Reading Suggestions

Find your next great read here

Armchair Travels

Leave a comment

armchair travelsTour all seven continents from the comfort of home. These travelogues detail journeys great and small, from the discovery of a new worlds right at home to explorations beyond the edges of the map.

Printable version

a

a

Anthony Bourdain. No Reservations.

The host of the Travel Channel series “No Reservations” provides a behind-the-scenes account of his global culinary adventures, from New Jersey to New Zealand, offering commentary on food in every corner of the globe.

Adharanand Finn.  Running with the Kenyans.

Whether running is a recreation, a passion, or just a spectator sport, Finn’s incredible journey to the elite training camps of Kenya will captivate. Part travelogue, part memoir, this quest uncovers the secrets of the world’s greatest runners–and puts them to the test.
a
a
a
a

James Dodson. The Road to Somewhere: travels with a young boy in an old world.

There are two kinds of travel, someone once said-first class and with children. As Jim Dodson discovered during the summer of 2001, when he and his ten-year-old son Jack set off to see the “old” world, traveling with a kid can almost make a grown man feel-and behave-like a child again. The stated aim of their larkish adventure was to try and circle the globe and spy the wonders the world has to offer, but the best-laid plans soon went awry. Father and son encountered many unforeseen obstacles to their journey-some hilarious and others heartbreaking-but they discovered something far more valuable in each other’s company: a world where, at the end of the day, unexpected laughter and pain can make us all friendly small-town neighbors.

a

a

Elizabeth Gilbert. Eat, Pray, Love.

Italy, or, “Say it like you eat it,” or, 36 tales about the pursuit of pleasure — India, or, “Congratulations to meet you,” or, 36 tales about the pursuit of devotion — Indonesia, or, “Even in my underpants, I feel different,” or, 36 tales about the pursuit of balance.

a

a

a

a

Eric Weiner. The Geography of Bliss: one grump’s search for the happiest places in the world.

Part foreign affairs discourse, part humor, and part twisted self-help guide, The Geography of Bliss takes the reader from America to Iceland to India in search of happiness, or, in the crabby author’s case, moments of “un-unhappiness.” The book uses a beguiling mixture of travel, psychology, science and humor to investigate not what happiness is, but where it is. Are people in Switzerland happier because it is the most democratic country in the world? Do citizens of Qatar, awash in petrodollars, find joy in all that cash? Is the King of Bhutan a visionary for his initiative to calculate Gross National Happiness? Why is Asheville, North Carolina so damn happy? With engaging wit and surprising insights, Eric Weiner answers those questions and many others, offering travelers of all moods some interesting new ideas for sunnier destinations and dispositions.

a

a

Paul Theroux. Riding the Iron Rooster: by train through China.

The author of The Great Railway Bazaar recounts his experiences while traveling throughout Communist China by train, offering observations on the scenery and recalling conversations with Chinese citizens and other fellow travelers.

a

a

a

a

a

Mark Twain. Innocents Abroad.

Twain describes his experiences traveling in Europe and the Middle East, and pokes fun at tourists and tour guides.

William Heat Moon. Blue Highways.

William Least Heat-Moon’s journey into America began with little more than the need to put home behind him. At a turning point in his life, he packed up a van he called Ghost Dancing and escaped out of himself and into the country. The people and the places he discovered on his roundabout 13,000-mile trip down the back roads (“blue highways”) and through small, forgotten towns are unexpected, sometimes mysterious, and full of the spark and wonder of ordinary life.

Bill Bryson. A Walk in the Woods.

Back in America after twenty years in Britain, Bill Bryson decided to reacquaint himself with his native country by walking the 2,100-mile Appalachian Trail, which stretches from Georgia to Maine. The AT offers an astonishing landscape of silent forests and sparkling lakes–and to a writer with the comic genius of Bill Bryson, it also provides endless opportunities to witness the majestic silliness of his fellow human beings. For a start there’s the gloriously out-of-shape Stephen Katz, a buddy from Iowa along for the walk. Despite Katz’s overwhelming desire to find cozy restaurants, he and Bryson eventually settle into their stride, and while on the trail they meet a bizarre assortment of hilarious characters. But A Walk in the Woods is more than just a laugh-out-loud hike. Bryson’s acute eye is a wise witness to this beautiful but fragile trail, and as he tells its fascinating history, he makes a moving plea for the conservation of America’s last great wilderness.

a

a

a

Ian Frazier.  Great Plains.

With his unique blend of intrepidity, tongue-in-cheek humor, and wide-eyed wonder, Ian Frazier takes us on a journey of more than 25,000 miles up and down and across the vast and myth-inspiring Great Plains . A travelogue, a work of scholarship, and a western adventure, Great Plains takes us from the site of Sitting Bull’s cabin, to an abandoned house once terrorized by Bonnie and Clyde, to the scene of the murders chronicled in Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood . It is an expedition that reveals the heart of the American West.

a

a

Bruce Chatwin. In Patagonia.

