Back then, travel adventures were meticulously documented and reported until the general writing style that characterised travel writing was established among the travel books of the present – bridging the gap between times, generations, and places.
Travel books are an interesting read to broaden your perspective and knowledge about your surroundings. Freshen up your knowledge about the world with these JustFly reviews 5 Essential Books for Travelers:
The List so Far
“Arabian Sands” by William Thesiger (1959)
Wealthy British-born Thesiger escaped to travel at the first opportunity, Istanbul being the first pitstop of many adventures. Taking in odd jobs and going to weird places in the region, his classic nonfiction work Arabian Sands describes his “crossings.”
Immortalising the sands of time of Thesiger’s travels in the Arabian Peninsula between 1945 to 1950, considered a classic of travel literature by many, including travel writer Paul Theroux who placed Arabian Sands on his classics list. Capturing the dying ways of life of the Bedouins after the Second World War makes Arabian Sands an educating read for those interested in history, culture, and the mores of the Bedu people.
“The Road to Oxiana” by Robert Byron (1937)
Oxiana in the title of this 1937 diary-type travel book refers to the country of the Oxus, the region along the border of Afghanistan and the Soviet Union: the grail British travel writer and art critic Robert Byron sought throughout his voyage towards the Middle East and then back to England. “A sacred text, beyond criticism,” The Road to Oxiana displays extensive knowledge on regional architecture detailing further the writer’s intimate and amusing accounts of his interaction with locals and local transport in a writing style credited to be the father of modern travel writing.
“In Patagonia” by Bruce Chatwin (1977)
In Patagonia turned Chatwin into an instant celebrity, placed Patagonia on the map, and served as a Bible for backpackers to South America and the region.
Chatwin himself describes his book “as the narrative of an actual journey and a symbolic one … It is supposed to fall into the category or be a spoof of Wonder Voyage: the narrator goes to a far country in search of a strange animal: on his way he lands in strange situations, people or other books tell him strange stories which add up to form a message.”
“Great Plains” by Ian Frazier (1989)
A runaway favourite among critics and perceptive readers alike, Great Plains takes a “molecular approach” to scrutinizing the author’s cross-country journey, an On the Road-like road trip Travels with Charley-style, described on Google Books as “through the vast and myth-inspiring empty plains – from tumbleweed and American Indian tepees to the house where Bonnie and Clyde did their dirty work to the scene of the murders in Capote’s “In Cold Blood”.
“Into the Wild” by Jon Krakauer (1996)
A bonus travel book in this list, Krakauer’s started as a 1993 essay or article for Outside, then accumulated more material after people related to the events described in it emerged. Essentially a documentary-like account of the escape of a young Christopher McCandless from the American life, it’s a sympathetic lens into why one would want to leave, and hence into the nature of travel.
So, What’s in it For Me?
Books can be your friends, and since most people think they can travel through time and space and be different people through the experience of reading, reading travel books is a perfect way to travel to other places without physically doing so!