Since 2004, a year in which Chetan Bhagat revived my interest in books, I have read numerous works of several authors in different genres. During countless hours spent reading in captivated reverie, I developed a strong liking for memoirs narrating tales of people and their places – mostly travelogues.
Here are my 3 favourite authors famed for their works of reminiscences involving curious journeys in strange territories.
Paul Theroux, unquestionably, is the finest author of travel narratives in the history of modern times. Starting with The Great Railway Bazaar in 1979, which tracks his fascinating ride on trains across much of Asia, he has written some of the best-selling books featuring his voyages into the places of surprising oddities. All through his journeys, Paul Theroux seeks for ordinary individuals with extraordinary tales and to meet such people, he immerses in the alien society with astonishing vivacity. He observes his vicinity with unbiased views and sketches each such moment with incredible lucidity. Apart from his renowned travelogues, Paul Theroux has also authored many books of fiction, few of which have been turned into Hollywood hits.
Three of Paul Theroux books I like the most are: The Great Railway Bazaar, The Old Patagonian Express and Riding the Iron Rooster.
Unlike many of his contemporary authors, Bill Bryson’s works are not mere dry records of his trips across the unknown; instead, his books depict the amusing stories of average people from familiar landscapes. Most of his explorations take him to the doorsteps of everyday life in both urban suburbs and rural countries where, with his keen sense of humour, he searches for uncanny anecdotes and out-of-the-place tales. In few journeys, he traces his past, often revealing the generally forgotten and frequently ignored humours ramification of former times. In others, he sets out for a walk in the woods, drives through the ghost towns and often, goes on voyages of unexpected hilarity in far-off communities.
Three of Bill Bryson’s books I enjoyed the most are: In a Sunburned Country, Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid and The Lost Continent – Travels in Small Town America.
Generally, Maarten Troost seems to write with 3 simple rules – keep it heartfelt, make it hilarious and give his books a wacky title. Two of his bestsellers are bizarrely named The Sex Lives of Cannibals and Getting Stoned with Savages, both of which feature his peculiar yarns from the remote islands in South Pacific and Caribbean Sea. Luckily, these books neither discuss the sexual escapades of ruthless cannibals nor tell us the tales of drug abusive islanders. Instead, they humorously recount Maarten Troost’s everyday existence amidst naive residents and their riotous isle surroundings. Till date he has 4 books to his credit, and not surprisingly, each with a similar combination of winning theme – audacious, rib tickling and sincere.
Three of his most entertaining books are: Lost on Planet China, The Sex Lives of Cannibals and Getting Stoned with Savages.