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Take Yourself Away with Travel Writing

Post by Emily Reaser
Posted March 25, 2013 in NoveList Plus, NoveList Select, Readers' Advisory News

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Some people are lucky enough to have the time and the means to travel to far off places, exotic locales, and visit the wonders of the world. 

NoveList staff recently had the pleasure of hosting Robert Burgin, author of Going Places: a Reader's Guide to Travel Narratives for an informal travel writing book discussion. We got to talk shop about what travel writing is, why readers enjoy it, and how it might appeal to fans of other genres (nonfiction and fiction alike.) Some takeaways from our workshop include:

  • Travel writing runs the gamut, from laugh-out-loud funny to serious and sobering. There is something out there for any mood. For funny, try Bill Bryson's In a Sunburned Country or Tony Hawks' Round Ireland with a Fridge. For something with a little more weight, check out The Ends of the Earth by Robert D. Kaplan. 
  • Travels writers can be very introspective. If you're looking for some emotion and a more personal slant, you might be drawn to titles such as Mike Carter's Uneasy Rider: Travels Through a Mid-life Crisis or Rose Marie Curteman's My Renaissance: a Widow's Healing Pilgrimage to Tuscany
  • Want action? Travel writing can also be fast-paced and action-packed. Try A Dip in the Ocean: Rowing Solo Across the Indian by Sarah Outen or Amazon Extreme: Three Ordinary Guys, One Runner Raft, and the Most Dangerous River on Earth by Colin Angus and Ian Mulgrew. 
  • Some readers enjoy beautiful language and descriptive prose. Jose Saramago does a wonderful job describing his travels in his native country in Journey to Portugal: in Pursuit of Portugal's History and Culture. W.G. Sebald also writes beautifully in his walking tour of Suffolk, England, The Rings of Saturn
  • Travel writing can appeal to fiction readers as well. For example, readers who enjoyed the novel Life of Pi might enjoy reading Adrift: Seventy-six Days Lost at Sea by Steven Callahan, a real-life adventure of survival at sea. Fans who enjoy the cycling aspect of Greg Moody's cycling murder mysteries might enjoy reading about real-life cyclists such as Joe Kurmaskie's essays in Metal Cowboy: Tales from the Road Less Pedaled

For more travel writing recommendations, search for one of the great travel writing Recommended Reads lists in NoveList (including Adventure Travel, Following in Their Footsteps, Travelling in Europe, Exotic Locales, Getting There is Half the Fun!, and Women Travellers), or view Robert Burgin's blog at www.travelwithabook.com.


Emily is an Adult Cataloger at NoveList. When she's not in the office, she spends her time parenting her two kids. With two young children, the easiest way for her to travel is vicariously -- by reading travel books!