Reading to travel, traveling to read

I had trouble waking up this morning, and even after my usual mug of Peet’s French Roast, I’m still not quite awake. I’ve been web surfing before I buckle down on my freelance projects, hoping that procrastination will lead to perkiness…. one of my cyber-stops? Slate.

A series on Slate that I’ve been reading all week has reminded me that I love to read travel writing. It’s been a while since I read any with real enthusiasm; I think writing a travel memoir last year sapped my interest temporarily. But travel writing used to be the kind of nonfiction writing I devoured more than any other, and aside from fiction, the kind of writing I devoured more than any other. I had to restrain myself yesterday in posting some of my favorite nonfiction books — I could easily have made the whole list from travel writing. In fact, it’s not necessarily the travel that I enjoy so much as the idea of place. I like when place is a character in a book, whether it’s travel writing or memoir or fiction. I think I’m just susceptible to location and landscape, and my own writing, whether it’s fiction or nonfiction, tends to have a heavy focus on such things.

Anyway, Slate has been running a series in their “Dispatches” section written by three guys cycling through Central Asia. It’s compelling stuff; chance meetings, danger, strange stories, bike woes. Check it out.


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