Readers’ Favorite Travel Books: “Her passion for adventure was my honey.” Travel Writing

Winning tip: Spain and Portugal before tourism

Fabled Shore is Rose Macaulay’s account of her 1949 journey, alone and by car, around the Iberian coast from Catalonia to the Algarve. I found abject poverty and the Spain I described, still reeling from civil war, now unrecognizable. Today’s tourist hotspots were devoid of pristine beaches with dilapidated houses, sometimes with only a barn to sleep in, and curious children gathered around this strange creature – a foreign woman traveling alone by car. The prose is full of beautiful descriptions, with a very funny narration of what I found in Gibraltar. It is strange to think that there are people still alive who remember that time. Read this and cry.
Barbara Forbes

Bedouins and expatriates of the Middle East

Photo: Christophe Boisview/Getty Images

Arabia: Through the Looking Glass of Jonathan Raban was published in 1979. The author visited the Middle East before the immense wealth of the oil boom of the 1970s damaged Arab culture and traditions. Rabban’s social nature and chatty rhetoric in his writing reveal the hidden depths of the people he encounters. She is drawn to conversations with expatriates and Bedouins with equal intensity. When I was a little girl, I spent two years living in Saudi Arabia during the time set for Rabban’s research. This book allowed me to experience the whole area through an adult’s insight, wit, and well-crafted observations.
Emma Russell

Scotland picture

Uig Sands, Isle of Lewis.
Uig Sands, Isle of Lewis. Photography: Brian Jackson/Almy

I promised my eldest son I wouldn’t book another holiday in Scotland this year…but that was before I read Helen O’Shea’s book Beyond Bagpipe and now it would take all my will not to book another Scottish country house away. Beyond the bagpipe charts the author’s journey around Scotland after her mother’s death, a cliché-free and evocative picture of the country. I’ve found my own experiences of places like Uig Sands’ “cast seascape” mirrored in Ochyra’s descriptions, turning page after page to identify all the places I still need to visit.

A place to roam, Italy

Two gondolas on the Canal Grande in Venice
Photo: Mint Images/Getty

The incomparable Venice of Jean Maurice is a love letter to a city that still exists behind the bustle of mass tourism: a place of unique character, striking contrasts and the indomitable spirit of a great legacy. Venice transports me to the quiet dusk of quiet alleys and the sudden appearance of bright, crowded squares. It reminds me that the Old Town is a place for wanderlust, rewarding those willing to steer clear of the worn-out tourist trails. Less than a travel book, it is a book that urges you to stay and spend time learning about the place, the people and their history.

Butter bike ride, France

Croissant and coffee
Photo: Malcolm B Chapman/Getty Images

One more croissant for the road by Felicity Kluck made me want to head to a Parisian bakery as soon as I read it. A woman wanders around France in search of the perfect croissant while trying more French dishes on the way. There are recipes, mouth-watering descriptions of food, adorable descriptions of France on two wheels, and a general love of travel and France across every page. Really cool and exciting to the taste, sights and smells of this diverse country. bewitching.
Claire Austin

Accommodation in Paris

The place of the pastel.
The place of the pastel. Photo: Calinor/Getty Images

Old travel books have a special place in my heart. The Flaneur: A Stroll through the Paradoxes of Paris by Edmund White is one such book. White draws on his 16 years of experience as a resident between 1983 and 1998 and shows us Paris full of contradictions. He guides us through an intoxicating mix of elegant literary characters brainstorming in bohemian cafés, while breathing life into the lives and experiences of some of the marginalized groups who call Paris their home. Flaneur leaves you feeling entertained, just a little smarter and eager to learn more.
Trudy Shard

Can I have the invoice please?

Crocodile jumping in the Adelaide River, Darwin
Photo: Artie Ng / Getty Images

I love Bill Bryson’s Down Under because the author doesn’t seem to use the same approach in each of his books. Will this book be a satire of Bill? Will this be funny Bill? Would this Bill be funny but informative? Would this Bell be sarcastic, but full of information? I can go on, but my hands are starting to cramp with the unlimited combinations. While many of the scientific discoveries described in the book were a bit far from me, I thoroughly enjoyed Bryson’s descriptions of the larger-than-life figures behind the discoveries, which truly brought the science described to life. Bill Bryson also loves Australia, and it shows.
Aisha Khan

Cycling from Ireland to India

Dervala Murphy
Photo: Gama Ravo/Getty Images

Reading Full Tilt by Dervla Murphy showed me how far you can go just by spinning the pedals on a bike (in her case, from Ireland to India). An open mind, buckets of flexibility and a deep respect for everyone I met just added to the fun of the adventure. It took a while between reading the book in my twenties and then riding myself from east to west and north to south across the US in my fifties, but she was with me all the way, even laughing on my shoulder whenever I felt rough. to motivate me.
Debbie Carr

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Great escape in New Zealand

Woman running in New Zealand
Photo: Matteo Colombo/Getty Images

Anna Maknoff’s adventure books, particularly The Pants of Perspective: One Woman’s 3,000 km Running Adventure through the Wilds of New Zealand, were the coolest escape for me in the first (and never ending) close. Her bouncy voice and sense of humor, and her lust for adventure, were honey to my aching and quarantined soul. I felt as though I was right there with her on the Te Arua trail, and I felt like I could manage anything and have that precious escape from WFH stress and pandemic anxiety.
Beatrice Vetter-Serioti

Romance and War, Italy

Italian rural workers
Photo: Keystone/Getty Images

Eric Newby’s Love and War in the Apennines was one of the books that inspired me to travel in Italy. It is about the kindness of strangers to strangers based on the help Newby himself received from local families and peasants as a fugitive prisoner during World War II. Niobe had a broken ankle, had been hiding in a thatched loft for months, and eventually met his future wife, Wanda. They exchange Italian and English lessons, learning about each other’s cultures and backgrounds while evading enemy soldiers. Newby is moved from house to house, working on a remote farm and hiding in a cave. You can smell the wood fires – and share sunsets, fears and hopes. Fantastic read.
Nigel Cox

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