Ten Places: You Suggest the Literature

Now it is your turn.  I need some suggestions for books to read for these specific places.  I have some books in mind, but want to get recommendations from people who have been there, read that. In some cases, a reader has asked me for help. In others I plan a trip myself and want to add a book to the traveler’s library. Any and all suggestions welcome. Leave a comment, or tweet me at @pen4hire. (and no, the at @ is not redundantly repetitive.)

1. Australia

2. France (not building houses in Province, please. I’ll read Monet’s Gardens, but it is mostly pictures.)

3. Sweden (Plays I have aplenty–Ibsen and Strindberg, but what about other literature?)

4. Scotland (Shakespeare’s Macbeth? Braveheart the movie.)

5. Costa Rica (I’m a total blank)

6. Canada (Someone specifically asked about Montreal)

7. Morocco (Paul Bowles? The biography of Paul Bowles by Allen Hibbard?

8. Switzerland(I love Mistress to an Age, which covers Switzerland and France during Napoleonic times, but that is not really about the country of Switzerland.)

9. Vietnam (I once read a nice novel/memoir? about a young man traveling Vietnam by bicycle. Do you know the name?)

10. Oregon (I have my great great grandfather’s account of crossing America on the Oregon trail, but that does not count as literature, nor does it tell us much about Oregon.)

What say you?


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About Vera Marie Badertscher

A freelance writer who loves to travel. When she is not traveling she is reading about travel. When she is not reading or traveling, she is sharing with the readers of A Traveler's Library, or recreating her family's past at Ancestors In Aprons . She has written for Reel Life With Jane, Life is a Trip and other websites. Also co-author of a biography, Quincy Tahoma, The Life and Legacy of a Navajo Artist. Contact Vera Marie by e-mail.

13 thoughts on “Ten Places: You Suggest the Literature

  1. Just a correction: Jou have listed Strindberg and Ibsen as Swedish.
    This is only correct on behalf of Strindberg, Ibsen in the other hand was from Norway. Other than that: GREAT list….

  2. I read Heidi when I was a wee girl, and always loved the idea of Switzerland, so I can see how your book choice would influence you–even if you read it later.

  3. It is a middle school level book, but Banner in the Sky by Ullman is an older book that takes place in a town patterned after Zermatt,Switzerland. The main character is a young boy who hikes the fictitious mountain, the Citadel…patterned after the Matterhorn. This book is why I visited Zermatt for four days!

  4. Thank you all resident experts! Just six places left with no recommendations.
    Alisdair: I agree with your analysis of the earlier books, and thanks for Scotland!
    RT Felton: Welcome back and thanks for Sweden!
    Vietnam freedom tour, I’m not sure whose name means bicycle–can you explain, please?
    SandnSurf: So appreciate your Australia recs.

  5. Sweden has some great literature in translation. I have a lot of family in Sweden and they set me up with wonderful books.

    My Life as a Dog, Reidar Jonsson’s equally funny and sad novel of a child growing up in Sweden.

    Hash, Torgny Lindgren’s touching story of two men searching for the perfect dish of Swedish hash in post WWII Sweden.

    Blackwater, by Kerstin Ekma – a great murder mystery in the north of Sweden. Some scary stuff.

    Let me know what you get on Costa Rica – I am headed there in a few days.

  6. Are you looking specifically for travel books? Or anything on specific countries?


  7. Scotland –

    I find the most engaging travel books were written in the 1920s and 30s: H V Morton, In Search of Scotland (1929) and In Scotland Again (1933); George Blake, The Heart of Scotland (1934); and Edwin Muir, Scottish Journey (1935).

    They proceed from an imaginative documentary impulse that is missing from recent travelogues which tend to be more introspective and inclined to dwell on cultural identity: James Campbell, Invisible Country (1984); R F Mackenzie, A Search for Scotland (1989); Andrew Eames, Four Scottish Journeys (1991); Alastair Scott, Native Stranger (1995); Michael W Russell, In Waiting (1998) – all written by Scots returning to – or rediscovering – their own country.

    Faintheart (2002) by the Englishman Charles Jennings hides some perceptive observations behind its self-deprecating humour. And I would rate it more highly than the Scottish sections of round-Britain accounts by Bill Bryson and Paul Theroux.

    But no-one captures the intensity of the lived moment, indoors or outdoors, better than Kathleen Jamie in Findings (2005).

  8. Vietnam, I think that your name is a name of girl. because image of girl ride bicyle is very popular and symbolic for Vietnamese lady.

  9. Andrea and Jessie. Thanks so much. Looks like I’ve got Vietnam well covered. And Andrea–in Catfish and Mandala, he travels by bicycle doesn’t he? I think that is the one I read several years ago. Very good book.
    Jessie: Somebody else mentioned McCall–guess that is a must!

  10. Here are my suggestions:
    Vietnam, Now: A Reporter Returns; David Lamb: A Vietnam war reporter David Lamb returns to Vietnam thirty years later to cover the peace and give us an insight into the war, the country and its people.
    Catfish and Mandala; Andrew X. Pham: Part memoir and part travel narrative; tells of the authors escape from and then return to Vietnam
    When Heaven and Earth Changed Places; Le Ly Hayslip: A Vietnamese woman’s journey thru war to peace.
    The Girl in the Picture; Denise Chong: The story of Kim Phuc, the little girl captured in an award winning photograph as she ran from her village which had been accidentally napalm bombed.

    The following are considered some of the better-than-most accounts of what it was like to be an American Soldier in Vietnam:
    Born on the Fourth of July; Ron Kovic
    Dispatches; Michael Herr
    Chickenhawk; Robert Mason

  11. for scotland, i love the books by alexander mccall smith – the 44 scotland street series, and the philospher’s series. they show a modern side to edinburgh.

    i also love anything by george macdonald fraser!!

    for vietnam, our chief editor just wrote an article about this:

    – it made me want to read the book, the Sorrow of War. incredible.

    i’m looking forward to posts on this topic! thanks, vera.

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