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Five vintage travel books to read now

Jennifer Ennion
Thursday, November 29, 2012
When the book was first published, it received mixed reviews from being described as "groundbreaking literary genius" as well as "a disturbing manifesto for mindless degeneracy".
Jennifer Ennion

With the growth of online book outlets, there's no excuse for not having read travel classics that are no longer in print.

Here's our pick of the best travel narratives you should read this summer:

Around The World In 80 Days by Jules Verne

The ultimate classic in travel novels is one of French writer Jules Verne's most acclaimed books, Around the World in 80 Days.

Follow Englishman Phileas Fogg as he sets off from London to circumnavigate the world in the year 1872.

The wealthy Mr Fogg embarks on the journey after reading a newspaper article claiming that with a new railway link in India, it's now possible to travel around the world in 80 days.

An argument with his fellow members of the Reform Club ensues and Mr Fogg ends up accepting a bet that he can indeed travel the distance in the required time frame.

The novel was first published in 1873 but can still be found in vintage editions on bookshelves.

It has also spawned numerous modern literary takes, a 2004 film starring Jackie Chan, and a documentary with Michael Palin in 1989.

The Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux

In the 1975 travelogue The Great Railway Bazaar, American novelist Paul Theroux spends four months travelling by train through Asia.

Theroux crosses Europe, the Middle East, India, and South-East Asia, and then turns around to cap off the trip aboard the Trans-Siberian Railway.

Travel writers consider this one a must-read classic that takes in the now infamous hippie trail.

Theroux revisited his original route in 2006 and wrote a book about that journey titled Ghost Train to the Eastern Star.

On The Road by Jack Kerouac

It was Jack Kerouac's third book, On the Road (1957), that younger audiences will know best.

The novel is based on the travels of Kerouac and his friends across America, against a backdrop of jazz, sex and drugs.

The novel has repeatedly been listed in top books lists around the world and was this year released as a film featuring big name actors Kristen Stewart, Amy Adams, Kirsten Dunst and Viggo Mortensen.

According to the UK Telegraph, when the book was first published, it received mixed reviews from being described as "groundbreaking literary genius" as well as "a disturbing manifesto for mindless degeneracy".

Looking at online forums today, it still seems to divide readers.

The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen

Described as a moving account of a true pilgrimage and journey of the heart, Peter Matthiessen's The Snow Leopard sets the standard for travel literature on Nepal that has followed.

The 1978 book tells of Matthiessen's two-month search for the snow leopard on the Tibetan Plateau in the Himalayas.

Travelling with field biologist George Schaller, Matthiessen set out to study the Himalayan blue sheep, with the hope of glimpsing the rare leopard.

The American writer was also on a spiritual journey to an ancient shrine on Crystal Mountain.

Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas by Hunter S Thompson

A list of the best travel books wouldn't be complete without mentioning Hunter S Thompson.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a drug-infused journey to the city of sin.

Thompson's most famous novel, it's based on two Nevada trips that the author took with lawyer Oscar Zeta Acosta in 1971.

Expect vivid descriptions of drug use and an insight into 1960s culture.

The story first featured in two parts in Rolling Stone magazine and was published as a book a year later in 1972.

In 1998 it was adapted to film, starring Johnny Depp and Benicio del Toro.


© AAP 2012

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