An exhilarating look at a place that still retains the exotic mystery of a far-off, unseen land, Bruce Chatwin’s exquisite account of his journey through Patagonia teems with evocative descriptions, remarkable bits of history, and unforgettable anecdotes. Fueled by an unmistakable lust for life and adventure and a singular gift for storytelling, Chatwin treks through “the uttermost part of the earth”– that stretch of land at the southern tip of South America, where bandits were once made welcome–in search of almost forgotten legends, the descendants of Welsh immigrants, and the log cabin built by Butch Cassidy.

a

a

a

Bill Bryson.  In a Sunburned Country.

Australia is a country that exists on a vast scale. It is the only island that is also a continent and the only continent that is also a country. Despite being the most desiccated, infertile, and climatically aggressive of all inhabited continents, it teems with life. In fact, Australia has more things that can kill you in extremely nasty ways than anywhere else: sharks, crocodiles, the ten most deadly poisonous snakes on the planet, fluffy yet toxic caterpillars, seashells that actually attack you, and the unbelievable box jellyfish (don’t ask). The dangerous riptides of the sea and the sun-baked wastes of the outback both lie in wait for the unwary. It’s one tough country. Bill Bryson adores it, of course, and he takes his readers on a rollicking ride far beyond the beaten tourist path.

a

a

a

Alfred Lansing. Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage.

In the summer of 1914, Sir Ernest Shackleton set off aboard the Endurance bound for the South Atlantic. The goal of his expedition was to cross the Antarctic overland, but more than a year later, and still half a continent away from the intended base, the Endurance was trapped in ice and eventually was crushed. For five months Shackleton and his crew survived on drifting ice packs in one of the most savage regions of the world before they were finally able to set sail again in one of the ship’s lifeboats. Alfred Lansing’s Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage is a white-knuckle account of this astounding odyssey. Through the diaries of team members and interviews with survivors, Lansing reconstructs the months of terror and hardship the Endurance crew suffered. In October of 1915, there “were no helicopters, no Weasels, no Sno-Cats, no suitable planes. Thus their plight was naked and terrifying in its simplicity. If they were to get out–they had to get themselves out.” How Shackleton did indeed get them out without the loss of a single life is at the heart of Lansing’s magnificent true-life adventure tale.

Nicholas Sparks. Three Weeks with My Brother.

In a memoir written with his brother, the popular author describes how the two of them dealt with their grief over the untimely deaths of their parents and only sister by embarking on a three-week odyssey around the world.

Peter Mayle.  A Year In Provence.

In this witty and warm-hearted account, Peter Mayle tells what it is like to realize a long-cherished dream and actually move into a 200-year-old stone farmhouse in the remote country of the Lubéron with his wife and two large dogs. He endures January’s frosty mistral as it comes howling down the Rhône Valley, discovers the secrets of goat racing through the middle of town, and delights in the glorious regional cuisine. A Year in Provence transports us into all the earthy pleasures of Provençal life and lets us live vicariously at a tempo governed by seasons, not by days.

a

a

a

a

Sarah Vowell. Assassination Vacation.

From Buffalo to Alaska, Washington to Key West, cultural critic and radio commentator Vowell visits locations immortalized and influenced by assassination, reporting as she goes with her trademark blend of wisecracking humor, remarkable honesty, and thought-provoking criticism.

a

a

a

a

Bill Bryson.  I’m a Stranger Here Myself.

After living in Britain for two decades, Bill Bryson recently moved back to the United States with his English wife and four children.  They were greeted by a new and improved America that boasts microwave pancakes, twenty-four-hour dental-floss hotlines, and the staunch conviction that ice is not a luxury item. Delivering the brilliant comic musings that are a Bryson hallmark, I’m a Stranger Here Myself recounts his sometimes disconcerting reunion with the land of his birth.  The result is a book filled with hysterical scenes of one man’s attempt to reacquaint himself with his own country, but it is also an extended if at times bemused love letter to the homeland he has returned to after twenty years away.

a

a

Ian Frazier. On the Rez.

A great writer’s journey of exploration in an American place that is both strange and deeply familiar.  In On the Rez, Frazier returns to the plains and focuses on a place at their center-the Pine Ridge Reservation in the prairie and badlands of South Dakota, home of the Oglala Sioux. Frazier drives around “the rez” with Le War Lance and other Oglalas as they tell stories, visit relatives, go to powwows and rodeos and package stores, and try to find parts to fix one or another of their on-the-verge-of-working cars. On the Rez considers Indian ideas of freedom and community and equality that are basic to how we view ourselves. Most of all, he examines the Indian idea of heroism-its suffering and its pulse-quickening, public-spirited glory. On the Rez portrays the survival, through toughness and humor, of a great people whose culture has shaped our American identity.

Hunter S. Thompson. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

Records the experiences of a free-lance writer who embarked on a zany journey into the drug culture.

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s