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27 May 2017Last updated
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Around the world in 80 books

OK, not quite, but now that we have your attention, here is Friday’s pick of great travel tomes that will take you around the globe without needing a plane ticket...

By Khulekani Madlela
2 Mar 2015 | 03:48 pm
  • Tomes that will take you around the world for free...

    Source:Shutterstock

23

Eat Pray Love

By Elizabeth Gilbert, 2006

In her heartfelt memoir Elizabeth Gilbert, now 45, tells the story of how she left behind all the trappings of modern American life – the house in the country, the successful career as a magazine writer and the handsome husband – to embark on a life-affirming and soul-searching year-long journey to Italy, India, and Indonesia.

Live vicariously through her adventures – from eating mouth-watering pizza and gelato in Rome, to a tranquil stay in an ashram outside Mumbai. Gilbert’s honest and heartfelt account of her mission to find balance sees her developing strong friendships and eventually finding love again with a Brazilian businessman in Bali. With its chatty tone, the travelogue blends together romance and travel insights that are delivered in a candid, witty manner. It offers vivid descriptions of the magical places Gilbert visits and the people she encounters along the way.

It became an instant hit when it was published, inspiring women to give up their humdrum lives in search of adventure.

It stayed on The New York Times bestseller list for an impressive 187 weeks, and was made into a hit film starring Julia Roberts and Javier Bardem. Following the success of the book Gilbert penned her sequel Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage (2010) which picks up on her story from where Eat, Pray, Love ends.

Follow in Gilbert’s footsteps and enjoy the beauty travelling out of your comfort zone has to offer.

Almost a decade on, the story truly stands the test of time. Whether you pick it up to gain a feel for what to eat, see and do ahead of your own travels, or you’re looking to turn your own life on its head, Gilbert will inspire, enlighten and make you see the world in a new light.

8

In A Sunburned Country


By Bill Bryson, 2000

Bryson, 63, is a much-loved travel writer, author of The Lost Continent (1989) and Notes from a Small Island (1995). The Iowa native has travelled through Europe and Australia, as well as the US, and records his misadventures through witty observations, skilful use of irony and delightful anecdotal presence.

In A Sunburned Country chronicles a scenic journey Bryson took through Australia by rail and road from the outback to major cities like Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, all the way to the Great Barrier Reef, Alice Springs and the monolithic rock Uluru. Along the way you’ll face sharks, crocodiles, spiders and snakes with Bryson. His hilarious witterings are peppered with trivia about the world’s sixth largest country, which also happens to be the world’s largest island and the only continent that is also a country. Bryson captures everything from Australia’s history to geography, wildlife, and the people, inspiring readers to take the trip Down Under.

 4

Around the World in 80 Days

Special 20th Anniversary Edition by Michael Palin, 2009

First published in 1989, this edition sees Palin return to the places he visited on the Dubai-Mumbai leg of his original global adventure. The 71-year-old English comedian, actor, writer and television presenter begins his trip in Dubai in October 2008, where he tracks down dhow Al Shama and reunites with her captain and crew before he heads to Mumbai, charting the changes over his 20-year hiatus.

The new book contains exclusive photos and extracts from Palin’s diary on this most recent trip. His wit shines through in this and the other books he’s penned on his travels from Pole to Pole, taking in Brazil, the Himalayas and the Sahara.

6

The Great Railway Bazaar

By Paul Theroux, 2006 (first published in 1975)

First published 40 years ago by the American writer, this is the latest edition of his travelogues about rail travel. Theroux narrates his intercontinental adventures aboard the Orient Express, the Golden Arrow to Kuala Lumpur and the Trans-Siberian Express.

One of the world’s greatest rail journeys that spanned four months begins in London’s Victoria Station and takes Theroux to Turkey, Iran, India, Southeast Asia and Japan.

Full of wry observations about cities, buildings and tourist attractions, as well as interesting tidbits about the culture and history of ordinary people he met along the way, it will have you hooked right from the first page.

In Theroux’s Ghost Train to the Eastern Star (2008) he follows in his own footsteps and retraces (with some new stops) the trip he took in 1975.

1

All Good Things

From Paris to Tahiti: Life and Longing by Sarah Turnbull, 2014

After finding a new life (and love) in the French capital, Australian Turnball turned her experience into her 
bestselling memoir Almost French: Love and a New Life in Paris (2005).

In her sequel, Turnbull begins a new adventure after her husband Frederic takes a job at a French law firm in Tahiti. The couple pack up, and swap the City of Light for island life.

