As an addicted reader, it is only logical that apart from traveling, I am also a lover of travel literature. These are not the books about what to do when traveling to a destination, but rather the experiences and tales of an author after traveling to a travel destination or destinations. My family is very glad that I enjoy this pastime as it gives them at least something to give me for birthdays and Christmas. I am sorely lacking in other hobbies or pursuits. And did I ever get in a lot of trouble by buying several travel literature books just before Christmas! There is hardly a category of travel literature that I don’t enjoy. My tastes, times, and countries are very eclectic, which is good as I tend to read two or three travel literature books a month.
I must admit that a travel literature book need not be a Pulitzer winner or the author a fantastic writer. For me the criteria of a good travel literature book is one that is fun (a lot of humor), the events and experiences are interesting and sometimes exciting, and often the book will create a desire to travel to the location. There are a lot of writing formulas for a travel literature book. You can visit many places by reading the short stories in such books as The Best Travel Stories of 20??. There is a whole genre of books chronicling the buying and restoring of a home in a foreign country ala Frances Mayes and Under the Tuscan Sun. Many travel books just take a travelogue format where the author tells of the experiences of traveling in a location.
As a taste of current reading, here are a few books I have recently read, and which are good enough to recommend to you:
Spotted in France by Gregory Edmont. An American in Paris who graduates from the Sorbonne and buys a Dalmatian dog that he trains to ride on the back of his Vespa. He takes a road trip to Provence to breed the dog at the farm where he bought the dog. As you can imagine he gets into hilarious situations. A sequel is coming out in the Spring of 2008.
Whatever You Do, Don’t Run by Peter Allison. These are the true stories of an Australian who becomes a Botswana safari guide. It is an easy read with a lot of adventure. Surely makes you want to go to one of those high end safari camps in the Okavango Delta of Botswana.
The Caliph’s House: A year in Casablanca by Tahir Shah. This is of the restore the house genre, but you won’t believe the problems the author and his family encounter in Morocco. You just don’t expect the house to be haunted and the necessity of having the house exorcised to rid it of the jinns. When I find an author that I like I tend to then buy and read his or her other books. As this is written I am reading In Search of King Solomon’s Mines by Shah.
Fried Eggs with Chopsticks by Polly Evans. I first discovered Polly Evans in a book about cycling through Spain titled It’s Not About the Tapas. The “Fried Eggs” book is about her experiences traveling by bus and train in China. She has a new book out describing her travels in New Zealand titled Kiwis Might Fly. I have the book but I am saving its pleasure until we are in New Zealand this spring.
The Bird Man and the Lap Dancer by Eric Hansen. This is by far my favorite book of the giving season (thank you Amanda and Geoff!). It is subtitled as “Close Encounters with Strangers.” Eric Hansen has led an incredible life over the last 35 years traveling all over the world and writing his adventures. This book is nine short stories of some of the most amazing people and places he has encountered on his travels. He has also written a highly acclaimed (five stars on Amazon) book titled Motoring with Mohammed: Journeys to Yemen and the Red Sea. I will be buying it soon!
If you are interested, all of these books can be bought online at either Amazon or Barnes & Noble, and probably in the travel section of your local bookstore. Have you read any good travel books recently that you would recommend to me? It would be great to hear from you with your suggestions. Just send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.