Best Travel Writing – Top 10 Travel Novels

It’s hard to find great travel writing, but it’s out there. Part of the reason for this is that so much travel writing is also considered nature writing or narrative non-fiction. Part of the reason is that the field is so competitive because of a lot of good authors competing for a relatively small market space. But there is a wide array of great travel fiction out there, and here is my list of the best ten travel novels I’ve read over the past couple years.

10) Through Painted Deserts, by Donald Miller. This is one I actually found in the “Christian Non-Fiction” section, which can be unfair. There’s no question Miller is a Christian, but he’s a writer first and foremost, he’s not preachy, and his questioning of his own faith, of reasons for existence, of who and what he is or is becoming is reminiscent of the fantastic soul searching that came from the travel writing of the Beat generation. Miller’s account of his trip is great, going through the moments of beauty, the necessity of good road trip music, and admitting his moments of embarrassment and fear as freely as any other part of his journey.

9) Holy Cow: An Indian Adventure by Sarah MacDonald. The early reading of this book can be hard, because after the first few chapters there’s a lot of the Western perspective, the whining of living conditions and poverty, the type of scorn you don’t care to read from travel writing. I’m glad I read the rest, because like “Through Painted Deserts,” “Holy Cow” is about the author’s journey. Sarah evolves and changes chapter to chapter in front of you as she sheds the scornful nature of an atheist “too smart” to fall for superstition, and she opens up, traveling through India and sampling all the different religious beliefs and practices as she becomes a humble Theist who learns happiness, learns to grow, and learns that alien cultures can have a lot to offer the open traveler.

8) Into the Wild by John Krakauer. I first caught sight of this book at a Barnes and Noble on one of the feature tables. I was on winter break from Alaska and visiting family in Iowa. I picked up the book, sat down, and read the entire work in one sitting. Travel book, journalistic book, nature book, adventure book-whatever you call it, this is one heck of a read, and the debate this book causes is deep and passionate. As a wanderlust traveler, I understand the drive the main character feels, as an Alaskan, I understand the native perspective of irritation, of the lack of understanding that nature is brutal and especially Alaska needs to be respected as such.

7) Dark Star Safari: Overland from Cairo to Cape Town, by Paul Theroux. Paul Theroux is at his best in “Dark Star Safar,” where his skills of observation and his dry wit are on full display. Paul takes readers the length of Africa via overcrowded rattletrap bus, dugout canoe, cattle truck, armed convoy, ferry, and train in a journey that is hard to forget. There are moments of beauty, but there are also many moments of misery and danger. This is a narration of Africa that goes beyond the skin deep to dare to look at the deeper core of what is often referred to as “The Dark Continent.”

6) Blue Highways: A Journey Into America, by William Least Heat-Moon. This is an auto-biographical travel journey taken by Heat-Mean in 1978. After separating from his wife and losing his job, Heat-Moon decided to take an extended road trip around the United States, sticking to “Blue Highways,” a term to refer to small out of the way roads connecting rural America (which were drawn in blue in the old Rand McNally atlases). So Heat-Moon outfits his van, named “Ghost Dancing” and takes off on a 3-month soul-searching tour of the United States. The book chronicles the 13,000 mile journey and the people he meets along the way, as he steers clear of cities and interstates, avoiding fast food and exploring local American culture on a journey that is just as amazing today as when he first took the journey.

5) The Lost Continent, by Bill Bryson. There are tons of fantastic Bill Bryson books out there, and any one of them could hold this spot here. “The Lost Continent” is Bryson’s trip across America, visiting some common places (the grand canyon), but also exploring the back roads and looking for that familiarity that helps him remember home.

4) Wanderlust: Real-Life Tales of Adventures and Romance by Pico Iyer. Probably one of the best travel writing collections released in recent memory, this collection is under the name Pico Iyer, who helped to edit this collection. These stories come from the “Wanderlust” section of Salon.com and create a varied tapestry of travel writing that will keep the reader flipping from one writer to another.

3) A Walk Across America by Peter Jenkins. This is one of the all time modern classics in travel literature, as Peter Jenkins recalls the story of his 1973-1975 walk from New York to New Orleans. For many readers, this remains a rare travel book that grips you and keeps you. Known as a travel writer who will walk anywhere, including Alaska and China, Peter Jenkins says, “I started out searching for myself and my country and found both.” That sums up what travel writing should be all about.

2) Travels w/ Charlie by John Steinbeck. This was a novel that helped John Steinbeck win a Nobel Prize in Literature. “Travels with Charlie” is a fantastic travel narrative that gets to the heart of travel, the point of the trip, and the strange confrontation and realization that the places and people you remember are gone once you are. As he revisits the places of his youth that many of his books are based on, he realizes on seeing old friends that they’re as uncomfortable with him being back as he is with being there. A great story about travel, about home, about mourning lost history, about aging, and about America-this should be required reading for every high school student.

