“Travel writers” are not limited to non-fiction. I never had much interest in visiting Russia until I read Tolstoy’s War and Peace last year. Now St. Petersburg and Moscow are way up there on my bucket list. If you are going to Greece, read Zorba, the Greek. No other book will do. My list includes novelists who make me want to go to some particular location.
Childhood memories include travelogues such as Robinson Crusoe, Treasure Island, and Shangri La.
Adolescent reading included Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, Jane Austin, Sherlock Holmes and Charles Dickens—Most of their books take place in England and are part of the reason I became a first-rate Anglophile.
Barbara Kingsolver—I don’t want to go to what was known as the Belgian Congo because of The Poisonwood Bible, but no author gives a better sense of place than Kingsolver does in this novel.
Non-Fiction travel writers I enjoy include:
A Walk in the Woods—about the Appalachian Trail
In a Sunburned Country—about Australia
I’m a Stranger Here Myself—about England
Charles Darwin—The Galapagos Islands would have interested no one if not for Darwin. The Origin of the Species is not a travelogue, per se, but it will make you curious about a very remote part of our planet.
Elizabeth Gilbert—Eat, Love, Pray
Jim Corbett is another author I discovered as a teenager:
Man-eaters of Kumaon
The Man-eating Leopard of Rudraprayag
John Berendt—Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil almost singlehandedly revived the city of Savannah, Georgia, my birthplace. He also wrote a book about Venice, Italy, but it is not worth reading.
Pat Conroy—I finally made it to Dafauskie Island, South Carolina, this past year because thirty years ago, I read The Water is Wide. Conroy has often told the story of South Carolina, not always flatteringly, in Lords of Discipline, The Great Santini and South of Broad.
A Year in Provence
Jaguars Ripped My Flesh
Wendell Berry—Everything Wendell Berry writes about Kentucky is worth reading. Mostly, he writes fiction, but no one gives a sense of place better than Berry. Try Jayber Crow and Hannah Coulter.