This past month on my Twitter feed, I’ve been naming various travel books I have enjoyed reading. I’ve compiled them below, along with a few other titles I haven’t tweeted about.
- John Hanc – The Coolest Race on Earth: Mud, Madmen, Glaciers, & Grannies at the Antarctica Marathon – What it takes to run a marathon in Antarctica – and what it’s like to do so.
- Alfred Lansing – Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage – How Shackleton and his men survived their doomed expedition; an incredible true story.
- William Dalrymple –In Xanadu – Dalrmyple and his travel companions trace Marco Polo’s route overland from Jerusalem to Xanadu
- Pico Iyer – Video Night in Kathmandu – Examining American culture’s impact on mid-1980’s Asia – the book that put one the best modern travel writers on the map.
- Matthew Polly – American Shaolin: Flying Kicks, Buddhist Monks, and the Legend of Iron Crotch: An Odyssey in the New China – Young kung-fu obsessed American journeys to the legendary Shaolin Temple to study martial arts
- Mark Salzman – Iron & Silk – Young American martial artist explores life as an English teacher in post-Cultural Revolution China, and is mentored by China’s foremost martial arts master.
- Paul Theroux – Riding the Iron Rooster – Theroux, one of the greatest travel writers of our time, spends a year exploring China via its extensive train network in the 1980s.
- Bill Bryson – In a Sunburned Country – In his funniest book to date, Bill Bryson explores the extremes and the fun about living in Australia.
- Nellie Bennett – Only in Spain: A Foot-Stomping, Firecracker of a Memoir about Food, Flamenco, and Falling in Love – Fed up with her life in retail, Bennett heads to Seville to live a life of flamenco. Her experiences don’t turn out quite as expected.
- Julia Child – My Life in France – Before she became America’s favorite chef, she first had to learn about French cooking – and how to cook. Where better than at Le Cordon Bleu? You can practically hear the pages being read in Child’s distinctive sing-song voice.
- Polly Evans – It’s Not About the Tapas – Evans was living in Hong Kong when she decided a lengthy bicycle trip around Spain be a good idea. The trip transformed her in more ways than one.
- Kathleen Flinn – The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry: Love, Laughter, & Tears in Paris at the World’s Most Famous Cooking School – When Flinn lost her corporate job, she decided to go to Le Cordon Blue and master French cuisine. For all of us who’ve dreamed of running off to Paris in the shadow of Julia Child.
- Richard Goodman – French Dirt: The Story of a Garden in the South of France – Goodman moves to a small village in France, and finds himself relating better to the locals once he becomes a gardener on the land he’s leased.
- Tony Hawks – Round Ireland With a Fridge – Hawks makes a drunken bet – and then actually goes through with it, traveling around Ireland with a small fridge. A funny read and a lovely profile of the Irish.
- Pete McCarthy – McCarthy’s Bar – McCarthy heads to his mother’s homeland, Ireland, to discover his roots. Along the way, he uses a favorite travel rule of his – “never pass a bar that has your name on it” to meet many colorful Irish characters.
- Chris Stewart – Driving Over Lemons: An Optimist in Spain – Former Genesis drummer Stewart buys a sheep farm in Spain. Problem is, it isn’t exactly the most modern of farms.
- Kim Sunée – Trail of Crumbs: Hunger, Love, & the Search for Home – Suneé was abandoned by her parents and raised in New Orleans. When she grows up, she becomes involved with a French businessman and moves with him to Paris. As much a search for identity as it is an exploration of a strange new world.
- Polly Evans – Mad Dogs & An Englishwoman: Travels With Sled Dogs in Canada’s Frozen North – Evans had a number of adventures post-It’s Not About the Tapas. This is one of them: what it’s like to live with, train, and work with sled dogs in Canada.
- Rowan Jacobsen – American Terroir: Savoring the Flavors of Our Woods, Waters, and Fields – If you like wine, you’ve surely heard of ‘terroir’ – about how the soil and atmosphere of vineyards influence the flavors in the grape. But terroir extends to all foods, and here, Jacobsen explores the history of foods that have been important to this country.
- Peter Jenkins – A Walk Across America – Forty+ years ago, a disillusioned young man walked from New York City to New Orleans. This story is as much about the American people as it is about the country he traveled through.
- Clay Travis – Dixieland Delight: A Football Season on the Road in the SEC – Travis travels around the Deep South, visiting 12 universities and their football programs, detailing the fervor that 6.5 million fans feel for these collegiate teams.
- Mark Adams – Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time – Adams attempts to follow in the footsteps of Hiram Bingham III, who has long been credited as the ‘discoverer’ of Machu Picchu. He also tries to determine what, exactly, was this historical site used for.
WORLDWIDE / MULTIPLE REGIONS
- Tim Cahill – Road Fever – Tierra del Fuego to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, in 23.5 days – how two guys in a truck attempt to set a world record. Definitely adventure travel!
- John Marshall – Wide-Open World: How Volunteering Around the Globe Changed One Family’s Lives Forever – A family takes several months to travel the world together, volunteering their way around the globe.
- Ewan McGregor & Charley Boorman – Long Way Round: Chasing Shadows Across the World and its sequel, Long Way Down: An Epic Journey by Motorcycle from Scotland to South Africa – McGregor – yes, that’s Ewan McGregor of Star Wars fame – and Boorman first ride from Europe, across Asia, and across North America via motorcycle. Then they decide that they want to ride across Africa, too. Two really good books that show that daydreams can become reality, and reality can be quite different than envisioned.
- Michael Palin – Pole to Pole – From the North Pole to the South Pole, across Europe and Africa, Palin’s keen sense of observation and quirky humor makes this a solid read. (See also the DVD of the TV series that went with this book.)
- George M. Taber – In Search of Bacchus: Wanderings in the Wonderful World of Wine Tourism – Wine tourism isn’t limited to Napa and the halls of Bordeaux. In this book, Taber discusses the history, culture, and of course the wine in many wine regions around the world.
- George M. Taber – Judgment of Paris: California vs. France & the Historic 1976 Paris Tasting That Revolutionized Wine – In 1976, California’s wine industry didn’t have the renown and cachet that it does today. It can date its rise in popularity to one specific wine tasting that was thought to be minor before it was held, but shook the wine world to its knees after. (The book also inspired the movie Bottle Shock.)
- Ed Viesturs – No Shortcuts to the Top: Climbing the World’s 14 Highest Peaks – The first American to summit all of the world’s fourteen 8,000-meter peaks, without the aid of bottled oxygen, tells his story.
- Sir Terry Pratchett – The Color of Money – The Discworld is about to discover its first tourist, Twoflower, who hires the inept wizard, Rincewind, to be his guide around the city of Anhk-Morpork. The first book in his iconic Discworld series.