9 Dec 2003
Josie of Josie Wanders asked me to answer ten questions as part of the nomination process for the 2017 Liebster Award.
1. What is your favourite travel book?
So many. Bruce Chatwin’s The Songlines is a standout. It describes the imagined landscapes of Central Australia through the eyes of an English traveller. Bruce demonstrates that there can be multiple and equally valid ways of seeing the same land. Every Australian, indeed, every human, should read this.
My own book BookCrossing Through Middle-Earth – a retelling of two trips through New Zealand, twenty years apart. New Zealand has my heart, and I think it shows in my words. A beautiful land, a jewel in the ocean at the end of the earth, peopled by brave and sturdy folk who always have a smile for the weary traveller.
My friend Linda’s book A Little Twist of Texas*, her story of a solo trip from California to the 2005 BookCrossing.com Convention in Fort Worth. A spiritual as well as a physical journey, she rode through magnificent lands, a cruiser motorcycle roaring beneath her. For some reason, she took a shine to me, and two weeks and half a continent away from her husband, she was as horny as a room full of rabbits. To find out what happened next, you’ll either have to buy her book or me a beer.
I loved Linda. Gentle, funny, brave, perceptive, an awesome traveller, we attended a couple more conventions together, and I last saw her in the desert near Blythe CA in May 2011, a small figure waving in the dusk. She died of cancer a couple of years later, much missed by what seemed like half the internet.
I wrote and published my book in four months, an amazing confidence-builder, and Linda pretty much wrote hers on the go, typing out the day’s travels in a lonely tent each night on a tiny IBM Thinkpad.
My favourite book has yet to be completed. It is the Moleskine journal made famous by Bruce Chatwin, its black oilcloth covers held firm by an elastic band, its empty pages an invitation to write. Take one with you, dear traveller, next time you find yourself with a moment to spare before your flight leaves. Buy a Lamy Vista fountain pen and your daily adventure record will be a joy.
I look forward to reading the resulting book.
* Linda originally titled her book Texas With a Twist, and on seeing this, I emailed her urgently, pointing out the awkward initials.
The Liebster Award: