What are some of your favorite traveling reading to prepare for and enjoy trips to new destinations? I am loading up my Nook for reading on my upcoming cruise, and looking for interesting books to read
For instance, I a a big fan of Insight Tour Guides as they have very good historical and cultural information, and references to follow up on. But I also like Historical Novels to better understand a destination. Also, I find if I read some of the local authors, it makes for great conversation when I get there. .
Some of my favorite books:
1) Salisbury, England - Sarum: The Novel of England by Edward Rutherford went from the ice ages to present day, in the location of Salisbury, England, in particular the cathederal, following several families that represent parts of society.
2) London, England - London: The Novel by Edward Rutherford, same format focusing on London
3) Moscow, Russia - Russka: The Novel of Russia by Edward Rutherford, same format focusing on Russia
4) Panama Canal Cruise - Path Between the Seas by David McCullough tells about the initial French effort to build the Panama Canal based on their history of building the Suez Canal, and how the Americans assumed this effort and completed, and some of the challenges faced and conquered like discovering what caused malaria and how to prevent if possible, and treat if necesary.
5) Tuscany - Matilde, Countess of Tuscany by Mary Huddy - about an Italian Noblewoman, her life in Tuscany from 1045 ad to 1115 ad, and alliance with Pope Gregory VII
6) Venice - A Mapmakers' Dream, The Meditations of Fra Mauro, Cartographer to the Court of Venice by James Cowan, about a monk who makes maps without leaving his monastary on a island in the Venetian Lagoon occupied by the Armenian Church after being expelled from their monastery in Morea by the Turks
7) Alhambra - Tales of the Alhambra by Washintgon Irving series of stories by Irving on his trip to Alhambra, and living in Alhambra.
8) Rome & Capri - Cleopatra's Daughter by Michelle Moran is a wonderful story of Octavian returning to Rome with the daughter and son of Cleopatra, and their life in Octavians's household.
9) Washington, D.C. - The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown learned some new things about Washington DC even after living there for many years.
10) Burma - The Lizard Cage by Karen Connelly a really tough book to read about the political situation in Burma, and an even tougher trip to take for the traveler that thrives on challenge.
11) UK & Australia - Morgan's Run by Collen McCullough follows a British families life in the UK, and then the hero who is shipped to Australia as a convict.
12) Spain - Iberia by James Michener
13) India - Heat and Dust or any of the other intereting books by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
14) Malta - The Sword and the Scimitar by David Ball
- The Kappillan of Malta by Nicholas Monsarrat
15) Pompeii - Pompeii: A Novel by Robert Harris
16) Alaska - Tisha: The Story of a Young Teacher in the Alaskan Wilderness by Anne Purdy is a story about Anne Hobbes who went to Alaska in the 1920s to teach in a one room school house, traveling to and living in Alaska, and the problems she had due to her kindness to the Native Americans living there.
I'm going to sound like a literary snob but here are my suggestions. And I base this on your inclination--based on your post--that you would prefer reading things that relate in some way to your destination.
SPAIN: Don Quixote (by Cervantes) It's one of the greatest novels ever written (and my personal favorite).
ITALY: The Betrothed (by Manzoni) Maybe Italy's defining novel.
ENGLAND: Shakespeare is a given. I'd suggest "Henry IV Part I and Part II" since they're historical and what character is more delightful than Falstaff?
IRELAND: The Dead (by Joyce)
FRANCE: Go for a Balzac novel. He wrote a gazillion.
JAPAN: The Tale of Gengi (I read it but I can't remember the author's name.)
U.S.A.: Adventures of Huckelberry Finn (Twain)
I like the Fodor's travel books for domestic destinations. We were very happy with the Rick Steve's books when we went to Europe about 8 years ago (pre-Marriott days). Sometimes I check them out of the library and sometimes I will buy them. I also order the AAA books and maps for the areas we visit. I take a couple of travel magazines and will mark pages with sticky notes if we are thinking about a destination they feature.
