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Travel Books 2014

A sampling of books that came out during the year that may be worth investigating further. In no particular order...

  • Alice Goffman, On the Run. This ethnography of a black neighbourhood in Philadelphia was widely heralded as a landmark of the genre, but at least one critic, Christina Sharpe, writing in the New Inquiry, was disturbed by its lack of awareness of the 'fantasies of black pathology' it seems to fulfil and the possibility that the book might actually encourage the policies of surveillance and incarceration whose painful effects Goffman describes. [More details]
  • Alastair Bonnet, Unruly Places. According to the Boston Globe, an attention to the 'social resonance of each place he describes' prevents Bonnet's sometimes overblown catalogue 'from being merely a guidebook to various outlandish locales.' [More details]
  • Geert Mak, In America. An update of Steinbeck's Travels with Charley that didn't quite convince the Independent: 'Mak makes poignant observations, and shares revealing encounters, but they’re frequently swamped by his insistence on supporting ideas with data.' [More details]
  • Linda Cracknell, Doubling Back. This account of ten contrasting walks delighted the Dundee University Review of the Arts: 'Cracknell's writing is a constant pleasure, her compact, often alliterative phrasing reflecting the physical and emotional temperature of her themes.' [More details]
  • Phil Smith, On Walking. Gareth Rees at Unofficial Britain thought this 'a joyously irreverent challenge to the way we experience our towns, cities and countryside – packed with practical ideas and tasks. But it’s also a melancholic journey into Smith’s internal universe, illuminating the bittersweet joy, doubt, confusion and hope of the modern British wanderer.' [More details]
  • Ian Crofton, Walking the Border. This account of a journey along the Scotland/England border includes 'a lot of excellent natural description, alongside a number of comic encounters with humans and livestock' wrote the Guardian, but thought it could have delved deeper into Borders culture. [More details]
  • Francisco Goldman, The Interior Circuit. The Washington Post liked this homage to Mexico City, where the author has lived on-and-off for twenty years. He 'deftly weaves the portrait of the city with his personal story'. [More details]
  • Teju Cole, Every Day for the Thief. This novel that began life as a series of blog posts on the author's return to Lagos (and first published in Nigeria in 2007) 'knits a skein of seemingly unrelated memories, stories, reflections and chance encounters into an ineffable sense of character and place', wrote the San Francisco Chronicle: 'a radiant meditation on the nature of happiness and faith, corruption, misfortune and belonging.' [More details]
  • Carl Hoffman, Savage Harvest. After a shaky start, in the view of the New York Times, this footsteps investigation into the disappearance of Michael Rockefeller in New Guinea in 1961, 'turns into a taut thriller' that reveals how the young collector 'could display both a passion for primitive culture and an astonishing lack of sensitivity' [More details]
  • Paul Evans, Herbaceous. The Big Issue considered this journey through the seasons 'sumptuous wordsmithery: bewitching, enriching writing to sooth the soul and make the spirit soar. So sensual the plants tickle as you read, as you’re enveloped in scent, sound and immersed in place' [More details]
  • Wayne Curtis, The Last Great Walk. The New York Times recommended this recreation of Edward Payson Weston's epic 1909 walk from New York to San Francisco that serves as a springboard for reflections on the fortunes and benefits of pedestrianism. [More details]
  • Nick Hunt, Walking the Woods and the Water. The Spectator 'learnt so much from the vivid way Hunt describes the physiological effects of trudging on for month after month' as he followed the route of Patrick Leigh Fermor from the Hook of Holland to the Golden Horn. [More details]
Posted by Alasdair Pettinger Thu 1 Jan 2015 22:50 GMT+0000
 

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