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, a wiser and safer alternative perhaps would be to transport oneself to different destinations through books. Here, we bring to you some popular travel books to read while 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. The personal accounts by Hemingway in the story mention many notable figures like Ezra Pound, F Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. 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 that’s when the process of converting them into memoirs began.
Paulo 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 comes to know that he will discover fortune at the Egyptian pyramids. The boy sets out on a journey and meets several people along the way. The book is about finding one’s destiny and how the universe conspires for something to happen if you really want it. It has inspired a devoted following around the world.
The Adventures of Tintin
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 travelling 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 popular European comic in 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 a dog named Snowy, which often helps him.
Lands of Lost Borders: Out of Bounds on the Silk Road
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.
Falling off the Map
Pico Iyer’s Falling off the Map focuses on the lesser explored places and uncovers their cultural wealth while shining a light 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 travel to each country and its culture.
It was Charles Bruce Chatwin’s first book In Patagonia (1977) that established him as a travel writer. As a part of his job, he travelled 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. He spent six months in the region, travelling and meeting people who settled there from other places. The author used the story of ‘brontosaurus’ from his childhood days to frame the story of the trip.
The Innocents Abroad
American writer Mark Twain’s The Innocents Abroad, or The New Pilgrims’ Progress, is a travel book that was 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. It’s the best-selling travel book of all times. During the voyage, there were a number of side trips and stops along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The major theme is the conflict between history and the modern world.
Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time
In 1911, Yale professor Hiram Bingham III climbed the Andes Mountains of Peru and found what we now call the ancient citadel of Machu Picchu. However, nearly a century later, reports portrayed him as a smuggler who smuggled artefacts from the site.
In the book, author Mark Adams sets out to retrace the path to the citadel along with guides. Through his journey, he takes readers on an adventure-filled tour to the historic landscapes of Peru.