The Pillars Of Hercules by Paul Theroux
His only aim was to explore the Mediterranean coast without resort to airplanes.
My favorite quote from this book explains it all: “That was your trip, that was your Italy. This book is about my trip, my Italy. This is my Mediterranean.” Exactly, Mr. Theroux. I’d love to take this trip and write my own book about it.
Green Hill Of Africa by Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Hemingway’s lyrical journal of a month on safari in the great game country of East Africa, where he and his wife Pauline journeyed in December of 1933.
My favorite Hemingway. All the floating, airy prose and his dry humor makes sleeping in a tent and bathing in a canvas tub seem like the most luxurious thing on Earth.
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
Joined by no common language except music, the 58 international hostages and their captors forge unexpected bonds.
I found this by chance during a book-buying spree in Rome, and fell in love with it. It isn’t about traveling so much as it is about languages, cultures, and one’s life being put on hold while another life blooms in its place. One of my favorite books of all time.
Donna Leon’s Commissario Guido Brunetti Mysteries
The heady atmosphere of Venice and a galaxy of fully realized characters.
No one travels in these books at all, except to Mestre and the Lido. They’re all set in Venice, and I can’t think of a better way to spend an afternoon than stepping into Leon’s world of fog, silence and intrigue in the canals of my favorite city ever.
A Year In Provence by Pater Mayle
Throughout the book, he paints colorful portraits of his neighbors, the Provençaux grocers and butchers and farmers who amuse, confuse, and befuddle him at every turn.
This is the one that started it all for me, and I’m hard pressed to find a book written since that doesn’t completely condescend to the author’s chosen country and its native inhabitants. Self-depracation is a key trait in happy expats – and people in general, I find – and Mr. Mayle has it in spades. I’d be interested in getting my hands on this again now that I’ve lived in the South of France for a while.
Coming soon, travel books I HATE. Stay tuned!