reviews

 

Bill Bryson’s travel writing

When travelling, reading is a healthy pastime. Bill Bryson’s travel writing is a collection of books that everybody should discover. Any of his books would be an ideal companion whilst travelling, providing insight into a variety of worlds.

Bill Bryson left university to travel Europe for four months, returning back to his studies later in his life. This was only the start of what was to be a lavish career for a man combining humour and stories to talk about his experiences from journeys around the world. Winning an OBE and many other awards for his work, there is a huge amount to learn from Bryson.

Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything discusses the beginnings of the universe and brings out the fascinating scientific facts of the world.travel writing from across time and age some could argue! By provoking thoughts around the idea of time and space Bryson forces his readers to consider questions like, “if the universe is everything, and it is expanding….what is it growing in to??”. The perfect companion for a traveler looking to discover new places.

Bryson’s travel writing also extends to as far as the home. At Home is a fascinating read. As usual with his work, he weaves together stories of the past with a single thread to provide unity. At Home is in the form of a walk through a typical 1800 English house. Filled with stories linked to the kitchen, the bathroom, the bedroom….Bryson comments directly on how life in each aspect has changed over time. As a young reader, growing up in a cosmopolitan city, it is often forgotten that at one point in time families used to sleep in one room, often in one bed. Bryson points out why food contamination was a common problem as well as how the drainage system was developed. Simple comments, a new awareness of life from a past so far gone emerges and provides the context that is so missing from popular culture these days.

Comes Highly Recommended!

(It is not necessarily advised to drop out of university to travel, especially with rising fees and all….)

 

Paul Theroux

Photos by kenner 116 / flickr

The Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux is describing the author’s 4 month long train journey in early 1970’ from London to Tokyo and back. He was traveling through Europe, Asia and the Middle East by trains only (including the famous Orient Express and Transsiberian). In the introduction wrote: “It was my intention to board every train that chugged into view from Victoria Station in London to Tokyo Central.”

This book is about travelling for the sake of travelling, when the journey itself is more important than getting to your destination. It is not so much about the countries Theroux is passing through but more people he is meeting during his journey, and the most important about the train itself, as a conveyance, which gives us opportunity to meet other people and spend some time with them, even if it’s not always a pleasant experience. I enjoyed reading this book because it’s written from a point of view of a journalist, explorer, rather than a tourist.

Travelling opens our eyes to other cultures and countries, but also allows us to look at our own life and relationships with people from a distance.

Recommended by Kate

 

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