Henry Rollins - "Get In The Van"

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…

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…

Joachim Fest's "Contre-jour"

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…

Johann Gottfried Seume's "Stroll To Syracuse In The Year 1802"

Johann Gottfried Seume

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

in the early 19th century, Johann Gottfried Seume, an editor from Leipzig, decides to embark on a trip to Italy, just like Johann Wolfgang Goethe and many others did before him. This is pretty fashionable among the rich and famous at the time, and for many it’s part of their Grand Tour…

Odorico da Pordenone's "The Travel"

Odoric of Pordenone

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

in the early 14th century, Odoric of Pordenone, a Franciscan monk from Italy is being sent on a mission to proselytize the people of Asia. His journey lasts almost fifteen years, covering the Middle East, Central Asia, India, Southeast Asia and China…

Heinrich Heine's "Travel Pictures"

Heinrich Heine

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

in the early 1820s, Heinrich Heine is already a pretty successful German poet/journalist. He goes on several journeys to Berlin, Poland, the Harz, the North Sea, Italy and England. He travels mostly on foot, and he writes mostly about nature and society…

Jehan de Mandeville's "The Travels"

Jean de Mandeville

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

in the 14th century, English knight Jean de Mandeville claims to have traveled around much of the known (and unknown) world, much like Marco Polo before him or Johann Schiltberger shortly after, or Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Battuda at the same time…

Josef Martin Bauer's "As Far As My Feet Will Carry Me"

Josef Martin Bauer

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

in the early 1950s, accomplished German writer Josef Martin Bauer comes across Cornelius Rost, a man who claims to have escaped from one of the Soviet prison camps in Siberia. The story sounds hardly believable, but Bauer decides to write a book about it anyway…

Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Battuta's "The Travels"

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…

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's "Italian Journey"

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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

in 1786, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe breaks out of the confines of literary Germany to look for inspiration in the sunnier climes of Italy. This is a pretty popular thing to do at the time, even though the roads through Italy were pretty dangerous back then…

Marco Polo's "Description Of The World"

Marco Polo

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

in the 13th century (during the Pax Mongolica) Marco Polo is a merchant’s son from Venice who accompanies his dad and his uncle on a decades-long trip to China and back. Upon his return, he claims to have gotten famous and rich in China, earning him the monicker “the millionaire”…