1. Notes From A Small Island: An Affectionate Portrait of Britain, Bill Bryson
Bryson, an American with a wicked sense of humor, who lived in Britain for more than twenty years, ponders what makes Britain great and at the same time downright eccentrically bonkers in this laugh out loud collection of musings.
“Suddenly, in the space of a moment, I realized what it was that I loved about Britain – which is to say, all of it. Every last bit of it, good and bad – Marmite, village fetes, country lanes, people saying ‘mustn’t grumble’ and ‘I’m terribly sorry but’, people apologizing to me when I conk them with a nameless elbow, milk in bottles, beans on toast, haymaking in June, stinging nettles, seaside piers, Ordnance Survey maps, crumpets, hot-water bottles as a necessity, drizzly Sundays – every bit of it.”― Bill Bryson
2. Video Night In Kathmandu: And Other Reports From The Not-So-Far East, Pico Lyer
Back in the day this was a backpacker’s bible, a thesis on Asia and the invasion of American culture, the good, bad and often ugly. Lyer covers a wide swath of Asia including, Bali, India, Hong Kong, Philippines, Japan, Nepal and Thailand. Indicative of the era of his journey, this book, while showing its age, is still a darned good read whether you were there yourself in the eighties or wish to understand how the region has changed enormously since that go-go boom time.
“The open road is the school of doubt in which man learns faith in man.” ― Pico Iyer
3. A Short Walk In The Hindu Kush, Eric Newby
Newby, a World War II speed boat commando, working in the fashion industry in post-war England, chucks everything in for a journey through the Hindu Kush to attempt to summit a peak that had not been climbed. Without any mountaineering skills, but with a stiff upper lip, Newby recounts the folly of his mission with wit and humor. A beloved, legendary travel writer with a legacy that is as fresh today as when he was first published.
“I was heavily involved on all fronts: with mountaineering outfitters, who oddly enough never fathomed the depths of my ignorance; possibly because they couldn’t conceive of anyone acquiring such a collection of equipment without knowing how to use it.” ― Eric Newby
4. The World: Travels 1950-2000, Jan Morris
Morris one of the most respected, original travel writers of the last century delivers a collection of global essays covering cities and cultures from Everest to Venice and Baghdad to Hong Kong. A fantastic introduction or reacquaintance to the inimitable Jan Morris and her take on places and people in far-flung places over a fifty year span.
“Travel is not just a way of having a good time, but something that every self-respecting citizen ought to undertake, like a high-fiber diet, say, or a deodorant.” ― Jan Morris
5. A Passage To India, E.M. Forster
Published in 1929, when the sun had not yet set on Great Britain and her empire, A Passage To India is a tale of love, hate and a loud clash of cultures set in British India. This is masterful story-telling that is hard to put down, a timeless classic. A tale that conveys that travel is not a place or destination, it is the experiences and the people.
“Adventures do occur, but not punctually. Life rarely gives us what we want at the moment we consider appropriate.” ― E.M. Forster