Travel and Exploration literature Message Board
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Here are a couple "best of" lists for reading suggestions and ideas:
I haven't read a ton of "travel" literature per se, but a couple of the best adventure stories I've read are Sigurd Olson's The Lonely Land about a multi-week canoe trip down a Canadian river system. An excellent book full of adventure, philosphy, comradery, spirituality and with a constant meditative note that does not for a minute weigh down the story of whitewater, solitude and exploration. Olson also does a wonderful job of incorporating much about the human history of the land, especially in regards to the French-Canadian voyageurs that traveled the same route two centuries before he and his crew of voyageurs.
I also highly recommend Eric Sevareid's Canoeing With the Cree, also about a wilderness canoe trip, largely in Canada. More on that later. :)
I've just finished reading Botswana Time by Will Randall. It's a light, easy read about a teacher's time in Botswana. This is his third book and I liked it enough that I will read his other two books. In fact, I already have Solomon Time lined up.
Thanks to Stbalbach for starting this group.
I notice that our #1 most common book is Barbara Pym's Less Than Angeles. I never hear anyone mention this book, yet here it is! I found my copy in Florence in the summer of 1993. Needing a rest after a week walking the museums in Rome and Florence, I found a small English language section in a bookstore, and Pym's book seemed the most interesting. I read it in the square in front of Santa Croce and enjoyed it thoroughly. Sometimes the best way to spend time abroad is to just sit somewhere and do what you most enjoy.
Anyone else find unexpected literary treasures on the road?
I'm trying to cut down my book spending so am looking out for the others second-hand or on bookrings.
How about Tony Horwitz and Blue Latitudes? His stuff is great! Baghdad Without a Map, although older, was so much fun to read.
I've never heard of A Time of Gifts, but I am going to look it up right now.
As for favorites, I loved Chatwin's In Patagonia when I read it some years ago.
I am surprised that I am the only one who has Arved Fuchs's In Shackleton's Wake which was another of my haul.
At work, I recently catalogued an 18th century (I think) copy of the Ibn Battutah travels, which was very, very cool.
Has anyone else read the sequel to it: The Hall of a 1000 Columns? That was also great, but I'm not so much into India as I am into Arabia and Iran. His first book Yemen, Travels in Dictionary Land is superb also (i.e. Tim M-S hasn't written anything bad yet).
I'm waiting keenly for the third part where he would follow IB into China. There is a famous joke that the name of the third book will be "Travels with a Mandarin", lol!!
I'm a fan of Bill Bryson and have read his Notes from a small island and Neither here nor there. I've visited England and Scotland and have read a few travel books about them. I'm visiting all the above countries next year so it would be great to get a few recommendations. I prefer to read up on the places I'm going to visit to try and get a feel for them. I'm currently on a big European history reading kick including Postwar, The Coming of the Third Reich and whatever else I can fit in. Thanks.
I also have Nicholas Crane's Two Degrees West as I mentioned above. Which chronicles his walk along England's prime meridian and the people he meets along the way.
I haven't got any travel lit. for the other countries you mention.
It lists books of all types that are about or set in a particular place. It lets you search for a book by title, author, place or genre.
39hamsterwheels Ensimmäinen viesti
Travel lit/essay/narrative is my absolute favorite genre (see my bookshelf). I gravitate towards that area in any bookshop like a homing pigeon!
I saw Jean Cocteau's Round the World Again in 80 Days on the library shelf, which turned out more interesting than I thought it might.
Same for High Times in the Middle of Nowhere - and, no, it's not at all a druggie book.
I'm partway through Another Fool in the Balkans, hoping to finish it on an upcoming trip this weekend.
I'm currently about 1/3 of the way through Cinnamon City by Miranda Innes. I will admit to be mildly disappointed that it's more a memoir of her own specific circumstances, than of Morocco as such. However, she's a great writer with a swell sense of humor.
50booksferme Ensimmäinen viesti
Just finished Letters from St Petersburg by Victoria Hammond. Recommended for those with an interest in Russian history and culture.
Halfway through Hillinger's California : stories from all 58 counties by Charles Hillinger (on audio). Great mix of California history and science/nature.
Started Tankful of Time by Michael Fong recently - makes a real change from the usual UK/North American authors. Story of a Singaporean executive who "retired early" to travel the world by motorcyle - the one he had ben using to commute to his office!
Other recent travel reads ...
Slow Coast Home by Josie Dew. Fifth (of current seven) in her cycling-throughout-the world adventures. Here, she circumnavigates England (in four installments). I like her sense of humor; as this was a couple of years after I'd read the previous one, I think I'll go back and re-read the first one The Wind in My Wheels, which I don't recall at all.
I also liked Vroom with a View by Peter Moore - around Italy by Vespa. Bought a previous book of his, The Wrong Way Home, to read later.
1) George KennanTent Life in Siberia - 1870 and many reprints - hilarious account of futile trip to explore the possibility of laying a cable from the US to Europe via Siberia. Author's goal was to find out how much timber there was available for the telegraph poles. Answer: none. Staple food of the locals: a mixture of blood, tallow, and the half-digested moss from reindeers' stomachs. Mmmm...
