With all this extra time we are having to spend indoors, it’s the perfect time to settle down with a good book and start dreaming of future adventures.
Sometimes reading a travel book can be as transformative as going on the journey. Our favourite travel books range from 1930s Paris and London to 1970s Patagonia to modern-day Australia. We hope you find some inspiration for your next trip.
A Year in Provence
Acclaimed travel writer Peter Mayle did what most of us only dream of doing when he and his wife made their long-cherished dream of living abroad a reality. The couple threw caution to the wind, bought a glorious two hundred year-old farmhouse in the Lubéron Valley and began a new life in rural France. The book playes out over the first year that the couple started living in the old farmhouse. The year begins with a marathon lunch and continues with a host of french gastronomic delights. The reader is given the survival guide to the unexpected and often hilarious curiosities of rural life in France in the 1980s. A Year in Provence transports us into all the delights of Provençal life and lets us live vicariously through the writer at a tempo governed by seasons, not by days.
Down Under, Travels in a Sunburned Country
When Bill Bryson steps out of his front door to take on another adventure, hilarious and memorable travel literature is sure to follow. In this adventure the writer travels the length and breath of the flattest, hottest, infertile, most desiccated and climatically aggressive continents in the world, Australia. The fact that Australia has more things that can kill you in a nasty way than just about anywhere else in the world didn’t stop him. Bryson journeyed to Australia and promptly fell in love with the country. Reading his book it’s easy to see why, Australians are cheerful, extroverted, quick-witted and obliging. Cities in Australia are safe and clean and nearly always built on water; the food is excellent; the beer is cold and the sun nearly always shines. Read about how Australia is both hostile and welcoming at the same time.
Notes from a Small Island
In 1995, before moving back to the United States, leaving his beloved home in North Yorkshire, Bill Bryson took one last trip around Britain. He aim to take stock of his adopted nation’s public face and private parts, and to analyse what precisely it was he loved so much about the country. Swaying from the endearing to the ludicrous and back again, Notes from a Small Island is a delightfully irreverent travelogue of the unparalleled floating nation that has produced Shakespeare, zebra crossings and afternoon tea and places with names like Farleigh Wallop and Titsey. The result is a hilarious social commentary that conveys the true glory of everyday life in Britain. Notes from a Small Island was a huge success when first published, and has become the nation’s most loved book about Britain, going on to sell over two million copies.
Dark Star Safari, Overland from Cairo to Cape Town
In Dark Star Safari Paul Theroux takes readers on a journey from Cairo to Cape Town; down the Nile, through Sudan and Ethiopia, to Kenya, Uganda, and ultimately to the tip of South Africa by dugout canoe, ferry, rattletrap bus, cattle truck, armed convoy and train. In the course of his epic and enlightening journey, he endures danger, delay, and dismaying circumstances. Theroux visits some of the most dangerous but also most beautiful landscapes on earth. Gauging the state of affairs, he talks to locals, missionaries, aid workers and tourists. The result is an insightful mediation on the history, politics, and beauty of Africa and its people.
Turn Right at Machu Picchu
100 Years after Hiram Bingham III climbed into the Andes Mountains of Peru and “discovered” of Machu Picchu in 1911, author Mark Adams set out into the Andes to retrace Bingham’s perilous path. Turn Right at Machu Picchu is Adams’ fascinating and funny account of his journey through some of the world’s most majestic, historic, and remote landscapes guided only by a hard-as-nails Australian survivalist and one nagging question: Just what was Machu Picchu?
Down and out in Paris and London
As a struggling writer in his twenties, acclaimed writer George Orwell lived as a “down and out” among the poorest members of society in the early 1930s. In this memoir, Orwell recounts his experiences working as a penniless dishwasher in Paris before moving to London to find work. To survive the author had to pawn clothes to buy a day’s bread and wine and sleep in bug infested rooms and trudge between London’s workhouses for a night’s sleep. With sensitivity and compassion, Orwell exposes the hardships of poverty and gave readers an unprecedented look at life lived on the fringes of society in Paris and London during the pre-war era.
Into the Wild
In 1992 Christopher Johnson McCandless hitchhiked and walked alone into the wilderness of Alaska. He had abandoned his car, given his savings to charity, burnt all the cash in his wallet and set out to invent a new life for himself. Four months after his disappearance, his decomposed body was found by a moose hunter. Author Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild examines the true story of McCandless. Krakauer explores and investigates the obsession which leads some people to explore the outer limits of self, leave civilization behind and seek enlightenment through solitude and contact with nature.
On the Back Roads: Encounters with People and Places
Dana Snyman’s authentic voice has made him a publishing phenomenon in Afrikaans. In this book Snyman’s quaint, often hilarious, but deeply human tales are available in English for the first time. Travel with Dana as he talks to oom Annaries van Wyk in Karasburg about flying a Boeing, takes a 75-year-old rust bucket called the Liemba across Lake Tanganjika, and as he searches for Idi Amin’s house in Uganda. As Dana travels home after his trip, in his Chrysler Valiant, he ponders the lessons he learned from the road.
At the tender age of twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. After her mother’s death to cancer, her family scattered, and her own marriage was soon disintegrated. Four years later, she had nothing more to lose and made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no hiking experience or training, driven only by will, she would hike more than a thousand miles across the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State. All of this she did alone. The book captures the terrors and pleasures of Strayed forging ahead against all the odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened and ultimately healed her.
In Patagonia is an exhilarating look at a place that still retains the exotic mystery of a far-off, unseen land. Author Bruce Chatwin’s exquisite account of his journey through Patagonia teems with remarkable bits of history, and unforgettable anecdotes. Chatwin embarks on his journey fuelled with an unmistakable lust for life, adventure and a gift for storytelling, Chatwin treks through “the uttermost part of the earth”— that stretch of land at the southern tip of South America. Along the way he searches for forgotten legends, the descendants of Welsh immigrants and the log cabin built by Butch Cassidy. An instant classic upon publication in 1977, In Patagonia is a masterpiece and must read for all travel lover.