Some Suggested Travel Memoirs

Travel has been rare, if not impossible, during the pandemic. That’s why “A travel memoir or other book about travel” is one of the categories in the 2021 Provincetown Library Reading Challenge. Whether you’re taking the Challenge or not, reading about far places might be your best substitute for travel. Here are some of the best:

Everything by Bill Bryson is funny and charming. Bryson grew up in the U.S. but has lived most of his adult life in Britain, giving him a unique insider/outsider view of both countries. Some of his best travel books (print only, CLAMS) are:  A Walk in the Woods (Appalachian Trail); In a Sunburned Country (Australia); Notes from a Small Island (UK); The Road to Little Dribbling (UK; audio on CD); I’m a Stranger Here Myself (US). 

Comfort Me with Apples by Ruth Reichl (print only, CLAMS). Editor of Gourmet Magazine and food critic for The New York Times, Reichl is a witty and warm memoirist. Here her pursuit of good food leads her to New York and China, France and Los Angeles.

A Cook’s Tour by Anthony Bourdain (print only, CLAMS). The celebrity chef who got his start in Provincetown travels around the world in search of “the perfect meal.” By turns brilliant, funny, and profane, Bourdain could write!

Full Tilt: Ireland to India with a Bicycle by Dervla Murphy (print only, CLAMS). The title tells it – an amazing adventure by a single woman! Murphy made this trek in 1965, connecting remarkably with ordinary people in many countries along the way.

The Good Girl’s Guide to Getting Lost by Rachel Friedman (print only, CLAMS). After college, Friedman, who had always done the expected thing (i.e., was “good”), took off for Ireland, Australia and South America in the company of a wild Australian girl she met along the way. Not your average “gap year.”

In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin (print only, CLAMS).  Arguably the most influential travel writer in the 20th century, Chatwin details his trip to the small strip of land at the tip of South America, land of bandits, legends, and Welsh immigrants. An absolute classic!

My Life in France by Julia Child (print, CLAMS; audio on Overdrive). Child moved to France with her husband in 1948, knowing not a word of French and very little about the country itself. But she embraced French culture, especially the food. Her endearing personality shines in her writing.

Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi (print, CLAMS; audio and ebook on Overdrive; audio on CD). This is not really a travel memoir, but the story of a woman’s life teaching girls secretly in revolutionary Iran. It’s so good I had to include it!

Tracks: A Woman’s Solo Trek Across 1700 Miles of Australian Outback by Robyn Davidson (ebook on Overdrive only). Like the title says, she traveled solo, accompanied only by four camels and a dog! Lots of adventures, no easy answers.

Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes (print, CLAMS; ebook on Overdrive; audio on CD,  CLAMS). If it has been your dream to buy a villa in Tuscany and live there, it’s probably because of Frances Mayes. Her hugely popular book introduced the world to la dolce vita in the Italian countryside.

The Voices of Marrakesh by Elias Canetti (print only, CLAMS). Written in the 1950s, when Marrakesh was still a French colony, this book by a Nobel Prize winning author brings every detail to life – the crowds, the spices, the donkeys and camels, the beggars and the children.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed (print, CLAMS; ebook and audiobook on Overdrive; audio on CD, CLAMS). After her mother died and her marriage ended, Cheryl Strayed decided to hike the Pacific Crest Trail, from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—alone.

Without Reservations: The Travels of an Independent Woman by Alice Steinbach (print, CLAMS) To reclaim her independence, the Pulitzer Prize winning author travels in Europe – Paris, Oxford, Milan – in search of herself.

For more suggestions, check out: Fourteen Amazing Travel Memoirs to Read When You’re Stuck at Home https://www.smartertravel.com/best-travel-memoirs/

Haven’t joined the Reading Challenge yet?  Join the adventure at any time by emailing Nan Cinnater at ncinnater@clamsnet.org or by joining on Facebook.