Travel Literature Fuels Travel Desire

Destination: Various Exotic Locales

Author: Tahir Shah


Travel Literature that Inspires Me

When I sit down to read a good travel yarn, I want to be swept away by an author who is a mystic, humorist, analyst, adventurer, stylist, fabulist and information nerd. I want to get caught up in someone’s crazy quest to find the ancient gold mines of King Solomon in Ethiopia, the secrets of Indian magicians, the way jinns can take over a person’s life in north Africa. I like to finish a book and burn with desire to hit the road again so I can experience the deep brilliance, fascination and craziness of cultures that are not my own.

That’s where Tahir Shah comes in. He’s that once-in-a-generation writer who makes it impossible not to travel, not to dive in where others fear to swim. He actually did go to Ethiopia, running through an obstacle course of hyenas, deceit and physical misery, to find the source of the gold that the Queen of Sheba supposedly brought King Solomon. That book is called  In Search of King Solomon’s Mines.

And he really did become the apprentice of a sadistic magician in India, who initiated him into a hyper-intense world of sleights of hand and sleights of heart. That book is Sorcerer’s Apprentice (out of print, but available used).

Waiting, thinking... great mosquee in Casablanca

Casablanca Great Mosque

More recently, he bought a dilapidated house in Morocco, The Caliph’s House, peopled with jinns, wacko workmen and more mysticism than a book can contain, so the rich content spilled over into a second book, In Arabian Nights, where Shah set off the find the story in his heart. It’s a kind of Sufi Wizard of Oz, with adventures that are puzzling, intriguing, funny, wild, and eventually bring him home to himself.

When I read Shah’s books, I want him to actually find King Solomon’s mines and the story in his heart. But, most of all, I get caught up in the adventure, in the process, and I’m not attached to the outcome. For me, that’s what great travel reading and great travel is about.

Judith Fein

Judith Fein is an award-winning travel journalist who has contributed to more than 85 magazines, newspapers and internet sites. She is the co-founder and editor of Your Life Is a Trip and her website is Global Adventure.    Her book, LIFE IS A TRIP, will be coming out soon. It takes the reader along on l5 trips into other worlds and other cultures where a different way of dealing with life can enrich any reader’s existence.

I first met Judie Fein on a press trip in non-exotic, but very interesting Richmond Virginia. Ever since then, I have been in awe of her fine writing and her accomplishments, and am pleased to be a contributor to My Life is a Trip. I can’t thank Judie enough for sharing this author with us. Believe me, his books are being added to my wish list post haste. (Photo is used courtesy of Creative Commons license. To learn more about the photographer, click on the photo.)

Judie focused on her go-to author for travel inspiration.  Do you have an author that you trust–that you find yourself returning to again and again? I will read anything written by Patrick Leigh Fermor or Norman Lewis

Vera Marie Badertscher

Travel and lifestyle writer, wife, mother and grandmother. Publisher of A Traveler’s Library and Ancestors in Aprons>. Also co-authored a biography of Navajo artist Quincy Tahoma.

Vera Marie Badertscher – who has written posts on A Traveler's Library.

9 thoughts on “Travel Literature Fuels Travel Desire

  1. You see I had seen the Caliph’s house but didn’t know whether it was worth getting- and now I want to run out and get it. I keep hearing and reading so much of Morocco these days- hmmmm- is this a sign?? ha ha!!

  2. Marie: Good name, by the way! We aim to please. Glad Judie’s post will be of service.

  3. Once again you have great timing on your posts. A friend of mine is planning a trip to Morocco so I’m definitely going to check out The Caliph’s House. Thanks for introducing me to another writer.

  4. I <3 Shah! I laughed and cried all through both the Caliph's House and In Arabian Nights. I think the one that affected me the most is his portrait of India in The Sorcerer's Apprentice. In any case, I want to visit Morocco. I want to be like the guest that shows up at Shah's home with a google map in hand. Thanks for sharing! – r

    1. Richard: I can’t believe it, but my spam catcher suddenly decided your post was spam, and since I was out of town I did not catch it until late today when I got home. I ordered the Caliph’s House and it was waiting for me when I got home from my week’s trip. Unfortunately, six other books were also waiting, and they need to be read and written about, along with the other dozen sitting around the house. Getting to read something just because I want to is getting harder and harder. Your recommendation is great!

  5. I’ve just ‘sailed’ from Egypt to Greece (again!) with Lawrence Durrell who paints such vivid pictures of the sea and the islands that I am there with him each time I open a book of his. He can transport me from a murky Pacific Northwest day to the sandy shores of a Greek island in less time than it takes to turn a page.

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