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In this sumptuous vision of Venice, Peter Ackroyd turns his unparalleled skill at evoking place from London and the River Thames, to Italy and the city of myth, mystery and beauty, set like a jewel in its glistening lagoon.His account is at once romantic and packed with facts, conjuring up the atmosphere of the canals, bridges and sunlit squares, the churches and the markets, the fiestas and the flowers.He leads us through the history of the city, from the first refugees arriving in the mists of the lagoon in the fourth century to the rise of a great mercantile state and a trading empire, the wars against Napoleon and the tourist invasions of today. Everything is here: the merchants on the Rialto and the Jews in the ghetto; the mosaics of St Mark's and the glass blowers of Murano; the carnival masks and the sad colonies of lepers; the doges and the destitute and the artists with their passion for colour and form - Bellini, Titian, Tintoretto, Tiepolo. There are wars and sieges, scandals and seductions, fountains playing in deserted squares and crowds thronging the markets.And there is a dark undertone too, of shadowy corners and dead ends, prisons and punishment. The language and way of thinking of the Venetians sets them aside from the rest of Italy. They are an island people, linked to the sea and to the tides rather than the land.'The moon rules Venice,' Ackroyd writes: 'It is built on ocean shells and ocean ground; it has the aspect of infinity.It is the floating world...changing and variable and accidental.'This book, like a magic gondola, transports its readers to thatsensual, surprising realm. We could have no better guide - reading Ackroyd's Venice is, in itself, a glorious journey and the perfect holiday.
London: The Autobiography tells the story of the world's greatest city through the people who were there. From Boudicca's savage raid on Roman London in 60AD to the bombing of 7/7, London speaks for itself. In London: The Autobiography the life of the capital is told, for the first time, by those who made it and saw it at first hand. From Roman times to the 21st century, Londoners and visitors to the city have recounted the extraordinary events, everyday life and character of this unique and influential city – from politics, culture, sport, religion, and reportage. This book brings to vivid life the human trial of the capital including invasions by the Vikings, the brutal execution of Sir Thomas More, the sight of a whale swimming up the Thames and the rebuilding of St Paul’s by Sir Christopher Wren, as well as the everyday life of the city. Includes contributions from George Orwell, Martin Amis, Dr Johnson, Karl Marx, Winston Churchill, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Virginia Woolfe, George Melly, Tacitus, Samuel Pepys and many others.
This book is the only guide you will need to explore all the most important historical sites on the planet. From Stonehenge to the Great Wall of China, from Sterkfontein Caves - the 'cradle of humanity' in South Africa to Checkpoint Charlie, Germany and everywhere inbetween. The book explores all the sites that bear significance to us today. Places where Kings and Queens were crowned, wars were won and lost, people worship are all featured here, as well as sites that saw great advancements in structural engineering. Some will be familiar to all, others are less well-known but informed, entertaining text and stunning photography will ensure the reader has immense satisfaction at the discovery of each and every one.
When Duncan Fallowell was left some money by a friend he decided to put into practice a long held idea – to travel as far as possible from home so that he need never travel again and could relax. For him this meant travelling to New Zealand, where another fantasy soon asserted itself – ‘to find the place of perfect exile’. Fallowell’s curiosity leads him onto the strangest paths and he found himself in pursuit of unknown painters and lost buildings and sex underground, of Karl Popper and a creature with the third eye and rosé wine, of Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier who’d toured the country in the year of Fallowell’s birth, of suicidal writers and nuns and elusive answers to impossible questions. The faraway paradise gradually turns into a glittering stranger on the Pacific rim, filled with the uncertainties of our times - but also a wonderful place to breathe. The result is a moving encounter with the past, an anxious gaze into the future, but most of all a vivid voyage through the contemporary world, by turns profound, comical and erotic.
Whether you want to take a relaxing vacation in Asia, a backpacking journey in South America, a road trip in the USA, a cultural tour in Europe, or a safari in Africa, we've got the most inspiring and eclectic collection of hotels, guesthouses, boats, lodges, spas, and houseboats that you could ask for. Just flip through the pages of this new compilation of dreamy spots to plan your next holiday, wherever it may be. Highlights include: in Kerala, India, futuristic-looking, Star Wars-style houseboats made of bamboo poles, palm leaves, and coconut fibers; the best place for a delectable cup of joe: a luxury lodge and spa on a java plantation in (you guessed it) Java; an Ayurvedic spa in the Himalayas where nothing matters but peace and relaxation; a lush Kenyan open-walled hut fashioned from tree trunks and shielded from the sun by a sumptuous thatched roof; Gio Ponti's sleek blue and white hotel perched on the cliffs in Sorrento, Italy; an elegant auberge in Napa Valley, California where you can stay during your wine tasting tour; a historic ranch nestled in a Death Valley oasis; an adobe hotel in the Chilean desert; in Bolivia's Uyuni salt desert, a hotel built entirely of salt; and, an "ecolodge" on a natural reserve in the Amazon rain forest.
Paul Martin, presenter of the popular BBC2 "Flog It" series, has had the privilege of being allowed exceptional access to almost every town and city, where he has unlocked doors to reveal fascinating and unusual people, magnificent collections - many being seen in public for the first time - and quirky places. Paul's refreshingly informed perspective means it takes us beyond the tourist trail. At Highclere Castle, he didn't head straight for the Egyptian pyramid relics that have haunted the Caernarvon Earls but instead uncovered a beautiful wooden writing desk that had huge significance in European history and now lay ignored in the corner of a seldom-visited library. Recent discoveries have also included a brutal mouth harness designed to hold the tongues of gossiping Scots women; beautiful pewter bowls washed ashore from a shipwreck off the Scilly Isles, and a bizarre collection of commercial bakelite products including an indestructable coffin.
The name John Muir has come to stand for the protection of wild land and wilderness in both America and Britain. Born in Dunbar in 1838, Muir is famed as a pioneer of American conservation and his passion, discipline and vision still inspire. Combining acute observation with a sense of inner discovery, Muir's writings of his summer in what would become the great national park of Yosemite in California's Sierra valley raise a close awareness of nature to a spiritual dimension. His journal provides a unique marriage of natural history, lyrical prose and amusing anecdote, retaining a freshness, intensity and brutal honesty which will amaze the modern reader.
"In many ways I was like Alice," writes Alan Macfarlane on his first encounter with Japan, "that very assured and middle-class English girl, when she walked through the looking glass. I was full of certainty, confidence and unexamined assumptions about my categories. In this fascinating and endlessly surprising book he takes us with him on an exploration of every aspect of Japanese society from the most public to the most intimate.
In the summer of 1989, John Williams donned a baseball cap and took off for the States to search out the mythical America of modern crime fiction - to find James Ellroy's LA, Elmore Leonard's sleazy South Beach of Miami, Sara Paretsky's Chicago, and many others on an unnerving tour of the American underbelly. The result was "Into the Badlands", a riveting collection of interviews that introduced a generation of crime fans to now legendary writers. In 2005, Williams returned to discover that much had changed in the intervening years, both in crime writing and in America as a whole. As Williams crosses America in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, he finds himself in a profoundly uneasy country. Whether their territory is inner-city DC, like George Pelecanos, or the rural white poverty of the Ozark Hills, like Daniel Woodrell, the best crime writers today are sending despatches from the edge. John Williams brings their visions together to construct a powerful, personal portrait of America today. This book also contains interviews with James Lee Burke, James Ellroy, James Crumley, Sara Paretsky, Eugene Izzi, Elmore Leonard, George V. Higgins, Vicki Hendricks, Kem Nunn, Kinky Friedman, Daniel Woodrell, and George P. Pelecanos.
Is Spirituality, Travel and History All Mixed Into a Fun To Read Book About Life and Purpose
The Neteru recounts the Egyptian story of how our world came into being and the deities who empowered mankind to grow into spiritual creatures. The teachings of this ancient civilization encourage connection with nature and all forms of life around us. Bass&rsquos work also explains how many modern innovations and methods were first developed in Ancient Egypt.
Mary Olivia Bass has announced the release of her intriguing second book, The Neteru: How We All Came To Be. By highlighting links between Ancient Egypt and present-day society, Bass helps readers recognize the untapped knowledge left behind by our ancestors.
