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February 15, 2016 BOOKLIST
Find more Top 10 Literary Travel Books
A villa in Italy still attracts fixer-upper-type adventurers keen on leaving their home in the States and putting down stakes in a foreign land, and written accounts of their successes and setbacks still attract armchair travelers. On the other hand, a wild trek through the Sahara may not stir the average traveler to actually follow suit, but a well-written travelogue about such a trip will always find a ready reading audience. And it is easy to see why the travel essay remains a popular literary form; collections of travel essays accord readers a whole whirlwind of impressions. The selections listed below were chosen from the books reviewed in Booklist over the past year.
Berendt, John. The City of Falling Angels. Penguin, $25.95 (1-59420-058-0).
The author of the phenomenally best-selling Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1994) visited Venice for an extended stay shortly after the city’s opera house burned to the ground, and he uses this disaster as a paradigm of the civic and social life in this enigmatic place.
Blount, Roy. Feet on the Street: Rambles around New Orleans. Crown/Journeys, $16 (1-4000-4645-9).
Humorist and commentator Blount’s observations and descriptions of interesting places within the Crescent City are both celebratory and honest.
Gable, Sally and Gable, Carl I. Palladian Days: Finding a New Life in a Venetian Country House. Knopf, $22.95 (1-4000-4337-9).
An Atlanta couple sets out to buy a second home in New Hampshire but ends up with a villa in the Veneto. A reading treat for those many armchair Italian villa owners.
Hansen, Eric. The Bird Man and the Lap Dance: Close Encounters with Strangers. Pantheon, $24 (0-375-42126-2).
In this extraordinary collection of short essays, the author leaps from world locale to world locale, meeting characters along the way who anchor themselves indelibly in the reader’s imagination.
Jenkyns, Richard. Westminster Abbey. Harvard, $19.95 (0-674-01716-1).
One of the top tourist attractions in the world is the subject of this beautifully articulated essay by an Oxford professor, who explores the abbey’s evolving functions since its origins in the thirteenth century.
Lewis, Norman. The Tomb in Seville. Carroll & Graf, $20 (0-7867-1439-5).
This is famed British travel-writer Lewis’ last book, written before he died in 2003 at age 95; in it, he recalled a trip to Spain he and his brother made in 1934, chronicled first in Spanish Adventure (1935).
Orlean, Susan. My Kind of Place: Travel Stories from a Woman Who’s Been Everywhere. Random, $24.95 (0-679-46293-7).
This New Yorker staff writer is an adventurous journalist with a great instinct for offbeat stories, a playful sense of humor, and a dynamic prose style, all shown to great advantage in this collection of vivid travel pieces.
Solnit, Rebecca. A Field Guide to Getting Lost. Viking, $21.95 (0-670-03421-5).
A cultural historian ponders the Zen of getting lost in a greatly absorbing and provocative collection of essays, mixing autobiography with musings on exile, music, and the death of a friend, among other topics.
Tayler, Jeffrey. Angry Wind. Houghton, $25 (0-618-33467-X).
In 2002 this travel writer journeyed through the Sahel, the southern region of the Sahara Desert, a trip that took him through very dangerous regions. With particular elegance and grace, he brings these places to life for armchair travelers.
The Travel Book: A Journey through Every Country in the World. Ed. by Roz Hopkins. Lonely Planet, $39.99 (1-74104-451-0).
All the writers who contribute to the Lonely Planet travel-guide series have put heads, knowledge, and experience together and come up with an A-Z series of capsule profiles of every country in the world. Vastly informative.
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