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With an emphasis on non-fiction travel books, books on place, nature writing, and travel literature, host Jeremy Bassetti talks with the world’s most celebrated writers about their work and about the business and craft of travel writing in this award-winning podcast. Past guests include travel writers like Paul Theroux, Pico Iyer, and Rolf Potts. The show also covers topics related to travel journalism and travel photography.
 
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Joining me today is Mary Novakovich. And we’re talking about her book My Family and Other Enemies: Life and Travels in Croatia's Hinterland (Bradt 2022).In this episode, we talk about a rustic region in Croatia called Lika, where her family is from, and its appeal. We also talk a bit about travel literature about Croatia and her experiences finding…
 
Hello, everyone. No interview today. But I do have some news.During the month of August, I’ll be traveling through the Andes mountains—from Santa Cruz, Bolivia overland to Cusco, Peru. Every day, from August 2 until August 31, 2022, I will send an email documenting my experiences to subscribers of a “pop-up” newsletter I’m calling 30 DAYS IN THE AN…
 
Joining me today is Robert Kaplan. And we’re talking about his newest book Adriatic: A Concert of Civilizations at the End of the Modern Age. As you know, Robert is the author of many books, including The Ends of the Earth, An Empire Wilderness, and the controversial Balkan Ghosts.In this episode, we talk about why the Adriatic is so interesting hi…
 
Benedict Allen is my guest today. He is the author of several books, including most recently Explorer: The Quest for Adventure and the Great Unknown. I ask him about his urge to explore, and about what I poorly articulate as his “old school” mode of traveling the world. We chat about about making bonds while traveling, about homecomings, and about …
 
David Eimer is my guest today. He is the author of two books, The Emperor Far Away: Travels at the Edge of China and A Savage Dreamland: Journeys in Burma, the latter of which we talk about today.We start off this episode talking about Burma, its politics, and its peoples. But about halfway, we shift gears and chat about travel literature. Specific…
 
Joining me today is Shafik Meghji, and we’re talking about his new book Crossed Off The Map: Travels in Bolivia (Latin America Bureau 2022), which, as the name implies, treats the author’s many years of travels to and work in Bolivia, a country that is off the tourist radar.We talk about the indigenous languages spoken in the country, the history o…
 
Joining me again today is Nicholas Jubber and we’re talking about his newest book The Fairy Tellers, which follows several fairy tales—their origins and evolutions—and explores the people who originally told them. As you’ll hear, fairy tales (like all stories) are rooted deeply in place. Of course we talk about some fairy tales themselves, but we a…
 
Joining me today is Marcia DeSanctis. And we’re talking about A Hard Place to Leave, a collection of stories that covers the last decade of her travel writing career. In addition to her book, we also talk about finding one’s writing voice, stories vs essays in the travel context, and the difficult task of putting together and pitching a collection …
 
Joining me today is Rebecca Lowe and we’re talking about The Slow Road to Tehran: A Revelatory Bike Ride Through Europe and the Middle East, her debut book. The book documents her 11,000-kilometer bicycle journey through Europe to Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Sudan, and finally to Iran.Don’t let the “Slow” in its title fool you. It is a fast-pac…
 
Today I’m speaking with Sara Wheeler and Jonathan Chatwin about Apsley Cherry-Garrard’s The Worst Journey in the World, a book that is often cited as one of the most important travel books of the 20th century. This year marks the centenary of the book’s publication.My first guest today, Sara Wheeler, knows a thing or two about Antarctica and Apsley…
 
Joining me today is Colleen Kinder. She’s the editor of the online literary journal Off Assignment and she has a new book out. The book is called Letter To A Stranger: Essays To The Ones Who Haunt Us (Algonquin 2022). It is a volume of essays from her journal’s flagship column “Letter to a Stranger.” It's a wonderful anthology packed with 65 essays…
 
