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  #1  
Old 05-09-2005, 01:29 AM
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Default Good books

Something I enjoy almost as much as travelling and taking photos is reading a good travel book.
A few of my faves are
- A Goddess in the stones by Norman Lewis
- Third class ticket by Heather Wood
- A short walk in the Hindu Kush by Eric Newby
- The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen
- 7 years in Tibet by Heinrich Harrer

Can any of you give me a few suggestions for some more interesting travel books ?
I have a trip coming up, so more time for reading. Yippee
Thanks, David
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  #2  
Old 05-09-2005, 05:06 AM
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Default Re: Good books

Considering the selection of books you've listed I think you'd enjoy reading Hermann Hesse (if you haven't already). I suggest starting with Sidhartha, a great short read.

Cheers,

alex
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  #3  
Old 05-09-2005, 12:28 PM
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Default Re: Good books

Here are some of my favorites :
- Into the heart of Borneo - Redmond O'Hanlon : hilarious Borneo adventures, a MUST read in travel litterature.
- The scorpion fish - Nicolas Bouvier : an inside view of Sri Lanka, specially the south coast.
- Anthropology is not a dangerous sport - Nigel Barley : Indonesia Toraja country and people seen through a humorous view.
- Made in America - Bill Bryson : 2 pages chronicles about the amarican way of life, any american people should question himself after reading that...
- Slow boats to China - Gavin Young : from London to Hong Kong on cargo boats, a reading that lets you slow rolling.
- Big Snake : the hunt for the longest python - Robert Twigger : dont let you fool by the title, this is more a hunt for people and snake hunters in south east asia than for snakes strictly speaking.
- Shadow of the sun - Ryszard Kapuscinski : halfway journalistic/writer point of view about Africa small and big affairs.
- A general history of the pyrates - Daniel Defoe : not a travel book per se but in my view possibly the mother of all, depicting the life of some of the most famous pirates and their freedom utopias (at least for some of them).
- You've certainly read it, but I still wanted to add the following which is perhaps the most influential novel written in the XXth century : "Journey to the end of the night", its author LF.Celine was a disgusting bastard, sentenced to life prison at the end of WWII but as a writer, a big part of the american litterature from the 50's owes to him, starting from Henry Miller.

Cheers
Luko
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Old 05-09-2005, 03:54 PM
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Default Re: Good books

I have a soft spot for the all-time crankiest travel writer, Paul Theroux. Riding the Iron Rooster and The Patagonian Express are two classics of railway travel, and The Happy Isles of Oceania is a fascinating account of kayaking around the South Pacific. Also his "fictional" novel My Other Life ("fictional" in quotes because the main character is named Paul Theroux, lives where the author does, travels and writes about it) has an incredible story about Africa called "The Lepers of Moyo" that I just can't get out of my head. (The author lived in Africa as a young man.)

"Bad Trips" edited by Keath Fraser is an excellent compendium of all sorts of bad travel experiences. I read it recently and was bowled over by the consistently good quality of the excerpts he chose. Good travel stories are all the same, but every bad travel story is different, to paraphrase Tolstoy.

Pico Iyer is a generally good author. You can't go wrong with his travel writing.

"Nothing to Declare" by Mary Morris is a pretty captivating record of the time she spent living in Mexico; the book manages to be hard-headed, esoteric, touching and spooky all in one.

I know I'll think of more; I'm obsessed with travel writing. But for now I have to go and get on with my day...
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Old 05-09-2005, 05:20 PM
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Default Re: Good books

Perhaps the start of TrekEarth's litterature cafι in this post...

Coming back to Theroux, although I've appreciated his "Patagonia Express", I've been very very disappointed with the "Happy Isles of Oceania", specially about my islands chapter.. I thought he just didn't catch a damn thing about!

Some more springing to my mind :

- John Booth's "Roads to Sata" : walking Japan from north to south this slow moving, hypnotic book really makes you want to travel Japan.

- How could I miss one of my all time favorites : Henri Michaux "A barbarian in Asia" ! You'll LOVE that one, it goes straight to general and essential questions about cultures and mankind.

- Levi-Strauss' "Tristes Tropiques" for the first 150 pages, the rest is too ethno-technical. How can a traveler be not reactive to its first sentence "I hate travelling and explorers"...there are two pages around p.120 where he describes a part of the asian way of thinking, this was a key for my understanding. (Don't ask me to summarize, read it instead!)

