There are many, many ways to travel, with more or less budget, with a backpack or suitcase, a weekend getaway or a one-way trip, alone or accompanied, for relaxation or adventure… you can add thousands of combinations, not to mention your travel insurance, because there are as many ways as there are people. There is also a way to experience and travel the world that requires the power of imagination aided by the art of the masters of words. There are a number of names in the world of travel literature that have become classics for telling their stories with the ability not only to transport you into this world of sensations with their narratives, but also to enrich them with an analysis of the historical moment in which they take place to help understand the perception of the world by those who have not experienced these cultures. These are obviously names like Kapuściński, Colin Thubron, Bruce Chatwin, Paul Theroux or Legineche.
But there is another pleasure, really delicious, that comes from traveling and reading about the place you visit. It doesn’t have to be travel literature, but there’s something magical about being able to read about places you know, breathe, and interact with, even if they don’t match the current situation. The list of books and destinations is obviously endless, but there are a few recommended books in case you already have a ticket to one of these places but don’t know which book to take with you.
Travelling in Southeast Asia, in one of the most fashionable destinations in recent years, a paradise for hikers looking for charming places full of magic, but it is perhaps extremely interesting to know the stories behind these smiling faces. A correspondent for more than 20 years, tells with exceptional mastery the curious stories, some beautiful, some tragic, some surprising, of these countries in “The Happiest Place in the World” and although the tone may not be as balanced, you should not miss “Sons of Monsoon”, his first and impressive work. Asia is generally a source of great literature. If we focus on Indochina, Marguerite Duras’ “L’Amant” is written with interspersed memories of colonial France, her teenage love affair and the breathtaking Mekong River as a backdrop.
Looking for something more like a detective novel but set at the same time and place, Graham Greene’s “The Impassive American” takes a look at French and British colonialism in Vietnam. Considering the colonial era in Burma, a country that has experienced a tourist boom in recent years but has been forgotten by the world for many decades, it is essential to read “Burma Days”. And when talking about Vietnam, and although the book has a distinctly journalistic tone, there is no better book to understand this chess game between Vietnam, Cambodia, the United States and Russia that was Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War and the years that followed than “Brother Enemy”.
Japan is another of these fascinating countries. That’s normal. Its magnetism is hypnotic, with these characters who exude melancholy on every page, in every action. Although this is the most obvious, not everything is Murakami in this universe. The country’s first novel with such unbridled passion as “The Beautiful and the Sad” is won . A writer writing about a more current universe, also perfectly describes life in the cities, loneliness and feelings that end up being silenced in a society that speaks without saying a word in books like “The sky is blue, the earth is white”. These books require, even demand, an understanding of characters from another culture, which can be fascinating or frustrating. However, to approach Japan with the eyes of a Westerner, there is no more ironic, beautiful and precise look than that of a Belgian woman in a series of short, autobiographical books where she describes her relationship as a European with a country to which she ends up coming back again and again: “Amazement and Trembling” is her most representative work where the cultural clash between West and East manifests itself in all its splendor in the professional life of a company in Tokyo. His novels about the country are complemented by “The Metaphysics of Tubes”, “Neither of Eve nor Adam” and “Happy Nostalgia”. Also, the Japanese have developed a unique culinary culture, rich in tastes and textures. So enjoy an incredible gastronomic experience during your gourmet trip to Japan!
In Western Asia and parts of the Middle East, Iran, ancient Persia and one of the most popular destinations in recent years. The kindness and hospitality of the Persians, the thousand-year-old history and the landscapes among which mountain ranges and deserts abound make it a destination you can fall in love with without wanting to. Tackling so many centuries of history can be overwhelming, especially with the convulsive movements that marked it in the last century. The four volumes of the graphic novel “Persepolis” may be a simple way to get a general idea of the changes, not always good ones, that the country has undergone in recent decades. However, if one must choose a work that condemns him in an exceptional way, it would be “The Golden Cage”, which is not only an excellent writer, but also the first Iranian and Muslim woman to receive a Nobel Prize: in this case, the Peace Prize.
With these recommendations, there are already a few hours of reading, but we must finish with a few more or less random gems as far as the destinations are concerned. Just as happened in Japan, it is likely that the author who most identifies Colombia is Gabriel García Marquez, but walking the streets of Macondo, it would be foolish to deny the beautiful literature that is written in this country, This way of writing is as savage as it corresponds to the dramatic situation that Colombians experienced in the last century, but nevertheless as delicate, as prudent, as sincere and emotional as “El olvido que seremos” by Héctor Abad Faciolince, a family story, but also one of the labyrinths of the country’s own history.