The Neteru, a Book on Ancient Egypt, Is Spirituality, Travel and History All Mixed Into a Fun To Read Book About Life and Purpose
The Neteru recounts the Egyptian story of how our world came into being and the deities who empowered mankind to grow into spiritual creatures. The teachings of this ancient civilization encourage connection with nature and all forms of life around us. Bass’s work also explains how many modern innovations and methods were first developed in Ancient Egypt.
Travel, spirituality, and history enthusiasts alike will enjoy the immersive style of The Neteru and Bass’s refreshing perspective on the ancient world. For those who are interested in the Egyptian roots of alchemical healing and shamanic work, Nicki Scully’s books are excellent companions to The Neteru.
National Statistics Day 2021 Date and Theme: History and Significance of the Day That Celebrates the Birth Anniversary of PC Mahalanobis
Furthermore, as an African American writer, Bass believes The Neteru has the potential to show young people their own power and improve the collective self-esteem of the African American community. With accessible language and passion, Bass challenges readers to consider where humans came from and what our greater purpose is on this planet. Although this is often a lifelong journey, she hopes that The Neteru will serve as a gateway to thinking critically about modern life.
1. The Nomad: The Diaries of Isabelle Eberhardt by Isabelle Eberhardt
Eberhardt’s story alone is reason to read her writing. She was born in Geneva in 1877, then moved to Algeria, converted to Islam, and before her drowning at 27 in a desert flood, she lived her short life dressed as a man, traveling North Africa extensively and writing stories. This journal chronicles her life and exploration in the Sahara desert as a 19th century woman disguised as an Arab man.
“Now more than ever do I realize I will never be content with a sedentary life, that I will always be haunted by thoughts of a sun-drenched elsewhere.”
A forerunner of the guidebook was the periplus, an itinerary from landmark to landmark of the ports along a coast. A periplus such as the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea was a manuscript document that listed, in order, the ports and coastal landmarks, with approximate intervening distances, that the captain of a vessel could expect to find along a shore. This work was possibly written in the middle of the 1st century CE.  It served the same purpose as the later Roman itinerarium of road stops.
The periegesis, or "progress around" was an established literary genre during the Hellenistic age. A lost work by Agaclytus describing Olympia ( περὶ Ὀλυμπίας ) is referred to by the Suda and Photius.   Dionysius Periegetes (literally, Dionysius the Traveller) was the author of a description of the habitable world in Greek hexameter verse written in a terse and elegant style, intended for the klismos traveller rather than the actual tourist on the ground he is believed to have worked in Alexandria and to have flourished around the time of Hadrian. An early "remarkably well-informed and interesting guidebook" was the Hellados Periegesis (Descriptions of Greece) of Pausanias of the 2nd century A.D.  This most famous work is a guide to the interesting places, works of architecture, sculpture, and curious customs of Ancient Greece, and is still useful to Classicists today. With the advent of Christianity, the guide for the European religious pilgrim became a useful guidebook. An early account is that of the pilgrim Egeria, who visited the Holy Land in the 4th century CE and left a detailed itinerary.
In the medieval Arab world, guide books for travelers in search of artifacts and treasures were written by Arabic treasure hunters, magicians, and alchemists. This was particularly the case in Arab Egypt, where treasure hunters were eager to find valuable ancient Egyptian antiquities. Some of the books claimed to be imbued with magic that could dispel the magical barriers believed to be protecting the artifacts. 
Travel literature became popular during the Song Dynasty (960–1279) of medieval China. The genre was called 'travel record literature' (youji wenxue), and was often written in narrative, prose, essay and diary style. Travel literature authors such as Fan Chengda (1126–1193) and Xu Xiake (1587–1641) incorporated a wealth of geographical and topographical information into their writing, while the 'daytrip essay' Record of Stone Bell Mountain by the noted poet and statesman Su Shi (1037–1101) presented a philosophical and moral argument as its central purpose. 
In the West, the guidebook developed from the published personal experiences of aristocrats who traveled through Europe on the Grand Tour. As the appreciation of art, architecture and antiquity became ever-more essential ingredients of the noble upbringing so they predominated in the guidebooks, particularly those devoted to the Italian peninsula. Richard Lassels (1603-1668) wrote a series of manuscript guides which were eventually published posthumously in Paris and London (1670) as The Voyage of Italy.  Grand Tour guidebooks poured off the presses throughout the eighteenth century, those such as Patrick Brydone's A Tour Through Sicily and Malta being read by many who never left England. 
Between 1626 and 1649 the Dutch publisher, Officina Elzeviriana (House of Elzevir), published a bestselling pocketbook series, the Respublicae Elzevirianae (Elzevirian Republics), which has been described as the "ancestor of the modern travel guide".  Each volume gave information (geography, population, economy, history) on a country in Europe, Africa, the Near East or the Far East. 
An important transitional figure from the idiosyncratic style of the Grand Tour travelogues to the more informative and impersonal guidebook was Mariana Starke. Her 1824 guide to travel in France and Italy served as an essential companion for British travelers to the Continent in the early 19th century. She recognized that with the growing numbers of Britons traveling abroad after 1815 the majority of her readers would now be in family groups and on a budget. She therefore included for the first time a wealth of advice on luggage, obtaining passports, the precise cost of food and accommodation in each city and even advice on the care of invalid family members. She also devised a system of . exclamation mark ratings, a forerunner of today's star ratings. Her books, published by John Murray, served as a template for later guides.
In the United States, the first published guidebook was Gideon Minor Davison's The Fashionable Tour, published in 1822, and Theodore Dwight's The Northern Traveller and Henry Gilpin's The Northern Tour, both from 1825. 
Modern guidebook Edit
The modern guidebook emerged in the 1830s, with the burgeoning market for long distance tourism. The publisher John Murray began printing the Murray's Handbooks for Travellers in London from 1836.  The series covered tourist destinations in Europe, Asia and northern Africa, and he introduced the concept of "sights" which he rated in terms of their significance using stars for Starke's exclamation points. According to scholar James Buzard, the Murray style "exemplified the exhaustive rational planning that was as much an ideal of the emerging tourist industry as it was of British commercial and industrial organization generally." 
In Germany, Karl Baedeker acquired the publishing house of Franz Friedrich Röhling in Koblenz, which in 1828 had published a handbook for travellers by Professor Johannes August Klein entitled Rheinreise von Mainz bis Cöln ein Handbuch für Schnellreisende (A Rhine Journey from Mainz to Cologne A Handbook for Travellers on the Move). He published this book with little changes for the next ten years, which provided the seeds for Baedeker's new approach to travel guides. After Klein died, he decided to publish a new edition in 1839, to which he added many of his own ideas on what he thought a travel guide should offer the traveller. Baedeker's ultimate aim was to free the traveller from having to look for information anywhere outside the travel guide whether about routes, transport, accommodation, restaurants, tipping, sights, walks or prices. Baedeker emulated the style of John Murray's guidebooks,  but included unprecedented detailed information.
In 1846, Baedeker introduced his star ratings for sights, attractions and lodgings, following Mrs. Starke's and Murray's. This edition was also his first 'experimental' red guide. He also decided to call his travel guides 'handbooks', following the example of John Murray III. Baedeker's early guides had tan covers, but from 1856 onwards, Murray's red bindings and gilt lettering became the familiar hallmark of all Baedeker guides as well, and the content became famous for its clarity, detail and accuracy. 
Baedeker and Murray produced impersonal, objective guides works prior to this combined factual information and personal sentimental reflection.  The availability of the books by Baedeker and Murray helped sharpen and formalize the complementary genre of the personal travelogue, which was freed from the burden of serving as a guide book.  The Baedeker and Murray guide books were hugely popular and were standard resources for travelers well into the 20th century. As William Wetmore Story said in the 1860s, "Every Englishman abroad carries a Murray for information, and a Byron for sentiment, and finds out by them what he is to know and feel by every step."
