Considering I named my blog “Reading the Book”, it shouldn’t come as any great surprise that, in addition to travelling, I am also an avid reader.
Below you will find some of the travel writing I have most enjoyed over the years. Hopefully you can find something that takes your fancy! If you have any recommendations, leave me a comment as I am always looking for something new to read.
Disclosure: The links below are affiliate links, where I get a small kickback from Amazon if you buy the book. There is no additional cost to you! Also, know that I have genuinely bought, read and loved each of these books or I wouldn’t recommend them.
These books aren’t travel writing as such, but I love them for what I learn about the history of countries and places.
Paris: Edward Rutherfurd
A history of Paris, seen through novella-length chapters which follow the same few families and their descendants as they move through time. I love these books by Edward Rutherfurd. They’re LONG, but the novella-type layout makes them seem more manageable. And I have learned so much about the places he writes about through his books. Rutherfurd often glances over the periods we know already – the 1789 revolution is barely mentioned here – to focus instead on the lesser-known periods of history, adding to the reader’s knowledge rather than duplicating it. I plan to work my way through all of his books eventually!
Russka: Edward Rutherfurd
Another Rutherfurd work, this time set in Russia and Ukraine. Fascinating and recommended. Instead of skipping the better-known events like he does in “Paris”, the author instead views them from a different angle through his cast of characters, who are often close to, but on the periphery of, the action. A great read if you are travelling to Russia and would like to know about its long history before communism.
Wild Swans: Jung Chang
Biography (and autobiography) of a young Chinese woman, her mother and grandmother, taking the reader through the early years of the 20th century, the Kuomintang government and on to the Cultural Revolution and beyond. From the noble elite to impoverished oppression, this is a sometimes difficult, but always fascinating read.
Life and Death in Shanghai: Nien Cheng
The autobiography of an educated woman during the Chinese Cultural Revolution, when a history of working with foreign companies in Shanghai becomes a target on her back. An eye-opening insight into the sufferings of millions of educated Chinese citizens during the era of Mao.
The House By the Dvina: Eugenie Fraser
Autobiography of Evgenia Scholts, later Eugenie Fraser, a young Russian/Scottish woman raised mainly in Archangel in Russia’s far north, before and during the 1917 Revolution and subsequent civil war. A memoir of childhood and adolescence, the book is enjoyable to read, and a fascinating view into life in late-Tsarist Russia as well as the hardships faced by ordinary people during and after the revolution. Scottish fans will enjoy the snapshots of early 20th century Dundee, too.
Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence
Autobiography. A young Aboriginal girl and her sister and cousin are forcibly removed from their family to be “civilised” in a children’s home in Perth, Western Australia in the 1930s. The book follows their story as they attempt to make their own way home.
Non-fiction books about journeys
Not necessarily travel in the traditional sense, but these stories are beautifully written and take place in corners of the world that fascinate me.
Best of the rest!