Am also a big fan of Fodor's and Rick Steve's. Also like the Rough Guide for their maps especially of museum's, cathederals and even mosque's [Blue Mosque in particular which they had the tomb of the architect that no other book had, and even the folks on site had a hard time locating...they all wanted me to give them the book for keeps].
I also like Frommer's if I am somewhere without a Marriott as their hotel, restaurant, shopping suggestions are usually very good. If there is a Marriott I stay there, use their suggestions and skip Frommer's.
Which travel magazines do you like?
GemPrincess, you and Gary have offered up some great stuff! Thanks. I'll start with Manzoni and Balzac, then move on to Michener and Cervantes. After I read Follett's Fall of Giants, for which I have some pretty high expectations for historical accuracy, considering how many countries and cultures that the book spans. The Fish that Ate the Whale sound like a good read, although it's doubtful I think, that I will ever see South America. (Time will tell... never thought I'd see the Persian Gulf, yet I suddenly have travel plans to Abu Dhabi for this upcoming February - travel reading suggestions, anyone? Yes, besides the Koran !)
I'd also like to read The Lost Symbol. Don't know how historically accurate Dan Brown is (ProfC thinks not), but his novels got me excited about some aspects of Paris and Rome. I never did find the Rose Line in Paris (did enjoy a wonderful visit to Saint-Séverin), but when I went to Rome for the first time, I was roused to try to piece together all of the sights/monuments referenced in Angels and Demons. Then I had to go home and re-read the book to see if it it was all geographically correct (it was.)
I was moved by Tatiana de Rosnay's novel about the deportation of French (Parisian) Jews (Sarah's Key), to the point of inspiring me to research and consequently explore the 3rd and 4th arrondissements as well as the 7th arr. where the Veld’Hiver once stood (site where tens of thousands of French Jews were rounded up and held for deportation to concentration camps in 1942, never to be seen or heard from again) on my 2010 visit to Paris. It was profoundly moving. I never knew.
I prefer that fiction writers be as historically accurate as possible, as I will only visit many places on this Earth through the reading of a novel, for instance Rustichello's The Travels of Marco Polo may be all I'll ever know about thirteenth century China. Also, I don't want to be impassioned to go on a wild goose chase after something that doesn't exist.
As far as non-fiction, I like Rick Steves. Also used lonely planet guide books for Florence and Rome. Compact but full of useful info and contained great maps. Also, the internet is a great resource, including wiki travel and wikipedia (when I want to learn more about the things I will see at the places where I'm going). Google is my favorite travel related search engine. I like AAA maps and guidebooks for the U.S. too.
Thanks for posting this discussion, GP.
Pluto, I think my reading list also just expanded, which is exactly what I was looking for, recommendations that I wouldn't have thought up on my own.
How exciting that you are going to the Persian Gulf to Abu Dhabi. One of my favorite books for the middle east, though not fiction is called, "The Arabist:The Romance of an American Elite " by Robert Kaplan. It was written by a Journalist who spent much time there, and address specifically the American and British experience in the middle east, and how that history and US Policy under various presidents has gotten us to where we are at. I didn't list it as travel related reading as I have never really made it to the middle east (closest I have come is Turkey and Morrocco).
Another very interesting book that was recommended by one of my Persian friends as she found it very accurate, but is more relavent to Persia and Greece though does have some middle east info is "Creation" by Gore Vidal. She actually gave me her mother's copy, who refused to read it as it is Persian custom not to think about, talk about, or treat leaders like people. She just couldn't get use to that and so did not read it. But my friend who went to school in Germany and the US thought it was excellent.
I also thought Sarah's Key was excellent. Another book along that vein is "All Rivers Run to the Sea", by Eli Weissel, which is about the eastern european experienece i(though my Russian friends tell me Hungary, Romania and Ukraine are not eastern but central, as the center of Eruope is in Rakhiv, Ukraine, and I have seen the monument)..
