#1 2-16-2017 4:27 PM

cynthiasmiller
Cindy
Seattle, Washington
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Favorite travel books

Hey guys, I'm a little bored and looking for travel books.  I'm sure this has come up before but couldn't find anything in recent history on the forum regarding travel reading.  What are your recommendations?  I'm referring to non-guidebook, non-fiction narratives that take place in lands not native to the writer.  What have you got?  I'll share my favorites, I'd love to hear yours!

Balkan Ghosts by Robert Kaplan
The Sex Lives of Cannibals by J. Maarten Troost
In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson
Seven Years in Tibet by Heinrich Harrer
Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner
God's Middle Finger by Richard Grant
Travels by Michael Crichton
Are You Really Going to Eat That? by Robb Walsh

 

#2 2-16-2017 8:13 PM

grandmar
RosalieAnn
Leonardtown, Maryland
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Re: Favorite travel books

I have a couple of favorites that are novels but not really that fictional.
James A. Michener -
"Chesapeake" and
"Caribbean".  The first one because that's where I live and the second we read before we went to the Mayan ruins - it helped me understand their culture.
Also "Don't Stop the Carnival"  by Herman Wouk which I made my husband read before we went to the Virgin Islands so he would relax a little bit into island time

I also read a book written by an man who was a slave in Barbados -  It may be "A German Indentured Servant in Barbados in 1652" (in translation)

Also I loved the books by Emily Kimbrough which inspired me to eventually do a canal boat cruise.  I wasn't so fond of the first one "Our Hearts were Young and Gay" (Paris) because our HS did it as a play

So Near and Yet So Far (1955) - Greece
Water, Water, Everywhere (1956) - Canal boat cruise
And a Right Good Crew (1958) - Another Canal boat cruise
Pleasure by the Busload (1961) - a VW minivan in Portugal
 
"The Voyage of the Beagle" by Charles Darwin
"Sailing Alone Around the World" by Joshua Slocum (his boat is in Greenwich)
"Voyaging on a Small Income" by Annie Hill

Last edited by grandmar (2-16-2017 8:15 PM)

 

#3 2-16-2017 11:51 PM

Bojasem
Taher
Kuwait City, Kuwait
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Re: Favorite travel books

For me I like National Geographic

 

#4 2-17-2017 2:57 AM

sarahelaine
Sarah Elaine
Manchester, England
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Re: Favorite travel books

I've always enjoyed Bill Bryson's books. Notes on a Small Island is better than The Toad to Little Dribling, but they're both good, and I like some of his others too. Guy will be along to tease me about Alain de Boutton's art of travel too- not about one place but more about the philosophy of traveling at all, and a big influence on how I travel.

I'm looking forward to other people's recommendations, though. Although I read a lot of nature writing, which is arguably sort of travel writing, I have bad luck with non-nature travel writing. I keep picking up books like Hemming's Misadventures in the Middle East, by an insufferably self entitled jerk who uses people from poorer countries and pulls family connections in, and then doesn't even talk about the interesting stuff (for example casually mentioning he bumped into his mum's friend the BBC journalist in a bar in a sentence then spending another chapter on a boring car ride). I gave up in disgust. If Geoff Dyer's book Out of Shared Rage which is meant to be about traveling in DH Lawrence's footsteps but is really about being a monumental jerk. So hoping for pointers!

And if we are counting nature writing, for all it's slower than most, I love
The book of silence and gossip from the forest - Sara Maitland (remote UK)
The Living Mountain- Nan Shephard (Cairngorms, Scotland)
Silt- Robert MacFarlane (a natural part of the Thames Estuary. Although I've read a lot of his books and apart from Mountains of the Mind I've loved them all)
Olivia Laing- the lonely city (mostly New York, and not nature but art).

 

#5 2-17-2017 3:01 AM

margunn
margunn
Bergen, Norway
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Re: Favorite travel books

Anything by Paul Theroux. I really like his writing,both fiction and travel books. It's like rading his diary and he write so honest and the way he describes the places he visits and the people he meet are really interesting
"The Great railway bazaar" is my favoritte.
It's about his train jurney from London to Tokyo and back.
30 years later he did almost the same trip. "Ghost train to the eastern star" In this book he sees the difference in himself and the countries to visits 30 years back

Last edited by margunn (2-17-2017 3:06 AM)

 

#6 2-17-2017 5:01 AM

CMTinPHX
Christopher
Phoenix, Arizona
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Re: Favorite travel books

"A History of the World in Six Glasses"

https://tomstandage.wordpress.com/books … x-glasses/

"Six drinks in particular — beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea and cola — chart the flow of world history. Three contain alcohol and three contain caffeine, but what they all have in common is that each drink was the defining drink during a pivotal historical period, from antiquity to the present day."

