Let's Get Out of This Town: Literary Travel

Journey through place and time with this collection of new and forthcoming travel books, spotlighting some of the best travel writing and a few of the most amazing places on earth.

*****

Our Trip Around the World, by Renate Belczyk (Coming in September)

About the book: A spirited 1950s travelogue that takes the reader around the world during a time when two independent young women travelling alone was considered almost revolutionary.

Renate Belczyk was born in Dresden, Germany, in 1932. When she was three years old her family moved to Berlin, where they settled into a small apartment building on the outskirts of the city. It was in this building that she met another adventurous girl, Sigrid, with whom she would travel around the world as young women after the Second World War.

Having spent most of their childhood and teenage years climbing trees, swimming, cycling, hiking, and adventuring around Germany the two young women attended a talk by the German writer Heinrich Böll.

During his presentation the renowned author suggested to the crowd that they all travel to different countries and make friends with the locals whenever they could, as this would help prevent another war. Renate and Sigrid took this advice to heart, and from that point their adventures together took flight.

Starting in 1955 and travelling for three years to England, France, Spain, Portugal, Mexico, Canada, Japan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Egypt, Turkey, Macedonia, and Greece, their adventures together culminated with their joint return to Germany in 1958. In 1959 Renate returned to the Canadian Rockies to work in the backcountry, and in 1960 she married mountaineer Felix Belczyk and settled in Castlegar, BC, where they raised three children.

Our Trip Around the World is an endearing snapshot of the postwar era when adventure travel—mountaineering, hiking, hitchhiking, and cycling—was enticing those with adventurous spirits to experience the world like never before.

*

Road Trips, by Trevor Carolan

About the book: Veteran globe-trotter Trevor Carolan conjures 19 evocative road tales for armchair and seasoned travellers alike. A harvest of encounters with intriguing people, remarkable landscapes and cultures, his reportage sings with a love of food, art, literature, music and wine. Ranging from Bali to California, Cuba to Laos and Hawaii, wild British Columbia, new Poland and old Ireland, these meditations in search of an authentic life invite you to journey along to Morocco’s Sahara and to Buddhist temples in Mother India, meet Janis Joplin and B.B. King on the road, discover Lisbon’s beloved fado singers or drift on a slow boat down the Mekong. Whether it’s living the artist’s life in France and Madrid or dancing your prayers at a Burning Man-generational forest rave, this is travel writing for a world in need of joy and renewal.

*

Magdalena: River of Dreams, by Wade Davis (Coming in September)

About the book: Travelers often become enchanted with the first country that captures their hearts and gives them license to be free. For Wade Davis, it was Colombia. Now in a masterful new book, the bestselling author tells of his travels on the mighty Magdalena, the river that made possible the nation.

Along the way, he finds a people who have overcome years of conflict precisely because of their character, informed by an enduring spirit of place, and a deep love of a land that is home to the greatest ecological and geographical diversity on the planet. Only in Colombia can a traveller wash ashore in a coastal desert, follow waterways through wetlands as wide as the sky, ascend narrow tracks through dense tropical forests, and reach verdant Andean valleys rising to soaring ice-clad summits. This rugged and impossible geography finds its perfect coefficient in the topography of the Colombian spirit: restive, potent, at times placid and calm, in moments explosive and wild.

Both a corridor of commerce and a fountain of culture, the wellspring of Colombian music, literature, poetry and prayer, the Magdalena has served in dark times as the graveyard of the nation. And yet, always, it returns as a river of life. At once an absorbing adventure and an inspiring tale of hope and redemption, Magdalena gives us a rare, kaleidoscopic picture of a nation on the verge of a new period of peace. Braiding together memoir, history, and journalism, Wade Davis tells the story of the country's most magnificent river, and in doing so, tells the epic story of Colombia.

*

Wheel the World: Travelling with Walkers & Wheelchairs, by Jeanette Dean

About the book: You CAN travel with a walker or wheelchair.

Seniors are living longer, and there are an increasing number of us who have mobility issues but want to live life to the fullest. For those who want to continue to enjoy travelling, the use of a walker or wheelchair may be necessary. Lack of mobility creates problems, so careful planning before a trip is essential. Wheel the World describes some of the difficulties I have encountered when travelling by bus, by ship, and by car. Though these difficulties don’t go away, I hope you will find that they are not insurmountable, and that discovering new places and revisiting familiar ones can still be thrilling and fun.

*

Reaching Mithymna: Among the Volunteers and Refugees on Lesvos, by Steven Heighton (Coming in September)

About the book: In the fall of 2015, Steven Heighton made an overnight decision to travel to the frontlines of the Syrian refugee crisis in Greece and enlist as a volunteer. He arrived on the isle of Lesvos with a duffel bag and a dubious grasp of Greek, his mother's native tongue, and worked on the landing beaches and in OXY—a jerrybuilt, ad hoc transit camp providing simple meals, dry clothes, and a brief rest to refugees after their crossing from Turkey. In a town deserted by the tourists that had been its lifeblood, Heighton—alongside the exhausted locals and under-equipped international aid workers—found himself thrown into emergency roles for which he was woefully unqualified.

From the brief reprieves of volunteer-refugee soccer matches to the riots of Camp Moria, Reaching Mithymna is a firsthand account of the crisis and an engaged exploration of the borders that divide us and the ties that bind.

