By Reya Mehrotra
With the lockdowns ending, people have been thronging destinations like Himachal Pradesh to beat the heat and take a break, often flouting Covid protocols. Considering that a third wave is imminent, perhaps a wiser and safer alternative would be transporting oneself to different destinations through books. Here, we bring you some popular travel books to read at home.
A Moveable Feast
The 1964 memoir by Ernest Hemingway chronicles his years of struggle as a writer and journalist in the 1920s in Paris. It was published posthumously in 1964. The title comes from Hemingway’s description of Paris to a friend in 1950 when he called it ‘a moveable feast’. In 1956, he recovered two trunks of his notes from the 1920s, and converting them into memoirs began. The personal accounts by Hemingway in the story mention many notable figures like Ezra Pound, F Scott, and Zelda Fitzgerald.
The AlchemistPaulo Coelho’s 1988 allegorical novel The Alchemist was originally written in Portuguese. Andalusian shepherd Santiago’s journey, has been chronicled in the classic novel. When a gypsy fortune teller interprets the young boy’s recurring dream, he knows he will discover fortune at the Egyptian pyramids. The boy sets out on a journey and meets several people. The book is about finding one’s destiny and how the universe conspires for something to happen if you want it. It has inspired a devoted following around the world.
For comic book lovers and those who grew up watching/reading The Adventures of Tintin, revisiting the classic piece of literature is like living a childhood dream, which includes traveling to different places along with the central character Tintin. A set of 24 comics created by Belgian cartoonist Georges Remi, the series was the most famous European comic of the 20th century. It was adapted into films for radio, television, and theatre. Tintin is a young and courageous Belgian reporter and adventurer who owns Snowy’s dog, which often helps him. Canadian author, Kate Harris’ Lands of Lost Borders, chronicles her explorations as she sets off on her bicycle on the Silk Road, cycling through the remotest places on earth, breaking geographical boundaries, the boundaries she set for herself, and the existential need to explore. She grew up dreaming of going to Mars, and this childhood yearning resulted in her explorations.
The reflective book cherishes the connection between humans and the natural world. Pico Iyer’s Falling off the Map focuses on the lesser-explored places and uncovers their cultural wealth while reflecting on their lack of development. In the book, iyer talks about his travels to Bhutan, Vietnam, Cuba, Argentina, Korea, Paraguay, Iceland, and many more. The book explores his experiences of trips to each country and its culture. Charles Bruce Chatwin’s first book, In Patagonia (1977), established him as a travel writer. As a part of his job, he traveled the world to interview public figures. In 1974, he left The Sunday Times Magazine to visit Patagonia in Argentina, which inspired this book. Chatwin’s work is said to have revived travel literature and inspired writers like William Dalrymple.
American writer Mark Twain’s The Innocents Abroad, or The New Pilgrims’ Progress, is a travel book published in 1869 and humorously chronicles Twain’s five-month excursion onboard Quaker City, a chartered vessel, through the Holy Land and Europe in 1867. He spent six months in the region, traveling and meeting people who settled there from other places. The author used the story of ‘Brontosaurus’ from his childhood to frame the trip’s story. It’s the best-selling travel book of all time. During the voyage, there were several side trips and stops along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The central theme is the conflict between history and the modern world.