After Karl Baedeker died, his son, also named Karl, inherited the Baedeker travel guide business however, he was killed in action during World War I. British nationalism and anti-German sentiment resulted in some British people labeling Baedeker guides "instrumental to the German war effort", and their popularity in the United Kingdom dropped considerably.  As a result, the two editors of Baedeker's English-language titles left the company and acquired the rights to Murray's Handbooks. The resulting guide books, called the Blue Guides to distinguish them from the red-covered Baedekers, constituted one of the major guide book series for much of the 20th century and are still published today.
Following World War II, two new names emerged which combined European and American perspectives on international travel. Eugene Fodor, a Hungarian-born author of travel articles, who had emigrated to the United States before the war, wrote guidebooks which introduced English-reading audiences to continental Europe. Arthur Frommer, an American soldier stationed in Europe during the Korean War, used his experience traveling around the Continent as the basis for Europe on $5 a Day (1957), which introduced readers to options for budget travel in Europe. Both authors' guidebooks became the foundations for extensive series, eventually covering destinations around the world, including the United States. In the decades that followed, Let's Go, Lonely Planet, Insight Guides, Rough Guides, and a wide variety of similar travel guides were developed, with varying focuses.
Specialist guides for mountains have a long history owing to the special needs of mountaineering, climbing, hill walking and scrambling. The guides by W A Poucher for example, are widely used for the hill regions of Britain. There are many more special guides to the numerous climbing grounds in Britain published by the Climbers Club, for example.
Travel guides for diving destinations and specific dive sites. These have been published as magazine articles, stand-alone books and websites, often publicising the dive sites in the vicinity of specific service providers.
With the emergence of digital technology, many publishers turned to electronic distribution, either in addition to or instead of print publication. This can take the form of downloadable documents for reading on a portable computer or hand held device such a PDA or iPod, or online information accessible via a web site. This enabled guidebook publishers to keep their information more current. Traditional guide book incumbents Lonely Planet, Frommers, Rough Guides, and In Your Pocket City Guides, and newcomers such as Schmap or Ulysses Travel Guides are now offering travel guides for download. New online and interactive guides such as Tripadvisor, Wikivoyage, and Travellerspoint enable individual travelers to share their own experiences and contribute information to the guide. Wikivoyage, CityLeaves, and Travellerspoint make the entire contents of their guides updatable by users, and make the information in their guides available as open content, free for others to use.
This list is a select sample of the full range of English language guide book publishers - either contemporary or historical.
30 of the Best Historical Books That Will Transport You to Another Time
Choose your own adventure, from prehistoric to present day.
While it is (still) impossible to travel through time, reading historical books is the best way to get a sense for how others lived in generations past. Whether you have a favorite time period you&rsquore fascinated by, or want to learn about a new culture, there&rsquos no shortage of popular books that are both rooted in history and highly entertaining.
Some of the best-received historical books range from biographies that further popularized famous figures, such as Ron Chernow&rsquos Alexander Hamilton, to surprisingly true tales that resemble novels, like Erik Larson&rsquos The Devil in the White City. Another important category of historical books are those that highlight the experiences of disenfranchised communities, such as Michelle Alexander&rsquos The New Jim Crow or An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz. Once you&rsquove finished reading some of these historical introductions, you can also dive deeper into books about racism, LGBT-focused books, or books by Hispanic authors to learn even more about these underrepresented but undoubtedly vital communities.
This international bestseller explores what it means to be human from a biological and historical perspective. It examines how homo sapiens survived out of six initial species that inhabited the Earth, and tries to connect the dots as we attempt to examine what will become of us as we gain the ability to bend laws of natural selection.
Critics praise Mary Beard's SPQR not only due to the vast amount of history it covers, nearly 1,000 years of ancient Rome, but also because of its easy readability. Beard avoids jargon and writes vividly to bring this dramatic time period to life.
Howard Zinn's book is now widely popular in classrooms across the country, in part because of its inclusive retelling of American history. Rather than focusing on the highest offices, Zinn writes about the perspectives women, Native Americans, factory workers, and other marginalized groups throughout our country's past.
Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz won the American Book Award in 2015 for this book, which challenges the origin story of the United States by telling it exclusively from the perspective of Indigenous peoples. Spanning over 400 years, it's a comprehensive examination of both colonialist government policy and Indigenous resistance.
The Devil in the White City is an incredibly popular historical book so vibrant that it almost reads like fiction. Erik Larson tells the story of two men at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair: one an architect, the other a serial killer.
Michelle Alexander's book has had a profound impact on recent U.S. history. Her argument that mass incarceration is an evolution of the racial caste system in America has inspired a new generation of activists, as well as aided Black Lives Matter and other racial justice movements.
If you watched Hamilton and are interested to learn more about this Founding Father, Ron Chernow's biography will be a fascinating read. It was Lin-Manuel Miranda's inspiration for the Broadway play, and unsurprisingly is a vivid account of Hamilton's role in birth of America.
This revisionist history book presents Genghis Khan and his accomplishments in a brand new light. Weatherford paints a picture of Khan as far more progressive than his European counterparts, and underscores his impact on trade, communication, and modern civilization as a whole.
A winner of numerous awards, Purnell's biography tells the story of Virginia Hall, an unlikely American spy during World War II. Hall, who started out as a Baltimore socialite, quickly rose the ranks and ultimately became the first Allied woman to conduct secret warfare behind enemy lines.
Pulitzer Prize winner Isabel Wilkerson captures the Great Migration of African Americans to Southern states from 1915 to 1970 with impressive detail. Featuring over a thousand interviews, records, and new data, this book is as well-researched as it is gripping.
For coverage of events in recent history, Rachel Maddow's Blowout offers a powerful account of how oil and gas industries have the ability to corrupt Western democracy as we know it.
John Barry chronicles the 1918 Flu Epidemic in The Great Influenza, and offers lessons we can use when considering how to handle future (and current) pandemics. According to Barry, the 1918 pandemic teaches us that most essential for survival is our authority's ability to establish trust among its citizens.
James Loewen's critique of American history textbooks in Lies My Teacher Told Me might make you rethink what you learned in school. His coverage spans events from the first Thanksgiving to the Iraq War, while offering a plea for greater truth in education.
Patrick Keefe tells the story of the Troubles in Northern Ireland through the entry point of the 1972 murder of widow Jean McConville. By interviewing people on both sides, he captures this all-around devastating conflict in intimate detail.
Henrietta Lacks, though not alive today, has cells that are, and they sparked a medical revolution involving the development of the polio vaccine, cloning, and more. Her incredible story is one of scientific discovery and its dark past of experimenting on African Americans, told beautifully by Rebecca Skloot.
English comedian Stephen Fry makes Greek mythology accessible and entertaining in Mythos. By infusing familiar tales such as Pandora's Box with humor and fresh historical perspective, his take on the Greek classics feels impressively modern.
To understand the complicated military relationships in the Middle East today, Scott Anderson's Lawrence in Arabia is a deeply insightful piece of work that connects the wars of the early 1900's to current events in the 21st century.
The Professor and the Madman details the ambitious and dramatic making of the Oxford English Dictionary in the 1850s. Primarily, when one man submits 10,000 definitions, the committee is shocked to learn he's an inmate at an insane asylum.
A former child soldier himself, Ishamel Beah offers a tragic and riveting account of civil war in Sierra Leone, and its effects on the children that were deployed to fight in it.
Through first-hand interviews, letters, and memoirs, Midnight in Chernobyl casts an intimate light on the worst nuclear disaster in history. Written over several years by journalist Adam Higginbotham, it offers powerful lessons about how to handle climate change and other crises today.
When Pulitzer Prize winning war correspondent Tony Horwitz joins a group of Civil War reenactors, the result is a journalistic venture that combines history, present-day tensions, and humor.
You might not have thought something commonly found on your kitchen table could provide an overarching view of world history, but Mark Kurlansky proves otherwise. In Salt, he demonstrates how this substance has inspired everything from trade routes to revolutions since the beginning of civilization.
In Begin Again, Eddie S. Glaude Jr. recalls James Baldwin's disillusionment over the Civil Rights Movement and applies it to America's current struggle with race relations. Part biography, memoir, and commentary on the present day, Glaude Jr.'s book provides important lessons for moving forward.
For those with an interest in colonial America and the epic voyage that launched it, Nathaniel Philbrick's Mayflower will expose a darker truth to these events as they're commonly told. The establishment of New England consisted of a brutal 55 year conflict that threatened to ruin colonists and natives alike, and ultimately influenced the country that developed as a result.
