Guides to Travel Literature

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Guides to Travel Literature

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syyskuu 8, 2008, 9:39pm

With the current “over” popularity of books featuring the travel writer as stand-up comic or by people who should never have left home it’s a challenge to find books that I would remember after finishing the last page. I currently have 467 books listed under travel on LT and wanted to suggest three books that I have found very usefull in building my collection. The first is called “A Book of Traveller’s Tales” by Eric Newby, himself a very fine writer. As the title states Newby has assembled an anthology of travellers and their tales that runs the gammut from Hood River Blackie, an American hobo to Sir Richard Burton. Grove Koger has assembled a guide to what he considers the 99 best narratives on travel, exploration and adventure, entitled “When the Going was Good”. Included in his list are suggestions regarding th best editions, other works similar in scope as well as other travel books by the same author. Lastly I refer to “The Traveler’s Reading Guide” by Maggy Simony that include both works of fiction as well as non-fiction that in the words of one reviewer “… capture for the reader the flavor of the culture and the history of the destination.”

Any other suggested books/guides of similar nature would be greatly appreciated.

syyskuu 9, 2008, 3:15am

syyskuu 9, 2008, 3:48am

And here (for the sake of the touchstones) the others:

Susanna Hoe - Crete, women, history, books and places
Norman Lewis - Voices of the old Sea
Theresa Maggio - The stone boudoir
Claudio Magris - Danube
Fatima MernissiKarawan
James Michener - Iberia: Spanish travels and reflections
Robert Tewdwr Moss – Cleopatra’s wedding present: travels through Syria
H.V. Norton – A traveller in Southern Italy
Peter RobbMidnight in Sicily
Mary Taylor Simeti – Travels with a medieval queen: the journey of a Sicilian prencess
Patricia StoraceDinner with Persephone

syyskuu 9, 2008, 6:20am

Neal Ascherson - Black Sea
Ibn Battuta - The Travels of Ibn Battutah
Mary Taylor Simeti - Travels with a medieval queen : the journey of a Sicilian princess

Now I have cheated the touchstones!

Another great one, which is also a travelbook:
Geert Mak - In Europa

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 9, 2008, 11:51am

I have three more to add all by Jan Wong
Red China Blues: My Long March From Mao to Now
Jan Wong's China - Reports From a Not-so Foreign Correspondent
Beijing Confidential: a Tale of Comrades Lost and Found

syyskuu 9, 2008, 1:54pm


I meant BOOKS ON BOOKS ON TRAVEL, or better said bibliographies but oh well. Just finished Naples '44 and Golden Earth by Norman Lewis but I have to admit that A Dragon Apparent is still my favorite travel book by that author or pretty much any author. It resulted in three trips to Vietnam, and one each to Laos and Cambodia!

syyskuu 10, 2008, 3:28am

Sorry Dennis David, you are quite right. In my enthusiasm I gave mistakenly my favourites. But you asked for books on books on travel.

These I have:

Daniel Koster - To Hellen’s noble land: Dutch accounts of travellers, geographers and historians on Greece (1488-1854)
Robert Eisner - The history and literature of travel to Greece

Greece, women:
Susanna HoeCrete, women, history, books and places

Jane Robinson - A guide to women travellers

Ruud Lindeman, Yvonne Scherf, Rudolf Dekker - Reisverslagen van Noord-Nederlanders uit de zestiende tot begin negentiende eeuw

syyskuu 18, 2008, 9:37am

Dennis - Not sure if you know this, but a few years ago Eric Newby put out a companion volume to to A Book of Travellers' Tales titled A Book of Lands and Peoples.

Not too long ago I discovered the excellent Sarah Anderson's Travel Companion: Africa and the Middle East. For each country she lists travel literature, history/culture volumes, guidebooks, fiction about the country and fiction from the country. I believe she runs/ran a travel bookstore in Britian. Apparently, her goal was to put out a volume for each region of the world, but I think this is the only one published so far.

Similar in format to what Eric Newby has done in his anthologies is Travelers' Tales' 365 travel: a daily book of journeys, meditations, and adventures.