*

Blue Sky Kingdom, by Bruce Kirkby

About the book: One morning at breakfast, while gawking at his phone and feeling increasingly disconnected from family and everything else of importance in his world, it strikes writer Bruce Kirkby: this isn’t how he wants to live.

Within days, plans begin to take shape. Bruce, his wife Christine, and their two children—seven-year-old Bodi and three-year-old Taj—will cross the Pacific by container ship, then travel onward through South Korea, China, India and Nepal aboard bus, riverboat and train, eventually traversing the Himalaya by foot. Their destination: a thousand-year-old Buddhist monastery in the remote Zanskar valley, one of the last places where Tibetan Buddhism is still practised freely in its original setting.

Taken into the mud-brick home of a senior lama, Tsering Wangyal, the family spends the summer absorbed by monastery life. In this refuge, where ancient traditions intersect with the modern world, Bruce discovers ways to slow down, to observe and listen, and ultimately, to better understand his son on the autism spectrum—to surrender all expectations and connect with Bodi exactly as he is.

Recounted with wit and humility, Blue Sky Kingdom is an engaging travel memoir as well as a thoughtful exploration of modern distraction, the loss of ancient wisdom, and the challenges and rewards of intercultural friendships.

*

Pravda Ha Ha: True Travels to the End of Europe, by Rory MacLean

About the book: An unsettling, timely, and darkly comic exposé of Putin's Russia and European disintegration from highly acclaimed travel writer Rory MacLean.

In 1989 the Berlin Wall fell. In that euphoric year Rory MacLean travelled from Berlin to Moscow, exploring lands that were—for most Brits and Americans—part of the forgotten half of Europe. Thirty years on, MacLean traces his original journey backwards, across countries confronting old ghosts and new fears: from revanchist Russia, through Ukraine's bloodlands, into illiberal Hungary, and then Poland, Germany and the UK. Along the way he shoulders an AK-47 to go hunting with Moscow'schicken Tsar, plays video games in St Petersburg with a cyber-hacker who cracked the US election, drops by the Che Guevara High School of Political Leadership in a non-existent nowhereland and meets the Warsaw doctor who tried to stop a march of 70,000 nationalists. Finally, on the shores of Lake Geneva, he waits patiently to chat with Mikhail Gorbachev.

As Europe sleepwalks into a perilous new age, MacLean explores how opportunists—both within and outside of Russia, from Putin to Home Counties populists—have made a joke of truth, exploiting refugees and the dispossessed, and examines the veracity of historical narrative from reportage to fiction and fake news. He asks what happened to the optimism of 1989 and, in the shadow of Brexit, chronicles the collapse of the European dream.

*

Stories of Ice: Adventure, Commerce and Creativity on Canada’s Glaciers, by Lynn Martel (Coming in September)

About the book: From a mother/daughter duo who spent five months skiing across icefields from Vancouver to Alaska, to scientists discovering biofilms deep inside glacier caverns, to protesters camping for weeks to protect their beloved local glacier, western Canada’s glaciers are dynamic, enigmatic, exquisitely beautiful, sometimes dangerous environments where people play, work, run businesses, explore, and create art every single day.

Author Lynn Martel is one of them. With gorgeous images by some of the country’s best outdoor photographers, Stories of Ice shares the excitement, the mystery, and the wonder of Canada’s glaciers and poses questions about their future.

*

Black Water: Family, Legacy, and Blood Memory, by David A. Robertson (Coming in September)

About the book: A son who grew up away from his Indigenous culture takes his Cree father on a trip to their family's trapline, and finds that revisiting the past not only heals old wounds but creates a new future.

The son of a Cree father and a non-Indigenous mother, David A. Robertson was raised with virtually no knowledge or understanding of his family’s Indigenous roots. His father, Don, spent his early childhood on a  trapline in the bush northeast of Norway House, Manitoba, where his first teach was the land. When his family was moved permanently to a nearby reserve, Don was not permitted to speak Cree at school unless in secret with his friends and lost the knowledge he had been gifted while living on his trapline. His mother, Beverly, grew up in a small Manitoba town with not a single Indigenous family in it. Then Don arrived, the new United Church minister, and they fell in love. 

Structured around a father-son journey to the northern trapline where Robertson and his father will reclaim their connection to the land, Black Water is the story of another journey: a young man seeking to understand his father's story, to come to terms with his lifelong experience with anxiety, and to finally piece together his own blood memory, the parts of his identity that are woven into the fabric of his DNA.

August 3, 2020
Books mentioned in this post
Road Trips

Road Trips

Journeys in the Unspoiled World
edition:Paperback
More Info
Wheel the World

Wheel the World

Travelling with Walkers & Wheelchairs
edition:Paperback
More Info
Reaching Mithymna

Reaching Mithymna

Among the Volunteers and Refugees on Lesvos
edition:Paperback
More Info
Blue Sky Kingdom

Blue Sky Kingdom

An Epic Family Journey to the Heart of the Himalaya
edition:Hardcover
More Info
Pravda Ha Ha

Pravda Ha Ha

True Travels to the End of Europe
edition:Hardcover
tagged : russia
More Info
Stories of Ice

Stories of Ice

Adventure, Commerce and Creativity on Canada's Glaciers
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
More Info
Black Water

Black Water

Family, Legacy, and Blood Memory
edition:Hardcover
also available: eBook
More Info
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