When Harry S. Truman was unexpectedly thrust into the presidency after the passing of FDR, he oversaw one of the most eventful periods of American history. A.J. Baime takes readers through the first four months of his administration filled with global conflicts and incredibly high stakes at home and abroad.
When Winston Churchill began recruiting Women in World War II to join an elite spy agency, 39 heeded the call and helped bring the Allies to victory. Sarah Rose's analysis of diaries and oral histories brings the courage of these inspiring women to life.
In his biography of John Lewis, Jon Meacham illuminates this civil rights leader's path to preaching non-violence and unwavering hope. Both an icon and a hero, John Lewis leaves a legacy that Meacham compares to that of Thomas Jefferson in terms of the impact he's had on the development of our nation.
First published in 1970, this bestseller inspired a generation of Americans to reconsider the history of Westward expansion and the human cost it had on native populations. Dee Brown focuses on the suffering experienced between 1860 and 1890 in this thoroughly researched and tragic tale of Native American history.
Fans of Neil Gaiman's popular works of fiction will be drawn to Norse Mythology. This non-fiction book weaves familiar characters, including Thor, Odin, and Loki, into a captivating and epic saga.
Winner of the National Book Award and recently adapted into a major motion film, In the Heart of the Sea tells the exhilarating survival tale of the sailors aboard an 1820 Nantucket whaleship.
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Travel and History
Incidents of Travel in Yucatan (2 volumes) by John Lloyd Stephens art by Frederick Catherwood Dover Publications (1963) Stephens and Catherwood traveled throughout Mexico and Central America exploring, documenting, and in some cases, buying ancient Maya ruins. These wildly successful travelogues were originally published in the mid-1800s and still carry a very genuine sense of exploring the unknown. Stephens's natural narrative is enhanced with Catherwood's exquisite drawings from many of the sites they visited, including the popular destinations at Tulum and Chichén Itzá. Print out his drawings of a site you plan to visit and bring it with you. You'll enjoy reflecting on the difference between what was found in its natural state and what's been rebuilt to support modern tourism. (Buy the book)
Breaking the Maya Code by Michael D. Coe Thames & Hudson third edition (2012) A preeminent Maya expert, Coe continues to update his book, which is part history, part linguistics study, and part mystery. The book digs deep into the world of Mexican and Central American archaeology and the people who have worked behind the scenes to decipher Maya glyphs since the 1950s. It was these discoveries that led to the modern understanding of how the Maya ruled and lived. (Buy the book)
20 Must-Read Time Travel Books
Hear me out, there&rsquos a sub-genre of sci-fi that that has a touch of anything you could ever want: time travel books. The best time travel books come in all packages: adventure, historical fiction, romance, social commentary, mystery, humor, poetry. It really has it all. So, if you can still recite the opening credits of Quantum Leap from memory, this list is for you. Enjoy these must-read time travel books.
Here and Now and Then by Mike Chen
Kin is a time-traveling agent from the year 2142 who gets stuck in 1990s San Francisco after a botched mission, and his rescue team shows up 18 years too late after he&rsquos already built a life for himself. Here and Now and Then has all those warm and fuzzy sci-fi feels with just the right amount of Doctor Who level angst. Kin dealing with the circumstances of time travel and the consequences it brings about is super compelling and emotional and so, so worthy of a Murray Gold score.
The Future of Another Timeline by Annalee Newitz
In the world of Another Timeline, time travel has been around since forever in the form of a geologic phenomena known as the &ldquoMachines.&rdquo Tess belongs to a group called the Daughters of Harriett, determined to make the future better for women by editing the timeline at key moments in history. They run up against the misogynistic group called the Comstockers working towards the opposite goal. There&rsquos time travel, murder, punk rock concerts, nerd references, and an edit war. As Newitz recently said in an extra of their podcast, Our Opinions Are Correct, history is a &ldquosynthesis of good fuckery&rdquo and I can&rsquot think of a better phrase to describe this book than that.
An Ocean of Minutes by Thea Lim
There is a deadly flu pandemic in America. Polly&rsquos boyfriend Frank gets sick and she signs up for a one-way ticket to the future to work off the cost of Frank&rsquos cure. They agree to meet up in the future, but Polly is rerouted to a later time where America is divided and she has no connections and no money. This is a really gorgeously written and heart-wrenching story about time travel, dystopian society, the brutality of survival in an unfamiliar world, and a character study of a normal person dealing with it all.
Kindred by Octavia Butler
Dana is an African American woman celebrating her birthday in 1976 California when she is pulled through time to Antebellum Maryland. She saves a young white boy named Rufus from drowning and finds herself staring down the barrel of his father&rsquos rifle. She is pulled back to her present just in time to save her life, appearing back in her living room soaked and muddy. She is repeatedly pulled back to the past encountering the same young man. Over the course of these harrowing episodes, Dana realizes her connection to Rufus and the challenge she is faced with. This is a brilliant, thought-provoking, and intense book that is required reading for so many reasons least of which is time travel.
Alice Payne Arrives by Kate Heartfield
Alice Payne Arrives is a quick romp through time with some truly amazing female characters. Alice Payne is a half-black queer woman in 1788 England living in her father&rsquos deteriorating mansion. She&rsquos also a notorious masked highway robber and her partner is an inventor. Prudence is a professional time traveler from the 22nd century working fruitlessly to try and change one small event in 1884. The two women cross paths and work together to put Prudence&rsquos plan to end time travel in motion. This novella packs a lot of action and time travel goodness and there&rsquos a sequel called Alice Payne Rides. It also contains one of the realest lines of any of the time travel books I&rsquove read: &ldquo2016&rsquos completely fucked.&rdquo
How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu
Charles Yu is a time machine repairman searching for his missing father, &ldquoaccompanied by TAMMY, an operating system with low self-esteem, and Ed, a nonexistent but ontologically valid dog.&rdquo He receives a book from his future self that could help him locate his father. The book is called How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe and he wrote it. Hi, this book is super cool, fun, clever, and weird in the best ways. It has the highest distinction I can give a sci-fi book and that is warm and fuzzy.
The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas
Four female scientists invent time travel in 1967. One of the scientists, Bee, suffers a mental breakdown just before they&rsquore about to go public with their findings. The other three exile Bee from the project to save face. Fifty years later time travel is a normal part of life and a huge business. It&rsquos regulated by the Conclave, founded by three of the original scientists, which seeks to self govern all aspects of time travel. The Psychology of Time Travel serves up time travel with a locked-door mystery and the payoff of alternating perspectives and timelines slowly coming together.
The River of No Return by Bee Ridgeway
At the moment of his death on a Napoleonic battlefield, Lord Nicholas Falcott wakes up in the 21st century. He&rsquos recruited by a time travel agency known as The Guild for training. Julia Percy lives in 1815 England and after the death of her grandfather seeks to find her place in a world where meddling with time is commonplace. There&rsquos a whole lot going on here: romance, betrayal, double-agents, and drawing on emotion to facilitate time jumps, leading to my favorite line: &ldquoThough really they were probably both insane. Two grown men dressed up like Mr. Darcy, holding hands behind a tree, trying to pull themselves by the heart strings back to the long ago.&rdquo
This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone
Blue and Red are fighting on opposite sides of an endless time war. They begin to exchange letters on the battlefield, first as a boast, then as an exploration of friendship across enemy lines, and finally as a romance. I have previously described this as &ldquopoetic sci-fi realness.&rdquo I could be more professional and say that this is an epistolary work of rival agents forming a bond despite their opposition, but like I can&rsquot okay. This book is so intricate and beautiful and the letters are not on paper, they could be in the dregs of a teacup or the rings of a tree, and I&rsquom not crying you&rsquore crying.
All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai
Tom is a misfit in a utopian world, and he goes back in time and accidentally screws up the future. This mishap leaves him stranded in our 2016, but what we think of as the real world is a dystopian wasteland to Tom. He eventually finds different versions of everything he knows and maybe even his soulmate. Tom has to decide whether to fix the timeline and bring back utopia or live in this new version of the world he&rsquos created. Probably me as a time traveler, tbh.
