As one stricken with seemingly unquenchable wanderlust, when I can’t be out exploring the world myself (because we all have to work sometimes, right?) I like to read about other’s travels, and thusly live vicariously through their experiences. That’s why one of my favorite genres is travel literature.
In general, travel literature consists of descriptive accounts of a person’s travels, both near and far, as well as people they meet, cultures they encounter, and often a mix of humor, history, science, and speculation. I always learn something new about the locations authors write about as well as some dos and don’ts for visiting a place and being a conscientious traveler, overall.
In the 900s and beyond, we have a good selection of travel writing and travel books to peruse, including travel guides as well as travel literature. Here is a list of travel literature available at the library that I would recommend for those interested in exploring the genre.
by Bruce Chatwin
Considered a travel masterpiece, this account of Chatwin's journey through Patagonia will make you want to add this destination to your list for new reasons. It includes some history and a search for Butch Cassidy’s cabin, extraordinary descriptions of a seemingly wild place, and a lot of soul searching.
THE SECRET KNOWLEDGE OF WATER: DISCOVERING THE ESSENCE OF THE AMERICAN DESERT
by Craig Childs
In the desert, water is life, and knowing how to find it can determine whether you survive. While Childs wanders the American deserts in order to map water, he shares his scientific knowledge and waxes philosophical about the meaning of water in relation to life and death, in a place where the resource is so sparse.
THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES: NOTES ON A LATIN AMERICAN JOURNEY
by Che Guevara
Before Che Guevara was a revolutionary, he was a med student who started out on a motorcycle journey to experience South America with his best friend, Alberto Granado. Through his experience and reflections on this journey, you can see the beginnings of his revolutionary leanings as he encounters social injustices and hardships of people throughout the country.
IN A SUNBURNED COUNTRY
by Bill Bryson
Famed and funny travel author Bill Bryson relishes the reader with stories of his travels in Australia where he encounters interesting natives and spouts facts about the deadly and peculiar animal and insect inhabitants. Bryson is a wonderfully insightful and beloved travel author, so picking up any of his books will not disappoint.
PRISONER OF ZION: MUSLIMS, MORMONS, AND OTHER MISADVENTURES
by Scott Carrier
Scott Carrier, a journalist and radio producer living in Utah, travels around the world in search of stories. In this book, Carrier writes thoughtfully about what it means to be an outsider traveling through areas of religious fanaticism in both Afghanistan shortly after 9-11 and amongst the Mormons in Utah.
TRAVELS WITH CHARLEY: IN SEARCH OF AMERICA by John Steinbeck
THE GREAT RAILWAY BAZAAR: BY TRAIN THROUGH ASIA by Paul Theroux
SEA AND SARDINIA by D.H. Lawrence
BREATHLESS: AN AMERICAN GIRL IN PARIS by Nancy Miller