Monday, February 16, 2009

Ten Travel Books - Part 3

This is part 3 of my posts on my recent favorite Travel books.
Part 1 was about books 1 through 5. Part 2 covered books 6 through 10.

In summary,

Top 10 Travel Books Read in 2007/2008
1. Ghost Train to the Eastern Star – Paul Theroux
2. Hearing Birds Fly Mongolia – Louisa Waugh
3. Best Travel Stories 2008 – Traveler’s Tales
4. River at the Center of the World – Simon Winchester
5. Apples are from Kazakhstan – Christopher Robbins
6. Marco Polo Didn’t Go There – Rolf Potts
7. The Age of Kali – William Dalrymple
8. A Sense of Place – Michael Shapiro
9. Wanderlust – Don George
10. Unlikely Destinations – Tony Wheeler

In this list there are four books that cover one country or region in depth (Mongolia, China, Kazakhstan and the Indian subcontinent) while Theroux’s book covers his 28,000 mile land journey across Europe and Asia.

The other 5 books are compilations and anthologies. Best Travel Stories and Wanderlust are straightforward collections of great pieces. Rolf Pott’s book is a compilation of his writing, with his commentary added in. Tony Wheeler’s book covers pretty much his entire travel biography as he builds the Lonely Planet empire. And Shapiro’s A Sense of Place pays homage to the giants of this genre.

But ten is actually is a small number and I had to leave some really good books out.
Honorable mentions: Cambodia Calling; Eat, Pray, Love; Snow Leopard

Early in 2007, I stumbled upon and read a book called Cambodia Calling. It is written by Richard Heinzl, a young Canadian doctor who served with Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières) in Cambodia. Heinzl shares his personal and professional challenges in bringing humanitarian aid to Cambodia, but I had to leave it out simply because I ran out of room in the top 10.

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert is still in the best seller list as I write this. It is a very smart and funny book and Gilbert writes from the heart. Women everywhere are not able to get enough of this book. The only reason I left it out is because the book (due to its structure and subject) is forced to be reductive about all 3 countries – Italy, India and Indonesia. I felt that it didn’t quite fit my ‘Travel book’ category.

I have the most misgivings about leaving out Peter Matthiessen's Snow Leopard, which I was read enthralled. For sparkling and measured prose, it cannot be beaten. I left it out only because it is also a fairly big journey into Zen and the sacred and the spiritual. People who are drawn to spiritual topics should absolutely read this book.

I would also have definitely included Cathy Davidson’s 36 Views of Mount Fuji except for a technicality – I read it in 2009. It is a fantastic series of vignettes into Japan and I will post about this book separately.

Finally, here are the Travel Books on my To Be Read list: A Year in Provence; River Town; The Size of the World; Solitude: Seeking Wisdom in Extremes and Somebody’s Heart is Burning.

1 comment:

  1. Extremely helpful data. Would like to see more posts soon!.
    Travel Books