Sunday, September 20, 2009

Top 20 Travel Books

The Times newspaper has published a list of the 20 best travel books of the last century. These lists are only a bit of fun and I've been guilty of a couple of them myself, but even so, this particular one is - shall we say - a wee bit parochial. Of the twenty travel writers on the their list, 17 are English (17!). There's one Irish woman on there and the two Americans are Paul Theroux who of course has a couple of English children and who lived in London for twenty years and Bill Bryson who has dual British/American citizenship and who lives in Yorkshire. There are no French, German, Spanish, Polish, or Italian travel writers on the Times list. No one from Latin America, Africa or Asia. The great VS Naipaul doesn't get a look in or Carlo Levi or Peter Mathiessen or William Least Heat Moon or Pico Iyer etc. etc.
Still if you're looking for a list of the top 20 English travel books of the last century this is a good place to start, although why A Time of Gifts isn't #1 is a bit of a puzzle.