 

#7 2-17-2017 8:35 AM

grandmar
RosalieAnn
Leonardtown, Maryland
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Re: Favorite travel books

John Steinbeck "Travels with Charley" although he was not in a foreign country

 

#8 2-17-2017 8:40 AM

maykal
Michael
Saint Andrews, Scotland
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Re: Favorite travel books

One of my favourites is Tim Mackintosh-Smith, who inspired me to go and study in Yemen with his book "Yemen: Travels in Dictionary Land". He went there as part of his degree in Arabic at Oxford, and never left, making the capital Sana'a his home, so the book deals with his struggles to get to grips with a difficult language in a country that's so different to any other in the Arab World.

He's also written two books about trips following the journey of Ibn Battuta, a 14th century traveller who left his home town Tangier with a vague idea of going to Mecca on pilgrimage, but ended up spending the next 30 years slowly making his way round North Africa, the Middle East, parts of Europe, India and as far as China. The two books are "Travels with a Tangerine" and "The Hall of a Thousand Columns".

Some more Yemen books:

"Motoring with Mohammed" by Eric Hansen, who was shipwrecked in the Red Sea and ended up in Yemen by accident, returning ten years later to find travel journals he'd buried on a Yemeni island.

"Eating the Flowers of Paradise" by Kevin Rushby, a trip through Yemen, Ethiopia and Djibouti to discover more about qat, a leaf many people there chew to get a mild high.

"The Woman Who Fell from the Sky" by Jennifer Steil, about the author's time as a journalist with a Yemeni English-language newspaper.

"A Winter in Arabia" by Freya Stark, one of the first European women to visit remote corners of Yemen in the 1930s.

Living in Syria, I loved reading Colin Thubron's "Mirror to Damascus" about his time there in the 1960s.

I also enjoyed reading "The 8.55 to Baghdad" by Andrew Eames. The author found out that Agatha Christie made this journey in the 1920s, causing her to write Murder on the Orient Express, and spent time living with her archaeologist husband in Syria and Iraq, so he made a similar journey retracing her steps just before the Iraq war.

Maybe you can spot a theme... smile

 

#9 2-17-2017 8:46 AM

77LoveLife66
Dublin, Ireland
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Re: Favorite travel books

If in China - Wild Swans
A page turning epic, a true story, an incredible narrative and a history of China.
Amazing read.

 

#10 2-17-2017 8:51 AM

AdamR3723
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Re: Favorite travel books

All of Edward Lear's travel journale, especially the one about Albania.
"Three Quarters of a Footprint" by Joe Roberts (about South India)
"The Road to Xanadu" and "From the Holy Mountain", both by Dalrymple.

 

#11 2-17-2017 2:51 PM

cynthiasmiller
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Re: Favorite travel books

Lots of great suggestions!  Thanks guys!

 

#12 2-18-2017 7:40 AM

irenem
Irene
Hong Kong
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Re: Favorite travel books

I read a lot of travel books. One not mentioned here that I enjoyed was 'Outposts' by Simon Winchester. This is about the last remaining parts of the British Empire - most of them tiny and remote.

 

#13 2-18-2017 8:31 AM

pilgrim68
Chris
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
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Re: Favorite travel books

Travels with my Elephant by Mark Shand

 

#14 2-18-2017 9:49 AM

stef7sa
Stef
Montecalvo Versiggia, Italy
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Re: Favorite travel books

Living in Italy: the Real Deal,
Hilarious adventure stories about two Dutchmen in Italy.
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N7OY6DM

 

#15 2-21-2017 11:48 PM

harbinger
Cathy
Brussels, Belgium
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Re: Favorite travel books

So many interesting suggestions that will have me browsing Amazon later on.
In addition to perennial favourites such as Bryson, I would suggest anything by Tom Chesshyre.  My absolute favourite is. "How Low Can you Go: Round Europe for 1p Each Way (Plus Tax)", which is now a bit dated, but is a fascinating account of how the rise of the low cost carriers made it possible to travel the newly opened up Eastern Bloc and other less known 'second division' destinations in Europe.
His most recent offering ("Gatecrashing Paradise: Misadventure in the Real Maldives") is brilliant and combines his bone dry wit with an examination of very serious themes, such as political governance, migrant labour and the impact of global warming.

 

#16 2-25-2017 12:58 PM

melissawong
Melissa
Lausanne, Switzerland
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Re: Favorite travel books

The Malay archipelago by Alfred Russel Wallace. He is a British biologist who published the theory of evolution with Charles Darwin but unfortunately Darwin got all the credits. This book is about his travel (1854-1862) to the islands in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore to collect birds and insects to make a living. I find it way more interesting than the voyage of the beagles because Wallace discussed the local people, danger and politics rather than reporting what he saw.

