The Americas

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…

Fabian Sixtus Körner - "Journeyman"
Australia

Fabian Sixtus Körner

Do photos, a lot of countries and a slick design make for a good book?

It is the turn of the first decade of the 21st century, and Fabian Sixtus Körner is a young designer from Germany who wants to see the world. He hears of the German tradition of the “journeyman years”, where young men, after completing their apprenticeship in the crafts, set out to roam about the country and learn from other masters. A sort of medieval “work & travel” if you will, a tradition that is still…

Charles Bukowski - "Factotum"
USA

Charles Bukowski

If all the idiots love it, does that mean that this is an idiotic book, or worse, a book for idiots?

Charles Bukowski is not exactly a travel writer. He is a writer, and some people have called him an existentialist writer. But he is not a travel writer. I am going to include him here anyway, simply because he moves around a lot in this novel. And because I think he is awesome. So, here’s the story: It’s the early 1940s, the world is at war in Europe and the Pacific, and Charles Bukowski is staying at home, because he is apparently considered unfit for duty. He roams about the United States (mostly Los Angeles), looking for work, getting fired, then looking for…

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…

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…

Wang Yuxi's "From West Coast To East Coast"
USA

Wang Yuxi

Could this talented artists have done more with the material he had at hand?

Wang Yuxi is a young visual artist from Beijing who dreams of crossing the United States by car. Classic road trip material. He overcomes a few initial visa difficulties and gets two buddies to come along. They make…

Daniel Defoe's "Robinson Crusoe"
Brazil

Daniel Defoe

Is this just one of those literary classics or can it really be included in a collection of travel books?

This is not a travelogue, it’s a novel. Daniel Defoe is a British writer in the early 1700s who comes across a fragmentary account of a sailor who got left on an island in the Atlantic. Daniel Defoe, looking for inspiration, takes these…

Gunther Plüschow's "The Adventures of the Aviator of Tsingtao"
China

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…

Andrew McCarthy's "The Longest Way Home"
Austria

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's "Wanderer Of Worlds"
Austria

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…

John Ross Browne's "Adventures in the Apache Country"
USA

John Ross Browne

Is this book only interesting to whose who care about mines?

In the mid 1800s, Irish-born American writer John Ross Browne sets out on several trips from California (a state since 1850) to the areas that would later become Nevada, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and…

Heinz Helfgen's "I'm Cycling Around The World"
Caribbean

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…