Travel Stories

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For many travellers one of the sacred rituals before leaving on a long trip is the search for good books that can be taken on the road as companions on those long rides across vast landscapes or lonely nights in foreign grounds.

Pointed out to students that good travel books, a la Farley & Grann, have themes (quest, identity, history), beyond “my summer vacation.”
Posted on Twitter at 7:56 AM Jul 23rd from web
by Big World Magazine

I need recommendations for GOOD books that will keep me entertained during my 15 hours of travel to Berlin!
Posted on Twitter at 9:29 PM Jul 21st from TweetDeck by CharlestonVal

Help! Suggestions on good YA books that involve cross-country or cross-continent adventures? Bonus points for travel by train.
Posted on Twitter at 8:26 PM Jul 20th from TweetDeck by Whitney Miller

Lapham's quarterly on Travel
Lapham's quarterly on Travel
I’m finding Lapham’s quarterly anthology on travel a top candidate: it compiles a great number of timeless short pieces written by travellers without necessarily being a travel guide. As I told a friend a while ago, any anthology that can bring McLuhan, De Botton, etc to talk about travel has my attention. Its format is travel-friendly: compact without being a paperback, light, several short pieces great for the distracted traveller

But what I’m finding most interesting about its contents is that although every article provides an account about a trip or adventure, the narrative was written by literature heavyweights and since most of the journeys took place in lands unknown, centuries ago they could very well be completely fictitious and we wouldn’t know any better.

The common travel guide format values atttributes such as accuracy, objectivity, brevity, thoroughness and others proper of a reputable news journal. But the best travel guides are those that inspire and somehow the lack of a backbone across the narrative of a travel guide kills all opportunities to engage the reader on a long journey. Instead of the transactional nature of modern travel guides, with their emphasis on dollars, star-ratings, phone numbers, addresses and other silly lists, I want a travel guide that reads as an adventure, a believable story where the central character is the destination even though I can relate to the many characters that enrich its pages. Come to think about it, the actual destination may be the least relevant element as I’m sure would be willing to go far to become an actor in any good story. I want to read a travel story and be inspired to make it mine.

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3 thoughts on “Travel Stories”

  1. John Bardos - JetSetCitizen

    How about re-reading Thoreau’s Walden?

    It is not a travel book of course, but sometimes a journey of personal discovery and experiments in simple living can aid you more in your travels and thinking.

  2. I’m a Lapham’s fanatic. Not only does the anthology format bring out elements of a certain theme that might otherwise stay hidden; the way they go back in time and across regions show just how much humanity has changed and stayed the same across millennia. I had my girlfriend bring over the travel issue last week. I can’t wait to dig in.

  3. Pingback: El Oso » Archive » They Have Returned With Their Secrets Unviolated

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