2) William BeckfordRecollections of an Excursion to the Monasteries of Alcobaca and Batalha - 1835 and many reprints - see Portugal through the eyes of a very English eccentric, accompanied by the Grand Priors of Aviz & St Vincents and their numerous attendants, muleteers, etc.
3) If you already been everywhere why not read Start Your Own Country by Erwin S Strauss - find an island, proclaim yourself monarch, and start issuing stamps. Contains a full catalogue of all known micro-states, sane and otherwise.
4) Norman Lewis read anything by this author, you won't be disappointed. But Voices of the Old Sea is his masterpiece.
I also recently read Jaguars Ripped My Flesh by Tim Cahill which includes articles he wrote for Outside magazine. It also had some funny stories.
I have no idea why a touchstone about a sock monkey popped up
"Jaguars Ripped My Flesh" does have a rather catchy title. I'll check it out.
My question- can anyone recommend books on Vietnam? Travel, fiction or non-fiction, memoirs? I already have James Fenton 's All the Wrong Places.
I read anything and everythig written by Bill Bryson.
The most recent travel book read was Gullible Travels: the Adventures of a Bad Taste Tourist by Cash Peters. The author appearently had a BBC show. I've search but have found no trace of it, pity.
My mother used to love to read old travel books, and I loaded her down with them on her birthday and Christmas. When she passed on a few years ago, they all came back to me in a very heavy box, so I will have an "antique travel" slant. Although I will pretty much read anything about France and England.
Someone "up there" mentioned Mary Kingsley's Travels in West Africa. Folio is putting it out on their list this year. I ordered it. How could I resist? The Folio Folk mention that with no language skills, no travel background and no particular gift of physical endurance, this Victorian era lady hied herself off to Africa to pick up where her father left off, collecting specimens. It sounds like the kind of travel story I will enjoy.
(I see it is also available on Project Gutenberg, but I like to hold a book in my hands).
I've another easy question. I loved Out of the Noosphere. Are there other good compilations of travel essays, out there?
>85 lawrose: This looks like an interesting book especially with the recommendations of what to read before you go.....
Shadow of the Sun: My African Life by Ryszard Kapuscinski From my mini-review posted in another forum:
- a simply beautiful book. A travel memoir of this multi-awarded Polish journalist and war correspondent of the years he spent in the African continent from the decolonisation years of the late 1950s to the 1990s. Perhaps the fact that his own "impoverished" Polish news service couldn't give him the logistical support his BBC and other colleagues had, was actually more a boon than a bane, for he was at most times, forced to travel in the margins --- and that was the way he wanted it to be, among the people and getting the news and feel of the place as raw as possible. He writes of the "indefinable" continent, tries to get inside the skin of the peoples, the tribes he meets by understanding their belief systems, their wishes, their world-view, if there are any, as a great majority live only for the next meal which can be wrested from nobody knows where. He writes of the warring tribes, the genocides in Rwanda before the big one in the 1990s (i never knew this detail before --- these things were never documented as he himself mentions), the background of the unending conflict in Sudan, Chad. This book was published in 10 years ago but he might as well have been describing such places just yesterday. Can't recommend the book highly enough.
I'm halfway through The Scramble for Africa by Thomas Pakenham, a comprehensive narrative (of 700+pages) of Europe's conquest of Africa in the late 1900s in the name of the 3 Cs - Christianity, Commerce, and Civilization.
Very interesting! chiara
I have just recently finished reading Living in a Foreign Language by Michael Tucker about an American moving to Italy...if you enjoy reading Peter Mayle then you will probably enjoy this book.
Last year I read Green Alaska - Dreams from the Far Coast by Nancy Lord, Two in the Far North, by Margaret Murie, The Forgotten Peninsula by Joseph Wood Krutch, Night of the Grizzlies, and I started Rising from the Plains by John McPhee, oh, gosh... I'm pretty sure there are more... oh, Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer (before it was a movie - before I knew it was going to be in a movie - I guess we were in Alaska right before it came out), and my local outdoor reading was The Last Season by Eric Blehm.
I really liked Green Alaska especially - it parallels her personal stories of life in Alaska on a Salmon Tender with the Harriman expedition to Alaska which had John Muir and John Burroughs on it ("the Two Johnnies") among other luminaries of the day!
Oh, and these are not exactly literature, but fun reads relating to Alaska and the Yukon: Tisha (really quite wonderful), Murder on the Yukon Quest, Murder on the Iditarod Trail, and A Cold Day for Murder. Oh yeah, and let's not forget Robert Service poems!
I forgot Two Old Women which is a traditional Athabascan tale - short and sweet, and set in the Arctic where we were.
My husband read Log from the Sea of Cortez, The Lost Grizzlies, Call of the Wild and Tisha and Into the Wild. We tried to read books relating to where we were at the time.
Lots of wonderful books to read and places to explore out there!!