I love anything regarding Marco Polo's travles so I will need to read Rustichello. Marco Polo is a traveler I very much admire. This also brings to mind Heridotus who I read for my 1st trip to Turkey, and also reread portions for the Ukraine as he had accounts of other travelers accounts of the ancient tribes in the area around the Black Sea, and reread again when I almost went to Bulgaria, but then my trip was canceled.
I suspect that ProfC needs to worry more about historical accuracy for her work. Since we are not professional historians like her, we can go for something that gives us good background to understand the area, but maybe not perfect. As for Dan Brown, I love his references. Surprisingly I picked up 2 more science oriented books from Lost Symbol called the Intention Experiments by Lynne McTaggart which summarizes experiments being done on the effects of the mind. She also has another book called "The Field" that is basically a literature search of everything published.
Am with you on google though. Have bought far less books. Now I just do google searches and organize the info into word docs that I have avaible in my web-based email. I then can log in and pull down the pages relevant to each day. Saves money, is more thorough, as I can update with new info, and my stack of paper is not as conspicous as a travel book or map but has the same info in it. Both Frommers and Fodors have free online information.
Pluto, I agree ... Dan Brown is a great read ... I agree with ProfC - historically, pretty rubbish though. We were in Edinburgh a few years back for New Year (absolutely brilliant!) ... we went to the Roslyn Chapel ... lovely building and they clearly filmed the scene there ... in fact, most of the UK sites referenced are pretty accurate physically ... but historically .... mmmm!!
Chris, I mentioned the church Saint-Séverin in connection with my Dan Brown read. While it is a beautiful church with interesting history, and I enjoyed the visit, I meant to reference Saint-Sulpice, which his book referenced. I may not have visited that church if not for the book, so was glad for that. With my current read, the novel spans I think 5 countries - England, Wales, Russia, U.S. and Germany - during the early 20th century (WWI), so I think I may interject a little bit of research into the read, to see how it measures up. It's all slow going: too many books and irons in the fire at present. The coolest part about it, is it serves to light a desire to visit certain places I may not have considered, or at least to spend time on certain aspects of a place that I otherwise wouldn't have.
I don't mean to pry, but I would love to hear more about your walking excursion. I know you take "walking" trips (Lake District I believe you've mentioned - in the northeast?), and I am curious to learn more about it. So there must be trails about the countryside in certain areas, like a national park or something? Answer when you get back, of course. It sounds like a lot of fun and a great natural, outdoorsy type of getaway.
Pluto ... the area that we are walking in is around the village of Dailly ...The Village of Dailly, Ayrshire, Scotland
It's not quite up to the level of the Smoky Mountains but there is a lot of history there ... I'll get some pics on our travels.
What an excellent topic to create a discussion on! But where do I start!?! I just love books and reading them1 We have a bookcase in virtually every room in the house and now I have my Kindle. I am fairly diverse in my reading choices. I love some bios, certain historical novels, some sci-fy, ...
What I have enjoyed on our recent travels ... (excluding travel books) ...
1. Conn Iggulden ... two great series ... one around the Roman Empire ( The Gates of Rome ... is the first) ... one about Genghis Khan (Wolf of the Plains ... is the first) ... not sure about historical accuracy but great reads.
2. Tolkien ... I'm a fan ... I read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to all of our kids when they were small ... I still read them! ... and the films were mega!
3. Kathy Lynn Emerson ... has written a series of books called Face Down xxxx ... e.g. Face Down under the Wych Elm ... they are set in the Elizabethan period and feature a character called Lady Appleton who is a herbalist and Elizabethan detective ... again, not sure re historical accuracy, but they are a very entertaining read.
