Guillaume de Rubrouck

Guillaume de Rubrouck

How is it possible that sometimes 750 years don’t leave a trace?

Guillaume de Rubrouck was a Franciscan monk who got dispatched to Mongolia by his king, Louis IX of France. He was supposed to find out more about the Mongolians and see if they could be used against the Muslims. Well, they couldn’t, because..

Johann Gottfried Seume

Johann Gottfried Seume

Why is this book still so awesome after so many years?

Johann Gottfried Seume is neither particularly wealthy nor does he have a big name or an entourage, and his main mode of transportation consists simply of his own two feet. And while others might be a bit bloated and preoccupied with the immense task of..

Patrick Leigh Fermor

Patrick Leigh Fermor

Is there anything not perfect about this travel book?

Patrick Leigh Fermor is only eighteen years old when he decides to take a walk through Europe – all the way from Amsterdam to Constantinople (Istanbul). He walks for one year, picks up languages, talks to locals, learns about history, and keeps..

Michael Holzach

Michael Holzach

What is so awesome about walking through an industrialized country, and why is this book the bomb?

I don’t think there is an English translation of this book available anywhere – so many of you will probably miss out on one of the finest pieces of travel literature that has ever been published

Colette Modiano

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..

Karl Bushby

Karl Bushby

Who in their right mind would have thought it was possible to cross the Bering Strait on foot?

Karl Bushby is a young British paratrooper who sets out to do something special with his life – he wants to walk all the way from Southern Chile to his home in Hull, England. So he flies down to Patagonia, walks to Central America, swims through..

Christopher Columbus

Christopher Columbus

Was this guy an evil proto-colonialist, or was he rather a sort of likeable dreamer?

This might very well be one of the most interesting books I have ever read. In August 1492, Christopher Columbus sets sail in Spain, aiming at..

Adam Fletcher

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..

Tuvia Tenenbom

Tuvia Tenenbom

What happens when a cynic get outsmarted by an even bigger cynic?

Tuvia Tenenbom is a Jewish American author and theater guy who gets invited by a German publishing house (Rowohlt) to travel around Germany and write about his experiences. They know he is a cynic, and they invite him anyway. He thus..

Dennis Gastmann

Dennis Gastmann

Should travel writers deliberately look for interesting stories, or should they rather go with the flow?

Dennis Gastmann is a young German TV journalist, probably best known for his subtle use of humor in revealing political misgivings. After having done a show about different places in the world, he decides to walk from his home..

Heinz Helfgen

Heinz Helfgen

What were German readers looking for in a travel book after World War II?

Heinz Helfgen is a former journalist turned POW who returns to Germany in 1946, only to find that things aren’t exactly easy work-wise. Thus, after struggling for a few years, he decides to support his family by..

Odorico da Pordenone

Odorico da Pordenone

Was this a 14th-century fact finding mission or just another Medieval mystery tale?

Odorico da Pordenone was a Franciscan monk who lived in Italy during the Late Middle Ages. He was sent on a mission to proselytize the people of Asia, and..

Jehan de Mandeville

Jehan de Mandeville

Why is it so much fun to read Medieval travel stories that we know are at least partly untrue?

Jehan de Mandeville claims to have traveled around much of the known (and unknown) world of his time. Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, India, China – you name the place, and he almost surely..

Matt Harding

Matt Harding

Could we have expected this dancing/travel book to be a bit more rich in content?

Matt Harding is a young game designer based in Australia who suddenly starts “looking for something” and picks up the delightful hobby of traveling. He lives on a tight budget and tapes himself dancing in various places around the world, and the resulting..

Josef Martin Bauer

Josef Martin Bauer

Does it matter to us if it all really happened this way?

Sometime in the early fifties, accomplished German writer Josef Martin Bauer comes across a guy who says he has escaped from one of the Soviet prison camps in Siberia. The story sounds hardly believable, but he..

