Inspired Journeys: Travel Writers
Neuman weaves the story of this strife into the
background of other entries, recording simi-
lar unrest and uncertainty throughout Latin
America. The hopscotch narrative, unique
insights, and unapologetic bibliophilia make
this book perfect for travelers as well as readers
bound to home for the time being, looking for
an escape. —Diego Báez
in Search of the Muse.
Ed. by Brian Bouldrey.
Nov. 2016. 224p. Univ. of Wisconsin, $24.95
In this outstanding volume, editor Bouldrey
has assembled a stellar collection of writers—
true storytellers all—who describe in the most
human of terms their varied
pilgrimages around the world
in search of their elusive muses. Many of the “muses” are
writers and poets (Nathanael
West, Laura Ingalls Wilder,
Gary Snyder); others are explorers (Robert Falcon Scott).
In the most haunting and
disturbing piece, Raphael Kadushin makes a
very personal connection to Grimms’ fairy tales
as he drives along Germany’s fabled Fairy-Tale
Road. Among the most poignant pieces is Susan Fox Rogers’ “In the Huts,” about her visit
to McMurdo Station, the largest base on the
continent of Antarctica. She had long dreamed
of visiting McMurdo, but when she finally set
her eyes on it, her disappointment was palpable. Ten days later, though, her dismissal
turns to love for this cold and empty place. In
many pieces, the narrator is an outsider looking both at the world and within and offering
moments of personal revelation. In Scotland,
Bouldrey considers the so-called worst poet in
the English language, the long-gone William
McGonagall, in whose sincerity and “
unbridled enthusiasm” Bouldrey discovers a little bit
of himself. —June Sawyers
Saint-Germain-des-Prés: Paris’s Rebel
By John Baxter.
Nov. 2016. 256p. illus. HarperPerennial, paper, $15.99
In the first book in a planned series of biographies of Paris neighborhoods, Baxter (Five
Nights in Paris, 2015; and many others) waxes
on about the “village” he calls home, the small
yet storied section of Paris’ Left Bank known as
Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Also home, at points
present and past, to revolutionaries, writers, art-
The best travel literature reviewed in Booklist between September 15, 2015, and September 1, 2016, illuminates many regions of
our planet by focusing on a variety of topics, from history to food and
art, bringing what is, perhaps, the universal language of the traveler,
humor, to the mix. —Annie Bostrom
Boundless: Tracing Land and Dream in a New Northwest Passage.
By Kathleen Winter. 2015. Counterpoint, $27 (9781619025677).
Winter’s ruminations on Arctic life and its continuous clashes with modern civilization
are compelling and thought-provoking.
Deep South. By Paul Theroux. 2015. HMH, $29.95 (9780544323520).
The abundant contradictions in the South were the enticement for Theroux’s repeated
visits, and are also the allure of this pulsing-with-life exploration of all aspects of the
Embracing Cuba. By Byron Motley. 2015. University Press of Florida, $34.95
The arresting pages of this beautiful book will only increase the anticipation of seeing
the Pearl of the Antilles in person.
Following Fish: One Man’s Journey into the Food and Culture of the Indian Coast. By
Samanth Subramanian. 2016. St. Martin’s/Thomas Dunne, $25.99 (9781250069733).
Tasty descriptions of meals populate Subramanian’s narrative, though his journey also
leads him to unveil both India’s economic disparity and cultural diversity.
Kingdoms in the Air: Dispatches from the Far Away. By Bob Shacochis. 2016. Grove, $26
Destination becomes irrelevant as Shacochis brings settings to life with a perceptive
eye, an edgy devotion to fresh language, and mastery at capturing group interaction.
On Trails: An Exploration. By Robert Moor. 2016. Simon & Schuster, $25
There are revelations at every turn of Moor’s deeply informed study of the nature and
history of trail making.
The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain. By Bill Bryson. 2016.
Doubleday, $28.95 (9780385539289).
Bryson determines the longest distance one could travel in Britain in a straight line. In
a travelogue teeming with historical, geographical, and biographical trivia, Bryson showcases both the quotidian and the quirky.
The Silk Roads: A New History of the World. By Peter Frankopan. 2016. Knopf, $30
In this daringly revisionist history of the world, Frankopan reminds readers that civilization began in Mesopotamia, flourished in Persia, and spread through East-West trading
routes radiating out from their Central Asian hub.
Voyager: Travel Writings. By Russell Banks. 2016. Ecco, $25.99 (9780061857676); e-book
In this retrospective anthology, Banks’ warm, probing intellect guides readers on
thoughtful journeys, whatever the destination.
Writing across the Landscape: Travel Journals, 1960–2010. By Lawrence Ferlinghetti.
2015. Norton/Liveright, $35 (9781631490019).
Most of the nearly 70 travelogues gathered here were taken from Ferlinghetti’s handwritten journals and published for the first time to create an episodic chronicle covering
five distinct decades of intrepid, inquiring journeys.
TOP 10 LITERARY TRAVEL BOOKS