No, you’re not imagining things, What’s On Your Bookshelf is a week later than normal – and for a very good reason. This month, you see, we’re pleased to be teaming up with The Friendly Friday Challenge – a fortnightly challenge co-hosted by Sandy from The Sandy Chronicles, Amanda from Something to Ponder About and Sarah from Travels with Me – to talk about travel books.
But first, a quick recap on what I read in March (which, incidentally, seems so far away now).
In the interests of space and words, my brief reviews are on Goodreads, but my read of the month was Milly Johnson’s Woman In The Middle, closely followed by Sophie Hannah’s The Mystery of Three Quarters.
As far as cookbooks go, I read Jimmy and Jane Barnes’ Where the River Bends (more for the stories than the recipes) and Skye McAlpine’s A Table In Venice (for both stories and recipes). Both books were library loans and while I didn’t cook anything from Where The River Bends, I certainly did from A Table In Venice. Peaches Poached in Amaretto Syrup (with an amoretti crumb) was declared a favourite by Grant.
My travel bookcase lives in my home office as a constant reminder of the reason why I work – so I can escape from it. It’s full of guides to places I’ve been, and travel memoirs from fabulous writers about places I love or would like to visit.
As for a favourite? I’m hard-pressed to pick one – so I won’t. Instead, here are a few of my favourite authors. As for the virtual travelling I do through cookbooks and fiction? That’s a subject for a whole other post.
Peter Mayle’s Provence
The first travel memoir I ever bought was Peter Mayle’s A Year In Provence. It’s one I reread every few years so my copy is falling apart – as, indeed, it should be given that I bought it in, wait for it, 1990. Am I really that old? And that was the paperback. The original was published a year earlier.
Mayle wrote a couple of sequels to A Year In Provence. Both are enjoyable reads, but there’s just something about the original that has me reaching for it every time I feel like escaping to the south of France.
Mayle also turned his hand to fiction with A Good Year. Now, I’m going to say this really quickly – A Good Year is one of my absolute favourite movies. Russell Crowe is in it – yes, I know, but he’s great in this, as is Marion Cotillard – and it’s set in Provence. That’s all that you really need to know.
Bryson is the master when it comes to travel writing and I adore how he combines exploring, walking and writing about both. My faves from him? Notes From a Small Island, Downunder, A Walk In The Woods, The Road To Little Dribbling, and Neither Here Nor There.
France, walking, food, art and history. What could be better?
I bought my first John Baxter book in Shakespeare and Co in Paris – a second-hand copy of A Paris Christmas. It seemed serendipitous – food and Paris in Paris. The following year I found a copy of Baxter’s The Most Beautiful Walk In The World on the bookshelf in our rental cottage in Wyck Rissington. I’d been struggling with Liane Moriarty’s Nine Perfect Strangers so immediately texted our landlord and asked if I could swap. Thankfully she said yes.
I’ve recently done a mini purge of my travel bookshelves (to make room for more), and while some books have gone to an interim “maybe” or “to be read” pile before making their way to the “donate” pile, these will always have a place.
- Love it or hate it, I’m very firmly in the Love camp with Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love.
- Ben Groundwater is one of my favourite travel writers and his Five Ways To Carry A Goat gave me the inspiration for the character of Jake in Careful What You Wish For.
- Again combining food and France (can you see a theme developing here?) is Felicity Cloake’s One More Croissant For The Road. I can’t wait for her new one: Red Sauce, Brown Sauce – A British Breakfast Odyssey.
- The late (great) AA Gill is the travel writer’s travel writer. I’m in awe.
Sue, Donna, Debbie and I have been delighted to co-host this one-time combo challenge with Friendly Friday Challenge and What’s On Your Bookshelf. To join us and showcase your favourite travel book, you can share in the comments, pingback with your own post, or use the handy InLInkz bar below. Please be sure to tag both challenges (‘Friendly Friday’ and #whatsonyourbookshelfchallenge). We look forward to hearing your thoughts as well as your travel book suggestions!