I love travel narratives. These are a few of my favorite travel books sure to whet your wanderlust. These are not typical guidebooks, they represent well-written travel literature.
Travels in a Thin Country by Sara Wheeler
Sara travels in a way that I would love to do, but just don’t have the stamina.
From soggy sleeping bags, to elaborate dinners at elegant haciendas she shares the highs and lows of Chili—a country of extremes. Home to some of the highest volcanoes in the world, vast expanse of desert and tropical forests and of course, the glaciers of Patagonia, it takes a savvy traveler to navigate it’s wonders. Ms. Wheeler provides a well-informed look into the culture, history and politics of a place. Her writing is exceptional with lyrical descriptions and amusing observations. If you contemplating a trip to this thin country put this books on the top of your list. Right there next to Bruce Chatwin’s Patagonia
Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness-Alexandra Fuller
What a wonderful find. Alexandra Fuller captures the seduction of the African sun burnt landscape. The vast spaces that set the mind sailing seduced her parents and made them stay against great adversity. They lived in Kenya when British Colonists spent their days in royal comfort, but those days ended with a revolution and war in the 60’s. Ms. Fuller masterfully weaves the very personal history of her dramatic childhood and the life of her stiff upper lip parents against the backdrop of a tumultuous time. Her parents chose to remain in Africa after their lands were seized and to set up housekeeping in remote Zambia where they found peace under the” Tree of Forgetfullness.” I have ordered the third book in the trilogy of Ms. Fuller’s stunning memoir.
Turn Right at Machu Picchu-Mark Adams
The Way of Wanderlust-Don George
Don George’s very personal travel memoir is about connections with other humans and a few very large creatures. At Notre Dame he feels connected to the past and all those that have walked through that portal to Christianity. In
spends three nights in the home of a family and is moved to tears by the
simplicity of the way they share life’s chores and joys in modesty. In the Sea
of Cortez he communes with a whale. His writing is poetic broaching lyrical and
is very moving. He raises the bar for travel writers. We are not to simply take
our readers to a place through their senses in good writing we are supposed to
deliver the meaning of life in subtext. I believe the dance is all there is, so
I am determined to get to the Cook Islands where Don connected with the
shimmying hips of natives in the balmy, palmy breezes. In fact, I have been so stirred by his
descriptions of his experience there that I must go soon! It is no longer some
musing in a distant future. Don’s writing has made me want to be there, to know
the tranquil beauty of the horseshoe shaped lagoon and the laughing eyes of the
Island people. In short to be more connected with the rhythms of life. Cambodia
The Tao of Travel- Paul Theroux
did travel with his dog Charlie for three months, but he who also indulged in
conjugal visits from his wife along the way. The book reads like a tabloid
reality check on “who’s who” in the travel writing genre. Theroux also talks
about the paradoxes of travel, the wisdom of travel and its perverse pleasures.
As usual, Theroux pulls no punches in his discussion of his peers or
precursors. I confess in the end I enjoyed what felt like ”Happy Hour with
Paul” even though he slandered my home town, Los Angeles, lumping it in with
Bombay and Tokyo “which are known for their ugly buildings and bad air.”
Baboons for Lunch James Michael Dorsey
I love a man with a sense of humor. It’s hard to imagine the distinguished gentleman I know as James Dorsey to be slinging dun balls at monkeys, or bouncing unceremoniously across the desert on a camel, but he does. In his effort to connect with cultures that are rapidly disappearing he finds himself in some precarious situations. He always handles them with respect for his hosts and delivers insights to his readers. This is a wonderful well-written collection of tales from silly to soul searching. Obviously influenced by Tim Cahill, my travel writing hero, James shares his exploits with self-deprecating humor while delivering a deeper message.
LostAngel Walkabout – One Traveler’s Tales reviewed by James Michael Dorsey?
Lost Angel Walkabout by Linda Ballou takes the reader out of their armchair and into the vast world as few travel writers can. Her eye for detail combined with intimate knowledge of her surroundings sets Ms. Ballou heads above most of the travel writing pack. In this age when everyone with a back pack proclaims him or herself a travel writer it takes a book like this one to re-define the genre. The stories are personal and inviting, giving the reader not only a feeling of participation but leaving them with a memory of where they have just visited. This is just plain great travel writing.
Adventure travel writer, Linda Ballou, has a host of articles on her site along with information about her novels and articles at www.LindaBallouauthor.com
Subscribe to Linda’s blog www.LindaBallouTalkingtoyou.com to receive updates on books, and travel destinations and events.