Again, because I don't have any photos to share (and I hope that will be put right during the coming week-end) I thought I would choose another item at random from the interests list on my user page. By looking away while randomly playing with my mouse (it's okay, he's used to it) and then stopping, looking back and seeing what it had come to rest on, it seems that I'm going to write about travel books.
I love travelling, and definitely see myself as a traveller rather than a tourist. I'm sure that's probably a misguided notion a lot of the time, but it's the way I see it and I'll stand by it. I've been lucky. I spent long, fabulous summers in different parts of France when I was a child, was packed off on an educational cruise in the Mediterranean when I was at school, went on a month-long expedition to Ghana when I was sixteen and have continued to enjoy discovering new places and revisiting old favourites well into adulthood.
I love books. I see the written word as mankind's greatest invention. It allows one person's thoughts, opinions and beliefs to transcend space and time. It blows my mind that I can read the thoughts of a Greek philosopher who died a few thousand years before I was born, or the work of an Australian journalist who hasn't yet finished writing the article I'm reading. Nowhere does the written word belong better than in a book. A book allows the writer all the space and time in the world to tell their full story, to take the reader on a magic carpet ride through their own imagination and beyond.
By putting those things together, it can be no surprise that I love travel books. Unfortunately, I don't have the chance to travel as much as I would like. In fact no-one has the chance to travel as much as I would like because if they did, they would never stop. I can't complain. But when I can't live through my own travel experiences I can always read about the adventures and impressions of others. I can lose myself in the words of other writers and share their excitement and dismay. It's fun to read the thoughts of other people when they are writing about places I know and have been to, and it's also great to discover somewhere new through them, to break new ground from the comfort of wherever a book can be opened.
I have some favourite writers of travel literature, but that isn't really the point of this piece; it's more about the concept than the fact. All I will say is that when the time came for me to write a book, something I had always wanted to do, it was no surprise to me or anyone else that it would turn out to be a travel book. It was just the obvious thing to do. (It's called Southern Crossroads and is coming to an online booksearch near you soon.)
I would love to know what you all think of travel literature and whether you hold it as dear as I do. I would be fascinated to know what you get out of it. I would be interested to know who your favourite writers are. And I would very much like to know where in the world you would like to read about and your reasons. Are there places that you don't feel are written about enough; and are there places that you wish people would shut up about? I'd love to know what you all think.