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Eight books that will make you want to pack your bags and travel (part 25)

books for travel

It appears travel-related books are just about all I read these days. Call it a professional habit or just an addiction to travel.

Here are eight books that will make you want to pack your bags and travel.

Botswana time - Will Randall

Will Randall travels with a purpose, as well as an outrageous sense of fortune. In Botswana he was taken up by a headmaster to teach a class of six year olds at The River of Life school. They are football crazy and one of Will's jobs is to take them to play neighbouring (sometimes as much as 100 miles away) schools. Camping enroute or staying in farms and rural villages, often travelling by foot or dug-out punts, thousands of antelope, elephant, buffalo and zebra follow their progress. The sound of lions, leopards and hyenas become the soundtrack of their dreams. Against all the odds they find themselves preparing for the Grand Final of the season - the titanic clash with arch rivals, Victoria Falls Primary school. Both an endearing personal story and a travel book about a little-known but highly successful country.

Adventure Coordinators review: Enjoyable endearing read. The part where he is a tour guide in Africa was thoroughly recognizable. 8 out of 10

This cold heaven: Seven Seasons in Greenland - Gretel Ehrlich

For the last decade, Gretel Ehrlich has been obsessed by an island, a terrain, a culture, and the treacherous beauty of a world that is defined by ice. In This Cold Heaven she combines the story of her travels with history and cultural anthropology to reveal a Greenland that few of us could otherwise imagine.

Ehrlich unlocks the secrets of this severe land and those who live there; a hardy people who still travel by dogsled and kayak and prefer the mystical four months a year of endless darkness to the gentler summers without night. She discovers the twenty-three words the Inuit have for ice, befriends a polar bear hunter, and comes to agree with the great Danish-Inuit explorer Knud Rasmussen that “all true wisdom is only to be found far from the dwellings of man, in great solitudes.”

This Cold Heaven is at once a thrilling adventure story and a meditation on the clarity of life at the extreme edge of the world.

Adventure Coordinators review: Beautiful meditations and descriptions of Greenland, it's landscapes and it's people. 8.5 out of 10

Transylvania and beyond - Dervla Murphy

Dervla Murphy spent eight months inTransylvania - and beyond - sharing the everyday lives of ordinary Rumanians.Her book describes a journey on two levels - wandering through the remotestcorners of the Carpathians, on foot or by bicycle, and into the often dauntingmental terrain of a post-Communist society where nothing was quite what itseemed.

Adventure Coordinators review: Despite the annoying habit of the author to call the country Rumania, the book gives a fascinating look into a country freshly liberated from the tyranny of the Ceausescu clan. 7.5 out of 10

Feral: Losing Myself and Finding My Way in America’s National Parks - Emily Pennington

After a decade as an assistant to high-powered LA executives, Emily Pennington left behind her structured life and surrendered to the pull of the great outdoors. With a tight budget, meticulous routing, and a temperamental minivan she named Gizmo, Emily embarked on a yearlong road trip to sixty-two national parks, hell-bent on a single goal: getting through the adventure in one piece. She was instantly thrust into more chaos than she’d bargained for and found herself on an unpredictable journey rocked by a gutting romantic breakup, a burgeoning pandemic, wildfires, and other seismic challenges that threatened her safety, her sanity, and the trip itself.

What began as an intrepid obsession soon evolved into a life-changing experience. Navigating the tangle of life’s unexpected sucker punches, Feral invites readers along on Emily’s grand, blissful, and sometimes perilous journey, where solitude, resilience, self-reliance, and personal transformation run wild.

