Posted by: billpurdue | September 6, 2013

More Travel Writing

In my last posting I wrote about the book “The Old Ways: a journey on foot” by Robert Macfarlane. Subsequently I received a comment from Ben Zabulis, author of another travel book “Chartered Territory – An Engineer Abroad”. I think the best way to describe the book is to quote Ben Zabulis himself: “the book combines ‘travel’ with an element of ‘work’, emphasis very much on cultural anomalies, humour and irony; ideal for those contemplating a similar venture, not to mention students, gap year travellers, or those simply due a relaxing holiday spent lounging by the hotel pool, sun-soaked travel yarn for company”. The book tells of the author’s experiences of living, working and travelling  in Nigeria, Japan, Hong Kong, China and even Bhutan. This sounds like an interesting travel book with a definite difference.


Ben tells me that there might still be some hardback print copies about, but it is available as an ebook from Amazon and Waterstones and also direct from M-Y Books.

Just Out

A couple of recent unusual titles have caught my attention. First is “The Novel Cure” by Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin.  Now I haven’t seen the book,  but from the blurbs I‘ve read, I suppose you could describe this as a medical book for those who have some sort of condition  and who crave a good read, but are not sure which author or book to turn to next. You might get a good idea of what the book is about by going to and clicking on remedies. For example, for the affliction of being a killjoy, you are recommended to read Daniel Defoe’s “Roxana” about a woman who falls on hard times, but works hard to become the life and soul of the party.


For Obesity, Berthoud and Elderkin recommend reading three books, one of which is Alexander McCall Smith’s “No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” and for procrastination, they suggest reading “The Remains of the Day” by Kazuo Ishiguro. The Surgery section of the website reads a little like an agony column. So probably that’s what the book is all about too. Berthoud and Elderkin are appearing at Foyles Bookshop this week offering 15 minute consultations for those who want to read a book to cure them of some condition or other. I can’t get down to London, so I really need to read the book.


I often hear it said that the art of letter writing is just about dead, so it’s nice to see a new book that chronicles the history of letter writing. Simon Garfield’s “To the Letter: a journey through a vanishing world” looks at letter writing from Roman wood chips discovered near Hadrian’s Wall to the “terrors of email”. He also writes about great letter writers in history, letter writing manuals, the dilemma of the opening greeting and even the dead letter office.  This sounds like a must for anyone who enjoys writing letters – and if you are one of those people, you are a dying breed. Simon Garfield also wrote “Mini-The True and Secret History of the Making of a Motor Car” and “The Last Journey of William Huskisson”, about the man who will forever be remembered as the world’s first widely reported railway casualty as he was run over by George Stephenson’s locomotive engine Rocket.

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