Wednesday, June 07, 2006

World Hum's Top 30 Travel Books

Hooray, school will be out soon (in some states in the US schools have already closed for the summer) and families will be planning their vacations. Our family hopes to visit in India in July with stops in London and Dubai enroute. One of my most favorite things to do as we plan our summer vacation is to read travel books, but often I find myself wondering which travel books to read...

World Hum (travel dispatches from the planet) have put together their Top 30 Travel Books. Scroll down a little to see a list of their picks. If you follow the link to their site, you will be able to read a short summary for each of the 30 books and their readers' comments as well. I am sure many of the books on that list will be familiar to you. What I would love you to do is to add to that list - what are your favorite travel books and why?

One of my favorite travel books and which I didn't find on the list at World Hum is:

"A Fortune -Teller Told Me" by Tiziano Terzani

(Warned by a Hong Kong fortunte teller not to risk flying for a whole year, Tiziano Terzani - a vastly experienced Asia correspondent - decided that if he couldn't fly he would have to find some other way to travel. So travelling by foot, boat, bus, car and train, he visited Burma, Thailand, Laos, cambodia, Veitnam, China, Mongolia, Japan, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia. Consulting soothsayers and shamans wherever he went, he grew to understand and respect older ways of life and beliefs now threatened by the crasser forms of Western modernity)

Here's the World Hum List:

# No. 1: “Arabian Sands” by Wilfred Thesiger
# No. 2: “The Road to Oxiana” by Robert Byron
# No. 3: “The Great Railway Bazaar” by Paul Theroux
# No. 4: “The Soccer War” by Ryszard Kapuściński
# No. 5: “No Mercy” by Redmond O’Hanlon
# No. 6: “North of South” by Shiva Naipaul
# No. 7: “Golden Earth” by Norman Lewis
# No. 8: “Video Night in Kathmandu” by Pico Iyer
# No. 9: “The Innocents Abroad” by Mark Twain
# No. 10: “In A Sunburned Country” by Bill Bryson
# No. 11: “The Snow Leopard” by Peter Matthiessen
# No. 12: “The Songlines” by Bruce Chatwin
# No. 13: “Travels with Charley” by John Steinbeck
# No. 14: “Riding to the Tigris” by Freya Stark
# No. 15: “Europe, Europe” by Hans Magnus Enzensberger
# No. 16: “City of Djinns” by William Dalrymple
# No. 17: “A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush” by Eric Newby
# No. 18: “All the Wrong Places” by James Fenton
# No. 19: “Hunting Mister Heartbreak” by Jonathan Raban
# No. 20: “River Town” by Peter Hessler
# No. 21: “Road Fever” by Tim Cahill
# No. 22: “When the Going was Good” by Evelyn Waugh
# No. 23: “Behind the Wall” by Colin Thubron
# No. 24: “Trieste and the Meaning of Nowhere” by Jan Morris
# No. 25: “A Time of Gifts” by Patrick Leigh Fermor
# No. 26: “Baghdad Without a Map” by Tony Horwitz
# No. 27: “The Size of the World” by Jeff Greenwald
# No. 28: “Facing the Congo” by Jeffrey Tayler
# No. 29: “Venture to the Interior” by Laurens van der Post
# No. 30: “A Turn in the South” by V.S. Naipaul


Rebecca H. said...

I like Bill Bryson's Walk in the Woods -- travel along the Appalachian Trail. It's a lot of fun, and I'm a backpacker, so I know what he's writing about.

bibliobibuli said...

that's a great list - i love travel books and have a collection of about 90 (listed here on library thing!) Not all the books are read though.

i'm happy as long as "hunting mr. heartbreak" by jonathan raban is on the list

i also really love "touching the dragon" by karen connolly - a canadian writer you might have heard of - who writes so beautifully about thailand!

Booklogged said...

What a wonderful trip you've got planned. Is there a reason you've chosen India? I look forward to your trip report. I've only traveled in the states, Baja Mexico, and the south west tip of Canada. I usually read about the places on the internet or books from the library. The books you've listed sounded wonderful.

I visited the link to World Hum. It's going in my bookmarks. Of course, if I read about these places I'm going to want to go. If only there was more money, I'd find the time!

Lotus Reads said...

Hi, Dorothy

Yes, I remember reading Bill Bryson's "Walk in the Woods". Actually I was laid up in bed with a virus (not the best time to be reading about a lovely adventure/backpacking trip like that) but it did help me to get better faster! ;)

Hello, bibliobibuli

Thanks for visiting. I took a look at your collection of books on library thing. What an awesome list - I will definitely be going back there for reading suggestions from time to time.

I know of Karen Connolly, infact, I had a book of hers (on her travels through Spain) for the longest time, but ended up giving it away. I will definitely look for "Touching the Dragon". THanks!

Lotus Reads said...

Hi, booklogged!

We're going to India to visit family - I grew up there! :)

I'd love to visit Mexico some day. How wonderful that you visited South West Ontario, was it Windsor? I'm just a 3-hour drive away from there.

hellomelissa said...

travelogues make me want to spend my life going from one place to the next, checking out all the amazing cultures, places, foods, people, and history of the world. maybe after my kids leave for college! thanks for the list of ideas, lotus.

Suzan Abrams, email: said...

Hi dear Lotus,

How lovely of you to plant this list for us, darling.

There you are!

I catch the gripping cover of Arabian Sands and once more, I'm seduced by the power of its gold, all over again.

My favourite hopeful read would be Facing The Congo. I used to love going to safari expeditions in Tanzania and the Congo even there, provoked the lure of a faraway adventure to us all.

Unknown said...

Well, these aren't so much \ travel books as travel guides, but the Frommer's Irreverent Guide series is fantastic for travelers.