- Bruce Chatwin's last opus "What am I doing here?" before he died from AIDS, a compendium of meetings and travel stories that gives a taste of Chatwin's so brilliant life.

- not a travel journal but a novel, Pascal Bruckner's "Parias" about the fascination of India. I don't know whether this was translated in English language. There are many good french travel writers, unfortunately not translated, such as JL.Coatalem, J.Meunier...

that will be all until some other exciting books come back to mind...

Cheers
Luko
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  #6  
Old 05-09-2005, 06:11 PM
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Default Re: Good books

Two pop into my mind immediately:

Catfish and Mandala, Andrew X. Pham: The author is a Vietnamese-American who came to the US as a refugee as a small child. After his sister's death, he decides to ride his bike through Vietnam (actually he rides starting in LA, to Seattle, then Tokyo, and finally to Vietnam). Both poingant and funny, it shows Vietnam from the perspective of a Viet-Kieu (returning Vietnamese)-- not quite a native, but not quite a tourist either.

Travels in a Thin Country, Sarah Wheeler: More typical travel writing than the first, but gives a good (and decidely female) perspective on travelling in Chile.

Mimi
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  #7  
Old 05-09-2005, 06:57 PM
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Default Re: Good books

My all time fav is "The Way of the World" (L'usage de monde) from Nicolas Bouvier. In 1953, this swiss writter along with his friend and artist Thierry Vernet started trip from Geneva to the Khyber Pass in Afghanistan driving a Fiat 500. A trully fascinating book that will tell you a lot about the true midle eastern culture and way of life. Really far from the clichι that most of todays media are giving us everyday about those countries.

"The Long Walk" from Slavomir Rawicz. Not the best written book I've ever read but a strong and captivating story. Actually Nicolas Bouvier once said about this book "This is not litterature, it might be better than that...". That's the only one book that Slavomir Rawicz wrote with the help of a young british journalist. The book is about his own true story. he's a young officer in the Polish army when the russians arrest him and sent him to a prisonner camp near the polar circle. During winter 1941 with few other prisoners (one of them being american) they escape the camp and start a long walk to India. The walk will take 2 years, many will die, of coldness in siberia, hunger or thirst in the Gobi desert or from falling in the Himalayan abysses.

Not really travel book, "Evaristo Carriego" from Jorge L. Borges really taught me a lot about Buenos Aires history a city I really love. A good book to read while walking around places like the old Palermo district or on the street, park and cemetery of la Recoletta.

That's all I can think of now.
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  #8  
Old 05-09-2005, 08:14 PM
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Default Re: Good books

OK, I admit, I got overexcited when I first replied and wasn't thinking about books to YOUR taste but mine instead. However, you might enjoy "Touch the Dragon: A Thai Journal" by Karen Connelly. She's a poet, so the writing is quite poetical, and it's simply an interesting story (I think -- I read it several years ago). I notice you don't tend to go in for the hard-bitten cynics, unlike myself ;) that's why I recommend it -- it's a pleasant read, though not as spiritual as those on your list.
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  #9  
Old 05-09-2005, 08:56 PM
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Default Re: Good books

Oh no I love a good cynical book, although I do find Theroux a bit trying at times.
Generally I am very disillusioned with travel writing - Good stuff seems to fall into 2 camps - fantastic writers who could write about anything and it would be wonderful (Kapuscinski, B Chatwin) or adequate writers with an amazing story to tell (Thesiger, Dervla Murphy, Newby). Its rare to have both qualities in one book, and I think thats why I usually read fiction (cynical fiction even better).
I am not so much after recommendations as being interested in what other TEers think of as good travel books, so I want to hear what you like rather than what you think I may like. Already I have noticed several that I had not heard of that I have to read. So thanks very much for all your thoughts everyone. Keep em coming
Life is short, so its only worth reading the best
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  #10  
Old 05-09-2005, 10:30 PM
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Default Re: Good books

ok i don't like/don't have the time to read novels/travels books atleast for now..
but i'd recommend "from heaven lake" by vikram seth (his first book and i haven't read it myself and don't intend to for atleast a few more years :)) simply because it is based in a time when putsiders were not allowed to goto tibet, and he went and sang a bolloywood song( which was very popular in those days) for some chinese police officers who were so assumed that they let him go into tibet.

even he confesses that he might have not become a writer if he had not gone around singing bollywood songs to chinese police officers.. hehe..
so i'm recommending this book to you.
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