In a similar vein to my last post about my favorite travel authors, I figured that I’d share some of my favorite travel books with you fine folk. Note that these aren’t in order of favorite to least favorite-favorite, but more so in the order than I come up with them. And I’d like to also apologize in advance for what is probably going to end up being a lot of these; hey, I have a ton of favorite travel-related books of mine.
1. Ghost Train to the Eastern Star by Paul Theroux. Why’s it so great? Well, Theroux does a great job of commenting on the countries that he visits. Going from London to Southeastern Asia lets him to be able to provide contrasts in his commentary, serving up a blend of rich thoughts and tales for the reader to digest. He then compares them to the last time he’d visited these areas, back when he was a recent graduate of college, so to see that perspective was an unique take on it.
2. Jupiter’s Travels by Ted Simon. This helped inspire some of the books further down on this list, as it was the original “travel around the world by motorcycle” trip that inspired them all. Just think about it-one man goes off and explores the world. Going into this, you think about the dangers of having to prepare by yourself as well as having to handle all danger that comes your way. While reading the book, you get an even better appreciation of what that entailed. Fascinating stuff.
3. Into Thick Air by Jim Malusa. It’s not quite a solo bicycle trip around the world, but similarly enough, it’s one man biking in each continent’s (save for Antarctica) lowest points. It’s an entertaining ride, pun intended, into places that you might not have known about.
4. One More Day Everywhere and Two Wheels Through Terror, by Glen Heggsted. Traveling around the world, in some very inhospitable terrain? No problem for Glen Heggsted. The former book is hardened man’s thoughts on the world and the latter, well it involves a pretty long detour, is all I have to say. To me, it was great reading a book that spanned throughout the world and having Mr. Heggsted’s comments change the way that I think and view the world.
5. Crazy River by Richard Grant. I actually am rereading it now, but it’s a fascinating romp through Tanzania/Burundi. Honestly, the fact that a guy is writing about his trip to southeastern Africa is cool in its own right, but when you think about the fact that nobody has really written about the area makes it a must read. At times it’s funny, depressing, and stoic, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. It definitely doesn’t feel like a typical travel commentary book, and that’s why it’s such a great read.
6. The Sex Lives of Cannibals by J. Maarten Troost. It’s silly. You’ll giggle. You won’t want to put this down. Our esteemed author follows his girlfriend, soon to be wife, to the Pacific of atoll of Kiribati (pronounced Kiri-bass). Never heard of it? Neither had he when accepting the two year move there. Never fear, his lack of knowledge turns out to be our benefit as the reader! The commentary and learning process is what makes this book truly whimsical and amazing-read it for yourself!
7. To Hellholes and Back: Bribes, Lies, and the Art of Extreme Travel by Chuck Thompson. Exactly what it says on the tin. Thompson goes to places in the world that the rest of us would say “HELL no” when proposed to go to. And in the end, it’s actually not as bad as one would think. I was surprised to find out that those places are in no way as bad as media propaganda makes them out to be, fortunately. Black humor abounds, but that’s what makes this book so great.