Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Have You Read Any Good Travel Books Lately? 2nd Edition!

I am sure you know, from prior travel articles, that I am addicted to travel literature, as well as traveling every chance I have. A few years ago I wrote an article about travel books that I enjoyed. As my bookcases fill up, it is time to again share with you some of the books I have recently completed and that I think you might enjoy. As you review my selections, think back on some of the travel literature that you may have enjoyed, then send me an email suggesting what I might read next!

Marco Polo Didn’t Go There by Rolf Potts. The author is a prolific writer and shows up frequently with travel articles in the major travel magazines and the annual travel anthologies like The Best American Travel Writing. This book is his second book and is a compendium of twenty travel stories collected from his previous writings. It also has an interesting feature as the author puts end notes at the end of each story, telling about incidents that were not included and writing tips on how he came to structure the story. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and after the fact found that others likewise enjoyed it as the previous purchasers on Amazon gave it five starts. Travelers Tales. ©2008

A Town Like Paris by Bryce Corbett. I am a real sucker for travel books about France and Paris. We have been to France three times, but that really doesn’t account for this affliction. Maybe it is because a fellow judge and good friend has bought a one month time share flat in Paris. Or could I just be jealous? The subtitle of the book is Falling in Love in the City of Light. It is all about an Australian who takes a job in Paris, just really to have the experience of discovering the delights of Paris. The book is a good romp through his experiences of many aspects of living and loving in Paris with all of his new friends, both expats and Parisians. My judge friend has me to keep her continually excited about Paris, as I send the French books on to her after I have finished them! Broadway Books ©2007

A Year in the Merde and In the Merde for Love by Stephen Clarke. As long as I am on a roll with the French travel books, here are a couple of more. I had seen the Stephen Clarke books in the travel literature sections of book stores for years, but for some reason resisted buying. The first book was an international best seller, so I should have read it. When I did read (both of them) I did enjoy Stephen’s experience of trying to start a British tearoom in Paris and all the trials, troubles, and tribulations that result. He is a very funny writer. To obviously protect some of the key players, this is an “almost true” memoir. Bloomsbury ©2004 & 2006

Ghost Train to the Eastern Star by Paul Theroux. In the opinion of many, Paul Theroux is the best travel writer of all time. He certainly is prolific in that he has written fourteen travel books and twenty-seven fiction books. In March he showed up in an interview in National Geographic Traveler and he has a short story about Turkmenistan in The Best American Travel Writing of 2008. Theroux is pretty much inescapable in the travel writing genre. The most recent Theroux travel adventure that I had read was Dark Star Safari where he traveled from the top of Africa to Cape Town, South Africa. This was a great read and I highly recommend it. I was not aware he had written a new book until I spotted it in Wide World of Books in Seattle’s Wallingford District. Due to a gift certificate I actually bought Ghost Train to the Eastern Star in hardback! Many of you might remember The Great Railway Bazaar which was his very first travel book and written 33 years ago. It was a train journey across Europe, through the mid-east, down the length of India, through Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, Viet Nam, and then skipping to Japan and with a grand finale of the Trans-Siberian across Russia and back to London. His new book is a return to the same locales, mostly by train, and viewing and commenting on the changes over those 33 years. It has Theroux’s usual detail and it is quite a read. The reviews are a bit mixed on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, but I thought parts of it were very good, particularly about India, Georgia, Turkmenistan and Myanmar. Houghton Mifflin Company ©2008

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