Friday, November 12, 2010

New Books for a New Adventure...

In light of our planned adventure to the Middle East, I have been collecting some related reading materials! The wonderful Gustave Flaubert's Egyptian travel writing collected in Flaubert In Egypt: A Sensibility on Tour, the essential travel guide for the Middle East, the father of history - Herodotous - and his The Histories and finally Ryszard Kapuscinski's Travels with Herodotus, a book of travel writing informed by dear old Herodotus. A little, but I think wonderful, collection thus far.

I need to get a copy of One Thousand and One Nights to add to the pre-travel reading collection - any other suggestions? We are going to Turkey, Egypt, Syria and Jordan and I have a year to read up!


  1. Great books to start a reading journey with. Do they reference other books or suggest further readings? Will keep my eyes out when I'm book shopping too.


  2. How great for you, it sounds like a wonderful adventure ... here are some quick ideas for background reading.

    "The Sheikh's Batmobile: In Pursuit of American Pop Culture in the Muslim World" (Richard Poplak, Soft Skull Press) looks like a fun and contemporary account: "Over the course of his two-year journey, Poplak gets body-slammed by WWE wrestling fans in Afghanistan, hangs out with hip-hop artists in Palestine, headbangs to heavy metal in Cairo, discovers a world of extreme makeovers in Beirut, bowls with the chief of police in small-town Kazakhstan, and encounters a mysterious Texan who builds rocket-propelled Batmobiles for a clientele of sheikhs."

    For a bit of 19th-century travel history try "Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton: A Biography" (Edward Rice). Burton was the first European adventurer to search for the source of the Nile; to enter, disguised, the forbidden cities of Mecca and Medina; and to travel through remote stretches of India, the Near East, and Africa. And, by the way, had time to translate both the Kama Sutra and a seventeen-volume Arabian Nights -- the translation most are familiar with).

    Diaries of Isabelle Eberhardt: "The Nomad": Early 1900s: Dressing as a man, she traveled through Saharan Africa and drowned -- in the desert -- at age 27. Her life was such a complex tangle that there was an attempt on her life shortly before she drowned. An unsettling story of gender deception and unaccompanied travel in Islamic society.

    My brother and sister-in-law worked and lived in Trinidad and Abu Dhabi over ten years time, are now back in the U.S. ... both have tales of wonderful experiences.

  3. Love Herodotus and Travels with Herodotus is really good too.


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