1) The Dharma Bums, by Jack Kerouac. The beat generation was full of great travel narratives, and Jack Kerouac was the master of powerful, moving, passionate language that unfolded stories like few people have ever managed. While “On the Road” is the most often pointed to travel narrative by Kerouac, “The Dharma Bums” is a better book. Full of passion, interesting characters and stories, and the kind of passionate language and powerful prose that made the beat generation writers popular, this Kerouac book is extraordinary and deserving of its number one spot.

Alfred Nobel – A Name That Needs No Introduction

Alfred Nobel born on 21st October 1833 in Stockholm, Sweden was a Swedish chemist, innovator, engineer, and an industrialist. He invented dynamite, Bofors and many more things which led to the technological revolution during his era. He invested a part of his wealth to posthumously start Nobel Prize.

Family background

Alfred Nobel was the fourth son of Andriette Ahlsell and Immanuel Nobel. His father, Immanuel Nobel was an inventor and engineer who constructed buildings and bridges in Stockholm, Sweden. During the construction work Immanuel Nobel used to try different techniques of blasting rocks. His mother Andriette Ahlsell belonged from a wealthy family. Due to the heavy loss in the construction work, Immanuel Nobel became Bankrupt in the year 1833, the same year Alfred was born. Then in the year 1837, Immanuel Nobel leaving his family in Stockholm, moved to Finland to start a new career. Meanwhile Alfred’s mother Andriette Ahlsell started a grocery shop in Stockholm in order to support and feed her family. Immanuel Nobel started a mechanical shop in St. Petersburg, Russia which manufactured equipments for the Russian Army. His new business became very successful and as a result of this he was able to bring his family to St. Petersburg, Russia in the year 1842.

Education

After moving to Russia his father enrolled him and his brothers into the top school of Russia. Immanuel Nobel wanted his sons to join the family business as engineers after finishing their education. But, initially Alfred was interested more in poetry than chemicals. Noticing this, Immanuel Nobel sent Alfred Nobel abroad for a two years training program in chemical engineering. During the training program Alfred visited France, Germany, Sweden and United States. During his training program Alfred also met Ascanio Sobrero, the person who invented Nitroglycerine in Paris. Nitroglycerine is a highly explosive liquid with its explosive power much more than gunpowder but it is very unstable.

Work

Because of the aforementioned property of Nitroglycerine Alfred Nobel became interested in it and started thinking about how to use it for practical use. In the year 1852, He returned back to Russia to join his family business, which was growing at an enormous rate at that time. But after the war ended the Nobel family again turned into bankruptcy and they returned back to Sweden in the year 1863. After returning back to Sweden He invested most of his time in experimenting with Nitroglycerine. He conducted various experiments to use nitroglycerine as an explosive. Finally, in the year 1867 Nobel succeeded in his experiments and invented Dynamite (a mixture of nitroglycerine and kieselguhr). He patented Dynamite under his name. In order to detonate or blast the dynamite rods he also invented a blasting cap or detonator which can be ignited by lightning a fuse.

As a businessman

Alfred Nobel was also a very successful Businessman and entrepreneur. By the year 1865, the market and demand for dynamite and blasting cap increased at an enormous rate. His factory in Krummel, Germany started exporting dynamite to other countries in America, Australia and Europe. He went on to establish around 90 laboratories and factories in more than 20 countries around the world. Apart from explosives, Alfred Nobel also focused on the development of other chemical products such as: leather, rubber, artificial silk, etc.

Personal life

Alfred Nobel had to travel a lot because of his vast business empire. But he spent a major part of his life in Paris.

The Nobel Prize in Nursing – A Recognition Whose Time Has Come

Think about all the endless hours the nurses spend in all the emergency rooms, intensive care units, hospitals and clinics of the world, tending the sick, healing the wounded, and bringing light, hope and better health to the millions around the globe…

Think about the qualifications they bring to such a critical public function and what would have happened if they weren’t there in the congested hospitals and battle fields of the world?

Isn’t that a service equal in importance to the one delivered by a Nobel-price winner author, doctor, or politician? Ask the millions who have experienced the magical presence of a professional nurse next to their operating table or hospital bed, and the answer will be a resounding “Yes!”

So why is there not a similar Nobel prize for the Nurses, recognizing at least one “healing angel” on behalf of all the other countless healthcare providers, honoring them and recognizing their indisputable contribution to the world health and peace?
A Baltimore Sun op-ed penned by Columbia University nursing professor Kristine Gebbie and Center for Nursing Advocacy executive director Sandy Summers has raised the same excellent question and we hope it won’t be the last.
If there is a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, why not also have one in Nursing?

After recalling the contributions of some truly exceptional nurses like Florence Nightingale (1820-1910), Mary Breckinridge (1881-1965), Susie Kim, and Elizabeth Ngugi, the authors make the following observations:

“Who cares whether nurses win international prizes? We all should. The world is struggling with the lethal effects of a nursing shortage, and the related migration of nurses away from the neediest countries – due in part to a lack of understanding of the nature and value of the profession. The recognition that comes with such prizes could greatly benefit the public’s health by proclaiming to the world, from preschoolers to national leaders, that nursing is one of the most vital fields of human endeavor.”

Given the fact that the existing Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine recognizes only the scientific research in medicine, we clearly need a new category to honor the indisputable contribution nurses make to our lives.