Spend Your Summer Traveling Your Way Through the Classics

July 9, 2009

Looking for some summer reading? How about some travel reading?

Leave your humdrum life behind and set off for lands with names you can’t even pronounce. Or maybe you prefer dreaming up the kind of expensive, fancy vacations that celebrities enjoy, but that you can’t afford on your student budget. To anyone suffering from a case of unsatiable wanderlust, I recommend that you begin your travels the old fashioned way: through books. And yeah, “as an au pair to the rich and famous” would be another good option there.

National Geographic put together a list of 80+ titles to form their Ultimate Travel Library. Using their suggestions, start your next adventure at your local bibliothèque. You’ll be able to hit all seven continents in a matter of weeks without spending a penny, and your chances of getting malaria are next to zero.

Bill Bryson A Walk in the WoodsThe Ultimate Travel Library includes classics by Mark Twain, Hemingway, and Henry Miller as well as modern tales from writers like Tim Cahill and Peter Carey (who almost caused me to get a less-than-good grade in a Post-Colonial Writers course a couple of years ago).

I was especially pleased to see that Bill Bryson, the coolest middle-aged man with the loveliest American-British accent you will ever hear, has made the list more than once. His description of cricket in Down Under (titled In a Sunburnt Country for American audiences) helped me to completely forget how exhasuted and carsick I was while taking the bus from Sydney to Canberra, and A Walk in the Woods was so enchanting, I actually took one.

Read, plan, go.


  1. I love Bill Bryson’s books! I have a few of them, including In A Sunburnt Country (which I read parts aloud to my best friend on our way to Oz), Neither Here Nor There, A Short History of Nearly Everything (not travel, but a fantastic way to learn science) and Mother Tongue… which could perhaps be considered travel if you like to learn about where languages were born!! Will have to check out some of his others. They are great!
    Alanna (TravelCUTS – Univ of Western Ontario!)

  2. This is an excellent idea! A walk in Woods is a classic i remember reading in high school.

  3. Thanks, Alanna and George. I love Bill Bryson, too. I’ve been to three of his book signings and got far more nervous and excited meeting him than even I expected.

    When I enjoy most about his books is that it shows you don’t have to be super athletic, willing to collect rainwater for your survival, speak five languages and have every travel gadget to be a real traveler (like some pretentious extreme travelers would have you believe). You can just be someone who loves to see things and meet people.

  4. I’m looking forward to reading Walk in the Woods, which has been on my reading list for awhile.

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