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Old 07-21-2012, 10:55 AM   #1
HarryT
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Travel Writers

We don't often seem to talk about non-fiction here, but I was wondering if anyone had any recommendations for travel writers? I very much enjoy Bill Bryson's wonderful books, and was wondering if there were any other authors who people could recommend?

I've often heard Paul Theroux recommended. Anyone read his books?
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Old 07-21-2012, 11:05 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by HarryT View Post
I've often heard Paul Theroux recommended. Anyone read his books?
I'd highly recommend Theroux. I've read nearly all of his non-fiction, some more than once. The Great Railway Bazaar, The Old Patagonian Express, and Riding the Iron Rooster are favorites.
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Old 07-21-2012, 11:28 AM   #3
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Harry,

When I saw the heading of your post, but before I read the post itself, I immediately thought of Bill Bryson. It's hard to think of a better modern travel writer. I know you're a fan of his, and so am I.

Paul Theroux is similar to Bryson in that he is an American living in Britain, and he has made some similar trips (his Kingdom by the Sea cf. Bryson's Notes from a Small Island). He speciaises in long trips by rail (The Great Railway Bazaar, The Old Patagonian Express, Riding the Iron Rooster). He has a light, casual style, although he is nowhere near as funny as Bryon.

Another favourite of mine is Mark Twain. I've recently (re-)read and enjoyed Roughing It and Innocents Abroad.

Mike
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Old 07-21-2012, 11:50 AM   #4
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Thanks, Jerry and Mike; I'll try one of Theroux's books and see what I thinkc. Amazon seems to sell most, if not all, as ebooks.
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Old 07-21-2012, 01:36 PM   #5
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I second (third and fourth) Paul Theroux's travel books, which in my opinion are excellent.

Some other travel books I have enjoyed a lot are:

City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi - William Dalrymple

River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze, Oracle Bones: A Journey Through Time in China and Country Driving: A Chinese Road Trip - all by Peter Hessler

Tim Cahill, intrepid traveller and journalist, is well worth reading.

Colin Thubron is another travel writer well worth looking into.

Instant City: Life and Death in Karachi - Steve Inskeep

Naked in Dangerous Places: The Chronicles of a Hungry, Scared, Lost, Homesick, but Otherwise Perfectly Happy Traveler - Cash Peters

Outposts: Journeys to the Surviving Relics of the British Empire - Simon Winchester

The Art of Travel - Alain De Botton

An Area of Darkness - V. S. Naipaul

Beyond the Sky and the Earth: A Journey into Bhutan - Jamie Zeppa

Black Lamb and Grey Falcon - Rebecca West

Carnivorous Nights: On the Trail of the Tasmanian Tiger - Margaret Mittelbach & Michael Crewdson

Mission Mongolia: Two Men, One Van, No Turning Back - David Treanor

This is all modern stuff - should you want some tips on classic travel books too I'll be all too happy to oblige.
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Old 07-21-2012, 01:40 PM   #6
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Thank you - excellent suggestions all.

If I may recommend a Victorian travel classic, I thoroughly recommend Amelia Edwards' "A Thousand Miles Up the Nile", describing her travels in Egypt. Wonderful book. I created a version for the MR library.
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Old 07-21-2012, 01:47 PM   #7
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Good Idea Harry T. Belfaborac....great list and that Rebecca West book is quite good. I would add a few more names to the above:

Jan Morris- especially her book on Turkey, she returns back there as a woman.

Henry Miller

Kazantzakis

Dervla Murphy: her books on India, Madagascar and Roumania come to mind.

Colin Thubron: Lost in the Heart of Asia, Among the Russians, etc...

Eric Newby......

just to name a few. Love this genre from time to time.
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Old 07-21-2012, 01:49 PM   #8
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Oh yes... I *read* all three as audio books and all three are excellent. Though for Chinese language perfectionists, there seems to be a number of complaints about the narrators pronunciations of a number of Chinese phrases. Since I'm neither a perfectionist or know Chinese, I had no complaints.
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Old 07-21-2012, 02:28 PM   #9
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I'm not too up on Chinese myself, so it didn't bother me either. I had a quick glance at some of the 1 star reviews here and there, for some of the books, where people complained about various stuff they thought was erroneous or unlikely, but none of that interests me in these kinds of books. Travel books are essentially one person's experiences and impressions along the way and I've yet to read one which has claimed to present an accurate and complete representation of history, customs or anything else. For that there are other kinds of books.
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Old 07-21-2012, 04:40 PM   #10
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Robert Louis Stevenson wrote a number of travel books. Some are available MR's library.
http://www.robert-louis-stevenson.org/travel-writing

I also enjoyed William Least Heat Moon's Blue Highways, Isabella Bird's A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains(1879) and Tony Horowitz' Blue Latitudes.
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Old 07-21-2012, 05:58 PM   #11
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"Do Travel Writers Go to Hell?" - Thomas Kohnstamm.

I found this fascinating and hilarious. But note that some Amazon reviewers were disapproving. It all depends on your sense of humour.
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Old 07-22-2012, 09:10 AM   #12
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In 1933 at the age of 18, Patrck Leigh Fermor started off on foot to Constantinople. The book about the first third of that trip, A Time of Gifts is IMO the best travel book of all time. The account of the second third is almost as good and there's fabulous news for fans--something I thought was lost forever.

For those with taste for WWII hijinks, Leigh Fermor was one of the principals in the story retold in Ill Met by Moonlight by Stanley Moss. A long and fascinating life and a wonderful writer.
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Old 07-23-2012, 08:56 AM   #13
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Only read one so far (‘New Europe’), but quite enjoyed Michael Palin’s writing.
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Old 07-23-2012, 03:31 PM   #14
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I too am a fan of Paul Theroux. I particularly liked Dark Star Safari.

Before Simon Winchester wrote The Professor and the Madman (great book) he wrote a number of highly underrated travel books. Korea is very good and so is Outposts.

I've also really enjoy the books of Colin Angus. He's an adventure writer who has completed some pretty amazing trips. His best books are Beyond the Horizon where he circumnavigates the globe purely with human power and Amazon Extreme.

I also love travel books with a food focus. Anthony Bourdain is the king of this genre even thought lots of people hate him. I think he's great. A Cook's Tour is a great book. Just don't read his fiction - it's awful.

Other great books more about food, but with a travel element:
The Devil's Picnic by Taras Grescoe
The Year of Eating Dangerously by Tom Parker Bowles (Brother of Camilla)
Heat by Bill Buford
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Old 07-23-2012, 03:36 PM   #15
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I haven't read them yet, but I put I've put:

The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen, In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin and The Grey Islands by John Steffler on my probable read lists. Two of them are on my challenge list for next year.

The Great Railway Bazaar almost made the list as well, and still might.
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