Saturday, October 10, 2020

Bookshelf Traveling #22: Travel Books

I am participating in the Bookshelf Traveling for Insane Times meme. It was originated by Judith at Reader in the Wilderness, but Katrina at Pining for the West is now gathering the blogposts.

This time I have a shelf of my husband's travel books. 


Of these books, his favorite is Chasing the Monsoon by Alexander Frater. Frater was, at the time this book was published, the chief travel writer for the London Observer

From the dust jacket of my husband's edition:

For two months, Frater followed the Indian monsoon–as closely as storm-driven or -hindered transportation would allow–along its unpredictable course through the country: from the "burst" on the beaches of the tropical city of Trivandrum...through inundated or parched landscapes and towns...through sweltering, impatient Delhi, to Calcutta, for his first meeting with the monsoon's eastern arm...across the flooded expanses of Bangladesh... and finally to the storm's grand finale in Cherrapunji, where the stories Frater had heard as a child came to life in an amazingly sodden reality.


The book on this shelf that I am most interested in is Last Train to Toronto by Terry Pindell. Pindell has written other train travel books (including Making Tracks: An American Rail Odyssey, which is also on this shelf). 

From the back of the trade paperback Owl Book edition:

Crossing North America on Canada's transcontinental railways has long been among the travel wonders of the world. But, in 1990, government cutbacks forced the remarkable Canadian to make its last run from Vancouver to Toronto over the tracks that founded the nation. Amid political controversy about the future of Canadian unity that raged during the last years of the route's existence, author Terry Pindell explored the thousands of miles of Canadian rails. In this memoir-travelogue, he recounts from a unique perspective not only a journey but a land and a culture.


Another book I may try someday is The Big Red Train Ride by Eric Newby. That book is about the author's trip across the USSR on the Trans-Siberian Railway, accompanied by his wife, an official guide and a photographer. 

Some reviews indicate that this book is tedious because Newby was not allowed to talk to many people in the USSR and many cities were not open to foreign visitors. I think I would enjoy it anyway. This sounds much like Michael Palin's North Korea Journal. I did not find Palin's book tedious at all, but Palin's access to North Koreans and some areas in North Korea was limited.


22 comments:

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Tracy, for obvious reasons, I'm putting "Chasing the Monsoon" by Alexander Frater on my reading list. Though I experience the great Indian monsoon every year, to the extent of being stranded overnight in the office or at railway stations in pre-Covid times, I'd still love to read about it, especially if it's a non-Indian perspective. In the past, I have enjoyed reading the travel writings of Paul Theroux, Bill Bryson and Pico Iyer.

Margot Kinberg said...

I'd like to read Chasing the Monsoon, too, Tracy. It sounds fascinating. Your husband has some really interesting-sounding books on that shelf.

Cath said...

I would cheerfully read all of those books. Chasing the Monsoon sounds wonderful, I seem to recall a TV series of that name which I watched a few years ago but it may not be connected. I've read several by Eric Newby and enjoyed them all but am not familiar with The Big Red Train. Another one to put onto my 'read one day' list.

TracyK said...

Prashant, I thought of you when I was researching Chasing the Monsoon for this post. It sounds like a very good book.

I have never read anything by Pico Iyer but I would like to. He has spent a lot of time in Santa Barbara (his father taught at the University of California, Santa Barbara), and I have heard much about him.

TracyK said...

Margot, he does have a good bit of variety on that shelf of travel books. Several of them appeal to me.

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Tracy, Pico Iyer is a wonderful writer and you won't be disappointed. To be honest, I have read more essays by him than books.

TracyK said...

Cath, I remember reading something about a documentary while I was looking into Chasing the Monsoon. I looked again today, and I found that the book had been adapted as a documentary for the BBC, and titled Chasing India's Monsoon. But I could not find much other info on it.

I have looked into some other Eric Newby books that I would like to read, and Glen has also, but so far we have not tried anything else. The ones I was interested were either hard to find or more than I wanted to pay at the time. But they are still on my "looking for" list.

TracyK said...

Prashant, Pico Iyer has written a lot of books and essays, and it looks like some of his writings are spiritual in nature, which I had not realized. My copy of A Tiger for Malgudi and The Man-Eater of Malgudi has an introduction by Iyer. I read the introduction years ago when I read The Man-Eater of Malgudi, but I have pulled it off the shelf to reread it soon.

Katrina said...

Those books all sound interesting to me. I can't see myself ever travelling to those countries so reading the books is the next best thing, with no delays or travel problems involved!

TracyK said...

I agree, Katrina. I don't plan to fly anywhere, anytime, so many of the places are out of reach. But reading about them would be fun. If I did not have a huge backlog of books I would read all of these, but as it is, I will pick and choose a few.

Rick Robinson said...

Of these, I've read just Theroux's The Great Railway Bazaar, which I liked a good deal. I've liked all of his travel books, for that matter.

TracyK said...

Rick, I would like to read something by Theroux. And there are a few possibilities here. Another author on this shelf I would like to read is Bill Bryson.

Judith said...

Hi Tracy,
Each of these sounds absolutely fascinating. The Monsoon travel book--have always wanted to experience that! And the Trans-Siberian Express equally, though I fantasize doing it, but would much rather read about it!!
I am most fascinated by the Canadian book.
Still, personally speaking, I would never want to be cooped up on a train as my exclusive form of travel. I need to walk around too much!

TracyK said...

I don't think I would feel cooped up on a train, Judith, but planning a train ride across country would take a lot of work. I am just not that into traveling.

One of the later books (Murder on the Trans-Siberian Express) in Stuart Kaminsky's police procedural series set in Russia includes a trip on the Trans-Siberian Express, so it thought it would be nice to read that and The Big Red Train Ride around the same time.

joan.kyler said...

I love travel narratives. I've travelled enough to satisfy me and,even before covid, I had decided that travel was less enjoyable than it used to be. I'll let others do my travelling for me. I love Bill Bryson's travel books and I've read several of Theroux's books. He often seems grumpy to me. I used to collect old travel narratives. It's fun to read first hand accounts of travel in the 1800s or early 1900s. You have an interesting shelf of books to read.

TracyK said...

Joan, reading old travel narratives sounds very interesting. I haven't read anything by Eric Newby, but I am interested in some of his books from the 1950s. And I look forward to trying both Bryson's books and Theroux's.

Rick Robinson said...

Liked Bryson's A WALK IN THE WOODS, about hiking the Appalachian trail.

TracyK said...

Rick, hiking the Appalachian trail sounds like a great topic. The only book I have by Bryson is about "troublesome words" and I have not read it yet.

Clothes in Books said...

Some great books there, and I always love a train book, same as I like going on long train rides. I am a big fan of Eric Newby, and read his USSR book some years ago.
I note Confederates in the Attic on the shelf -that's a book I liked very much.

CLM said...

I missed this post! I also like train books - my mother had a children's series about a girl named Mary Jane who went on my train trips - they were very glamorous in fiction and she always had porters who treated her well and gave her pink ice cream. I am sure that influenced my enjoyment of trains in adult fiction.

And I love The Lady Vanishes too!

TracyK said...

Moira, I want to read something by Newby and especially Something Wholesale that you reviewed a while back. But none of his books that I am especially interested in are easy to find at a good price. Thus will probably start with The Big Red Train Ride.

TracyK said...

Constance, that children's series with train trips sounds good. I have not been on trains much at all, but they do appeal. The only train trip I remember was in my childhood, and we went from Birmingham, Alabama to a small town in Mississippi. So, not very far, but I was with my grandmother so it is a fond memory.