Patrick Leigh Fermor's fluent, exotic account of his youthful 1933 travels from London to Contantinople, published more than 40 years after the event. It is a book that makes any journey seem possible.
The Alexandria Quartet
I first read Lawrence Durrell's 877 page masterpiece in a single sitting, pausing only for sleep on the second night. His interweaving of emotion, perspective, sensation and thought wills the reader up the imaginative scale. A glittering, inspirational achievement.
On the Road
Kerouac's restless, seminal work blended fiction and autobiography to define the 'Beat' generation. Its influence in propelling countless kids onto the road cannot be overstated.
Colin Thubron's extraordinary 15,000 mile journey through this astonishing country after the fall of Communism. A scholarly, compassionate masterpiece by one of the greatest travel writers.
Raymond Carver's moving short stories are honest, direct, lean and adverb-free, each creation a triumph of minimalism which conjures extraordinary hope from the minutiae of ordinary lives. No word spare. Nothing wasted. Remarkable and poetic inventions.
A Natural History of the Senses
Diane Ackerman's radiant exploration of our ability to smell, touch, taste, hear and see. How music moves us. Why touch delights and heals. A lyrical and elegant journey with a literary enchantress.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery's soaring yet humble novel set in the early days of aviation; the lone aviator travelling amidst the stars' timelessness and the sky's immensity.
Scottish author Neil Gunn's story of the herring fisheries, set in a time and place when necessity not whim motivated travel. A work of vast scope, sensitivity and humanity which shows how historical events impinge on individual lives, enabling the reader to understand one through the other.
Popular Mechanic's eccentric, practical 1913 do-it-yourself guide packed with '1,000 Things for a Boy to Do' including Build a Snowball Thrower, Electrify Your Garbage Can to Shock Away Raccoons and Make a Flying Machine. It inspired me to build an airplane on Crete for my latest book 'Falling for Icarus'.
I admire P.L Travers's modern classic for its healthy disrespect for authority, especially bankers, its promotion of women's rights and its emphasis on the role of fantasy, which as a travel writer I often rely on.
Rory MacLean was born in Vancouver and has lived in Toronto, London, Berlin, Tuscany and the Scottish Hebrides. His six award-winning travel books, including best sellers Stalin's Nose (UK Top Ten) and Under the Dragon, have challenged and invigorated the genre, and — according to John Fowles — are among works that “marvellously explain why literature still lives.”