My aim on TraveLit is to introduce readers who share my love of travel literature to good books they may not know about. Mostly classics, some new, the books cover travel in its many forms, from exploration to tourism. Along with reviews, TraveLit also brings together provocative, entertaining travel quotations and reader recommendations. I welcome comments on the readings, the reviews, the quotations, or the fascinating enterprise of travel itself.

TraveLit--A blog about travel literature

Even with the best of maps and instruments, we can never fully chart our journeys.

Travel Quotation

December 30, 2014

“As well as willingness, humility, and optimism, a traveler needs the patience of a saint.”
―Paul Theroux

Book Review

December 27, 2014

Last Places: A Journey in the North
By Lawrence Millman. Introduction by Paul Theroux. First published in 1990. Houghton Mifflin, 2000, 242 pp.

“In travel, as in food, one man’s caviar is another man’s soggy dumpling,” writes Lawrence Millman, whose own taste for bleak, forsaken places led him to the cold waters of the North Atlantic. The pull, it seems, was magnetic. “Glacially scoured boulders put my feet in an inspirational mood,” he says. “Resolutely barren islands made my soul sing; the more barren, the more rollicking the song.”

Curious to investigate this attraction, Millman set out to travel the entire breadth of the North Atlantic, from Norway to Newfoundland. He would follow the route the Vikings took as they sailed out in search of “space, autonomy, elbowroom,” choosing places that were “unkempt, forbidding, or just plain empty,” “the last places at the very rim of the globe.” (more…)

Book Review

December 15, 2014

Long Ago in France
By M. F. K. Fisher. Introduction by Jan Morris. A Touchstone Book, Simon & Schuster, 1992, 159 pp.

As its title suggests, Long Ago in France is a memoir that looks back to another era, both in France and in the author’s life. Fisher was young and newly married when she arrived in Dijon in 1929 with her husband, Al, who was a graduate student at the university, where she also studied French.

Fisher’s three years in Dijon proved to be seminal in her life, setting her on the path to become the food writer and prose stylist she would become. It was there, she says, that she “started to grow up, to study, to make love, to eat and drink, to be me and not what I was expected to be.” But this is not a nostalgic trip back through time. It isn’t sentimental, nor does it suggest a yearning to return to that earlier age: it is much more an effort to recreate it, for us and also, I think, for herself. (more…)

Book Review

December 8, 2014

First Contact: New Guinea’s Highlanders Encounter the Outside World
By Bob Connolly and Robin Anderson. Viking, 1987, 317 pp.

For most Americans, the story told in First Contact will be new. Apart from anthropological works, few books have been written about New Guinea, a country we hear little about. Indeed, although I lived in New Britain—a part of Papua New Guinea—I was unaware of the fascinating history of the first white exploration of the Highlands recounted here. (more…)

Selected Works

Travel Memoir
"Loved this book, which appears to be but is more than an account of an anthropological expedition, more than a travel book, more than a memoir."--Barbara Beckwith, author of What Was I Thinking?: Digging Deeper into Everyday Racism,
"It is undoubtedly the best written account of, and reflection on, fieldwork I have read, and --perhaps -- the best book on fieldwork (period) I have come across. --Joel Savishinsky, Professor of Anthropology (Emeritus), Ithaca College, author of Trail of the Hare.
“An impressively insightful, deftly written, accessibly articulate, expertly knowledgeable, and decidedly analytical survey of…book reviewing today.”
Midwest Book Review
“Captivating stories in an anthology of epistolary fiction from the last 50 years.”

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