Lotus Reads said...

Hi, Melissa

I couldn't agree more. Travel books satisfy my curiosity for other countries, cultures etc. I wouldn't know what to do without them!

Hi, Susan

I would dearly love to read a travel story by you one day - with your ability to create beautiful images and marvellous descriptions it would be a treat for us readers - truly! And I do agree with you about the "Arabian Sands" cover - there is something so beautiful about the desert's changing sands, stark, but beautiful all the same.

Lotus Reads said...

Hi, Angela!

I LOVE the sound of the Frommer's "Irreverent Guide" series! Is it anything like the Culture Shock series, I wonder?

If pictures is what you're looking for, I love the "Insight Guides", they take photography very seriously.

David D Jerald said...

Goodmorning Lotus,
I really like the World Hum site. Thanks for sharing it. As for travel books I really don't read them. I do use my microsoft world atlas alot. I used to travel all over the western US especially to Las Vegas. Las Vegas is only an 8 hour drive away. I love that city.

Booklogged said...

Lotus, I meant that I had visited Vancouver Island and Vancouver city. I would like to spend much more time in both places. And I hunger for a trip to Toronto, Quebec, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and everything inbetween.

dongurigal said...

Thank you so much for this list. I love travel writing, especially Bill Bryson. He makes me bust a gut plus I think he's my soul mate.

How long are you staying in Dubai? I used to go there on "beer runs" when I lived in Kuwait. The gold souq is amazing--I don't wear jewellery, but I could have spent hours in there dazzled by all the bling.

Di Mackey said...

I adore Tiziano's book, you're the first person I know who has loved it too.

Thanks for the list. :)

Lotus Reads said...

Hi, DJ!

Yes, I do remember how much you love Las Vegas - I would love to go there sometime for the shows!

Hi, booklogged

So glad to read you're hankering after a trip to Canada. Do make sure you put Toronto on your itinerary - I would love to show you around. Quebec is also a great province to visit, especially if you want to sample some European culture and finally, what book lover can resist Prince Edward Island, the home of Anne of Green Gables? :)

Lotus Reads said...

Hi, dongurigal

I love your soul mate too and I seem to have discovered his Australian counterpart -Peter Moore. Have you read anything by him? I love their irreverent sense of humor!

We'll be in Dubai for a week - but before I came to Canada, we lived there for 10 years. I have a lot of friends in Kuwait and some of them have followed us here. Oh yes, the gold souk was something else, wasn't it? I loved the spice market next to it - mmmmmmm, the saffron and cloves. I can smell them even now.

Hello, wandering woman!

And that's a great name because from your blog I can tell you've been all over the world. I bought the Tiziano book in Singapore. I wish more people could read it, it's such an entertaining book. I'll be visiting your blog often, so look out! :)

Jude said...

Travel is great, therepeutic and worthwhile. Your books look fab and will keep us all busy, I'm sure!

Lotus Reads said...

Thanks, Jude!

Yes the travel narrative is perhaps my favorite genre...I always think of how much fun it might be to be a travel writer!

Unknown said...

Cool! I will definitely check out "Insight Guides." Thanks!

David D Jerald said...

Dear Lotus,
Could you pick me up and take me to a show in Vegas? I also need to gamble a little bit and see if I can win a new car. :)


Yianna said...

I love the site and I'm so glad you mentioned it and its compilation of travel books. I love The Songlines and anything by Bill Bryson and Kapuscinski. I also really like "Roumeli" by Fermor and "Shadow of the Sun" by Kapuscinski. And have you read Rebecca West? FANTASTIC.
As for more recent travel books, try "The Root of Wild Madder" by Brian Murphy, an AP religion writer. It's a travelogue through the world of Persian carpets and it's lovely.

Lotus Reads said...

Joanna, thanks for stopping by. I realize that the World Hum list contains many of the travel classics, whereas I am more used to reading modern travel narratives - I especially enjoy the lighthearted and fun ones or those written by journalists. Given her background in journalism, I am sure the writings of Rebecca West will interest me.

Notice how few women were represented in their list? :)

Yianna said...

Yes I did notice that few women were represented. Oriana Fallaci, before she went crazy and started to rampage on Muslims, would have been rightfully outraged.
Have you read "North of Ithaka" by Eleni Gage? Now that's a light, fun travel book. I actually laughed out loud at a few sections.
Just finished The Namesake. I liked it but not as much as Interpreter of Maladies, which I thought was just brilliant.

Lotus Reads said...

Hi, Joanna

Must make a note of Eleni Gage, perhaps I can take her book along on my long plane ride home. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

You might be interested in "Riding the Ranges: Travels on my Motorcycle" by Bill Aitken, where he rides across India, telling stories as he goes.

Lotus Reads said...

Thanks, Anil. I do like the sound of Bill Aitken's book and will be checking it out.

Anonymous said...

this is a great list and am very glad to know that there are others who like 'What A Fortune -Teller Told Me' by Tiziano Terzani. Thanks for posting up this list.

Lotus Reads said...

Hi, Aneeta!

How lovely to see you here and yes, "What the Fortune Teller Told Me" continues to remain one of my favorite travel books! What is a good site to go to for all the recently published books by Far Eastern authors or for books on the Far East?

Anonymous said...

hi Lotus,

You've posed such a wonderful question that I've created a webpage on my site, specifically for this purpose. Please, go look, see -

Lotus Reads said...

Hi, Aneeta!

Thanks so much, this is so exciting! I checked out Silver Fish and found it so useful - truly, you've sent me to the perfect place to browse. And, I didn't know you had co-authored a book? Fantastic, when I return from India, I will have to get myself a copy. Is it available on Amazon?