Joining me today is Jessica Vincent who, along with Monisha Rajesh, Simon Willmore, and Levison Wood, edited a volume of essays called The Best British Travel Writing of the 21st Century (Summersdale 2022). I ask Jess what makes the “best” travel writing, anyway? And we talk about how the pandemic reshaped our approach to travel and how it helped r…
 
Joining me today is Dave Seminara. His newest book, Mad Travelers: A Tale of Wanderlust, Greed and the Quest to Reach the Ends of the Earth, tells the story of William Baekeland, an alleged con artist who offered to help extreme travelers reach some of the world’s most remote frontiers. Now this book is much more than an exposé on William; it offer…
 
This is just a quick announcement to say that in celebration of the 2022 Edward Stanford Travel Writing Awards, I’ll be in Stanfords’ London bookstore on March 2 speaking with Colin Thubron and Tharik Hussain about their award-nominated books and about genre of travel writing. We will be also be joined by special guest Monisha Rajesh. After the con…
 
Joining me today is Nori Jemil. Her book, The Travel Photographer’s Way (Bradt 2021), was nominated for the 2022 Edward Stanford Travel Photography Book of the Year. In this conversation, we do talk about her book. But, as you’ll hear, the conversation quickly becomes a deluge of helpful advice about photography. And we only scratch the surface her…
 
Joining me today is Ursula Pike. In the mid 1990s, Ursula boarded a plane to Bolivia and began her term of service in the Peace Corps. A member of the Karuk Tribe, Pike expected to make meaningful connections with other Indigenous people around the world. But her experiences forced her to question her assumptions about the world.Ursula wrote about …
 
Joining me today are Gary Fisher and David Robinson, two historians who recently edited a new volume of essays called Travel Writing in the Age of Global Quarantine (purchase here). Gary and David are historians and this episode touches on some of the academic debates about the genre of travel writing. If this conversation interests you, I recommen…
 
Cal Flyn. Photo by Rebecca Marr.Cal Flyn joins me today to talk about her newest book, Islands of Abandonment: Nature Rebounding in the Post-Human Landscape (Viking 2021), which is one of my top books of the year.In addition to talking about her book, Cal and I chat about genre, form, and the first person in nature and travel writing. Connect with …
 
Graydon Hazenberg (right) and his cycling companions.Joining me today is Graydon Hazenberg. In 1998, Graydon, his twin sisters, and a friend rode bicycles for nearly four months from Islamabad to Mount Kailash in Tibet. He wrote about his adventure in his new travelogue, Pedalling to Kailash: Cycling Adventures and Misadventures Across the Roof of …
 
Joining me today is Pamela Petro. We’re talking about her new memoir, The Long Field, which was published by Little Toller Books this year.We talk about her experiences in Wales and the Welsh word hiraeth, one of the book’s central ideas. We also dig into the rocky terrain of homesickness, longing, and memoir. On the topic of memoir, we talk about …
 
Joining me today is Jordan Salama. We’re talking about his debut book, Every Day the River Changes: Four Weeks Down the Magdalena, which was published November 16, 2021. We talk about the Magdalena River, of course, but we also talk about people who live along it and storytelling. We also talk about the future of travel writing, de-centering the se…
 
In this bonus episode, I’m speaking with J.R. Patterson. James is a freelance writer, and he also reviews books for Travel Writing World. In this episode, we talk about his approach to reviewing travel books and his article on Hidden Compass, where he recounts his experiences and failures traveling down the São Francisco River in Brazil. Check out …
 
Joining me today is Tharik Hussain. We’re talking about his debut book, Minarets in the Mountains: A Journey into Muslim Europe, which was published in June 2021 by Bradt and nominated for the Baille Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction.In addition to chatting about his new book, we talk about dominant historical narratives, colonial cruft in travel liter…
 
Joining me today is Peter Fiennes. Peter and I spoke last year about his book Footnotes, which was shortlisted for the Stanford Doleman Travel Book of the Year. Now he’s back with a new book called A Thing of Beauty: Travels in Mythical and Modern Greece (Oneworld 2021).In addition to introducing us to his new book, we talk about Lord Byron, ideas …
 
