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Eight books that will have you pack your bags and travel (part 11)


At Adventure Coordinators we love travel books. They inspire us to travel, let us learn about destinations we are about to visit or help us understand cultures, history and politics far and wide. In our series of books that inspire to travel, here is another handful.



The places in between - Rory Stewart

In January 2002 Rory Stewart walked across Afghanistan-surviving by his wits, his knowledge of Persian dialects and Muslim customs, and the kindness of strangers. By day he passed through mountains covered in snow, hamlets burned by the Taliban, and communities thriving amid the remains of medieval civilizations. By night he slept on villagers' floors, shared their meals, and listened to their stories of the past. Along the way Stewart met heroes and rogues, tribal elders and teenage soldiers, Taliban commanders and foreign-aid workers. He was also adopted by an unexpected companion-a retired fighting mastiff he named Babur in honor of Afghanistan's first Mughal emperor, in whose footsteps the pair was following.

Through these encounters-by turns touching, con-founding, surprising, and funny-Stewart makes tangible the forces of tradition, ideology, and allegiance that shape life in the map's countless places in between.

Adventure Coordinators review - a good read featuring the people, history and geography of Afghanistan; it taught me a new angle on the causes of conflict in the country. 8 out of 10



Consumption - Kevin Patterson

Consumption is a haunting story of a woman’s life marked by struggle and heartbreak, but it is also much more. It stunningly evokes life in the far north, both past and present, and offers a scathing dissection of the effects of consumer life on both north and south. It does so in an unadorned, elegiac style, moving between times, places and people in beautiful counterpoint. But it is also a gripping detective story, and features medical reportage of the highest order.

Adventure Coordinators review - a good read if you want to learn more about life in Arctic Canada. 7 out of 10


The Olive Series: A Memoir of Life, Love, and Olive Oil in the South of France - Carol Drinkwater

When Carol Drinkwater and her fiancé Michel, are given the opportunity to purchase ten acres of an abandoned olive farm in the South of France, they find the region's splendor impossible to resist. Using their entire savings as a down payment, the couple embark on an adventure that brings them in contact with the charming countryside of Provence, its querulous personalities, petty bureaucracies, and extraordinary wildlife. From the glamour of Cannes and the Îles de Lérins to the charm of her own small plot of land-which she transforms from overgrown weeds into a thriving farm, Drinkwater triumphantly relates how she realized her dream of a peaceful, meaningful life.

Adventure Coordinators review - the 7-volume Olive series makes for an easy read, despite the sometimes poor style. I found volumes 4 and 5 (The Olive Route and The Olive Tree) , where the author travels around the Mediterranean basin the most interesting. 7 out of 10



The Valleys of the Assassins: and Other Persian Travels - Freya Stark

Hailed as a classic upon its first publication in 1934, The Valleys of the Assassins firmly established Freya Stark as one of her generation's most intrepid explorers. The book chronicles her travels into Luristan, the mountainous terrain nestled between Iraq and present-day Iran, often with only a single guide and on a shoestring budget.

Stark writes engagingly of the nomadic peoples who inhabit the region's valleys and brings to life the stories of the ancient kingdoms of the Middle East, including that of the Lords of Alamut, a band of hashish-eating terrorists whose stronghold in the Elburz Mountains Stark was the first to document for the Royal Geographical Society. Her account is at once a highly readable travel narrative and a richly drawn, sympathetic portrait of a people told from their own compelling point of view.

Adventure Coordinators review - ever since seeing an exhibit about the area at the Royal Ontario Museum, the region has intrigued me. The book made therefore for an interesting read, sprinkled as it is with observations and a dose of humor. 7 out of 10



Down the Danube: From the Black Forest to the Black Sea – Guy Arnold

The River Danube, rising in the Black Forest area of southern Germany, and flowing east through eight countries, and three capital cities, is one of the world's great rivers, flowing for 2840 kilometres [1,705 miles] eventually reaching the Black Sea. The widely-travelled author decided to travel its length, beginning by covering the first 400 kilometres from Donaueschingen on foot, and carrying absolute minimum luggage. He gives vivid descriptions of barge travel, towns, cities and villages, the people he meets, but always-the river is the centre of the narrative.

Adventure Coordinators review - the author is mostly a spectator rather than actively meeting people. However, reading about his travels when communism was still a thing in Eastern Europe, made for a good read. 7 out of 10



Horizon - Barry Lopez

From the National Book Award-winning writer, humanitarian, environmentalist and author of the