Sunday, July 01, 2007

The Armchair Traveler Reading Challenge

I’m not planning any further actual travel this summer, and I’m a great fan of travel writing, so how could I resist the Armchair Traveler Reading Challenge? The challenge originates with Lesley of A Life in Books, and the rules are simple. Participants must read six books that connect with the ‘armchair traveling’ theme between July 1st and December 31st. The books need not be limited to conventional travel writing. Fiction or non-fiction will fit the bill so long as the location is integral to the book. Participants are asked to post their list of six at the outset, although making substitutions along the way is cheerfully permitted.

A number of the books that I’m plotting to read in connection with the Reading Across Borders Challenge could do double duty here. But there are many other books on my towering TBR pile that also fit the theme. Here’s a list of twelve from which I expect to carve out my six challenge reads:

1. James Baldwin, Another Country (New York).
2. Paul Bowles, The Sheltering Sky (North Africa).
3. Kathleen Jamie, Findings (Scotland).
4. Alfred Kazin, A Walker in the City (New York).
5. Andrea MacPherson, Beyond the Blue (Dundee, Scotland).
6. Jeremy Mercer, Time Was Soft There (Paris).
7. Mary Morris, The River Queen (Mississippi River).
8. Anna Quindlen, Imagined London: A Tour of the World's Greatest Fictional City (London).
9. Robert Louis Stevenson, Travels with a Donkey (France).
10. Terry Teachout, City Limits (Missouri).
11. Mark Twain, Innocents Abroad (Europe & the Middle East).
12. Virginia Woolf, The London Scene: Six Essays on London Life (London).

Wish me “bon voyage”!


Dorothy W. said...

Very nice list -- I'm hoping to read the Kazin, Stevenson, and Woolf some day. I'm intrigued by this challenge, but also trying to be wary of them these days, so I should probably resist ... but maybe I'll read a few travel books anyway.

Kate S. said...

The three that you highlight would fit very nicely with your recent reading about walking. I suspect that you would really like the Kathleen Jamie as well. It's a book of personal essays in which Jamie turns her poet's eye on her home landscape of Scotland.

Dark Orpheus said...

Ah, nice. I still have Jeremy Mercer on my bookshelf - always intend to get to it one day.

The Sheltering Sky - another book I've wanted to read.

Wishing you a great journey!

Kate S. said...

Dark Orpheus,
I'm very intrigued by some of the titles that you're undertaking for this challenge as well. I'm looking forward to traveling vicariously through the books, but also through my fellow bloggers and their selections!

Historia said...

Here is my review for Time was Soft There.

lucette said...

I'm a giant fan of Another Country--I'll be interested to hear what you think of it.

Joana said...

That sounds like another great book challenge. I've already joined quite a few though so I don't think I'll be joining in on this one though. :( Thanks for sharing!

Gentle Reader said...

Great list! I've never heard of the Kathleen Jamie book but it's going straight onto my list. Bon voyage, and thanks!

Lesley said...

The only one I've read is Imagined London, which was quite good. There's another one in a similar vein that I want to read called A Reader's Guide to Writers' London.

So many of your books sound interesting, though - I'm looking forward to reading your thoughts on them.

I opted to start the challenge with Bryson's Sunburned Country, which I am loving so far. He has done the impossible and gotten me interested in visiting Australia!

CLM said...

Thanks for the link to this Challenge, Kate. It sounds fun!


danielle said...

I love travel narratives, too. I read The Sheltering Sky last year and really liked it--I look forward to hearing what you thoughts on it!

Kate S. said...

Thanks for the link to your review of the Mercer book. I'm looking forward to reading the book and comparing my impressions with yours afterwards.

As far as Baldwin's fiction goes, I've only ever read a few of his short stories. It was a post about it over at Fernham that prompted me to pick up Another Country and 'm looking forward to it. I'll let you know what I think.

I know what you mean! I try to limit my challenge participation to a manageable level, but I find it hard to resist when an interesting new one crops up...

Gentle Reader,
I've only dipped into a few of Jamie's essays so far, but I'm loving them. I bought the book in Scotland last year, but a U.S. edition came out just this spring from Graywolf, so it should be readily available.

It's good to know that the Quindlen gets a thumbs up from you. I'm a fan of all of Bryson's books, and I enjoyed In a Sunburned Country. Thanks for starting this fabulous challenge!

It's lovely to find you in the blogosphere. I must get back over to the Maud list. I miss you and the list!

A couple of people have recommended The Sheltering Sky to me. That you liked it as well makes me even keener to pick it up. It seems that you and I often agree about books!