(Travel) Books that Have Left an Impression

I listened to Gellhorn’s only travel book while driving solo in Namibia. She was a war correspondent, novelist and a traveler. These are her “horror stories” about travel because she reasons that nobody wants to hear about a trip that went well. I was often laughing out loud and later discovered she wrote it doing the same.

During Covid lockdown, Saro-Wiva’s book took me on a perfect armchair journey through Nigeria just as my conference in Lagos was cancelled. It’s a perfect blend of personal narrative and factual information about Nigeria.

I met Maskarm in Kampala through a mutual friend and devoured her self published book right after. I’m always on the lookout for travel narratives by Africans and this Cape Town to Cairo book doesn’t disappoint.

A few years ago in Australia, I chaired a panel on travel writing with Shivaji talking about his book Angels by the Murky River. Later he asked me to review The Other Shangri-La. All my praise on the back cover is well deserved; it’s full of astute observations, humor and telling anecdotes.

I read this book while traveling in Namibia, dreaming of also going to Angola like Theroux in the book. I like his writing style, probably also because his The Railway Bazaar was the first book I ever read in English, and which influenced me to go spend time in India.

This is the first novel I’ve read by Ghosh, and it was the perfect companion during my solo trip to Myanmar. It brings the region’s history alive through vivid stories. I loved visiting the setting of some of the scenes in Yangon and Mandalay.

Bell is one those women travelers one can only look up to with awe: travels across the desert that make her more “of Arabia” than Lawrence ever was. I’ve written an academic article comparing the “narrative I” in Bell to that of Lawrence in Seven Pillars. Both defied expected gender norms.

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I’ve been obsessed with T.E. Lawrence since coming across him in my Ph.D. research. This book is a long, tedious read but showcases Lawrence’s contradictory character. If you’re interested in the history of the Middle East, Seven Pillars covers some of its central, tragic events

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