For those of us who live in cities where we follow miles of concrete to find any sort of adventure, books and stories where the author sets out without a map or heads to faraway places always have an added allure. I’ve been thinking about this since reading about the passing of the journalist Matthew Power in Uganda. As the writer Tom Bissell pointed out in a Facebook tribute post to Power, “If you travel, you must trust. Openness is not gullibility. A willingness to be vulnerable does not endanger you,” and that’s what made Power one of the best when it came to documenting his experiences in faraway places.
Although tragedy was one of the factors that got me thinking about writers who can go somewhere far away, write about it, and perfectly transport the reader there, I also happened to be reading The Broken Road when I heard the news of Power’s passing. Although it’s worth reading the entire series, you could pick up the third and final book of Patrick Leigh Fermor’s teenage stories from his walk across continental Europe in the early 1930s. Fermor journeys through Hungary, Romania, and all the way to the Black Sea; just jump right in, and work backwards if you want.
While we start to thaw out and await the arrival of travel season, here are a few other literary journeys we’d suggest embarking upon.