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.

Book Review

September 26, 2015

One Boy's Boston 1887-1901
By Samuel Eliot Morison. With a Foreword by Edward Weeks. First published in 1962, by Houghton Mifflin. Northeastern University Press, 1983, 81 pp.

This charming book about a charmed boyhood provides an occasion for time travel. In 81 pages filled with historical detail, anecdotes, even limericks, the historian Samuel Eliot Morison takes us back to a Boston where horses, not cars, rode the streets, where houses were lighted by gas, not electricity, and where—hard to imagine in our own time—telephones were rare.

Morison, the author of more than 25 books—including The Maritime History of Massachusetts and Admiral of the Ocean Sea, a recreation of Columbus’s voyages—paints a portrait of the city as well as one of his own childhood, and he finds delight in both. As a boy, he loved the horses, the colorful trolleys, the winter sledding, and his rambles downtown with friends. He also takes great pleasure in depicting the eccentricities of the adults who surrounded him. (more…)

Book Review

September 15, 2015

The Way Winter Comes: Alaska Stories
By Sherry Simpson. Photographs by Charles Mason. Sasquatch Books, 1998, 164 pp.

For the armchair traveler, books about place provide a kind of journey, and in The Way Winter Comes, Sherry Simpson takes readers deep into Alaska. In these 8 essays, she writes her way through an icy landscape, describing, reflecting, and pondering.

Alaska, of course, is not all one place. As Simpson observes in the title essay, a meditation on winter, “The fundamental grammars of darkness and cold seem familiar enough throughout Alaska, but the idioms of climate and geography make each place exotic and difficult in its own way.” Growing up in Juneau, now living in Fairbanks, she finds that in the high Arctic—Barrow—where she is visiting an archaeological dig, she is a “stranger.” (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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