She beautifully captures Tahiti and the atolls in all their splendour, including her deep-sea diving adventures. Her evocative descriptions will transport you into her romantic, funny and dazzling life in French Polynesia. Against this happy setting she shares the challenges she and her husband faced while trying for a baby and finally making their bundle of joy a reality. An insightful read for expats or those planning to live abroad, this is sprinkled with tips on fitting into a new environment and adjusting to foreign customs.

9

The Danube

A Journey Upriver from the Black Sea to the Black Forest by Nick Thorpe, 2014

Journalist Thorpe joins other authors, including Italy’s Claudio Magris and Britain’s Patrick Leigh Fermor, who have written about one of Europe’s great rivers: the Danube. Unlike others before him, Thorpe travels against the river’s flow to explore the Danube’s full length from east to west by car, foot, bike, boat and even skateboard. He embarks on an inspiring year-long journey that takes him to 10 countries, beginning in the marshy delta where the river flows out into Romania, Russia, Ukraine and Turkey and takes him to its source in the Black Forest, Germany. His descriptions of morning swims while observing ducks wading in the water conjure up vividly clear images. Thorpe also addresses the river’s ecological conditions and the impact of toxic waste dumped into its waters.

2

Arabian Sands

By Wilfred Thesiger, 2009 Centenary edition (originally published in 1959)

British explorer and travel writer Sir Wilfred Patrick Thesiger (1910 to 2003), who was affectionately known as Mubarak bin London (the blessed one from London) in the Arab world, became the first European to traverse the Rub’ Al Khali (650,000 square km across Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman and the UAE) between 1945 and 1950.

Arabian Sands recounts the hardships and dangers Thesiger encountered while travelling with his two Bedu companions, Rashid and Bait Kathir, who he met in Salalah, Oman.

He describes the everyday lives of nomadic bedouins and the challenges they face – the harsh realities of life in the hot arid desert marked with the ever-present hunger and thirst and weariness of walking long distances.

He beautifully captures the changing vistas in the desert, from the windswept sand dunes to an oasis in Liwa with towering date palm trees and green vegetation.

This centenary edition features never-seen-before photos of a truly amazing journey.

10

Tracks

A Woman’s Solo Trek Across 1,700 Miles of Australian Outback by Robyn Davidson, 1980

Setting off in 1977 from Alice Springs, Davidson took a dog and four camels for company as she travelled to the west coast south 
of Carnarvon on a journey of self-discovery.

The 2,700km voyage sees her deal with treacherous terrain, poisonous snakes and an ever- injured camel. Readers will learn a lot about Aborigines, camels and Australia’s landscape. Davidson also throws in political observations and personal insights.

It’s a great story set against a breathtaking backdrop and a must-read for those with a sense of adventure. It was adapted into a movie in 2013 staring starring Mia Wasikowska and Adam Driver.

7

On The Road

By Jack Kerouac, 1957

The iconic author’s second book is based on his travels with his friends between 1947 and 1950 across America. Set against the backdrop of jazz and poetry, it beautifully captures the Beat era.

This thinly fictionalised autobiography is filled with a colourful cast of characters comprising mainly Kerouac’s real-life friends like Neal Cassady (Dean Moriarty in the book), a free-spirited, fearless Westerner. Narrator Sal Paradise is based on Kerouac and chronicles the duo’s adventures after leaving New York in their mid-thirties on a train.

The journey introduces you to the pleasures and low points of hitchhiking as they criss-cross the country seeking uncharted terrain, partying.

The book received many movie proposals but it took 55 years for the film of the same name to be made. Produced by Francis Ford Coppola and directed by Walter Salles, it stars Sam Riley as Sal and Garrett Hedlund as Dean. Satisfy your wanderlust and get a sneak peek into the America of yesteryear.

3

An Area of Darkness


By VS Naipaul, 1964

The first of Naipaul’s Indian trilogy – which also includes India: A Wounded Civilization (1977) and India: A Million Mutinies Now (1990) – this book charts the author’s first trip through the country in the early 1960s.

Born in Chaguanas, Trinidad, in 1932, Naipaul is the eldest son of a second-generation Indian. He took a year-long sabbatical from his job in London and set off in an attempt to regain a sense of his roots.

The book opens with his arrival in Mumbai and as a stranger in his ancestral land the journey takes him to Kashmir, the Himalayas and Madras. He captures the beauty and contrasts of the varied Indian states but his blunt observations of poverty led to it being banned in India.

Naipaul, who went on to win the Nobel prize for literature in 2001, wrote about India in a positive light – its economic growth, optimistism and hospitality.

By Khulekani Madlela

By Khulekani Madlela

Junior Features Writer