The Fire Opal Mechanism by Fran Wilde
The Fire Opal Mechanism is technically a sequel to The Jewel and Her Lapidary, but it can definitely be read as a stand-alone. Ania is a librarian at the last university desperately trying to save as many books as she can. All the other universities have fallen to the Pressman, an extremist group bent on destroying all the world&rsquos books and replacing them with a generic, self-updating compendium available to everyone regardless of economic class. Jorit, branded a thief, is on the run just trying to survive long enough to afford passage on a ship away from all these problems. They team up and inadvertently discover time travel, but will it help them fix the present? This is really beautifully written, especially the passages about books: &ldquoTouching a book, for Ania, was like touching a person&rsquos fingertips across the years. She could feel a pulse, a passion for the knowledge the book contained.&rdquo
The Silver Wind by Nina Allan
The Silver Wind is a series of stories linked by the character Martin Newland. Each story is like an alternate universe brought about by time machines and time travel. As Allan describes on her website: &ldquoWhile the overarching theme of this book might properly be found in Martin&rsquos struggle with infinity, its individual chapters deal with those small acts of creative defiance that determine our transcendence of ordinary mortality.&rdquo A thoroughly thought-provoking déjà vu experience.
What the Wind Knows by Amy Harmon
Anne Gallagher travels to Ireland to scatter the ashes of her beloved grandfather. She is pulled back in time to the Ireland of 1921 and is mistaken as the long-lost mother of a young boy. She assumes this identity and is drawn into the lives of those around her and the political unrest of the time. It&rsquos a historical romance perfect for fans of Outlander.
The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes
What if time travel fell into the hands of a criminal? The Shining Girls is the story of serial killer named Harper Curtis who stumbles upon an abandoned house in Depression-era Chicago that allows him to travel in time. He chooses his victims and visits them at different times of their lives before returning for the kill. Kirby survives Harper&rsquos attack and, along with a former homicide reporter, tries to unravel the mystery before anyone else dies. This book is wild, W-I-L-D. There&rsquos a lot of violence, so it might not be for everyone, but it&rsquos such an interesting take on the time travel story.
Version Control by Dexter Palmer
Set in the near-future, Rebecca works in the customer support department of the dating site where she met her husband Phillip. He is a scientist building a causality violation device (definitely not a time machine!). But Rebecca can&rsquot help but feel that there&rsquos something wrong with the present. So, this is kind of about living with technology and kind of about relationships and overcoming tragedy and also time travel. Intelligent and poignant but make it sci-fi.
How to Invent Everything: A Survival Guide for the Stranded Time Traveler by Ryan North
Starting out with an FAQ guide to your rented time machine, How to Invent Everything humorously goes through the history of well, everything. From how to determine what time period you have landed and are now stuck in to inventing language and electricity it&rsquos a very Hitchhiker&rsquos Guide-ish look at history presented as a guide for creating the things you&rsquoll miss when you&rsquore stranded in an earlier timeline than your own.
Time After Time by Lisa Grunwald
It&rsquos 1937 and Joe Reynolds is a hard-working railroad man at Grand Central Station. Nora Lansing is an aspiring artist and the last thing she remembers is her train crashing in 1925. They meet at the big clock and Joe walks Nora home, but she disappears in the street. She reappears one year later and meets Joe again. Realizing she&rsquos jumping in time and trapped in Grand Central for mysterious reasons that might have something to do with Manhattanhenge, Nora and Joe try to unravel the mystery before she disappears again. For me this was a time travel books mashup of The Clock meets Kate & Leopold meets Gentleman in Moscow and I was very about it.
TimeKeeper by Tara Sim
TimeKeeper takes place in an alternate Victorian world where time is controlled by clock towers. Danny is a young clock mechanic enamored with his new apprentice, who turns out to be the Enfield clock spirit, Colton. Bombings at other towers start to occur and broken clocks mean the towns they oversee will be frozen in time. The romance between Danny and Colton is very adorable and the race against literal time is an exciting backdrop. It&rsquos the first in a trilogy.
Bones of the Earth by Michael Swanwick
If you&rsquore a time travel fan then this sentence from the publisher&rsquos summary is sure to get you excited, &ldquoWorld-renowned paleontologist Richard Leyster&rsquos universe changed forever the day a stranger named Griffin walked into his office with a remarkable job offer&hellipand an ice cooler containing the head of a freshly killed Stegosaurus.&rdquo Time travel allows a group of scientists to go back and study dinosaurs up close in their natural environment. If you are now humming the Jurassic Park theme, please know, So. Am. I.
Just One Damned Thing After Another (Chronicles of St. Mary&rsquos) by Jodi Taylor
There is so much going on in this whirlwind adventure that if you blink you&rsquoll miss a major plot point. Just One Damned Thing After Another is just the first book in a series of the adventures of St. Mary&rsquos Institute of Historical Research as they rattle around through time trying to answer history&rsquos unanswered questions. There are currently 11 books published and forthcoming and a ton of short stories that fill in the blanks between adventures. Taylor also has a spinoff time travel series, The Time Police, with the first book just out called Doing Time. It follows three hapless new time police recruits as they try to keep the timeline straight.
Looking for more of the best time travel books? Check out these timey-wimey posts:
34 thoughts on &ldquo 23 Best Time Travel Science Fiction Books &rdquo
What a great list? I’ll refer it to our Library Director for ordering consideration. Thank you!
Some of these I’ve read, and I totally agree with you! Some I haven’t read, so thanks for the suggestions. Can’t believe you left off Connie Willis’s Doomsday Book, though.
^ Agreed! Was going to make the same comment.
Agree! The Doomsday Book is one of the finest written time travel books in my opinion. Willis captured some of it in her later series, Black Out & All Clear, but neither of those books mesmerized me as much as The Doomsday Book.
I picked up Doomsday Book from the library on a whim a long while back and thought it was incredible. So, I’m certainly surprised it didn’t make the list either! Still, the list looks promising and I want to give some of the books a go. Thanx!
What about ” The man who folded himself” by David Gerrold?
How about “Cross Time Engineer” by Leo Frankowsky
Gerrold’s hilarious and brilliant book is better than most anything on this list, and gets multiple time lines necessary for time travel right when so many works fail, fail, and fail.
The Stephen King novel is garbage and does not belong at all.
11-22-63 why it not on here
I do enjoy your lists, and bow to the effort involved. In this case, I would have expected “Lest Darkness Fall” by L. Sprague de Camp to appear here. It’s certainly no more a “cheat” than Pratchett or Powers, and sets up a distillery in 6th century Rome!
A great list, although it could go on and on – Ken Grimwood’s Replay, Charles Yu’s How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, Kurt Vonnegut’s Timequake…
Where is Time After Time and Jaclyn the Ripper?
Jodi Taylor’s Saint Mary’s Chronicles.
I am looking for a book about the time travel of a young lady. She goes back in time to meet the greatest scientists.
I always loved Behold The Man by Michael Moorcock
The Door into Summer, surely?
Agree with that (also by Robert Heinlein). Just wonderful
Surely the most readable time travel story of all is Robert Heinlein’s ‘The Door Into Summer’.
“The Door into Summer” by Heinlein is wonderful – as wonderful as believing that his Lenord Vincent character really existed and went back to become Leonardo de V………. I believe!
Great list. A few I haven’t read. But should include Up the Line and Hawksbill Station both by Robert Silverberg, The Man Who Folded Himself by David Gerrold, and There Will Be Time and the Time Patrol Series by Poul Anderson.
Excellent additions. Thanks!
I have been looking for a book for years now whose title I cannot remember. If you’re familiar with the TV series Quantum Leap, it was very similar to that. A man is chosen to go hopping through time to various nexus in time to set right things that had gone wrong in history. There is a woman companion who is always there at each nexus, similar to Al in Quantum Leap except that she is very real and not just a hologram that only the “Leaper” can see and hear. I read it in 1984/85, so it was published before or around that time. I would be deeply grateful if anyone can tell me the name of this book.
