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Freewheeling Andy

On travel writing

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I have Hokkaido Highway Blueson order from the library and I am very much looking forward to reading it, thank you

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I don't know if it's considered travel writing, but I really liked Peter Mayle's Year in Provence (and the whole series). I find myself smiling and laughing to myself when I was reading it.

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Some of my favorites are:

 

Kiss the Sunset Pig by Laurie Gough - a Canadian woman's soul-searching road trip from Ontario to California intermingled with memories of her international travels and her quest to find the perfect place to live.

 

Educating Alice by Alice Steinbach - funny stories about Steinbach's efforts to make each trip an educational experience.

 

Notes From A Small Island - hilarious

 

 

I also like Peter Mayle's books. I love reading about Provence.

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Have just finished The Water Road by Paul Gogarty, on travelling round England on a narrow boat. I enjoy a fair amount of travel writing, but this was definitely a cut (pun intended!) above the norm. Full review on my reading thread:

 

http://bookclubforum.co.uk/forum/showpost.php?p=312054&postcount=7

 

Glad to see that I'm not the only one that doesn't feel the need to rave about Bill Bryson - enjoy his language/science books, but find his travel writing grates. Not the worst though - for that I'd nominate Tim Moore, or most books about Germany by English writers; amazing how many bad travel books there are on what is one of my favourite destinations.

 

I'd agree with Andy - Jonathan Raban is excellent. Jan Morris is a writer I collect too, although little of her material is travelogue (Coast to Coast is one of the few). I like her Pax Britannica trilogy too, and Conundrum, the story of her change from James to Jan.

Edited by willoyd

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Now you mention it, I can hardly think of anything decent I've read about Germany. The only exception is Patrick Leigh Fermor's A Time Of Gifts. And that, of course, is someone travelling on foot in 1933, so not really relevent to modern Gemany.

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I read a lot of travel writing, especially the more survival stuff, one man against the elements. Here are some of my recommendations -

Giant steps - Karl Bushby - First half of an ongoing trek around the world

7 years in Tibet - Heinrich Harrer

My first summer in the sierra - John Muir

Clear waters rising - Nicholas Crane -Year long walk through mountains of Europe

Travels with Charley - John Steinbeck - Road trip with a dog

As I walked out one midsummer morning - Laurie Lee

Travels with a donkey in the Cevennes and

An inland voyage - RL Stevenson

Round Ireland with a fridge - Tony Hawks - Light hearted hitch hike cw/fridge

The longest walk - Guiseppe Maniscalco - Excellent tale of his solo wartime trek from the top to the bottom of Africa

Some of Kerouac's work such as 'Lonesome Traveller' would also fit into this category.

There are also some great cycling books like 'Discovery road' which is about a ride around the world.

Among others, I recently picked up a well over a hundred year old book by Mark Twain which I have yet to read

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I've recently written a comedy travel book, and the following were all excellent inspirations, even though some of them aren't really travel books.

 

In Search of Captain Zero - Allan Weisbecker. Not as funny as Cosmic Banditos, but more based on reality. More of a classic travelogue.

 

Solomon Time - Will Randall. English teacher moves to the Solomon isles. Charming English humour.

 

Los Angeles Without a Map - Richard Rayner. More about the craziness of LA than travel, but has plenty of laugh out loud funny moments coming from someone being outside their normal environment or comfort zone.

 

You Shall Know Our Velocity - Dave Eggers. Too many themes in this book to try to sum it up succinctly, but there is some beautiful travel writing in there.

 

Off The map - Hib and Kika. Unconventional travelogue of two American hippie women in Europe. I hate to use the word charming twice in one post, but this is exactly that

 

Three Men in a Boat: to Say Nothing of the Dog - Jerome K. Jerome. Old classic but one that is still

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I recently enjoyed reading (**Rediculously L O N G Title ALERT!!!**) "A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland and The Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides", which is both Samuel Johnson's and James Boswell's version of their trip together in 1773. Or at least that's what my Barnes & Noble 'Library of Essential Reading' calls it. Don't know for sure if all versions have both accounts or not, but it's interesting to read the two together. :lol:

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Just read Michael Palin, Brazil.

It is ok, with many very good photos in it, but does suffer from stereotyped media perspectives, eg carefree Brazilians, happy people everywhere, etc. The bits about Rio de Janeiro are really overdone, transvestite community is covered, as, half heartedly, is crime in the favelas.Every travel writer, when thinking of Rio, tends to put gay/transvestite issues at the top, as if that is all that is there about Rio deserving of coverage.

I feel that, when it comes to places like Salvador, Ouro Preto, etc, there is too much in the way of industrial history, with humdrum sojourns around factories having been arranged by the BBC in advance. Overall, an average book, Palin is a nice guy it seems, who understands social and cultural factors in Brazil, but the book is like evey tv visit to Brazil...narrow and inoffensively stereotyped.