The Quotable Traveler edited by Deborah McHugh is also useful. Lots of quotes pertaining to travel. In the back there's a handy list of those quoted and works cited.

syyskuu 20, 2008, 12:14pm

This may be in the outskirts of what you're looking for, but I found The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton interesting. He talks about how authors and artists like Gustave Flaubert, Charles Baudelaire, William Wordsworth, Edward Hopper and Vincent van Gogh had their lives shaped by the journeys they went on. Many of them have left rich accounts of their trips for us to read, and after reading The Art of Travel you'll want to read at least some of it.

Also, Houghton Mifflin Company publishes an annual anthology of travel writing, "The Best American Tracel Writing", which may lead you to discover some new names. Among the guest editors the last few years you'll find Bill Bryson, Paul Theroux and Pico Iyer, so you can expect a wide range of travel styles.

Slightly off-topic, I just blogged about the direction of travel writing. What you said about about stand-up comics and unqualified travelers indicates that you may want to comment on it. #8D) Have a look at if you like.


tammikuu 11, 2009, 2:37pm

I just read an article in my local newspaper titled 'See the world - by book' and there was a side note about a website for people that like to read translated fiction and I thought some of you might find it of interest.

Also, if you want to read the article you can find it at

tammikuu 20, 2009, 7:17pm

This isn't quite what you're looking for, but I thought you might find these links helpful:

The 86 Greatest Travel Books of All Time

The National Geographic Ultimate Travel Literature Library

huhtikuu 5, 2009, 1:23pm

These three may be just the thing:

The Traveler's Reading Guide: Ready-Made Reading Lists for the Armchair Traveler by Maggy Simony,
Good books for the curious traveler Asia and the South Pacific by Theodora Nelson and Good books for the curious traveler Europe by Theodora Nelson

I also have a particular fondness for books on Latin American travel and this is a classic if very specific: American and British Writers in Mexico, 1556-1973 by Drewey Wayne Gunn Of course, since only 3 of us own it, it is probably not about to shoot to LT's top readership but it spurs one on to acquire more "have to have" titles.

Also, Travelers to an Antique Land: The History and Literature of Travel to Greece by Robert Eisner and that classic by Paul Fussell Abroad: British Literary Traveling Between the Wars

toukokuu 15, 2011, 10:18am

Some more adventuresome titles, also National Geographic:

I keep posting this all over various LT threads, but there are some damn good titles here.

toukokuu 16, 2011, 11:42am

Some anthlogies like that of Newby's: Norton Book Of Travel by Paul Fussell; and, A Taste For Travel by John Julius Norwich. I recently finished The Smiles Of Rome which collects outakes from different writer's books about Rome.

kesäkuu 18, 2011, 4:33pm

I just finished The Tao Of Travel by Paul Theroux. It is an excellent compendium of short excerpts from his favorite travel writers. I am preparing a purchase list from his selections.

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 30, 2011, 11:18am

Don't think I saw Nancy Pearl's book in the entries above, Book Lust To Go: recommended reading for travelers, vagabonds, and dreamers.

I'm just getting around to the forums here on LT, quite a fantastic resource and entertainment. Glad you're all here.

lokakuu 20, 2011, 2:35am

Yes the Nancy Pearl book is good for fiction and non-fiction...

glad yo like it here!

lokakuu 20, 2011, 5:30pm

Barrie Kerper's Collected Traveller series contains excellent travel literature recommendations for Italy, Paris, and Provence.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 5, 2012, 11:33pm

For China, I'd suggest Frances Wood's The Lure of China: Writers from Marco Polo to J.G. Ballard.

joulukuu 4, 2016, 11:15pm

I'm the group creator and very late to this thread by 8 years, but I collect lists like this, here is my collection:

Picador Travel Classics:

International Society for Travel Writing. Top 10 books of 20th C:

Points Unknown: The Greatest Adventure Writing of the Twentieth Century by David Roberts. See Amazon "look inside" in the TOC for the book titles.

World Hum's Top 30 Travel Books:

The Man's Essential Library: 50 Non-Fiction Adventure Books:

eLand Travel Books:

The 25 Most Incredible Survival Stories of All Time:

(if links inoperable check Wayback Machine)

Thanks all for sharing knowledge.