Jim, I am looking for what must be the same book. I recall the woman’s name was always some variant of Pamela. One of the historical settings was the Library of Alexandria. Then at some point, the time traveler went to the future and she was there too, by the name of Pamma’a. He was surprised to find her, and she commented something like, “The past is the land of romance. The future is the land of hope. So if you hope for romance, you will find it there.” Does this sound like the book you mean? I read it around the same time. If anyone can name it, I’ll also be very grateful. Thanks!
The 69 Greatest Fiction Travel Books of All Time
"It's probably the best contemporary travel novel," says Darin Strauss. "Certainly the most fun." The Russian immigrant's second book tops his first novel, The Russian Debutante's Handbook, in screwball inventiveness, with a gluttonous character in the slothful tradition of Oblomov who (sometimes literally) flies over the Bronx and hails from an autonomous ex-Soviet republic that could exist only in Shteyngart's mind. "The sweep," Strauss says, "is matched only by the humor and exuberance of the prose" (Random House, $14).
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Huck and Jim's "downstream education," as Jonathan Raban puts it, is important for numerous reasons, but alongside its lessons in the American vernacular and the history of race, there is the canonization of the Mississippi. "The idea of the river as America's first great interstate arterial highway, at once a place of magical solitude in nature and of fraught encounters with society, survives even now," says Raban (Bantam, $6).
The Alexandria Quartet
Lawrence Durrell (1957-1960)
These four novels come as a set, with different perspectives on essentially the same forlorn story. They "play with time and point of view like a Charlie Kaufman script," says Darin Strauss, but "are worth reading not for their gimmickry—supposedly based on the theories of Einstein and Freud—but for their lush descriptions of Egypt. Durell was more famous as a poet than a novelist, and his pointillist evocations of Alexandria are breathtaking" (Penguin set, $45).
Inspired by London, the unnamed city of the master novelist's morality tale about a self-made millionaire and his utopian dreams almost upstages the Dickensian struggles at its heart. "There is so much life and strife and detail," says Amy Bloom. "An entire world has been conjured up, street by street, an imagined city with every cobblestone and desire and character made real" (out-of-print).
The Baron in the Trees
Imagine John Cheever's swimmer traveling via tree instead of suburban pool—for his entire life—and you have Calvino's fairy tale of an eighteenth-century Italian boy who climbs a tree one day and never comes down. Michael Ondaatje calls this world "a thrilling, unforgettable universe, beautifully evoked, completely real and believable—a landscape where there are great adventures and love affairs and politics and wars" (Harvest, $14).
The Big Sleep
This caper redefined the city that W. H. Auden called "the great wrong place" and which Phillip Lopate dubs "the city that didn't want to be a city." Lopate loves that, contrary to its bright reputation, Chandler's Los Angeles is "portrayed as a very occult, secretive place." "Don't expect sunshine and palm trees," seconds David Ebershoff. "His L.A. is a shadowland—damp with fog, dark with night, and peopled with killers and cons" (Vintage, $14).
In the lamentably obscure French writer's most accomplished novel, a jaded colonel and his daughter journey to Corsica in search of untouched paradise, only to become immersed in international intrigue, culture clash, and a still-thriving ancient tradition of the vendetta. Fernanda Eberstadt calls it "a shrewd, dispassionate portrait of nineteenth-century Corsica" (Kessinger, $21).
Come to Africa and Save Your Marriage
This story collection is one of only three books by Thomas, who died in a 1989 plane crash en route to an Ethiopian refugee camp. Thomas wrote, "A language you don't understand reminds you how vulnerable you are," and it's through her writing and our own journeys, says Julia Alvarez, that "we discover that it is precisely this vulnerability which connects us with one another—a good enough reason to travel if nothing else" (Soho, $12).
Phillip Lopate says that his favorite Balzac novel, and what it has to say about life, are summarized in a single sentence from the book: "In the heart of Paris the close alliance between squalor and splendor…characterizes the queen of capitals." There's also Balzac's use of the courtesan, "the figure who threads her way through Paris and unites wealth and poverty by beauty." For this "cartographer of cities and societies," as Lopate calls him, the geography is just as important as the social intrigue (Oxford, $12).
Crime and Punishment
This map of the soul of modern man is also not too shabby at nailing St. Petersburg's crooked canals and alleyways. It inspires daily tours in the city, which has changed tremendously since the fall of communism—though not as much as youɽ think. Francine Prose says that, beyond Nevsky Prospect and its Versace stores, "it's still the same. You feel Crime and Punishment all over the place" (Vintage, $16).
The Day of Judgment
Satta's posthumously published novel gets deep inside Sardinia at a time (a century ago) when it was a backwater, and his depiction of its "demoniacal sadness" is hardly the stuff of tourist brochures. Such inertia means a listless plot, but for Colin Thubron, the author's observations of "timeless, eccentric lives" make it worthy on its own terms (FSG, $14).
The Day of the Locust
Drawing on West's stint as a screenwriter in Depression-era Hollywood, this iconic farce was fated to be repeated as noir in the Chandler era. "His L.A. is a hysteric pleasure dome that teems with grotesqueries and perversity," says Nathaniel Rich. "Ever since I read it, I can't go to L.A. without thinking of cockfighting" (Signet, $7).
This is the fifth in Dibdin's Aurelio Zen mystery series but the first in which the investigator from Rome revisits his native town. "Venice is a marvel," says Jonathan Raban. "A familiar place rendered strange and foreboding by the author's intimate familiarity with its streets—no gondolas for the pedestrian Zen. I greatly admire Thomas Mann, but it's the Venice of Dead Lagoon that I walk in my Italian dreams" (Vintage, $14).
Death in Venice
Tied for second place on our list of most-nominated books, this dark classic of pederast obsession resonates brilliantly with its setting. "Gray Venice in the high season, with its humid air and empty corridors, amplifies the story's meaning by a thousand," says David Ebershoff. "This small book is both a warning and a love letter to Venice and all who long to travel there. Heartbreak, decay, lethal regret? Sign me up." Also nominated by: Francine Prose, Jennifer Belle (HarperPerennial, $13).
How many travelers, seduced by fictional narratives, have flown to exotic destinations only to discover how comically pedestrian and daunting life can be no matter where they go? Quixote, besotted as he was with tales of chivalry, was the first to do that—even if it took a bit longer, in his case, for disillusion to set in. Nominated by: Matthew Sharpe (Penguin, $12).
The Epic of Gilgamesh
There are many translations of the world's oldest epic poem (sorry, Homer), but Julia Alvarez recommends Herbert Mason's version of the story, in which the titular great king, inconsolable over a friend's death, goes off in search of "immortality and a way to keep loss at bay." Alvarez likes the tip he gets from a barmaid, "good advice for any traveler: ɿill your belly with good things day and night, night and day, dance and be merry, feast and rejoice' " (Mariner, $9).
Perhaps better known as a phenomenal travel memoirist, Matthiessen also wrote fiction as adventurous as its hardscrabble characters. In this elegy for a dying ecology and a dying livelihood, a boatful of turtle fishermen roam across the overfished Bahamas, riffing one another in pidgin dialects between encounters with near disaster and modern pirates. Nominated by: Michael Ondaatje (Vintage, $17).
A Fine Balance
Mistry manages his own fine balance between detail and scope in this Mumbai-set novel. "Few have taken us beneath India's intense surfaces and into its forgotten streets with the quiet, patient care of its native son," says Pico Iyer. "Going on a train ride with Mistry is amazing," adds Nathan Englander. "You can feel the people packed in and the lunch tins and the swarming city. It could be among my top five books of the last 25 years" (Vintage, $16).
For Whom the Bell Tolls
This taciturn tale of stoic warriors ground down by the Spanish Civil War reminds us, says Peter Hessler, that "Hemingway was a remarkable landscape writer. Sometimes this can be forgotten because we tend to focus on other—and more easily parodied—subjects and interests" (Scribner, $15).
Good Morning, Midnight
Decades before the Caribbean-born British writer became acclaimed for Wide Sargasso Sea, she evoked Paris through a glass very darkly in this first-person tale of a woman's melancholy return to the city. "This book transports me to Paris like no other book can," says Jennifer Belle. "In fact, I feel more like I'm in Paris when reading this book than when I'm actually in Paris" (Norton, $14).