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This thread seems a bit quiet, so I hope I'm not the only one around who loves travel writing.  Favourites include Dervla Murphy, Eric Newby and Sara Wheeler,  I like the Jonathan Raban book I've read, William Dalrymple is one I must try, and can't abide Bill Bryson or Tim Moore.  I also love a lot of the exploration/climbing writers like Joe Simpson, Stephen Venables and Chris Bonington, as well as some of the older writers (like Eric Shipton and Maurice Herzog's Annapurna)

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Great post Andy! Reading that made me sign up to forum!

 

In my own travel writing it's more about the people I meet. On the backpacking trail paths once crossed are often quickly uncrossed and it's these encounters that make the journey for me. It's certainly not uncommon for paths to cross again, even from one country to the next. Perhaps it's fate or the universe bringing people together, but backpackers often follow similar routes though, so conidences can be explained by this fact also. I like to think of it as a combination of the two.

 

On the trail you'll find people from the Sweden, FInland, Holland, France, UK, USA, Canada, Russia, various countries in South America... in fact pretty much every developed nation is represented somewhere along the way. You might be in Thailand, Loas, Malysia, Australisa, New Zealand or whereever, but you'll be living side by side with people from all over the world which provides a rich environment to learn about other cultures. Mostly I was a drifting around with no real aim or purpose and as a young man the pursuit of partying and girls was at the forefront of my mind.

 

I like uninhibited and honest wrtting. After all, what the writer isn't sure about admitting or confessing, is probally exactly what the reader wants to read and can relate to. Although I've written a travel memoir, I actually haven't read much travel writing so it will be great to how others are doing it. It's great to see all these suggestions and reccomendations. Will be checking some of them out for sure! 

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Paul Theroux, in TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH, completely captivates the reader with frankly comical interludes, the best bit was called Tibet, being a very gripping account of a car journey with a male and a female Chinese duo, from northern China right through to Lhasa , Tibet`s capital. Mr Lu is driving a rickety , badly maintained car through deep snow in very low temperatures, and periodically Mr Lu cries out "I cannot go on!!!" and then Theroux takes the wheel with Mr Lu and the woman asleep in the back of the car. This Tibet chapter is so moving, you feel fear, joy, surprise, laughter, one after the other. His chapters on England  , Wales and Ireland are hilarious, especially the passage from Cardigan, where an inebriated , obese, female guest at the guesthouse  is found rifling through Theroux`s bags, at 5am, naked, by his bedside. :giggle2:

Edited by itsmeagain

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Travel writing is one of my all time favorite genres: perhaps have a go at Henry Hemming's Misadventure in the Middle East - travels as tramp, artist and spy.

it's he tale of two young men and a truck called Yasmin, travelling post 9/11 and caught  up in all manner of adventures.  The book has some very funny anecdotes at times, at others, there are some poignant and thought provoking incidents.

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I'm completely in love with Mark Carwardine's Ultimate Wildlife Adventures. Mum and Dad bought it for me for Christmas as they know I completely adore everything there is to the animal kingdom, and because Mark Carwardine's been my hero since I was about six when I found his book on killer whales. I own some of his other books, as well as the Last Chance To See BBC series, but this one is his best and most inspiring by far. The stunning photography is done by him on the most part; I think only four, maybe five or six, aren't his own in this amazing book. The book describes some of the best places he's been to see some of the world's best wildlife. I love curling up in bed when I'm tired and imagining myself in Mark's feet as he's cage diving with great whites in Mexico (I would LOVE to do this some day) or listening to the noise of hundreds of puffins as a minke whale passes in the sunset when he's in Iceland. It's a really inspiring book, for anyone who loves nature or just wants to see anything different. The link below shows just some of the best photographs in the book, all taken by Mark himself.

 

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthpicturegalleries/9326594/Mark-Carwardines-Ultimate-Wildlife-Experiences.html

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Hi folks. Let me toss my hat in the ring here & recommend Seven Years in Tibet. Great travelogue in my opinion. Here's a synopsis via wikipedia:

 

'Seven Years in Tibet is an autobiographical travel book written by Austrian mountaineer Heinrich Harrer based on his real life experiences in Tibet between 1944 and 1951 during the Second World War and the interim period before the Communist Chinese People's Liberation Army invaded Tibet in 1950.

 

The book covers the escape of Harrer, and his companion Peter Aufschnaiter, from a British internment camp in India. Harrer and Aufschnaiter then travelled across Tibet to Lhasa, the capital. Here they spent several years, and Harrer describes the contemporary Tibetan culture in detail. Harrer subsequently became a tutor and friend of the 14th Dalai Lama.

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It's good to write more than reading while travelling... even i may not express how we'll get excited ... but the verbose comes straight from our heart ...with a fluent swift... 

