The Armchair Traveler

by Emily Roberts on June 24, 2013

AWOL on the Appalachian Trail bookSome of my favorite books are travel books. Last month I borrowed a guide to Iceland, and looked especially at the remote northern region known as the Westfjords. Now, I’ve never been to Iceland, have no immediate plans to do so, and frankly my partner in all things indicates that I am a lunatic for even thinking about it. But now I now where to find the best place to eat locally caught fish – and, oh look! A pizza joint!

Travel books generally consist of guide books – where to go, where to stay, what and where to eat – and what are sometimes called ‘travel memoirs’, which at minimum consist of “Where I went, stayed and ate”. The best of these are far more interesting than that, of course.

The Daily Telegraph of London did a list of twenty best travel books, from Kerouac’s On the Road through George Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia to Bruce Chatwin’s In Patagonia. Pick any of these and you won’t go wrong. My own choice of these –  the strangely Victorian explorer-out-of-his-time Wilfred Thesiger’s Arabian Sands details five years wandering among the Bedouin of the desert known as The Empty Quarter.

Lastly I’ll mention my favorite travel book, the hard to find  The Happy Traveller (1923) by the Reverend Frank Tatchell, an eccentric English clergyman who – paying for a curate to cover his duties – spent much time travelling alone, often in disguise as a tramp. If you want advice as to what to do if attacked by wild dogs or middle eastern mobs, this is the place to start!

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