An early book I read years ago when they were working on the Haul Road (now the Dalton Highway) up to Deadhorse/Prudhoe Bay was Going to Extremes by Joe McGinnis - I think that may have been when I first wanted to see the Brooks Range. Now I can't wait to get back up there!
Oh, and I forgot about Stickeen, by John Muir and also his Travels in Alaska!
A classic on Alaska that I've never read, though I love John McPhee, is Coming into the Country.
Some Alaska books on my wishlist are Shadows on the Koyukuk and On the Edge of Nowhere, stories written by Alaska Native brothers. One of our favorite places was Wiseman, a tiny old gold mining "town" at the feet of the Brooks Range along the Koyukuk River. In my Margaret Murie book, Two in the Far North, they took a steam ship up the Koyukuk to Wiseman - that was how you got there before bush planes before roads. The family we stayed with lived there before the road was open.
Two recent books recommended to me that are completely different from each other are In a Far Country: The True Story of a Mission, a Marriage, a Murder, and the Remarkable Reindeer Rescue of 1898 which is non-fiction (obviously) and sounds fantastic, and the Yiddish Policeman's Union, which sounds like rollicking fun fiction and takes place in Sitka, in Southeast Alaska.
Geez... maybe I should check to see if there is an Alaska travel group? I just love thinking about these places and reading more and planning my next trip! Of course, I want to go everywhere else, too... sigh. It's a big world.
Oh, a non-Alaska-related book with travel in it that I'm surprised no one has mentioned is Eat, Pray, Love. Like all travel-related books, it only reinforced my already present desire to go to the places described (Three I's: Italy, India, and Indonesia).
I've just found out about Last Chance to See and can't wait to read it. I love Douglas Adams - now Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - there's a travel book for you!! :)
I should have written about my hitch-hiking experiences back when I could still remember them... speaking of hitch-hiking. Though not the kind where you need to remember your towel. I spent 3 months hitchhiking all over the US and Canada one summer with my best friend - it was a trip! (he he, yeah, pun intended)
There seems to be problems with the touchstone list - the books show up as touchstones in my post, and look linked in others' posts, but aren't showing up (for me) in the touchstone column. In fact, almost all the previous touchstones before my first entry are not showing up for me. I didn't do it, I swear! ha. I wonder if something happened during some upgrade of the site to the links? They all just go to a blank page now and the links are "work/" and not "work/65473" for example. It will make it harder to find all the great books listed here if I can't just click, but it seems like it will be worth the effort - great list!!
Traversa by Fran Sandham jumps to the top of the list, esp for Africa enthusiasts.
On the Narrow Road by Lesley Downer finds the author trekking through Japan in the footsteps of the poet Basho.
Bonjour Blanc by Ian Thomson I can enthusiastically recommend as a thorough portrait of Haiti.
I recently finished Travels with a Tangerine by Tim MacKintosh-Smith, after enjoying his book on Yemen a few years ago. Really glad this one has a sequel to look forward to: The Hall of a Thousand Columns.
Non-Middle East, A Fortune Teller Told Me, about traveling slowly through SE Asia is my favorite.
author of Live from Jordan
...and thanks for the suggestions, I've added Pico Iyer to my list of authors to check out.
exciting travel memoir: "Stealing Fatima’s Hand – A Moroccan Sojourn"
Release Date: Stealing Fatima’s Hand
ISBN: 978-965-7504-00-0 338 pages
For review copies, please contact: Philip Hyams: publisher@voxhumana-
In addition to being an invaluable travel resource - Stealing Fatima’s
Hand is an unforgettable collection of interconnected narratives
presenting an alternative view of Morocco – a country not of
labyrinthine alleys, Kasbahs, and smoky tea rooms – but a more madcap
Morocco, one left to be discovered after all the coach tours depart.
Unconventional and candid – Stealing Fatima’s Hand stands out as an
irreverent black sheep in the literary travel genre, succeeding in
undoing for Morocco everything that Peter Mayle has done for Provence.
The book spans two years of Carolyn’s experiences in Rabat, where with
humor and honesty she struggles with Moroccan bureaucracy, sexual
harassment, the threat of terrorism, devious students, randy co-
teachers, and the temptation of having French pastries washed down
with gin and tonics for every meal. All this in a country, where apart
from her, the only vegetarians are the sheep and the goats.
Somehow, I long for the days when the world was so large, and there were still so many cultures and land to be explored. I suspect that in this group, I'm not alone in this.
One of my recent favorites is the 8:55 to Baghdad. The author, Andrew Eames, followed Agatha Chirstie's trail from England to Baghdad. he kept to her route in the late 1920's as closely as possible, and also went by the same exact train if possible. It was really a terrific read. he's an excellent author who writes vividly. It was an especially fun read, because I also happen to be a fan of Agatha Christie...and of cozy msyteries. I tihnk any travel writing buff would enjoy it, though. he made the trip in 2002 - just when the Iraq War was gearing up.
It was one of the best books I've read on South American exploration. It was very well written. The story was thrilling and adventurous, and Millard did not detract or enhance the tale. It was exactly right...no sensationalism, and yet, not dull.