BPL Review of Five Inspiring Travel Books


 By Tisha George| West End/Titusville Branch Libraries

Travel Literature: Any account of long or short term travel, or of visiting a certain place or places, which is based on first-hand experience.  


What have you done to combat the stress of being largely isolated over the past year and a half? For me, the fiction section of my local library has provided a much-needed escape. I  am a very visual person, and when I find a great story, I can fully immerse myself in it.

With some stories, it’s quite a jolt to come back to reality life. The nonfiction section, on the other hand, is my source for information, something I have always turned to for inspiration when learning new skills or gaining new perspectives.  


But travel literature. What a magical melding of both worlds. 

Travel literature is nonfiction. All are true accounts of actual journeys and very real places. But, if the author is good, their stories can read like fiction. You’ll laugh. You’ll be amazed. You’ll learn new things. And you’ll escape into the author’s journey. So you get the best of both worlds. And right now, locked in the limits of our work-home-store-home monotony, an escape is so very welcome. 

Below are five travel writers who have perfected the art of escape: 


Dark Star Safari: Overland from Cairo to Cape Town, by Paul Theroux 


The Singular Pilgrim: Travels on Sacred Ground, by Rosemary Mahoney

A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail, by Bill Bryson

Searching for Zion: The Quest for Home in the African Diaspora, by Emily Raboteau 


A Manual for Cleaning Women: Selected Stories, by Lucia Berlin 



Dark Star Safari: Overland from Cairo to Cape Town   

Paul Theroux 


With wit and snip, Paul Theroux takes readers through the African continent, journeying across this beautiful land by rattletrap bus, dugout canoe, cattle truck, armed convoy, ferry, and train. During the course of his ambitious and illuminating journey, he endures danger, interruption, and more than one unsettling circumstance. But he also talks with the residents of Africa, as well as aid workers, missionaries, and tourists. And the culmination of it all is thoughtful consideration and reflection on the history, politics, and beauty of Africa and its people. 


See the book in the library catalog

The Singular Pilgrim: Travels on Sacred Ground

Rosemary Mahoney 

An astutely observant traveler and insightful writer, Rosemary Mahoney chronicles her adventures participating in six religious journeys: visiting an Anglican shrine to Saint Mary in Walsingham, England; walking the five hundred-mile Camino de Santiago in northern Spain; braving the icy bathwater at Lourdes; rowing alone across the Sea of Galilee to spend a night camped below the Golan Heights; viewing Varanasi, India’s holiest city from a rubber raft on the Ganges; and soldiering barefoot through the three-day penitential Catholic pilgrimage to Lough Derg on Ireland’s Station Island. 

See the book in the library catalog

A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail

Bill Bryson

Hike this trail with Bill Bryson as your guide. Not only informative, but laugh-out-loud hilarious, Bryson takes us on an informative and entertaining walk through both the history and ecology of the longest hiking footpath in the world. Along the way, he introduces us to some colorful characters and—a few bears!—while instilling a sense of pride and wonder at this 2,200-mile trail that cuts through the oldest mountain range on the planet. 

See the book in the library catalog


Searching for Zion: The Quest for Home in the African Diaspora
Emily Raboteau 

In this award-winning survey into contemporary and historical ethnic displacement, Emily Raboteau embarked on a somber, ten-year, global journey through time to explore the multifaceted and conflicting perspectives of Black Zionists. She does this by speaking with Rastafarians, African Hebrew Israelites, Evangelicals, and Ethiopian Jews—all in search of a land and idea that is hard to define and even harder to inhabit. The book is a blend of memoir and cultural investigation, and her writing upends our established ideas of place and patriotism, as well as citizenship and country. 

See the book in the library catalog


A Manual for Cleaning Women: Selected Stories
Lucia Berlin 

This book compiles the best work of the well-known short-story writer Lucia Berlin. It has been called a perfect mix of wit and melancholy, which she imbues in her essays poignant humor and warmth. She observes and chronicles everything from the outright miracles of the everyday, to the beautiful and dark moments that are hidden, uncovering instances of grace everywhere. From Texas to Chile to Mexico and beyond, Lucia Berlin takes her readers into the moments of switchboard operators and struggling mothers, as well as hitchhikers and bad Christians.