 

#17 3-3-2017 11:19 AM

Apurva_N
Apurva
New Delhi, India
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Re: Favorite travel books

Eric Newby - among my favourite travel writers.

 

#18 3-6-2017 8:27 PM

planxty
Fergy
London, England
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Re: Favorite travel books

Absolutely anything by Michale Palin, I can never get enough of his writing.

Also, "Round Ireland with a fridge" by Tony Hawks which is side-splittingly funny.

 

#19 3-14-2017 3:22 AM

mariha2912
Greece
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Re: Favorite travel books

I always enjoy reading the McCarthy's Bar: A Journey of Discovery In Ireland  by Pete McCarthy. The author travels around the Emerald Isle and makes a point to visit each pub he sees around featuring his last name. It is a bit outdated but quite fun and the author, been half-Brit half-Irish tries to explore his Irish heritage and what it actually may mean. The follow-up,  The Road to McCarthy takes the author to many areas around the globe where there is an Irish/McCarthy link, including as diverse places as Morocco, Montserrat,New Zealand, New York,  Alaska etc. I find the first book better than the latter one, but still a good read.

It's All Greek to Me!: A Tale of a Mad Dog and an Englishman, Ruins, Retsina - And Real Greeks by John Mole is another fun read. Actually a memoir of how the author-an English man- decided to buy a place that was no more than a rumble of stones, remake it into a living house and move with his family on a rural part of Evia (often spelled Euboia) island some time I think on the '70s.  Way outdated on many aspects but very accurate even nowadays on other aspects, it is a book narrating in a very funny way both the struggles of a foreigner to set in an alien environment and the difficulties to have things done AND the local culture and how he somehow managed to fit in the local community and make life-long friendships at the end.

Only last week I read a book that is not a travel memoir and is really controversial and I'm in two minds about it, but anyway you may want to check it out your self:  The Kabul Beauty School by Deboragh Rodriguez .
The author went to KAbul in Afghanistan as part of an American aid team, interacted with locals and decided to go back and found a Beauty School in order to help local women learn a proffesion and make a living for their selves and their families. Or so she says... If you search online you will find lots of info about the whole thing. Although I feel the narration is fragmental and the author not a very valid narrator, the descriptions of Kabul and the stories of the local woman are very interesting and often heart-breaking.

I think that's enough for now....

 

#20 3-29-2017 4:36 PM

jhulian
Toronto, Canada
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Re: Favorite travel books

Are all these books or book recommendations about travel? Or some are just good books to read while traveling?

Anyways, mine is The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

 

#21 4-1-2017 2:52 PM

Lsullivan420
Just ask ( :
United States
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Re: Favorite travel books

The Rum Diary by Hunter S. Thompson is a very enjoyable read!

 

#22 4-3-2017 2:38 AM

chetanjadhav
Chetan
Pune, India
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Re: Favorite travel books

Here is my Favorite Books list..
Eat, Pray, Love
Under the Tuscan Sun
On the Road
The Alchemist
The Beach
Lonely Planet Guide Books

 

#23 4-3-2017 4:03 PM

lauro
Germany
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Re: Favorite travel books

by the river piedra, i sat down and wept.

it gave me my favorite qoute of all time in terms of travel or not - "we have to take risks, we will only understand the miracle of life when we allow the unexpected to happen"

 

#24 4-8-2017 2:27 AM

HORSCHECK
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Re: Favorite travel books

Here are a few of my favourite travel books, some of which have been mentioned by others already:

Bill Bryson - Neither here nor there (about his travels in Europe)
Bill Bryson -  Notes from a small island (about his travels in England)
Pete McCarthy - My Carthy's Bar (Very funny - "Never pass a bar that has your name on it")
Tony Hawks - Round Ireland with a fridge (Hitch hiking around Ireland with a fridge)
Michael Palin - New Europe (about his travels through Eastern/Central Europe)


If I had to pick one of these, I would probably go for the "Bill Bryson - Neither here nor there" book, but this all depends on your personal preferences.

 

#25 4-10-2017 11:14 PM

aliah4
Alia
Lucknow, India
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Re: Favorite travel books

My favourite is Bill Bryson. His writing is so good, I feel like I am personally living in the moment. Some of the few book, I recommend you to read are;

A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail
Notes from a Small Island
In a Sunburned Country
Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe
The Lost Continent: Travels in Small Town America

Other books I like are;
Blue Highways by William Least Heat-Moon,
At Home in the World: Reflections on Belonging While Wandering the Globe by Tsh Oxenreider
The Travel Book: A Journey Through Every Country in the World by Roz Hopkins

 

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