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January 1&15, 2017 BOOKLIST
Find more Top 10 Literary Travel Books
Of the outstanding literary travel books we have listed below, all of which were reviewed in Booklist over the past 12 months, many are definitely of the armchair variety. In other words, most readers will leave the actual Amazon exploration to others—but will love reading about someone else doing it.
Arctic Obsession: The Lure of the Far North. By Alexis S. Troubetzkoy. St. Martin’s/Thomas Dunne, $25.99 (9780312625030).
Packing an enormous amount of information into a survey of centuries of Arctic exploration, the author considers the age-old “lure of the far north” and the men who could not look away, despite the cost in blood and treasure.
Crazy River: Exploration and Folly in East Africa. By Richard Grant. Free Press, paper, $15 (9781439154144).
Travel writer Grant had the idea to explore the Malagrasi, Tanzania’s second-longest river, and in the process, follow in the African footsteps of nineteenth-century explorer Richard Burton. The result is a highly educational and entertaining travel memoir.
The Ice Balloon: S. A. Andrée and the Heroic Age of Arctic Exploration. By Alec Wilkinson. Knopf, $25.95 (9780307594808).
An evocative stylist and solid historian, the author probes the personality of Swedish explorer Salomon Andrée, who, along with two companions, disappeared in an 1897 attempt to discover the North Pole by balloon.
London Under: The Secret History beneath the Streets. By Peter Ackroyd. Doubleday/Nan A. Talese, $25 (9780385531504).
Ackroyd invades the ghostly realm under Britain’s great capital, visiting crypts, catacombs, and cemeteries to draw the reader deep into this hidden world.
Londoners: The Days and Nights of London Now—as Told by Those Who Love It, Hate It, Live It, Left It, and Long for It. By Craig Taylor. Ecco, $29.99 (9780062005854).
Taylor set out to discover all of the sides of London he possibly could in this highly engaging oral history, which bursts with charm, edification, and life.
The Longest Winter: Scott’s Other Heroes. By Meredith Hooper. Counterpoint, $26 (9781582437620).
In the 100th anniversary year of Scott’s tragic race to the South Pole, Hooper turns her eyes to the lesser-known work of the six scientist-explorers who were tasked with working alone for a year while Scott sought his shot at history.
The Shakespeare Guide to Italy: Retracing the Bard’s Unknown Travels. By Richard Paul Roe. HarperPerennial, paper, $19.99 (9780062074263).
An exceptionally entertaining, enlightening, and handsome companion for a thrillingly literate Italian sojourn.
Travels: Collected Writings, 1950–1993. By Paul Bowles. Ecco, paper, $16.99 (9780062067630).
A collection of the travel pieces by an American writer and traveler famously known for his prolonged residence in Morocco.
The Unconquered: In Search of the Amazon’s Last Uncontacted Tribes. By Scott Wallace. Crown, $26 (9780307462961).
With tactile descriptions of Amazonian foliage and fauna and minidramas of group dynamics under the indigenous-tribes advocate Sydney Possuelo, Wallace delivers a daunting vicarious experience to aficionados of extreme travel.
Walking the Amazon: 860 Days. One Step at a Time. By Ed Stafford. Plume, paper, $16 (9780452298262).
In April 2008, Stafford left the Pacific Coast of Peru and crossed the continent on a 4,000-plus-mile journey that ultimately took nearly two and one-half years; his straightforward account will keep readers turning pages.
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