2017's Best Travel Literature So Far
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In an attempt to cure a bad case of wanderlust I decided to do some online research and tackle the travel section of my local bookshops to see what, if anything, could sate my daydreaming. At first I just purchased travel books to get to know the lay of the land: Japan, Argentina, Iceland, Germany. Then I started looking at cookbooks, and enjoyed a homemade curry or two. But the wanderlust was unabated.
I read over Mann’s difficult Death in Venice. That did no good. Various Graham Greenes. Patrick Leigh Fermor. More Bruce Chatwin. A book about Aboriginal art. I thought about reading Charley Boorman’s new one but then I stumbled across Fredrik Sjöberg’s seductive book The Fly Trap (2014) which describes the author’s love of the small island he lives on in the Stockholm Archipelago as he spends his days capturing and studying various insects and creepy crawlies. Very simple but very effective. It is a superb read and immediately evoked the summer I visited that exact location. But I needed more—I needed something new and relevant— and hence, this list arose. Think of it as a list to read on your trip or a list to encourage you to take that trip.
Tied for runner-up are two books with some similarities. Rooms of One’s Own by Adrian Mourby caught my eye immediately; was that a picture of Paul Bowles reclining on the cover? And within the pages of Mourby’s rather detailed book, he delves into the writers and locations that became synonymous with one another: Bowles and Morocco, Isherwood and Berlin, Mann and Venice...Hugo and Guernsey anyone? Insightful and beautifully packaged. The second book is a collection from The New York Times' Footsteps column, which investigates the perhaps lesser-known locations that inspired various writers before they became famous. Fitzgerald, Lovecraft, Ferrante and many others are all included.
And finally, honourable mentions must go to the exquisite White Sands by Geoff Dyer and the always entertaining Paul Theroux with his book Deep South. Both originally arrived in hardback last year but have arrived in paperback for 2017.