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.
July 25, 2015
Under African Sun
By Marianne Alverson. University of Chicago Press, 1987, 233 pp.
In 1972, Alverson went to live in Botswana with her anthropologist husband, Hoyt, and their two young sons. Unlike most expatriates in the region, the family lived on the lands, in the homestead of the village elder Rre Segalthe, who adopted them. Alverson, who learned the Setswana language, immersed herself in the lives of her neighbors, adapting to their customs and in time starting a school. Her memoir is perceptive, entertaining, and so rich in detail that I too found myself immersed in the community and in the author's moving experience. (more…)
July 23, 2015
"Take more time, cover less ground."
July 23, 2015
Travels with Epicurus:
A Journey to a Greek Island in Search of a Fulfilled Life
By Daniel Klein. Penguin, 2012, 164 pp.
In his early seventies, faced with the prospect of devoting an entire year to major dental surgery, Daniel Klein decided it was time to deal with the realities—and conceptions—of old age. Questioning what he calls the “forever young” movement prevalent in America—where the elderly keep striving for new goals and submitting to cosmetic surgery—he determined to find a better philosophy.
Having spent time previously on the Greek island of Hydra, where he found the elderly “uncommonly content with their stage of life,” he thought this was the place to find some answers. Packing up a load of philosophy books, he set off on his quest.
In Travels with Epicurus
, Klein takes us on his philosophical journey. (more…)
July 3, 2015
As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning
By Laurie Lee. Drawings by Leonard Rosoman. Atheneum, 1969, 248 pp.
The opening of this wonderful book reminded me of one of those fairy tales where the youngest son sets out with his small bundle of possessions to seek his fortune in the world. Laurie Lee was just 19 when he left his small village in Gloucestershire to see the world, and among his few possessions—which included a tent, a blanket, a change of clothes, and a tin of treacle biscuits—was a violin, which he planned to play to earn his living. Like those storybook figures, he was very young, and everything lay before him. As he says, recapturing the wonder many years later, “Everything I saw was new.”
As you would expect of an English youth, Lee heads for London, though his main destination is Southampton, to see the sea. But after working at a buildings job for a year, his journey takes him to Spain, where he trudges through hot fields, wanders into strange villages, takes in cities—Madrid, Toledo, Seville—and at last, wintering in tiny Castillo, finds himself amidst the beginnings of the Spanish civil war. (more…)
"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, barbarabeckwith.net.
"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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