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TraveLit--A blog about travel literature. 

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

Review: Dispatches from the Ends of the Earth

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.  Read More 

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Making Trails: Travel Books for Kids and Young Adults

New travel books for kids in the Longitude Newsletter November (Scroll down to Section 4 in the newsletter for the children's books.)
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Travel Quotations

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

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Review: Down the Nile: Alone in a Fisherman's Skiff

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.  Read More 

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