Adventure Coordinators review: A tad low on descriptions of her travels and a bit too much on her personal issues. 6.5 out of 10

The Spice Route: A History - John Keay

Epic in scope, marvelously detailed, laced with drama, The Spice Route spans three millennia and circles the world to chronicle the history of the spice trade. With the aid of ancient geographies, travelers’ accounts, mariners’ handbooks, and ships’ logs, John Keay tells of ancient Egyptians who pioneered maritime trade to fetch the incense of Arabia, Graeco-Roman navigators who found their way to India for pepper and ginger, Columbus who sailed west for spices, da Gama, who sailed east for them, and Magellan, who sailed across the Pacific on the exact same quest. A veritable spice race evolved as the west vied for control of the spice-producing islands, stripping them of their innocence and the spice trade of its mystique. This enthralling saga, progressing from the voyages of the ancients to the blue-water trade that came to prevail by the seventeenth century, transports us from the dawn of history to the ends of the earth.

Adventure Coordinators review: as the title suggest, this is more of a history than a travelogue. However this book is valuable to all those travellers trying to understand the colonial history of the Indian ocean. 8 out of 10

Brazil - Michael Palin

Brazil - half a continent in size and a potent mix of races, religions and cultures, of unexplored wildernesses and bustling modern cities, it is also one of the few countries Michael Palin has never fully travelled.

This book takes a closer look at a remarkable new force on the world scene. From the Venezuelan border and the forests of the Lost World where he encounters the Yanomami tribe and their ongoing territorial war with the gold miners, Palin explores this vast and disparate nation in his inimitable way. He journeys into the heart of the Amazon rainforest. He travels down the North-East coast to meet the descendents of African slaves with their vibrant culture of rituals, festivals and music. He visits the shanty towns of Rio and the beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema. He goes to Sao Paolo where the rich commute by helicopter. He travels South to meet German and Japanese communities, meets supermodels in the making and wealthy gauchos in the Pantanal before ending his journey at the spectacular Iguaçu Falls.

Adventure Coordinators review: I love watching Palin's travel series on TV. His writing is not quite as entertaining but certainly documents people and places few of us would otherwise encounter. 7 out of 10.

Two trees make a forest - Jessica Lee

A chance discovery of letters written by her immigrant grandfather leads Jessica J. Lee to her ancestral homeland, Taiwan. There, she seeks his story while growing closer to the land he knew.

Lee hikes mountains home to Formosan flamecrests, birds found nowhere else on earth, and swims in a lake of drowned cedars. She bikes flatlands where spoonbills alight by fish farms, and learns about a tree whose fruit can float in the ocean for years, awaiting landfall. Throughout, Lee unearths surprising parallels between the natural and human stories that have shaped her family and their beloved island. Joyously attentive to the natural world, Lee also turns a critical gaze upon colonialist explorers who mapped the land and named plants, relying on and often effacing the labor and knowledge of local communities.

Two Trees Make a Forest is a genre-shattering book encompassing history, travel, nature, and memoir, an extraordinary narrative showing how geographical forces are interlaced with our family stories.

Adventure Coordinators review: Beautifully written memoir intertwining the stories of her grandparents with the author's own travels in Taiwan. 8.5 out of 10

The border: A Journey Around Russia - Erika Fatland

Imperial, communist or autocratic, Russia has been—and remains—a towering and intimidating neighbor. Whether it is North Korea in the Far East through the former Soviet republics in Asia and the Caucasus, or countries on the Caspian Ocean and the Black Sea. What would it be like to traverse the entirety of the Russian periphery to examine its effects on those closest to her?

An astute and brilliant combination of lyric travel writing and modern history, The Border is a book about Russia without its author ever entering Russia itself. Fatland gets to the heart of what it has meant to be the neighbor of that mighty, expanding empire throughout history. As we follow Fatland on her journey, we experience the colorful, exciting, tragic and often unbelievable histories of these bordering nations along with their cultures, their people, their landscapes.

Sharply observed and wholly absorbing, The Border is a surprising new way to understand a broad part our world.

Adventure Coordinators review - Delightful read, what with all the characters the author encounters and the stories she unearths. A timely reminder of the expansionist drive of Russia which has been going on since the middle ages. 8.5 out of 10


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