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.
November 24, 2016
Road Less Traveled: Dispatches from the Ends of the Earth
By Catherine Watson. Syren Book Company, 2005, 282 pp.
Catherine Watson sensed her vocation early. “By high school,” she writes in her author’s note, “I thought of myself as a ‘tourist in life,’ someone whose actual earthly purpose was going away. Only later, when I’d become a journalist, did I comprehend the rest of the assignment: coming back and telling about it.” In Roads Less Traveled, she conveys her enthusiasm both for the traveling and for the telling.
The 40 short essays in the book cover a wide territory, from North Dakota to Turkey, from Newfoundland to Lebanon. Drawn from the pages of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, where Watson was travel editor for 30 years, most of the pieces are, as you’d expect, upbeat. In Borneo, she enjoys working with Earthwatch at Camp Leakey, where she and other volunteers “follow” orangutans. (more…)
November 12, 2016
New travel books for kids in the Longitude Newsletter November (Scroll down to Section 4 in the newsletter for the children's books.)
November 11, 2016
From The Tao of Travel
by Paul Theroux, a book of commentary on travel that includes interesting quotations, many from Theroux's own work:
Literature is made out of the misfortunes of others. A large number of travel books fail simply because of the monotonous good luck of their authors.
―V. S. Pritchett, Complete Essays
On that trip it was my good fortune to be wrong; being mistaken is the essence of the traveler’s tale.
― Paul Theroux, Riding the Iron Rooster
November 6, 2016
Down the Nile: Alone in a Fisherman’s Skiff
By Rosemary Mahoney. Little, Brown, 2007, 268 pp.
Walking the length of Japan, bicycling through Ireland’s nasty winter, following in the frigid tracks of great Arctic explorers: the things travelers do for the sake of adventure—or perhaps for the sake of writing a travel book.
Rosemary Mahoney’s quest was to row on the Nile. Not the length of it, of course, just from Elephantine Island to Qena, in Egypt, “enough to feel that I had traveled, enough to see the river up close.”
In itself, when she finally gets to do it, this isn’t much of a challenge. Mahoney is an experienced rower—back home, near Narragansett Bay, she rows often—and the river does not offer insurmountable difficulties. The challenge is cultural. (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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