Books to travel with: The 2019 Bold List


Not the definitive list by any means but some great books from around the world – or that take you around the world.

Holidays in Hell by PJ O’Rourke

This guy can write – and he’s very funny. Sort of Howard Marks [shock jock]in print.

Berlin Noir by Philip Kerr

Very witty and drole story set in 1930s Berlin. An ex policeman goes freelance and takes on some strange cases in the pre war darkness of Nazi Germany.

Travels on my Elephant by Mark Shand

What a lovely bloke. He was great company at a book launch we did some 9 years ago. A great supporter of the plight of the Asian elephant. Died too early but packed it in.

Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson

One of the great travel writers. I met him 3 years ago and he had just done his ‘test’ for British citizenship and he said the questions were really difficult. Given his apparent knowledge of everything that comes through in his books I am sure he passed.

A Cook’s Tour by Anthony Bourdain

Another writer who left us too early. Made a great career for himself after humble beginnings in a New York kitchen.

A Good Man in Africa by William Boyd

My absolute favourite contemporary writer. A born storyteller and what an imagination.

Serotonine by Michel Houllebecq

Controversial, sultry, controversial, French. Rave reviews for this book which seems to have predicted the current ‘gilet jaune’ unrest amongst the rural deprived in France.

A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle

The definitive ‘move to France’ book with all the trials and tribulations of being a Brit in France. Or as he noted on page 1:  ‘the year began with lunch’.

Lone Rider by Elspeth Beard.

What an amazing lady. Early 80s London and she buys a 10 year old Honda motorbike that ends up taking her round the world. A good story teller too as you really feel the occasional pain and many joys of this epic trip. She’s good on the technical detail too – not many blokes could have done this trip. And she now lives in Godalming!

The Long Ride Home by Nathan Millward

Another bike trip and this time from Sydney to London on a 105cc postmans bike.  Could be a bit deeper in his descriptions of places and people but good on the doubts that he constantly feels during the trip. Those ‘Sod it I’ll jump on a plane home’ moments.

The Sound of One Hand Clapping by Richard Flanagan 

I read this whilst motorbiking around Tasmania and it evokes the early days of hydro power construction done mainly by cheap labour imported from the fringes of Europe. Alcohol, violence, regret and love. And abandonment. A great read from this Booker Prize winner.

The North Water by Ian Maguire

A scary tale of whaling, desperation and violence in the frozen northern seas set in the early 20th century when the rewards from lengthy whaling trips created more problems than solutions. And how many whales were killed at this time is frightening. Not to mention the violence on board…

Africa House by Christina Lamb

A mad true story of a British gent recreating his country house, lifestyle and fiefdom in the middle of Zambia. Hardly credible and a terrific read.

Passage to India by  E.M Forster

The definitive novel on India. Or perhaps the definitive novel on Brits. In India. I’m not sure and nor were many of the protagonists in this epic novel.


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