The Greek Islands
In the jewelry section, but also in the delicious books, those that we finish with a smile on our face, we find this trip to the Greek island of Corfu that would definitely mark a child, as a naturalist, not only for the exquisite descriptions of the flora and fauna of the island, but also for the portrait of the characters that inhabit it and of course of its strange family. “My family and the other animals” is the first book of a trilogy that is not written in chronological order but based on affectionate episodes. “Bugs and Other Relatives” and “The Garden of the Gods” complete the saga, which could however be put together in a single volume.
Dealing with a civilization about which very little is known is always a challenge, especially if you are an anthropologist doing your first field research with a tribe in Africa. Humor, but above all respect, is the key to this book that an Englishman describes perfectly in “The Innocent Anthropologist”, perhaps one of those books that allows you to laugh at your misfortunes, but above all it makes you think about how the world can be perceived in a radically different way.
Finally, another way to read and understand your own country, highly recommended to open your eyes in a different way during your travels in Spain. Sergio del Molino reflects in “La España vacía” on the evolution of two Spaniards: the countryside and the city, and on the increase of their distance. It will be difficult to travel the roads of Spain again without remembering his pages. Isn’t it the best literature, the one that stays with you, that makes you think and make you think?
Why write a travel journal?
– Writing to live and relive emotions: When you leave for a destination that is not your everyday life, you usually have curiosity on the lookout and the chakras wide open, if I dare say so. Taking the time to feed your travel journal from day to day is an opportunity to engrave your emotions for a long time, not to let a fleeting memory fly away, to give life to a small detail, which makes the salt of a vacation day. You can also leave a trace of the mood of the day, that of your companions. On a trip I took to New York City one on one (Find the best pass to visit New York) with one of my sons, I wrote down some of the little phrases or described the amazed expressions on his face as he discovered this or that facet of the city. In fact, I can still remember the look of delight on his face when a firefighter lent him his helmet and willingly agreed to a photo shoot in an oversized truck. Of course, it’s also perfect to simply keep track of an itinerary, a visited place, a restaurant, a meeting.
– Writing to keep busy: Writing a travel diary is a way to give yourself a bit of digital detox. On the one hand because you will not always be in areas covered by 4G or wifi. But mostly because I invite you, when you are waiting for a train, a plane, a boat or even a tuk-tuk, to draw your notebook instead of your mobile. It also works when you’re on board. Take the opportunity to rediscover what you were doing before you had a screen always at hand to keep you busy.
– Write to let your creativity run wild: You know it if you’ve been browsing other articles in the Gazette, self-help is the key word to get you started on any kind of writing activity. Yes, you can write poems of your own in a travel journal, such as a Chateaubriand about Brittany, or descriptions of landscapes in Provence à la Pagnol or Giono or not. If you have never written during a trip, doing it the first time will be a creative experience in itself. Taking the time to sit down for even 10 minutes a day to tell what enchanted you, to simply describe your feelings, will be a source of creativity. In any case, it doesn’t cost anything to try the experience; just let yourself be carried away by what makes you vibrate.
Some ideas to make your travel diary
Your travel album should look like you, write what inspires you and don’t hesitate to put a touch of your personality in it. We have devoted an article to give you some tips to start your travel diary, in the meantime here are some interesting tips. In order to create a good travel journal, you need to take a trip, and you don’t need to go to the other side of the world. All places are worth visiting! Tell about your visits and write down your impressions day by day. You can communicate your tips and all the good things you found interesting and want to share. Put a few pictures to present what you saw, and to make your readers want to discover this destination. All you have to do is publish it and that’s it.
What material to take with you on your trip to create your travel diary?
When I travel by backpack or bike, I need to take the bare minimum to complete my travel journal on the spot, that is to say a notebook, a black pen with a fine point, my 12-cup watercolor box, a water tank brush, a black marker, a criterium and an eraser. If you have the possibility to take a little more material then you take your complete drawing kit.
Here is a rather atypical list of books, not travel literature, but books to accompany your trip. In any case, there is no more grateful company than letters. To many travels and many books.