4. Robin Hobb ... I have 16 of her books on my Kindle ... Science Fantasy, but a great holiday read
5. George R R Martin ... another science fantasy ... now made into a TV series ... I've not yet seen it though.
6. Stieg Larsson ... Girl with ... trilogy ... great books but they can keep the films ... I still need to visit Sweden!
7. Michael Ridpath ... has written a number of books based in Iceland ... detective type stories ... he describes the Icelandic scenery and culture perfectly
8. Walter Issacson ... Steve Jobs bio ... great book and gave a really vivid insight into SJ ... a very strange but amazing guy.
We are off to Scotland tomorrow for a week's walking ... I am taking a series by Trudi Canavan with me this time ...
Books on Greece
1) Zorba The Greek - takes place on Crete.
2) Andreas Papandreou - leadership style & contemporary Greek politics & economics.
3) ProfC thread on Greek Language Books
4) Travel Books on Greece from ProfC's thread on Languages
Pretty inconsistent release strategy by editors, some availalbe on eBook, others hardcopy only, and very different pricing.
Hey GemP ... I have just managed to download ProfC's Virgin Warrior onto my Kindle ... I plan to start it tonight! I also came across a book called Travels with a Tangerine by Tim Mackintosh-Smith. A really fascinating book in a charity shop (not Kindle though) ... Tim follows the Tangier to Constantinople stage of a 29 year journey by Ibn Battutah in 1325.
Thanx Chisf for the wonderful recommendation!
I am definately reading, "Travels with Tangerine" by Tim KacKintosh-Smith
When I look it up on amazon.com I find that there is another one by that author, Travels of Ibn Battutah which I think I will also get (through for my nook as I am a nook reader)
Another one that is similiar is, "The Sword and the Scimitar" which I read initially as background material on Malta, as it starts out in Malta, with a brother and sister and follows them through their lives making for a great story, but also a good device to compare the Christian East with the Muslim West, and those that get caught inbetween like this family, and a small Jewish settlement living on Malta in the caves that the sister befriends. The brother is kidnapped and taken to Algiers and sold in the slave market, and eventually ends up in Istanbul and ends up in the Turkish Navy and in the battle at Malta. Ths sister grows up on Malta and is involved with the church their, and the Order of St. John. It also had alot of information on the training of medical doctors and surgeons in those days and times.
Am very disappointed that Nook does not have any books by Tim Mackintosh-Smith. I tried it with and without hyphens, using just one or the other parts of the hyphenated name, and fnally by the book name, and did not find it. I think I am going to let both B&N and the publisher know how disappointed I am, and see what there plans are. I hate to buy a hard copy.
That looks great too!
I think I will download, "No Easy Day" by Mark Owen and Kevin Mauer. Were the authors involved in the mission to take down Osama bin Laden?
Yes, that's the same book, pluto. My opinion is that I haven't necessarily learned anything substantial from the book that I hadn't already heard on Fox News, but I give it a whole lot more credibility coming straight from the personal account of one of the special operators who was there.
I have not read On Wings of Eagles, but after googleing it, I'm going to. Interestingly, I was involved with the group responsible for security of the Shah when he got medical treatment in San Antonio. So I'm sure I'll enjoy On Wings of Eagles. Thanks.
I think you'll enjoy it also. It's one of the few works of non-fiction that Follett has done. I was much younger when I read it, but still it is an accurate account of the rescue op, and I found it riveting. I'm reading Follett's Fall of Giants currently, and although it's fiction, there is a respectable amount of historic accuracy, so am learning new things about WWI as well as life as it was 100 years ago.
Have finished some of Ken Follet's older books which are very interesting, and am in process of reading, "On Wings of Eagles"
Don't know if he was ever in British Intelligence and had 1st hand knowledge or if he is just a good journalist and does his background research and interviews, but its not only interesting reading, but very informative. Even though I lived through the perid of, "On Wings of Eagles", and happened to be in DC at the time with ties into the Iranian community, I did not remember half the details he is covering in his book.
