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…

Xiao Peng's "Ten Years Of Backpacking"

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…

Gregor Sieböck's "Wanderer Of Worlds"

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…

Giovanni DiPlano Carpini's "The Story Of The Mongols Whom We Call The Tartars"

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's "On The Silk Road"

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…

Laurie Lee's "As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning"

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…

Guillaume de Rubrouck's "Account of the Mongols"

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…

Tim Moore's "Travels With My Donkey"

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…

Jehan de Mandeville's "The Travels"
Central Asia

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…

Hans-Peter Kerkeling's "I'm Off Then"

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…

Werner Herzog's "Of Walking In Ice"

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's "The Pilgrimage"

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…