Hans-Peter Kerkeling

Hans-Peter Kerkeling

Is there any such thing as a TV person who turned into a good travel writer?

Hans-Peter Kerkeling, German comedian, actor and presenter, finds himself in some sort of personal crisis. He thus decides to walk the Camino. Even though this doesn’t mean he has to walk every bit of the way..

Karl Philipp Moritz

Karl Philipp Moritz

What makes this book such a pleasant read after more than two centuries?

Karl Philipp Moritz follows his „most fervent wish“ and embarks on a two month journey around England – mostly on foot. He spends quite a bit of time in London, then visits Richmond, Windsor, Oxford, Castleton and..

Johann Schiltberger

Johann Schiltberger

Is this guy our average Joe from the Middle Ages?

This is an interesting book, but there is something to consider before reading it: Johann Schiltberger, much like Marco Polo or Jehan de Mandeville, whom I will be reviewing later, is a writer of..

Gunther Plüschow

Gunther Plüschow

Can we read about warfare as if it was just an adventure?

At the outbreak of WW1, Gunther Plüschow, a young pilot in the German air force, gets dispatched to the German colony of Qingdao (they called it „Tsingtau“ back then). He is supposed to be one of only two pilots on guard against the..

Ben Donald

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..

Cem Gülay

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

Wolfgang Büscher

Wolfgang Büscher

Will the search for the „Russian soul“ ruin what is otherwise a good book?

Wolfgang Büscher is a journalist who has a thing for walking, so it seems rather natural that he would decide to venture into Eastern Europe on foot. He starts in..

Nicolas Bouvier

Nicolas Bouvier

Is this a great piece of poetic travel writing, or has it just been overly polished?

In 1953, Nicolas Bouvier, law student from Switzerland, and his friend take a Fiat on a road trip to Afghanistan. They make their way through Yugoslavia and Turkey, hang out in Iran for a while, and they eventually..

Heinrich Heine

Heinrich Heine

These travel stories from 19th century Germany remain recommendable, but why?

Heinrich Heine is already a pretty successful German poet/journalist when he embarks on several journeys to Berlin, Poland, the Harz, the North Sea, Italy and England. He travels mostly on foot, and he..

Ji Xianlin

Ji Xianlin

Are these travel memoirs worth reading, or have they been flawed by political circumstances?

This book is a collection of essays and stories from Ji Xianlin’s years in Germany, his visits in India, Japan and Taiwan, and his life in China. I found his style of writing a bit weird at first: here was an outstanding scientist, an intellectual, who seemed to be continuously talking about..

Marco Polo

Marco Polo

Why is this one still so good today, even though a lot of it is untrue?

This could well be the most famous travel book of them all. It’s a slow read though..

Henry Rollins

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..

Tony Hawks

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..

Giovanni DiPlano Carpini

Giovanni DiPlano Carpini

Is it naive to hope for peace with the Khan?

A few years after the Mongol attacks on Eastern Europe, the Pope decided to send a cleric to the court of the Khan. That cleric was Giovanni DiPlano Carpini, and his mission (unlike that of Guillaume de Rubrouck a few years later) was to find out..

Philippe Valéry

Philippe Valéry

Is this just a rather particular writing style, or is it another author distancing himself from his story?

Philippe Valéry is in his thirties when he decides to walk from Marseille in France to Kashgar in China. He gets a few sponsorships and starts on his trek, walking through..

Joachim Fest

Joachim Fest

Is it possible for a traveler to be too intellectual, and how could this impact his writing?

Joachim Fest is one of Germany’s finest intellectuals of the 20th century. He is probably best known for his biography on Adolf Hitler (1973), and not many people have recognized him as a..

Tim Moore

Tim Moore

If this was a good writer with a good story, then why did the editors not polish it a bit?

This book is both funny and truthful. TM doesn’t miss a chance to crack a joke, and he often finds the right words. In fact, I liked the following observation so much that I even..

Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Battuta

Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Battuta

Did conservative ethics turn this great adventure story into such a slow read?

Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Battuta is only a very young man when he embarks on his hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca. But he doesn’t stop there. Instead he goes on and on and on, and several travels during the next three decades will take him almost everywhere in..

Hauke Trinks

Hauke Trinks

Is this a book that you can enjoy even if you don’t give a damn about polar bears?

Hauke Trinks is a professor for experimental physics who enjoys a good Arctic adventure as much as he loves science. So it seems only natural to him to go on a one-year solo stay in an isolated bay within the Arctic Circle – to find out about..

Fernão Mendes Pinto

Fernão Mendes Pinto

If this is a great classic in Portuguese literature, why is it such a slow read?

This book was a big success in Europe during the 17th and 18th century. It was published a few decades after Fernão Mendes Pinto’s death and describes the quixotic ways..

Stefan Zeidenitz & Ben Barkow

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..

Laurie Lee

Laurie Lee

Even if the words are beautiful, aren’t less words sometimes better?

Laurie Lee is a young man of just over twenty, when he steps out of his door and decides to walk to London. He then stays there for a year, works in construction and..

Theodor Fontane

Theodor Fontane

Is this a poet distancing himself from the reader?

Theodor Fontane was a German poet from the 1800s who, among other things, enjoyed taking walks in the area around Berlin and writing about them. This book isn’t about one continuous journey. Instead, it..

Nadine Hudson

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..

Michael Olbert

Michael Olbert

What happened to this otherwise decent book that caused it to be so annoying?

Michael Olbert is a big fan of Bruce Chatwin, who in turn is a fan (and a personal friend) of Patrick Leigh Fermor. He is looking for guidance, but since Bruce Chatwin is long dead, he decides to trace Patrick Leigh Fermor’s footsteps..

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Is this German classic really that awesome, or is it just overrated?

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe breaks out of the German literary circles to look for inspiration in the sunnier climes of Italy. This is a pretty popular thing to do at the time, even though..

Serge Roetheli

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..

Nicole Roetheli

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..

Xiao Peng

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..

Andrew McCarthy

Andrew McCarthy

Is it possible to write a whole a book like a Roxette song, and if it is, should you read it?

Andrew McCarthy is an American actor, a recovering alcoholic, a divorced father and a dude who is about to get married again. But he’s also a restless travel writer. So when his new marriage looms at..

Gregor Sieböck

Gregor Sieböck

What’s wrong with Bono, and why do I think you should use this book to smash bugs?

Gregor Sieböck is a young idealist from Austria who walks around the world to promote environmentalism. He sets out in Austria in 2003 and makes his way to the southern tip of Portugal. (Throw in a Camino there.) Then he does..

Michael Wigge

Michael Wigge

Is this book trivial and fun, or is it just plain boring?

Michael Wigge, a young German TV-host, plans a trip covering some of Europe, the Americas and Antarctica – leaving his money at home. Thus, he has to come up with various ways to get free meals and places to stay, getting his hands on..

Huang Nubo

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..

Carol Kloeppel

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..

Shirley MacLaine

Shirley MacLaine

Is this a decent book that has been ruined by esotericism, or was it bad all along?

Shirley MacLaine, successful actress in her sixties, walks through Northern Spain. Over the course of 30 days, she adds blisters to her feet, talks to people on the road, makes friends with other pilgrims and eventually gets into a chase with the media, causing her to walk the last bit..

Werner Herzog

Werner Herzog

Is this a joke, or is it just another candidate for the title of worst travel book ever?

In the fall of 1974, Werner Herzog hears about the French-German film critic Lotte Eisner being seriously ill in her home in Paris. He decides to walk from Munich all the way to Paris, thinking that this heroic act might..

Paulo Coelho

Paulo Coelho

Is this the worst travel book that you could imagine, or is it just the worst travel book ever created?

How do you rate something that sucks one hundred percent? Oh yeah, you give it a..