Wednesday, June 27, 2007

CHALLENGE | Armchair Traveler Challenge 2007


The Armchair Traveler Reading Challenge 2007

I've been asking myself if I should sign up for The Armchair Traveler Challenge. I admit to a wanderlust in my reading, as I am always on the lookout for great travelogues. Books and travels are alot alike, as they are often about unfulfilled desires. There's always lots of books unread, lots of places we would like to see - we just never could find the time to get around to it.

Still - do I need another challenge? Of course not.

So naturally, I've decided to sign up anyway.

The rules, in a slightly altered form, are as follow:

  • The challenge runs from July 1 through December 31 during which time you must read six books that fall under the ‘armchair traveling’ theme.
  • Fiction or non-fiction works are fine, and do not need to be specifically travel related, as long as the location is integral to the book - I’ll leave that to your discretion. Locations must be actual places that you could visit, so no Middle Earths or galaxies far, far away.
  • Books may be cross-posted to other challenges, but you cannot count any books read prior to July 1st.
  • You can opt to switch out books throughout the challenge.

Since I'm always starting new books, I desperately need the wiggle room to change books for the challenge. And I still have a few reading challenge on-going, so it would be nice to be able to overlap the readings.

So here is my Shortlisted Six for the Armchair Traveler Challenge:

  1. Ten Thousand Miles Without a Cloud Sun Shuyun
    I'm reading Shu Shuyun's travelogue across China and India as she traces the journey of 8th century Chinese monk, Xuanzang, whose pilgrimage to India, to bring back Buddhist scriptures to China is fictionalised in the Chinese classic, Journey to the West. Xuanzang's pilgrimage took him 18 years, but his quest brought the teachings of Buddhism back to China.
  2. The Comedians Graham Greene
    I'm on a quest to read at least one Graham Greene every year. The Comedians is Greene's satirical take on Haiti.
  3. Arabian Sands Wilfred Thesiger
    For years, Thesiger lived as a Bedu of the southern Arabian Peninsula. He adopted their dress, walked barefoot and learned to settle into their rigid, almost ritualistic patterns. This is travels back in the days before globalisation and you can actually die from wanderlust.
  4. One Foot in Laos Dervla Murphy
    My dad and I are planning for a trip to Laos later this year. This is part of the reading in preparation.
  5. Travels with Herodotus Ryszard Kapuscinski
    I am reading Herodotus's The Histories slowly at the moment, and his storytelling is compelling. As a young journalist, Kapuscinski was given a copy of The Histories as a gift, and he traveled with it, gleaning from its rich knowledge of cultures. Kapuscinski regards The Histories as the "world literature's first great work of reportage" - this is his retracing of Herodotus's footsteps
  6. Venice Jan Morris
    Jan Morris. Venice. 'Nuff said.

The Bonus/Alternatives List:


  • Travels With A Tangerine Tim Mackintosh-Smith
  • Skating to Antarctica Jenny Diski
  • Out Of Africa Isak Dinesen
  • Sylvia Beach and the Lost Generation Noel Riley Fitch
  • The Ice Museum Joanna Kavenna
  • The Southern Gates of Arabia Freya Stark
  • Red: Passion and Patience In the Desert Terry Tempest Williams
  • Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady by Florence King
  • The Dud Avocado Elaine Dundy
  • Shadow of the Silk Road Colin Thubron
  • Mirrors of the Unseen: Journeys in Iran Jason Elliot
  • Anything else by Ryszard Kapuscinski

5 comments:

Dorothy W. said...

Hmmm ... this challenge is tempting (although I doubt I'll do it because I'm trying to stay away from challenges these days); I like the way it's defined so that many, many books could fit the definition.

LK said...

Wow, Freya Stark. I may have to include her on the Neglected Books reading, what do you think?

Dark Orpheus said...

Dorothy - I was concerned about committing to too many challenges all at once. But like you've said: many books fit the definition, so it is do-able if we can find the right books. We might even be reading along the Armchair Traveler theme without realising it.

LK - Oh yeah, please do. There's this romantic aura about Freya Stark that really should be spread around

Carl V. said...

"a wanderlust in my reading"...ooo, I love that. I may have to adopt that instead of saying I am a whim reader! Nice turn of phrase, Dark O.

I say go for the challenge if you want to. Just don't be surprised if some of the people who love couches accuse you of being one of those armchair nerds who act all superior! ;)

Dark Orpheus said...

Carl - Heehee. Yes, I was a little annoyed by Tuffy's ill-conceived post too. But I don't think she's ready to listen to anyone who doesn't agree with her - not yet anyway - so no use trying to argue with her.

It's okay if people call me "superior" and "snobbish" - because I am at peace with my arrogance and my snobbery.

And I can read comic books, fantasy, travelogues, Terry Pratchett & Jeffrey Deaver without compromising my sense of self-worth. I don't need to read Jonathan Carroll or Kazuo Ishiguro - or other author - to prove I am a "good" reader. There is nothing to prove.