When you curl up on the couch with a good book, you are transported into a different world. Here are ten of my favourite books that make me want to travel.
1) Theatre of Fish: Travels Through Newfoundland and Labrador - John Gimlette
Following in the footsteps of his forefather, Gimlette recounts his journey along the shores of Newfoundland and Labrador. It is the story of current inhabitants, descendants of last-hope Irishmen, navy deserters, outlaws and fishermen. It is a strange story of houses that can be dragged along or taken across the sea; of ancient eating habits; of being stuck in ice much of the year; of fishing villages with their own impromptu dramatics, the Mummers.
2) A Death in Brazil - Peter Robb
Robb renders in vivid detail the intoxicating pleasures of Brazil’s food, music, literature, and landscape as he travels not only cross country but also back in time—from the age of slavery to contemporary political intrigue and murder. Spellbinding and revelatory, Robb shows us a multi-layered country of intoxicating and passionate extremes.
3) Between Extremes - Brian Keenan, John McCarthy
For four years the authors were held for ransom in a Lebanese dungeon. With only each other and an old encyclopedia to sustain them, they found solace in a vivid imagination. They dreamed of walking in the High Andes and across Patagonia.
Five years after their return they chose to travel together again to see how the reality of Chile lived up to their imagination and to revisit their past experiences. Between Extremes is the story of that journey.
4) That summer in Sicily - Marlena de Blasi
De Blasi’ s marvelous storytelling, reminds us that in order to live a rich life, one must accept both life’s sorrow and its beauty. This is beautiful story will take you from Sicily’s remote mountains to chaotic post-war Palermo, from the intricacies of a forbidden love to the havoc wreaked by Sicily’s bewildering culture.
5) Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis de Bernieres
Extravagant, inventive, emotionally sweeping, this book is the story of a timeless place that one day wakes up to find itself in the jaws of history. On the Greek island of Cephallonia, gods once dabbled in the affairs of men and the local saint periodically rises from his sarcophagus to heal the mad. Then World War II arrives on the island' in the form of the conquering Italian army.
6) Baghdad without a Map and Other Misadventures in Arabia - Tony Horwitz
The author went to Arabia without a job, and spent two years visiting a dozen Islamic countries and Israel, writing copy for whoever would publish it. Not long after he arrived in Yemen he was told not to drink the water, eat the food or chew the hallucinatory plant Qat. Unfortunately Tony had already done all three. This book contains Horowitz's extremely amusing insights as a result of his travels.
7) The Lost World of the Kalahari - Laurens Van Der Post
The distinguished explorer and writer retells his visits with the San, outcast survivors from Stone Age Africa. Faced with constant attack the last of the San have retreated to a remote corner of the Kalahari in Botswana. After a gruelling trek, van der Post finds them, thriving in one of the world’s most arid landscapes.
8) The Sheltering Desert - Henno Martin
Threatened with Internment during World War II, two German geologists, seek refuge in the Namib Desert and live a hermit-like existence for nearly three years. How they survived and what they did, thought and observed are the subject of tjos enigmatic book. In it lies the vastness of the landscape, nature's silence in the joy or suffering of her creatures, and the stillness in which the reader, too, may take refuge from the wrongs of civilization.
9) Chasing the Sea: Lost Among the Ghosts of Empire in Central Asia - Tom Bissell
After a stint as a naive Peace Corps volunteer, the author returns to travel to the shrinking Aral Sea. Bissell combines the retelling of his journey with an intriguing chronicle of Uzbekistan’s striking culture and long and often violent history. Often amusing and sometimes sobering, this is a wonderful portrait of a fascinating country.
10) The Headmaster's Wager - Vincent Lam
Percival Chen is the headmaster of the most respected English school in Saigon as well as a compulsive gambler and an incorrigible womanizer. Proud of his Chinese roots, he ignores all news of the war that surrounds him, living the high-life instead. Soon however he must face the limits of his connections and wealth and as the reality of the war enters his world, he must accept the tragedy of all he has avoided to see.