A Hazard of New Fortunes
William Dean Howells (1890)
The critic Alfred Kazin credited Howells, onetime editor of Boston's Atlantic Monthly, with tilting the axis of literature south, to New York, when he moved there in the 1880s. His fictionalized account of the move was "about a city at a moment when it's bursting with promise," says Phillip Lopate, who wrote the introduction to this edition. Protagonist Basil March's encounters with teeming immigrant New York shift his politics, just as it turned Howells into a champion of the masses (Modern Library, $15).
Heart of Darkness
Not enough can be said of the influence of this imagined trip to the Congo. "Conrad established a genre in this novel," says Alexander McCall Smith, "and since then many writers have contributed to the canon of spiritually bleak, uncomfortable journeys into dark places. Unfortunately, it has established a mold for many a subsequent despairing literary vision of Africa" (Norton, $12).
A High Wind in Jamaica
Hughes's tale of warped children set upon by pirates reads like Lord of the Flies, but with irony. Nathaniel Rich relishes its depictions of Jamaica as "a country in the last throes of a losing battle with nature," while Jesse Ball loves what happens after the kids leave the island and hit the waters: "This book of books invests everything it touches with an indefinite but shimmering brilliance. Do you want to be hauled off by force along with your brothers and sisters? I do!" (NYRB, $14).
The Argentine-Parisian novelist's very strangely structured novel—complete with contradictory instructions on how to read it—boils down to an evocative story of a man's obsession with a disappeared lover. Horacio Castellanos Moya reports that several generations of Latin American readers have gone to Paris primarily "to repeat the enchanting journey of Cortázar's fictional characters through the city. Warning: That journey ends in the cemetery of Montparnasse, where the author is buried" (Pantheon, $17).
A House for Mr. Biswas
Naipaul's breakthrough book, and arguably his best, is a travel novel writ large in that it tracks a whole culture in diaspora. Naipaul's Trinidad "kept reminding me of the India I grew up in," says Manil Suri. "And yet, it was different in so many ways—a tantalizing new universe waiting to be explored, to see how Indian culture had taken root and evolved on this faraway shore" (Vintage, $16).
The Inheritance of Loss
Desai's Booker Prize-winning novel of two generations straddling continents struck Phillip Lopate for its scenes of New York kitchens, "the new melting pot" of the city where struggling immigrants rub soiled shoulders. "It's really about two places," he says—New York City and an Indian backwater. "And so she keeps going back and forth between these two, and she's really writing about globalization" (Grove, $14).
Journey to the End of the Night
Louis-Ferdinand Céline (1934)
Wherever anti-hero Ferdinand Bardamu goes—World War I battlefields, French West Africa, the United States—Céline's unforgettably dark, caustic voice is there. Matthew Sharpe prefers the novel's less realistic moments: "There is, in Manhattan, a subterranean club where people go to defecate out in the open while conversing, smoking cigars, etc. Were some generous soul in real life to make the initial capital outlay for such a club, I would gladly be a founding member" (New Directions, $16).
Lawrence wrote this novel about a British émigré's encounter Down Under with a secret Fascist army after visiting for only a few weeks. "Lawrence is famously, furiously unfair at every turn—impatient, subjective, all over the place," says Pico Iyer. "Yet no writer had a keener nose or feel for place. Even now, when I return to Australia, the best guidebook I can find is this excessive and inflamed novel" (Cambridge, $60).
Yoshimoto's interwoven family narratives make a new generation of Japanese life accessible to the rest of us. "If someone asks me if I've ever been to Japan, I have to think for a moment," says Jennifer Belle. "Thanks to Yoshimoto, I could swear I've been there. I could almost feel the tonkatsu between my chopsticks, see it sloshing into the dark brown sauce, taste it between my lips" (Black Cat, $13).
Lady Chatterley's Lover
Fernanda Eberstadt couldn't resist including Lawrence's novel, which, you must admit, goes places few others dare. She calls the author "the Van Gogh of travel writers, virulently moralistic, every nerve ending hallucinogenically receptive to light, landscape, vegetation, and the human characteristics forged by climate. It's not just a novel about anal sex: It's a great love poem to that most unloved of regions, the British Midlands" (Penguin, $14).
Life and Fate
The dissident Soviet novelist's take on the Battle of Stalingrad—a book considered so dangerous that authorities destroyed the typewriter ribbons along with the manuscript—is "a very complex and ambitious novel," says Horacio Castellanos Moya, "but I think that the Volga River region itself is the main character." Reading it inspired him to find the Volga on Google Earth, "the first time I did that because of a novel" (NYRB, $23).
Karnezis, who moved from Greece to England 16 years ago, manages in these stories to skewer his homeland's inhabitants with a light touch. "He depicts the intricately and hilariously knitted world of a small Greek village so well," says Marisa Silver, "that it makes me want to find such a village and spend time there, meeting the priest and the doctor, the town whore and the barber" (Picador, $14).
The Little Sister
California was an endless fount of "metaphors and parables" for Chandler, says Pico Iyer, but he likes this underrated caper because it's here that "his chivalric impulse leads him to Hollywood, and the ultimate palace of illusions and similes, which was for him an emblem of a grasping and seductive new world" (Vintage, $13).
Once you get over the shock and the word games and the descriptive genius of this masterwork, you're ready for its cross-country trip into a land as dazzlingly innocent to Humbert as his young charge. "We often forget that the second half of this book is a road-trip novel," says Darin Strauss, "with the old foreign perv and the young nymphet discovering America" (Vintage, $14).
What is it with travel and age-inappropriate relationships? Duras's novel about a French girl's seduction of a gentleman in ✰s Saigon was Marisa Silver's ultimate travel fantasy: "The sensual, palpable languor of a city filled with secrets makes me want to hunt for modern Vietnam's hidden seductions" (Pantheon, $10).
This spare novel about an au pair from the West Indies in an unnamed city that's unmistakably New York made Jennifer Belle see her town "as if for the first time. Through fresh eyes we see an elevator, a bridge, the winter sun." And in Lucy's memories, Barbados shimmers too. "By showing us the artificial smell of lemon-scented shampoo in America, we experience the freshness of a real lemon in her native land" (FSG, $13).
The Makioka Sisters
"It has a last line so bad that it's amazing," Nathan Englander warns about Tanizaki's chronicle of a declining noble Osaka family on the brink of both personal and national disaster. "But in terms of Osaka, it's just gorgeous. A beautiful wooden city that you know is going to be bombed [during World War II]. . . . It's this idea of reading a book set right before the end of the world" (Vintage, $16).
The Man Without Qualities
Some trips are longer than others, but Musil's never-finished 1,700-plus-page masterwork is worth the slog for its deep (yet funny) study of a shallow world. "To Musil, nothing was as absurd as the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and Vienna was the whipped cream heart of its absurdity," says Fernanda Eberstadt. "A zany tour of turn-of-the-century Vienna's bluestocking suburbs, its imperial hunting lodges, its working-class beer halls" (Vintage, Vol. 1: $22 Vol. 2: $26).
Heavily based in fact, Galvin's description of what four men did to tame an inaccessible piece of wilderness on the Wyoming-Colorado border is "an extended ode to an American West that is by now largely gone," says Jonathan Burnham Schwartz. The land is the main subject, and "Galvin knows it with an intimacy so deep it can only be imagined he knows it like family, all its buried pains and stories" (Owl, $14).
So many things are extraordinary about Rushdie's masterpiece of magical realism, in which fantasy and metaphor speak for a giant nation's post-colonial history, but Junot Díaz takes from it the lesson that the highest flights of imagination start with making places real. "Who can match Rushdie's fictional evocation of Bombay?" he asks. "In his lying is found much truth" (Random House, $15).
Of all the writers to capture what was so very fast, exciting, and wrong about the eighties, Londoner Amis had one odd advantage: He was a self-styled outsider, like his ad-man narrator, John Self. Darin Strauss believes Self "understands New York in the eighties—and gets even those timeless qualities about the city's energy and indifference—in a way that only someone who's looking at it with a foreigner's peeled-eyeball curiosity could" (Penguin, $15).
