Weekend travel -- a literary magic carpet

If the price of fuel is keeping you close to home this summer, why not find a comfortable spot and spend some time with a great travel book?

A few years ago, National Geographic Traveler magazine published a list of classic travel narratives, compiled from suggestions forwarded by explorers, writers, editors and photographers.  It was called Around the World in 80+ Books

Besides well-known stories like Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen (1937), Roughing It by Mark Twain (1872),  A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway (1964) and Arabian Sands by Wilfred Thesiger (1959), the list offers some tantalizing works.  The titles alone are a magic carpet ride:

The Valleys of the Assassins: And Other Persian Travels by Freya Stark. Written in 1934, Stark travelled alone in the mountainous region of Western Iran.

Bury Me Standing: The Gypsies and Their Journey by Isabel Fonseca (1995).  The writer spent four years wandering with the Roma throughout Eastern Europe to learn their ways and traditions.

Cold Beer and Crocodiles: A Bicycle Journey into Australia by Roff Smith (2000). An American living in Australia decides to ride around the continent and meet its people. The journey takes almost a year, and the beer, well... you get the idea it's important to the Ozzies. 

Motoring with Mohammed: Journeys to Yemen and the Red Sea by Eric Hansen.  Written in 1991, this is the story of Hansen's search for journals he buried in the sand ten years earlier, after being shipwrecked. 

Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War by Tony Horwitz (1998).  A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Horwitz travelled in the so-called "unvanquished" Southern States to explore why some Americans are still obsessed with the war.

Nothing to Declare: Memoirs of a Woman Traveling Alone by Mary Morris (1988).  National Geographic calls her "emotive and gutsy" and says she deserves to be on television talk shows. Morris lived in a Mexican town for some time and wandered around Central America.  She writes about the difficulties of living in strange places and her voyage of self-discovery.

As you can see, just reading the list promises adventure, like having a unlimited visa. To peruse the complete list, go to the National Geographic Traveler page here.

Many thanks to Bart De Poorter for his photograph of Kyrenia Castle in Cyprus.

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