Turney’s report of those 10 days in the ice when
he, his family, the ship’s crew, and the 70 mem-
bers of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition
waited for rescue. He also details the planning
of the expedition, a voyage rooted in earth
science to study the historic effects of climate
change in remote Cape Denison. Traveling
in the footsteps of the great explorers Ernest
Shackleton and Douglas Mawson, Turney
draws on records from their journeys, making
comparisons between the difficult yet heroic
age they lived in (that made them famous)
versus his own struggle to raise funds to study
what is the most overwhelming global struggle
of our time. Ironically, getting stuck in the ice
makes Turney famous, a pleasant surprise he
also chronicles in this enjoyable armchair ad-
venture. —Colleen Mondor
Icons of England.
Ed. by Bill Bryson.
Oct. 2017. 380p. IPG/Black Swan, paper, $14.95
Say the word England and people may conjure thoughts of Big Ben, St. Paul’s Cathedral,
or Her Majesty the Queen, but Bryson, a native Iowan and British transplant, collected
brief essays about the country’s more humble
delights and discoveries. One essay considers
stiles, a sort of gate, yet not gate, which allows the walker to easily cross a fence. Other
essays explore marrows, a squash resembling
zucchini, or why so many pubs are named for
the Marquis of Granby. The essay on London’s sewage system is breezy, informative,
and sobering. Some topics, of course, must be
included, like the weather and the countryside. Because few essays are longer than three
pages, readers can easily dip in and out at will
or savor favorites again and again. Contributors include famous names like Kevin Spacey
and former Monty Python member Michael
Palin. Armchair travelers and Anglophiles will
be equally pleased. —Joan Curbow
L’Appart: The Delights and Disasters of
Making My Paris Home.
By David Lebovitz.
Nov. 2017. 368p. Crown, $27 (9780804188388).
Living in Paris has been many Americans’
goal since the days of Franklin and Jefferson.
Lebovitz (The Sweet Life in Paris, 2009), a very
accomplished culinary professional and baker,
continues his ruminations on life in the French
capital, committing to buying and renovating
an apartment in Paris’ gentrifying eleventh arrondissement. He learns to navigate French
bureaucracy and deal with French real-estate
agents, who aren’t above outright deception.
Then comes the heavy lifting: contractors who
seem to follow their own calendars and their
own rules. Furnishing this apartment with
appliances to satisfy his professional requirements and to meet his more quotidian needs,
such as laundry, leads him into a muddle of
differences of terminology and operation
between French and American versions. Francophile Americans will learn plenty here about
The best travel literature reviewed in Booklist between September 15, 2016, and September 1, 2017, includes an unusual atlas, a life-affirming road-trip story, a polar-expedition narrative, several collected
works, and more. —Annie Bostrom
And the Monkey Learned Nothing: Dispatches from a Life in Transit.
By Tom Lutz. 2016. Univ. of Iowa, $16 (9781609384494).
Lutz transports readers to customs booths in Macedonia, jazz clubs
in Chile, and walking paths in Indonesia, centering his stories on the
people he has encountered around the world.
Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders.
By Joshua Foer and others. 2016. Workman, $35 (9780761169086).
Each entry of this gorgeously produced atlas details a wonder of
the natural world, architecture, sculpture, taxidermy, or other general curiosity.
Driving Miss Norma: One Family’s Journey Saying “Yes” to Living.
By Tim Bauerschmidt and Ramie Liddle. 2017. HarperOne, $26.99
Given a cancer diagnosis and the choice of chemo and surgery or a
road trip across the U.S. with her son and his wife, 90-year-old Norma
opts for the latter. Along the way, the family learns about fear, grief,
love, and celebrating life.
Grape, Olive, Pig: Deep Travels through Spain’s Food Culture. By Matt
Goulding. 2016. Harper/Wave, $35 (9780062394132).
In Goulding’s insightful culinary travel guide, tapas crawls in Barcelona and Madrid and
discussions with the chefs and winemakers of Basque country are juxtaposed with detailed
descriptions of Spain’s ancient cooking traditions.
Inspired Journeys: Travel Writers in Search of the Muse. Ed. by Brian Bouldrey. 2016.
Univ. of Wisconsin, $24.95 (9780299309404).
Bouldrey has assembled a stellar collection of writers who describe their varied pilgrimages around the world in search of their elusive “muses.”
Magnetic City: A Walking Companion to New York. By Justin Davidson. 2017. Spiegel &
Grau, $22 (9780553394702).
Davidson’s intelligence, experience, observational skills, and elegant writing style make
this beautifully produced book indispensable. His focus on contemporary New York is
Notes on a Foreign Country: An American Abroad in a Post-American World. By Suzy
Hansen. 2017. Farrar, $26 (9780374280048).
Combining personal observation with geopolitical history, Hansen, an American journalist living in Turkey, argues that Americans, specifically white Americans, are overdue in
examining and accepting their country’s imperial identity.
Travels with Henry James. By Henry James. 2016. Nation, $19.99 (9781568585772).
A significant, if often overlooked, component of James’ oeuvre is his travel writing,
presented here in a collection of “Jamesian postcards” from his travels around the U.S.
and through western Europe.
Scandinavians: In Search of the Soul of the North. By Robert Ferguson. 2017. Overlook,
Covering more than 1,000 years of Scandinavian history, Ferguson’s enchanting glimpse into
the region’s political, economic, social, and cultural past is anchored by his personal history.
A Wretched and Precarious Situation: In Search of the Last Arctic Frontier. By David
Welky. 2016. Norton, $28.95 (9780393254419).
Welky’s revival of an obscure 1913 expedition has all the marks of the polar-adventure
genre—the hero confronting nature, the pitiless extremities of that nature, and the psychological warping polar regions seem to induce.
TOP 10 LITERARY TRAVEL BOOKS