Scenic Routes by Publications International Ltd.

Travel across time and regions with Trains: The World’s Most Scenic Routes by Publications International Ltd. As its name implies, it presents you with the world’s awe-inspiring railway routes. You learn about the history of the over 70 tracks, the trains that used them, and their impact.

You will grasp the relationship between several modes of transport, like horse-drawn carriages, and their evolution to locomotives. Then, the narrative goes deeper, showing how steam engines paved the way for diesel and electric trains.

On the routes, you will read about Hong Kong’s Peak Tramway, Australia’s Ghan Railway, and the Welsh Highland’s Tourist Railways converted from slate mines. Then, as an avid traveler, you can use the book to determine your next destination.

The sole negative review based upon content read: “The reviews made this book seem interesting to have and to read. Based upon the book’s cover and write up I thought this was about old locomotives which it wasn’t. Disappointed.”

Pros and Cons of Trains: The World’s Most Scenic Routes by Publications International Ltd.

ProsCons
This book will teach you the history of over 70 tracks, the trains that traveled them, and their impact.One reviewer was disappointed that the book wasn’t about old locomotives.
Learn how each mode of transportation, starting with horse-drawn carriages, lead to the next, from locomotives to diesel and electric trains.
Some of the routes include Hong Kong’s Peak Tramway, Australia’s Ghan Railway, and the Welsh Highland’s Tourist Railways, which was converted from slate mines.
Trains: The World's Most Scenic Routes
  • 144 pages.
  • A simple four-color book.
  • Use of high-resolution photos to depict the railway routes.
  • Clear and precise descriptions.
Check Amazon

9. Lonely Planet Kids’ How Trains Work by Clive Gifford (Author) and James Gulliver Hancock (Illustrator)

Lonely Planet Kids’ How Trains Work by Clive Gifford (author) and James Gulliver Hancock (illustrator) is ideal for kids who are intrigued by how things work, particularly if they’re also obsessed with trains.

Despite its designation as a kid’s book, anyone can get comfy with it as they understand how trains move. It starts with a brief history lesson, showing how trains looked and ran back in the day. The illustrator does an excellent job with the images, making it easy to grasp the concepts the book shares.

The book is only 24 pages long and available in hardcover.

Pros and Cons of Lonely Planet Kids’ How Trains Work by Clive Gifford (Author) and James Gulliver Hancock (Illustrator)

ProsCons
This book is perfect for kids (and adults!) who are intrigued by trains and like to understand how things work.None
It begins with a brief history lesson about how trains looks and ran in the old days.
The illustrator makes concepts easy to grasp concepts presented by the author.
It’s 24 pages long and available in hardcover.
Lonely Planet Kids How Trains Work 1 (How Things Work)
  • 24 pages.
  • Recommended by customers for children ages 6 through 8.
  • An excellent follow-up to How Cities Work and How Airports Work.
  • Not available on Kindle.
  • Superb illustrations and astounding facts.
  • The book introduces the readers to various famous train routes around the world.
Check Amazon

10. Parallel Lines: Or, Journeys on the Railway of Dreams by Ian Marchant

Ian Marchant spared no effort in crafting this fine masterpiece, Parallel Lines: Or, Journeys on the Railway of Dreams, that looks at the “love affair” of the British with the railway. This publication gives a backdrop of how useful the railway has been to Britain for over 175 years, comparing it to a love affair gone sour. The sour part looks at setbacks like delays, disasters, and strikes.

The author travels all over the country to probe the history of the railway and meet up with individuals who still cherish it, like train enthusiasts and transporters. It is an excellent narrative to binge on to learn about the effect of modernization and the state of railway transport.

Parallel Lines is easily one of Ian Marchant’s best publications, showing off his unique penmanship. 

The 350-page work is a perfect gift for an avid reader, especially if they are into trains.

One reviewer said that the book was filled with “crude language.” Another remarked that it was peppered with Marchant’s “left-wing” opinions. And this writer reported, “Might have been relevant when new, but now strikes me as a lot of cynicism and author self-gratification. Much of the time he’s describing his own life’s failures and bad decisions, and somehow finding parallels (ha) in the railways. This book told me more than I wanted to know about Ian Merchant.”

Pros and Cons of Parallel Lines: Or, Journeys on the Railway of Dreams by Ian Marchant

ProsCons
This book provides an in-depth look at Britain’s long love affair with the railway.It may include crude language.
It also looks at setbacks such as delays, disasters, and strikes.It may include Marchant’s “left-wing” opinions.
The author traveled around the country by railway to meet train enthusiasts who still cherish it.It may tell you more than you want to know about the author’s life.
This publication is only available in paperback.
Parallel Lines : Or, Journeys on the Railway of Dreams
  • 320 pages.
  • Available only in paperback.
  • An amazing story flow.
  • A captivating plot and background.
Check Amazon

Criteria: What to Look for in Books About Trains

When you’re shopping for a book about trains, it’s helpful to keep the following criterion in mind: recipient, type of book, and format.

Recipient

Are you purchasing the book for someone who is a train aficionado or an avid traveler? Are they a child or an adult? Our review includes books that are suitable for every reader.

Type of Book

If the recipient is a child, of course you will want to select a children’s book. But there are a surprising number of types of books about trains for adults. Our review includes books about how they work, train travel and scenic routes, the history of trains, facts and photographs, a guide to the types of trains, and even reflection on Britain’s love affair with the railroad.

Format

One of the titles on our list is a board book, which is ideal for small children. Hardcover books are more durable than paperbacks, but they’re also heavier. So you may want to purchase literary and picture books in hardcover format and buy guidebooks in paperback so they don’t weight travelers down. If the recipient has a Kindle (or is open to reading on Kindle software on their phone or tablet), that will save them from having to carry extra weight on their journeys. Keep in mind, however, that some Kindles have black and white displays, not color, so color photographs and illustrations won’t look nearly as good as they do in print.

About the Author

Alan is a freelance writer and an avid traveler. He specializes in travel content. When he visits home he enjoys spending time with his family Rottie, Opie.

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