There is also a recent movie about the period called, ARGO, which I also enjoyed and brought back alot of memories of the times.
Follett is one of my faves. When I read him, I often take notes. His research is excellent and I always learn a lot from his works. He was never in intelligence. Just a talented journalist who became rich doing what he loves, writing good stories. On Wings of Eagles was riveting, especially so because it was not a work of fiction, but a true story of a military style rescue operation of "hostages" on foreign soil, but performed outside of the military. A long time ago, Ross Perot was in the data processing business (same as me, only now referred to as "Information Technology"), and I worked with a lot of his companies software. That combined with the fact that the story was published while I was a computer programmer in the U.S. Marine Corps (a military type at that time), made the story especially fascinating for me.
Thanks for mentioning Triple. It looks good too. I haven't seen Argo yet, but am looking forward to it. The DVD has already come down in price (I usually wait for that, as well as for books to come out in soft cover). I am so behind since baseball started. It seems like that's all I've watched on tv recently. That and "Le Tour." And now America's Cup has started. I'm doomed for a while, I fear.
Just finished, "No Easy Day" which was a fascinating book, and also saw the author interviewed on TV under his pseudonym.
Recommended it to several friends who also loved it.
Has anyone readm, "Outpost" by Jake Tapper who also wrote, "Into the Fire"?
Just saw Jake Tapper interviewed on Jimmy Kimmel Live last night and found the discussion on Nuristan, a province in Afghanistan intriguing. The interview was primarily on this unusual province, and interviewing insurrgents via Skype through fixers, which is also intriguing considering what happened to other journalists who have tried to do this in person (A Mighty Heart, a movie by Angelina Jolie). Checking the written reviews, it seems to be more a story of Command Outpost Keating and the 53 US Troops stationed there, and the eight fallen heroes, as well as information on US policy over several presidencies that contributed to it. Am thinking it might be more like a, "13 Days" autopsy of the Bay of Pigs Decision Making. Am wondering if the Kimmel interview which focused on Nuristan culture, was just a way of sidestepping the political controversy that may be buried in this book per the other book reviews (links below from both ends of the political spectrum, as well as literary circles).
Trynig to decide to put this on my nook for my upcoming vacation, or stick to the other great books mentioned above, that I have not yet read. One of my favorite books about the Middle East is by a Journalist and is called, "The Arabist".
Please feel free to contribute new suggestions, or feedback on suggestions already recommended below.
Note:Copy of this list with updates through July 20, 2013 is at the following link. http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/thread/14328. I am unable to update the copy so will continue to maintain this list
Netherlands - The Girls with the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier (recommended by profchiara)
Norway - The Bat, The Redbreast by Jo Nesbo - Harry Hole Detective Series (recommended by ssindc)
Sweden - The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo by Stieg Larsson (Recommended by chrisf)
Travel Guide Books
Note:Copy of this list with updates through July 20, 2013 is at the following link. http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/thread/14328. I am unable to update the copy so will continue to maintain this list
Great list, GemPrincess! Thank goodness I finally figured out a way to access MRI, but it took quite a while...
Jeffrey Siger has a few other Greek islands and Athens mysteries, and a new one coming out at the end of August.
For Turkey in the times of Theodora and Justinian, Stella Duffy's Theodora is wonderfully entertaining and very accurate.
Donna Leon literally has about two dozen Inspector Brunetti mysteries that take place in Venice or its lagoon.
And don't forget Tracy Chevalier if you like place-oriented historical fiction. The Girl With the Peal Earring is very good, but I liked the Lady and the Unicorn best.
Another excellent and very readable book by David McCullough is "The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris". I am certain that those who enjoy traveling to Paris or are planning a trip there will especially enjoy it. Of course, I do not think you can go wrong with any of his books.
Totally Agree profchiara
I always like to get familiar with the food by reading the cookbooks, and trying restaurants here in the US. Both NYC & WDC have restaurants from most places in the world.