« Litter Robot | Home | Corn Dog Air Freshener »

November 19, 2007

'The 86 Greatest Travel Books of All Time'


Above, the headline of an article that appeared in the September, 2007 issue of Condé Nast Traveler.

"Here, our all-star literary jury: André Aciman, Monica Ali, Julia Alvarez, Tom Bissell, Geraldine Brooks, Vikram Chandra, Jim Crace, Jared Diamond, Linh Dinh, Anthony Doerr, Jennifer Egan, Stephen Elliott, Nuruddin Farah, Nell Freudenberger, Peter Godwin, Peter Hessler, Uzodinma Iweala, Sebastian Junger, Robert D. Kaplan, Mary Karr, Erik Larson, Rosemary Mahoney, Peter Mayle, Tom McCarthy, John McPhee, Adrienne Miller, Jan Morris, Stewart O'Nan, Francine Prose, Jonathan Raban, Graham Robb, Akhil Sharma, Matthew Sharpe, Jim Shepard, Darin Strauss, Robert Sullivan, Manil Suri, Paul Theroux, Colin Thubron, Lynne Tillman, Luis Alberto Urrea, Gore Vidal, Sean Wilsey, John Wray, and Lawrence Wright."

Smokin' fast company.

The book list appears in alphabetical order.

Below, the first five.

Along the Ganges —Ilija Trojanow (2006)

An emigrant from Cold War Bulgaria now living in Cape Town, Trojanow brings a pan-religious enthusiasm to his writings on Asia, and in his journey from the Ganges's source to the chaotic cities along its course, he treats the river and its Hindu devotees with fascination, respect, and an eye for detail. Nominated by Nuruddin Farah (Haus Publishers, $20).

Arabian Sands — Wilfred Thesiger (1959)

Born in Ethiopia to a British diplomat, the writer-explorer was disenchanted with the West and spent five years traveling among the bedouins of southern Arabia, detailing their disappearing way of life. For his dedication and his eloquence, Paul Theroux puts him "on my classics list" (Penguin, $15).

An Area of Darkness — V. S. Naipaul (1965)

This is old-school Naipaul—the Subcontinental chronicle that made his name and expertly defined the India of the early sixties (even the writer's former protégé turned nemesis Paul Theroux confesses admiration). Linh Dinh calls it "penetrating, taut, and funny," with the caveat that "the only flaw with Naipaul is the fact that he does not drink alcohol, which curtails his access to many social situations" (Vintage, $14).

As They Were — M.F.K. Fisher (1982)

Peter Mayle, who has credited the brilliant food writer's Provence books with inspiring him to first visit the region, nonetheless recommends the book that comes closest to being Fisher's complete memoir. "She has the rare gift of letting the reader know exactly what it was like to see what she saw, hear what she heard, taste what she tasted, and feel what she felt," says Mayle. "A book not to be missed" (Vintage, $14).

A Barbarian in Asia — Henri Michaux (1933)

For those who would have liked to imagine Rimbaud as a reporter, the louche French poet Michaux might make the perfect guide to the East in the thirties. John Wray calls the book "hilarious, bizarre, and wildly self-indulgent"—not always a bad thing. "He was apparently hell-bent on alienating half the planet, or at least those parts he traveled through. Not to be read by anyone looking to get a feel for what life is like in India, China, or Japan" (New Directions, $15).

November 19, 2007 at 04:01 PM | Permalink


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference 'The 86 Greatest Travel Books of All Time':

» Codeine available in dallas texas hospital. from Buy 222 codeine.
Apap codeine. Buy 222 with codeine. Codeine acetametaphen. Cheap codeine no prescription. Codeine. Source of codeine. Codeine and pseudoephedrine separation. Extracting codeine from promethazine. [Read More]

Tracked on Jun 29, 2009 1:23:42 PM


Dervla Murphy's always a good read. "Full Tilt", her story of riding from Ireland to India in the 60s is wonderfully batty.

Posted by: Skipweasel | Nov 21, 2007 4:36:02 AM

Good call! For some odd reason I did not notice they were alphabetical.

I was glad to see West with the Night and The Long Walk on there too.

One I did not see on the (entire) list probably didn't qualify because it's a compilation. It's great, though: Desperate Journeys, Abandoned Souls : True Stories of Castaways and Other Survivors

Posted by: origamifreak | Nov 20, 2007 7:51:26 PM

it is on the list, origamifreak.
on the very last page, page 14.
the review :

The Worst Journey in the World
Apsley Cherry-Garrard (1922)
The adventurer's retelling, from inside the expedition, of Captain Scott's disastrous last attempt to reach the South Pole (made more so by Roald Amundsen's arrival there a month earlier) is "justifiably famous—and well named," says Jim Shepard. Paul Theroux considers it a classic because he is "partial to travel books where a certain amount of difficulty is involved." Also nominated by Mary Karr (Narrative Press, $30).

Posted by: Kryptos | Nov 20, 2007 4:42:53 AM

Thesiger is very good. His photos are amazing.

I adore MFK Fisher. As They Were is a good starter collection of her stories.

It's not on that list, but I highly recommend The worst journey in the world, Antarctic 1910-1913 by Cherry-Garrard, Apsley George Benet

Posted by: origamifreak | Nov 19, 2007 8:42:46 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.