Travel Loot

5 Explorers on Amazing Adventures

by Natalie Compagno

We love a good yarn. Photo, top left: Victoria Skalland.

We're telling solo travel stories on Fathom this week, and for today's Travel Loot, we're featuring books about solo travel. We turned to guest editor Natalie Compagno, owner of Traveler's Bookcase in Los Angeles, for her recommendations.

My favorite thing to do when I travel is read a book about the place where I am traveling, the closer to my experience the better. When I am traveling alone, I love the inspiration that past travelers give me, especially in the form of a fantastic book. Like one of these.

Eating the Flowers of Paradise by Kevin Rushby

1. Eating the Flowers of Paradise: One Man's Journey Through Ethiopia and Yemen
by Kevin Rushby

The ultimate "solo travel as downward spiral" memoir. As the author slowly — and hilariously — descends into qat addiction as his travels in search of the forbidden stimulant become more and more epic. The Yemen section is a must for armchair travelers: We may never see that world again.

West with the Night, by Beryl Markham

2. West with the Night
by Beryl Markham

One of the great adventure stories of all time, an account of the great aviator's life as a bush pilot in Kenya. While some claim her third husband ghostwrote it, Ernest Hemingway called this "a bloody wonderful book."


A Time of Gifts, by Patrick Leigh Fermor

3. A Time of Gifts
by Patrick Leigh Fermor

Before iPhones, Twitter, or Kayak, travel was hard and travel writers were harder. As an 18-year-old, the future literary giant Fermor set off from London to walk to Constantinople. Gifts is the first of the trilogy in which he trudges through snow, sleeps in barns, and recounts the magical voyage with inimitable style.

The Longest Way Home, by Andrew McCarthy

4. The Longest Way Home
by Andrew McCarthy

The iconic Bratpacker-turned-travel journalist neatly dovetails his personal journeys of self-discovery and love over the course of many solo adventures around the world.


On a Hoof and a Prayer: Exploring Argentina at a Gallop, by Polly Evans

5. On a Hoof and a Prayer: Exploring Argentina at a Gallop
by Polly Evans

Consistently amusing tale of the author's adventures on horseback from Buenos Aires to Patagonia. Horse lovers will laugh as they ride along with Evans as she grows from shaky beginner to gaucho along the beautiful Argentinian countryside.


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