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True rekha, and actually the way Paul Theroux wrote, in his tales of world travel, led me to think that he did more writing than reading when he travelled. You see, his stories are so entertaining.

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Paul Theroux, in TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH, completely captivates the reader with frankly comical interludes, the best bit was called Tibet, being a very gripping account of a car journey with a male and a female Chinese duo, from northern China right through to Lhasa , Tibet`s capital. Mr Lu is driving a rickety , badly maintained car through deep snow in very low temperatures, and periodically Mr Lu cries out "I cannot go on!!!" and then Theroux takes the wheel with Mr Lu and the woman asleep in the back of the car. This Tibet chapter is so moving, you feel fear, joy, surprise, laughter, one after the other. His chapters on England  , Wales and Ireland are hilarious, especially the passage from Cardigan, where an inebriated , obese, female guest at the guesthouse  is found rifling through Theroux`s bags, at 5am, naked, by his bedside. :giggle2:

 

I have friends who live in Cardigan, so I think this has now become a must read!

 

Some great suggestions on here, though I'm sad I seem to be the only person who enjoys reading Colin Thubron. I struggled with Mirror to Damascus, but really enjoyed his Central Asian books. Perhaps travel writing is most enthralling when it aligns with your own interests? After a trip to Sri Lanka I just read The Teardrop Island by Cherry Briggs, and it brought the whole country alive for me again, as well as informing me on a few issues that completely passed me by at the time.

 

I've been trying out a couple of books recently that challenged me a bit though, not in terms of subject but the authors. Do people need to find the author likeable to fully enjoy a travel book? I read Tracks by Robyn Davidson and The Gringo Trail by Mark Mann. Although both books were very readable, and I would recommend them, I was faced with two authors I'm absolutely sure I wouldn't get on with in real life. I thought that added an extra edge to the book, making me confrontmy own prejudices. Do other people have a similar experience with uncharismatic authors? Do you think it detracts from the text?

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Good question Sue. Bits of Paul Theroux`s personality, as espoused by him in his works, make me think of an arrogant individual who just ridicules everything. Then you see something in his book that makes you laugh, and you think yes the guy`s alright after all.

I am unsure if I would get on with him, and he is arrogant, but I find his books highly readable I must say.

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While I like Bryson's travel books ("A Walk in the Woods" is hilarious, and "In a Suburned Country" is almost as good), Paul Theroux is still my favorite travel writer, although I'm not as captivated by his more recent works, which are revisits to the places he covered previously. In the earlier books there was always this tension of danger; he was an unknown writer traveling in potentially dangerous places. In his later travel books he's the Famous Writer who works book signings and conference into his itinerary. They just don't carry the same level of drama. 

 

One recent travel book that should have been much better than it was is Ed Stafford's "Walking the Amazon." It's the story of his 2-year walk across the entire length of the Amazon basin, from Peru to Brazil. While his feat was admirable, Stafford spends far too much time complaining about all of the technologies that break down, his financial problems, and his own depression, as well as his increasingly mistanthropic attitudes toward the many many natives he meets along the way (the book effectively dispels the myth of the Amazon as a barely inhabited Eden; it's actually very populated, and most communities he encounters have general stores and many have electricity). Unfortunately, you expect a lot of description of nature in a book like this and Stafford is not enough of a naturalist to immerse the reader in his surroundings. 

 

Another much better South-American themed travel book is "Rounding the Horn" by Dallas Murphy. He combines a history of circumnavigation of Patagonia and Cape Horn from Magellan through Darwin with a travelogue of his own modern voyage around this same area in a very small boat. 

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Hi folks. Let me toss my hat in the ring here & recommend Seven Years in Tibet. Great travelogue in my opinion. Here's a synopsis via wikipedia:

 

'Seven Years in Tibet is an autobiographical travel book written by Austrian mountaineer Heinrich Harrer based on his real life experiences in Tibet between 1944 and 1951 during the Second World War and the interim period before the Communist Chinese People's Liberation Army invaded Tibet in 1950.

 

The book covers the escape of Harrer, and his companion Peter Aufschnaiter, from a British internment camp in India. Harrer and Aufschnaiter then travelled across Tibet to Lhasa, the capital. Here they spent several years, and Harrer describes the contemporary Tibetan culture in detail. Harrer subsequently became a tutor and friend of the 14th Dalai Lama.

 

100% agree with that! Jaw-dropping stuff. My other favourite travel writers:-

 

Haroun Tazieff - Jacques Cousteau's 'amateur vulcanologist'. His idea of a good time was climbing an erupting volcano at night.

Tristan Jones - I know he made it up but what a storyteller.

Sebastian Snow - Couldn't use a compass or put up a tent but walked from Tierra del Fuego to Panama.

Farley Mowat - 'The Siberians'

There's more but that'll do. 

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