Travel Book Reviews

Travel books can be a good way to preview a place you plan to visit, learn about a destination you may never see, or compare notes on a location to which you have already travelled. Travelogues and memoirs are the most common types, although there are many books that could be classified under the category 'travel,' simply because they are set in a location previously unknown to the author. Below is a list of travel book reviews I have written. Click on the links to read the full reviews.

North of South by Shiva Naipaul
Some experiences defy description. For example, an LSD trip or the inexplicably surreal atmosphere a first-time traveller to Africa encounters. Imagine travelling to Africa, dropping a hit of acid and then later trying to describe the experience to someone who has done neither? In fact, Shiva Naipaul's book, North of South: An African Journey, has nothing to do with drugs. But he does a good job of capturing the incomprehensible absurdities that inevitably rain down on the heads of visitors to the dark continent.

Read the full review here...
The Shadow of the Sun by Ryszard Kapuscinski
It's surprising that more people have not heard of Ryszard Kapuscinski. That's not to suggest that his books and essays are not well known. But he was such a skilled journalist and writer that he should be more widely read and celebrated.

Kapuscinski was a Polish journalist who arrived in Africa in the late 1950s to chronicle the political upheavals in numerous countries as colonialism started to unravel.
On the Road
Read the full review here...

On the Road by Jack Kerouac
More than 20 years later—most of that time spent travelling or living in foreign countries—I decided it was time to revisit Kerouac's classic to see if it has stood the test of time. Would I still see On the Road the way I had years ago? Would Kerouac's words ring as true to me as they had more than two decades earlier?

Read the full review here...
Travels with Charley
Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck
In 1960, John Steinbeck set off in his modified pickup truck with his poodle, Charley, and spent the next two and a half months travelling across America. The journey occurred in the twilight of Steinbeck's life, and appropriately, he departed just after summer had rolled away to die. His ostensible reason for making the trip was to rediscover something about America, its people, and its character. In Travels with Charley: In Search of America, Steinbeck chronicles his journey.

Read the full review here...

Wild Coast
Wild Coast by John Gimlette
In Wild Coast: Travels on South America's Untamed Edge, John Gimlette recounts three months spent travelling in Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana. He travels extensively, interacts with many of the locals and provides historical background on the region.

Read the full review here..

People Who Eat Darkness
People Who Eat Darkness by Richard Lloyd Perry
It's a bit of a stretch to classify People Who Eat Darkness as a travel book. Most readers would correctly call it a true crime book. However, the author captures the essence of living in a foreign country so perfectly that I have included it here.

Read the full review here...
The Wandering Goy
The Wandering Goy by Ken Austin
Israel fascinated me more than any of the other countries I had visited in the previous year of backpacking around Europe. The weather, the history and the beautiful women were aspects that made it a popular destination for backpackers. But part of the appeal was also the fact that backpackers could stay for relatively long stretches and could easily find work.

Read the full review here...
Do Travel Writers Go to Hell?
Do Travel Writers Go to Hell by Thomas Kohnstamm
Back in 2008 when Do Travel Writers Go to Hell?: A Swashbuckling Tale of High Adventures, Questionable Ethics, and Professional Hedonism was published, it had a few hooks that ensured instant publicity. The first was the promise of exposing the life of a Lonely Planet guide-book writer on the road. The second was a whole lot of shameless behaviour depicted in the book, which was guaranteed to stoke one of the greatest of human past-times; judging other people.
Read the full review here...
Medium Raw

Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain
The ostensible focus of this book is Bourdain's take on various chefs, restaurants and trends in the food industry. And in some of the twenty or so vaguely connected essays/thought pieces, Bourdain travels to a number of different locations as well. But in reality the book is Bourdain going mainstream and making nice with people he slandered or otherwise offended in his first book, Kitchen Confidential. The writing and entertainment value don't come close to Kitchen Confidential, but there still are some interesting pieces in here, if only for the insight they provide into Bourdain's character.
Read the full review here...