Books, wonderfully, lovely books whose authors invite us to travel in our minds. Each of the books in this resource section is chosen for its sense of place. Some are about travel itself and others occur in a place so uniquely integral that the story could only have happened in that time and of that place.
The books listed are in no particular order as the list is written retroactively rather than when or where I read it.
The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu And Their Race to Save the World’s Most Precious Manuscripts
Reads like a best-selling thriller in which the reader hopes against hope that the heroes will prevail. At the same time the land and its history are characters whose voices are so ancient and slow to judge that they appear present as watchers of flickering human strife.
Gertrude Bell: The Arabian Diaries
There are bad-ass women in history too; it just takes more digging to find them. Bell had significant input into the shape of the Middle East as we know it today. Her friendships with Arab leaders and her position in the British foreign service uniquely placed her to play a pivotal role in creating our political world. But I’ll bet you never heard of her as women’s roles didn’t fit the narrative of the time.
Grandma Gatewood’s Walk
“Pantywaists” was Emma Gatewood’s assessment of most people. Back in 1955, at the age of 67, she walked the entire Appalachian Trail alone, packing only common sense and a little cash. Compared to that, we are “pantywaists” and worse now.
Emma Gatewood is one of a long line of women explorers and adventurers, who would best be brought out of obscurity to serve as role models for adventurous girls.
Project Gutenberg Ebooks
If you are unfamiliar with Project Gutenberg, it is a robust source for out of copyright publications. For voracious readers of quirky and uncommon topics, Project Gutenberg is your buffet.
A Woman Who Went to Alaska
May Kellogg Sullivan
Ms. Sullivan’s journal covers the year she left her husband back in Seattle to stake a claim in the Alaska gold fields. If you are curious as to the conditions miners and others lived in during the gold rush, Ms. Sullivan is not shy about describing them. Does she find gold? Return to Seattle? Read the book.
A Woman’s Journey Round the World
Ida Pfeiffer had the guts to travel round the world on her own, armed only with letters of introduction and her wits. In the days of steamships, it was no mean feat. Ms. Pfeiffer writes with a clear eye of the people she encounters and sights she sees. I envy her the journey.
Alaska Days with John Muir
Samuel Hall Young
Mr. Young delightfully renders the irrepressible John Muir. Muir’s energy and enthusiasm for nature inspires the reader to close the book and head outdoors to read whilst sitting atop the nearest peak.
Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog)
Jerome K. Jerome
Three young Englishmen set off in a boat with no idea how to navigate in water or in life. This adventure born of boredom is exactly as silly as the title implies.