Breton's work of high surrealism, about a Parisian psychiatric patient with a serious identity crisis, has inspired many writers, including Jesse Ball. "Of books that circle Paris, that define it, that lay it on a thin spoon beside a dram of poison, there are a few," he says. "This book invests it with a great feeling of life, of chance—the whispering of curtains, footsteps, lights in the street, the calling out of voices in the night—in reply to what?" (Grove, $13).
DeLillo's first truly paranoid novel is also his first serious venture abroad—to Greece and the Middle East, where "businesspeople in transit" collude with intelligence services to make sure things go their way. Geoff Dyer calls it "a great and prophetic novel" but also "a fantastic travel essay, dense with amazed delight at the incidents and textures of this ancient and rapidly modernizing world" (Vintage, $15).
Peter Hessler praises this book for giving "a remarkable sense of the Sulaco landscape"—its rocky peninsula and silent gulf ringed by mountains. It's an entirely made-up place, in a fictional South American country on the verge of revolution. But Hessler considers it "probably the most famous instance of how travel can inspire the creation of a place that feels more authentic than anything we see as tourists" (Penguin, $14).
The Odessa Tales
The great Russian Jewish writer wrote fantastic war stories before he was killed by Stalin, but these tales of Jewish gangsters in Babel's birthplace make Nathan Englander feel almost certain he's been there. "I can see the overturned market or the guy in his wheelchair," he says. "The highest compliment a writer can get is when you recognize something in your memory but don't remember whether you've ever been to that place" (in Collected Stories Penguin, $17).
Unsurprisingly, the book that made travel synonymous with literature when both were in their prehistory earns the most nominations from our writers. For Matthew Sharpe, it brings to mind a cascade of cultural successors: "Hansel and Gretel," E.T., and his favorite number by Steely Dan, which he quotes ("Still I remain tied to the mast . . ."). David Ebershoff simply calls it "the greatest work of travel literature. Period. Without this book, would we have any of the books on this list?" Also nominated by: Jonathan Raban, Marisa Silver (Penguin, $15).
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Gabriel García Márquez (1967)
Macondo, the fictional setting of García Márquez's magical-realist magnum opus spanning Colombian history, has become such a vivid location in the minds of millions of readers—"everybody's fictional place," as Francine Prose puts it—that García Márquez's hometown actually tried to add Macondo to its name two years ago. Colum McCann says, "The imagination feels awakened with every word" (Harper Perennial, $15).
On the Road
Alexander McCall Smith calls Kerouac's stream-of-consciousness road novel "a book to read when one is about eighteen," but here's a good reason for another look: last year's release of the even more unbridled "scroll" version, drawn from the 120-foot roll of paper on which Kerouac originally wrote it out. "The physical manuscript came to stand for the journey itself—long and rolling," says Smith. "This novel goes to the very heart of American restlessness" (Penguin, $15).
Napoleon's cook, not at all thrilled with his posting in bleak wintertime Russia, falls in love with a mysterious Venetian web-footed female gondolier in the British writer's surreal and dazzling second novel. Myla Goldberg says it "made me want to go to Venice more than anything, and once I got there, Winterson's fantastical version added invaluable, invisible dimensions to the experience" (Grove, $13).
Steinbeck's otherwise timeless and placeless fable, in which an impoverished Mexican pearl diver unwittingly brings ruin on his family after pulling up the largest pearl known to man, is grounded in its beautiful landscape. "Yellow, brown, orange, white—these are the colors of Baja California," says David Ebershoff. "Their purity, their earthiness, are reflected in Steinbeck's simple prose and simple, devastating tale" (Penguin, $14).
The Oran of Camus's novel, whose inhabitants are tested in the worst ways by a gruesome epidemic, is an actual Algerian city but feels so archetypal that Nathan Englander originally thought it was fictional. "It's a holy place to me, it's in my pantheon," says Englander, despite the horrors Camus depicts. "To literally lock the gates of the city—that's wonderful to me as a reader, and an excellent education as a novelist" (Vintage, $13).
The Professor's House
Jane Hamilton treasures Cather because she "doesn't know another writer who has that power to transport us to the natural world," in this case America's great prairies. But it's the setting of Colorado's Mesa Verde in her melancholy seventh novel, "before it was discovered, before it was a destination," that appeals most. "She makes plain the grace of solitude in a place that is at once the loneliest spot and yet so strangely peopled" (Vintage, $13).
The Quiet American
Greene's prescient Vietnam novel "captures the beauty, loneliness, and moral complexity of the expat experience," says Myla Goldberg, "and presents pre-war Vietnam as a fascinating and terrifying triangle of geography, politics, and history." Pico Iyer believes the place "brought out the heartbroken poet" in Greene, who "caught much in the country that might move a traveler today. Saigon, for all its new-generation motorbikes and frenzy, in its shadows and corners remains part of the Greene zone" (Penguin, $14).
The Raj Quartet
One way to understand India would be to look back at how it was constructed—and deconstructed—on the eve of independence, and Paul Scott's four epic novels fix and dramatize the lost world of British India like no others. "They provoke interest in a culture that no longer exists but in a place that does," says Ann Packer (Everyman's each two-volume set, $33).
The Top 10 Time-Travel Books
Among the guiltiest pleasures of reading are time-travel novels. These books can be hokey and hard to believe, but they sure are fun. Who hasn't put themselves in a century-hopping character's place and wished they too could leap backward or forward through time?
I've compiled a top-10 list in this genre, ranking the books in descending order from 10th best to "best best." They're not necessarily the greatest time-travel novels ever, but they happen to be the favorites of the ones I've read. If you think some of my picks should be in a different order or booted off the list, or if you want to name other titles worthy of the temporal-tome elite, I'm listening!
10. "Time After Time" (1979) by Karl Alexander. Jack the Ripper swipes H.G. Wells' time machine to escape into the future, and Wells races after him. Sort of like NASCAR, minus the sponsors.
9. "The Time Traveler's Wife" (2003) by Audrey Niffenegger. How a woman is affected by her husband moving around time. At least his disappearances didn't involve long hours in sports bars.
8. "The House on the Strand" (1969) by Daphne du Maurier. A spooky book about a man who takes a drug that enables him to see 14th-century events that occurred in the area where he's now living. There goes the neighborhood.
7. "Looking Backward" (1888) by Edward Bellamy. The utopian novel that speculated on what life would be like in the U.S. (specifically, Boston) in the year 2000. It even predicted things like credit cards -- putting enthralled readers in Bellamy's debt.
6. "The Mirror" (1978) by Marlys Millhiser. A granddaughter and grandmother involuntarily switch bodies and time periods (1978 and 1900), upsetting genealogists everywhere.
5. "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" (1999) by J.K. Rowling. Not a time-travel book per se, but the temporal-shift scene near the end of the novel is wonderful -- as is the premise of how the whip-smart Hermione Granger is able to take classes simultaneously. "A Christmas Carol" (1843) by Charles Dickens is another superb book containing some time travel -- but not to 2009, when Scrooge would have been an early Tea Party favorite.
4. "The Time Machine" (1895) by H.G. Wells. The book that coined the term "time machine" tells the gripping story of a man traveling way into the future. He didn't stop in 2011 to get gas -- too expensive.
3. "Time and Again" (1970) by Jack Finney. This novel puts a 20th-century man (Simon Morley) into 1882 New York City, and also offers a mystery and love story. The descriptions and photos of old NYC are fabulous, and there's a priceless scene in which Simon's 19th-century love Julia watches TV and wears modern clothes during a visit to 1970. Shockingly, Finney doesn't have Julia celebrate the 20th anniversary of "Beetle Bailey."
2. "If I Never Get Back" (1990) by Darryl Brock. You might have to love baseball to truly love this novel, but Brock's thrilling book (like Finney's) also has a mystery and love story. The 20th-century Sam Fowler ends up on the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings, and even becomes pals with Mark Twain. But Fowler doesn't paint the outfield fence for Tom Sawyer.
And, speaking of that Samuel Clemens guy.
1. "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court" (1889) by Mark Twain. This novel sends Hank Morgan back to a Camelot that's not very Camelot-like. Great predicting-an-eclipse scene, laugh out-loud humor and blistering satire of hyper-militarism. The only thing Twain doesn't throw into the mix is a preview of "Monty Python and the Holy Grail."