Class Travel Books
Travel literature has found a new popularity in the '90s; essays
and experiential reportage have joined guide books on the shelves
of even the giant chain bookstores. Travel literature, however,
has been around for hundreds of years -- thousands if you go back
to what many consider the first travel story, the Epic of Gilgamesh.
Here are some of our favorite volumes. Which are yours? Let
us know. We'll be posting more from the archives, and reviewing
new entries. When we're not busy reading, that is.
Gerald. My Family and Other Animals
Arguably the world's funniest and most literate zookeeper, he's
roamed the world in search of all kinds of wildlife. This early
book is about his childhood soujourn on Corfu with that most exotic
group, his mother and siblings.
Gerry's more sedate brother. For a true "sense of place,"
read anything -- fact or fiction by him.
Ian. Chasing the Monsoon
You don't need a weatherman to tell the way the wind blows. But
it helps. Monsoon as metaphor and unifying theme for this trek through
the Asian subcontinent.
A voluptuous appreciation of that simpatico country.
Time Magazine's art critic takes on this
most artful city.
Mary. The Stones of Florence
All Vassar women seem to have this "thing" for Italy.
This is one of the best products of that gentle obsession.
Or anything else she has written, ever. Well, except maybe for that
novel about the fake country. Letter From Hav
is mistaken for a travel book by many booksellers and Jan is still
asked for hotel recommendations.
Wall to Wall
From Beijing to Berlin, by train. Another great rail tale, this
one from a writer who is a meticulous journal-keeper with a special
eye for the smallest human gesture.
V.S. Among the Believers
Redmond. Into the Heart of Borneo
One of the funniest travel books, ever. A tribute to the fact
that that huge island in Southeast Asia has more than 250 breeds
What Is Called Love
A trip to France and into the past with the San Francisco poet,
medievalist and romantic. Scholarly segments on the Avignon popes
and Petrach draw you in as smoothly as passages about Parisien cafes.
Medieval In LA, his latest, offers similar
chants about La La Land.
S.J. Westward Ha!
Russ' choice of best travel tome of 1996. The man who edited
the "Norton Anthology of the Sea" extends some salty metaphor
to the American Great Plains while reconstructing the story of some
of the families who settled there. Old Glory: An American
Voyage a clever and loving tale of Raban's solo voyage
down the Mississippi and encountering characters such as Rush Limbaugh's
Raymond. Native Intelligence
An out of print novel by the current arts editor of The
Wall Street Journal. Scour your local second hand
bookstores for it. Witty, clever, invents its own language. Sokolov
is an accomplished food writer and biographer of A.J. Liebling...anything
he writes is sure to be painstakingly researched and enjoyable to
Caskie. Grand and Private Pleasures
A collection from one of America's greatest travel essayists, who
also was an editor at the classic Holiday magazine
and founding editor of Travel and Leisure.
Any of his books and articles glow with knowledge, wit and class.
Paul. The Great Railway Bazaar
He claims it is not his favorite of his non-fiction books, but it
is a classic in travel literature.
Following the Equator. Innocents Abroad
A Brit tours the often obscure vestiges of his country's empire.
Well, of course,
we read *all* the travel publications, every page, every issue...almost.
We especially like:
Editor Joan Tapper also was the launch editor of National Geographic
Traveler and her fine hand and sensibility are evident in this
gorgeous paean to islands everywhere.
this edgy travel journal mag that aims at the real experience of
the locals. No fuss over stars and class, just taste the life of