I’m about to head off on a trip and for my holiday reading I’ve decided to take one of my old favourite travel books with me. The only problem is that I’ve gone through my entire book shelf (which is mostly made of travel guide books and travel literature) and I can’t decide which book to take. I have so many favourites. If I could take (and read!) 20 books with me these would be my 20 favourite travel books:
Neither here nor there: Travels in Europe
This was the first ‘travel’ book I ever read and it made me want to become a travel writer. I stumbled upon it in a bookshop in London and sat in the store for two hours reading it (and laughing hysterically) before I bought it!
The Great Railway Bazaar
This is Theroux’s first (and I think best) travel book. In 1973 he set off from London’s Victoria station to travel by train across Europe and Asia to Japan and back again. He also wrote a follow up book 30-odd years later (Ghost Train to the Eastern Star) where he retraced his steps. Yes, he can be grumpy but what a storyteller.
Holidays in Hell
Although this book is from 1987 the stories are timeless and seriously laugh out loud funny. His idea of a holiday in hell includes war-torn Lebanon and Heritage USA (Jim & Tammy Bakker’s Christian theme resort).
Around Ireland with a fridge
Tony makes a drunken bet that he could hitch-hike all around Ireland in a month – with a fridge in tow. What ensues is silly, funny and a heart-warming tale.
Notes from a small island
After living in the UK for years this is Bryson’s farewell journey across Britain before he headed back to the US. It’s full of his usual irreverent humour and touching nostalgia. I love all the bizarre place names and interactions with wacky Brits.
A Googlewhack Adventure
A Googlewhack is when you type in two words on Google and only get one match. Dave Gorman sets off around the world to meet the people who have websites that are a Googlewhack. It’s certainly wacky.
The Pillars of Hercules
Theroux traipses around the Mediterranean coast visiting the not so visited places along the way. I loved it when a cruise company gave him a free cruise (hoping for positive reviews) and he wrote, ’Don’t they read my books?’ as he gleefully bags the cruise and its passengers.
The Wrong Way Home
Peter decided to travel from London to Sydney without flying. It might be a slow way to travel, but the book is fast paced and filled with great stories including Peter getting AK-47 lessons in Afghanistan.
The Lost Continent
This was Bryson’s first travel book. In this rollicking read he jumps in his mom’s car from his hometown of Des Moines, Iowa and drives around the US.
Playing the Moldovans at tennis
Another drunken bet and another very silly book. Hawks bets a mate that he could beat all of the players from the Moldovan football team in a game of tennis (but not all at the same time). But first he has to find them all!
In search of Elvis
Okay, I’m an Elvis nut, so I loved this book: especially when he meets the Jewish Elvis impersonator called Schmelvis in Canada.
Do Not Pass Go: From the Old Kent Road to Mayfair
Moore takes us around the Monopoly Board around London (we have the UK version in Australia) and he gives a historical and funny spin to each site (including a very funny chapter on London’s sewage works).
Shadows of the Silk Road
Mr Thubron is a true adventurer and does real adventurer type things. In this book he travelled through China, Central Asia, northern Afghanistan, Western Asia along the old Silk Road on donkey, camels, third-class trains, buses, and jeeps.
Vroom with a view
I wish I had this idea for a book. Peter travels around Italy in a Vespa as old as he is and gets to eat a lot of Italian food and drink a lot of Italian wine while puttering through the Italian countryside.
Friends like these
Not really a travel book per se, but in this funny and charming book Wallace decides to track down the twelve names he discovers in his old school address book and travels from Berlin to Loughborough and L.A. to Japan to find them.
It was lovely to read a book on living in Italy that didn’t have a quirky farmhouse in Tuscany with quirky plumbers.
Once While Travelling. The Lonely Planet Story
Tony and Maureen Wheeler
The founders of Lonely Planet tell their story about how it all started. It’s a great story – although it does make you envious of all their trail-blazing travels.
Bill takes on Australia and not only is it funny, I found out all sorts of interesting (and scary) facts about my own country.
In the Empire of Genghis Khan
I read this while I was in Mongolia and my 2-day horse ride seemed tame compared to Stewart as he rides across the whole country eating fatty mutton for weeks on end.
I’ve read quite a few of Tim Moore’s books, but I loved the wacky idea of tracking down Eurovision contestants who scored zero points! Moore travels the world to hear first hand what happened to the 13 nul pointers.
What’s your favourite travel books? Oh, and feel free to mention any of mine