Europe

Germany

Harald Braun

Are other authors’ ideas off-limits or is this just a bad book?

Harald Braun is a German journalist who fancies the iconic 1980s travel book “Deutschland umsonst” written by Michael Holzach, in which the author goes on a long, moneyless walk through Germany. Braun comes up with his own version this idea, but with a twist: he wants to publish live updates of his journey on social media, thus increasing his chances of getting support from…

China

Richard Halliburton

This author has been called the “grandfather of travel writing” – but is he really that good?

At first I really liked this book. RH reminded me of Patrick Leigh Fermor, who set out as a young man to see the world and find adventure. And RH seemed even more extreme in the way was willing to embrace hardship, sometimes apparently looking for disaster. I appreciated that, and I still do…

Africa

Nadine Hudson

Why does too much often mean too little?

NH is a woman in her twenties from Switzerland who is struggling with mental health issues, most notably an eating disorder. She decides to embark on a backpacking trip through Asia. She travels on her own for a while, then she runs into a British traveler, marries him, and they continue to go on…

Henry Rollins - "Get In The Van"
Canada

Henry Rollins

Is this book going to be any good for you even if you’re not a fan of hardcore punk?

We’re in Washington, D.C. around the year 1980, and young punk enthusiast Henry Lawrence Garfield gives himself a new last name, thus becoming Henry Rollins. His favorite band Black Flag asks him to become their new lead singer, which he accepts. They record the album “Damaged”, and it goes on to become a milestone in the world of hardcore punk. Over the next half decade, the band makes a few more records, they go through several line-up changes, grow their hair long, change their musical style and tour extensively. Their shows take them through…

Huang Nubo - "Herr Huang in Deutschland"
Germany

Huang Nubo

Can this be a new way to write travel literature, or will it always turn out terrible?

Huang Nubo is a Chinese billionaire who enjoys a challenge. He climbs mountains and writes poetry, he gives to charity, and his company supposedly tries to protect cultural relics in China. In 2013, he decides to embark on a mission that is supposed to last him ten years: a visit to each and every World Heritage Site on the face of the earth. He starts with Germany, spanning the 30+ sites that the country has to offer within…

Nicole Roetheli's - "Nicole's Diary: Running the World... Losing Our Marbles"
Africa

Nicole Roetheli

Is this in any way comparable to the works of Ella Maillart?

Remember Serge Roetheli, the guy who fabulously ran around the world and wrote a book about it that just wasn’t that good? Well, NR is his wife, the person who kept…

Serge Roetheli's - "The 25,000 Mile Love Story"
Africa

Serge Roetheli

How can a book about a man running around the whole world be so… bad?

We’re in 1997, and Serge Roetheli has just returned from running all the way from South America to Alaska. He was accompanied by his wife on a motorcycle, and since this “American Challenge” is now behind them, they decide to…

Xiao Peng's "Ten Years Of Backpacking"
Austria

Xiao Peng

If this guy writes so well and goes to so many cool places, then just why is this book he wrote so bad?

Xiao Peng is a young Chinese white-collar worker who decides that he wants to see the world. He first travels around China, then ends up as an exchange student in the Netherlands. From there, he sets out to…

Tony Hawks' "Round Ireland With A Fridge"
Ireland

Tony Hawks

How far can British humor carry a story that otherwise revolves entirely around itself?

We’re in the late 1990s. Tony Hawks is a British music composer/comedian (not a skater!) who sets out to lug a refridgerator around Ireland. You might have already guessed it: he is trying to…

Colette Modiano's "Twenty Snobs and Mao"
China

Colette Modiano

What happens when a fashion-conscious European woman visits China at the height of socialism?

Colette Modiano is working as a travel coordinator in France when she decides to assemble a group of wealthy Europeans and embark with them on a trip to China. It is the year 1966, and getting a glimpse on Mao’s…

Ben Donald's "Springtime for Germany"
Germany

Ben Donald

Who came up with the idea to spoil an otherwise fine travel book with a bunch of nonsense?

Ben Donald is a British journalist who formerly used to love traveling but has somehow grown sick of it. He then runs into a guy who claims to be a sort of “travel coach” and gets sent to Germany by said guy. Well, Germany doesn’t…

Adam Fletcher's "How to be German in 50 Easy Steps"
Germany

Adam Fletcher

is this book about Germans for foreigners or for Germans?

Adam Fletcher is a young British dude who for obscure reasons decides to spend some time in Germany, first in Leipzig then in Berlin. He slowly gets to know the population and its peculiarities and eventually…

Stefan Zeidenitz & Ben Barkow's "Xenophobe's Guide To the Germans"
Germany

Stefan Zeidenitz & Ben Barkow

Are clichés funny enough to write a whole book about them?

Stefan Zeidenitz & Ben Barkow are authoring this issue of the “Xenophobe’s Guide”. The Guide is a well-known book series that deals with countries or rather inhabitants one at a time, trying to be funny and informative in the process. This issue…

Carol Kloeppel's "Dear Germany"
Germany

Carol Kloeppel

Is this author trying to show us how to alienate ourselves from our surroundings?

Carol Kloeppel is an American journalist who gets a job working for a German news guy called Peter Kloeppel, only to eventually return home with him. Home to Germany. They settle down in Cologne, they marry and…

Cem Gülay's "No Döner Country"
Germany

Cem Gülay

If migration basically means people moving from one place to another, can it really be a bad thing per se?

Cem Gülay is a German of Turkish descent who has published an autobiography about his abortive attempt at a “career” as a criminal. While promoting his book, he travels all over Germany, reading mostly at schools and