We seldom hear about the following travel novels, but they consistently rank in lists of the best travel novels of all time. So kick back and make your novel escape through small-town America, Russia, or Patagonia by simply turning the pages.
Travels with Charley: In Search of America
Steinbeck and his dog, Charley, live out of a homemade camper as they make a 10,000-mile trip along the border of the United States. Together they revisit the American towns from Steinbeck’s youth that inspired his novels. Travels with Charley is a story about adventuring, returning home, aging, and mourning for the past.
Among the Russians
During the last tumultuous years of the Soviet Union, Colin Thubron ventures on a road trip from St. Petersburg to Georgia and Armenia. Thubron is the ideal tour guide; he is an expert in history, architecture, iconography, people, and culture. His style is a poetic travelogue with a lyric quality that all readers can appreciate. Take a look at Stowaway’s articles on the Trans-Siberian Railway (page 62) and the Hermitage Art Museum (page 12) to read more about Russian culture.
Wanderlust: Real-life Tales of Adventure and Romance
—Don George (Editor)
For a more comprehensive take on world travel from a variety of authors, Wanderlust holds the perfect compilation. All 40 stories were originally selected for an online Wanderlust section through Salon.com, and their short online style makes for an easy read. Published in 2007, this is a modern-day look at the love of travel from some of today’s most famous travel authors.
Encouraged by artist Eileen Gray, Chatwin left his job as a journalist to visit Patagonia. He boarded a plane and sent a telegram to his newspaper with only the words “Have gone to Patagonia.” This book documents his six months of travel. With bits of history weaved into his anecdotes and adventures, Chatwin’s chapters are so vivid, they read like pictures. For more adventure, check out Stowaway’s feature on Patagonia (page 44).
The Dharma Bums
Jack Kerouac is famous for On the Road, but The Dharma Bums is an even better piece of writing. With a style that inspired authors like Timothy Leary and Ken Kesey, Kerouac shares a semi-fictional account of characters Ray Smith and Japhy Ryder. He covers topics such as city life, Buddhist rituals, and isolation in nature. With the passion and strong prose that made the beat generation famous, The Dharma Bums takes the reader on an adventure from beginning to end.