Today I’m speaking with Amanda Kendle, who is the host of The Thoughtful Travel Podcast. While The Thoughtful Travel Podcast and this podcast mostly run on parallel tracks (her podcast dealing with ethical issues related to travel), they are running in the same direction and, sometimes, converge. At one of these intersections is a travel book club …
 
Joining me again is Jason Wilson. As you know, Jason has been the series editor of the yearly The Best American Travel Writing anthology for the last 2 decades. Though, as you’ll hear us discuss today, this year’s volume (2021) is the last. Of course, we discuss and speculate on the reasons this is the last volume. And we also talk about what Ameri…
 
Joining me today is Robert Martineau. We’re talking about his new book Waypoints: A Journey on Foot, which was published in April 2021 by Jonathan Cape.In his book, as you’ll hear us mention, Rob goes on a 1,000-mile walk through Ghana, Togo, and Benin. So we chat about his walk, escaping from a life of routine in a big city, the liberating and tra…
 
Joining me again today is Colin Thubron. We’re talking about his most recent book The Amur River: Between Russia and China, which will be published on 21 September 2021.We talk about the Amur River, of course, and its role in Sino-Russian relations, Colin’s 1,100-mile journey along the the river’s various incarnations across Mongolia, Russia, and C…
 
Joining me today is Charles Bergman a writer and photographer who sought to document all 18 species of penguin in his most recent book, Every Penguin in the World. His new book is more than just a photo-book - it has a narrative component about his photographic mission. Now, photography and animals are not topics we’ve covered too much on the show,…
 
CJ SchulerJoining me today is CJ Schuler, whose most recent book, Along the Amber Route, was nominated for the Stanford Doleman Travel Book of the Year in 2021. Like last episode, we recorded this one back in early 2021 before the award announcement. We talk about the amber trade routes in Europe and some touch points in the history of amber in Eur…
 
Sophy Roberts and Siberia by Michael Turek Joining me today is Sophy Roberts, whose most recent book The Lost Pianos of Siberia was nominated for the Stanford Doleman Travel Book of the Year 2021. We recorded this episode back in March, before the award announcement (sorry for the massive delay, Sophy!), but the conversation is still fresh. We talk…
 
Laurie LeeFew conversations about Patrick Leigh Fermor’s book A Time of Gifts happen without mentioning As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning by Laurie Lee. Lee’s book, also an account of a European walk, was published before Paddy’s book. They’re similar, but quite different. In today’s episode, Jessica Vincent joins me to talk about Laurie Lee an…
 
Patrick Leigh Fermor - Δημήτρης Παπαδήμος, CC BY-SA 3.0June marked the 10-year anniversary of Patrick Leigh Fermor’s passing, and next month John Murray Press is re-publishing his best-known book A Time of Gifts under a new imprint called “Journeys.” Joining me today is Artemis Cooper, who speaks about about Patrick Leigh Fermor and his work. Artem…
 
Charles Nicholl, Courtesy of the AuthorIn 1986, Charles Nicholl traveled through Thailand to learn about the spiritual traditions of forest Buddhism. But things are not always so straightforward in Thailand. When Charles meets Harry, an old French Indochina hand, on the night train north with his tales of gem smuggling and opium smoking, it leads t…
 
Nick Hunt, Courtesy of the AuthorNick Hunt takes us across landscapes that should not be there, wildernesses found in Europe yet seemingly belonging to far-off continents: a patch of Arctic tundra in Scotland; the continent's largest surviving remnant of ancient forest in Poland and Belarus; Europe's only true desert in Spain; and the fathomless gr…
 
Tim HanniganWhere can travel writing go in the twenty-first century? Author and lifelong travel writing aficionado Tim Hannigan sets out in search of this most venerable of genres, hunting down its legendary practitioners and confronting its greatest controversies. Is it ever okay for travel writers to make things up, and just where does the fronti…
 
Stephen Fabes in KazakhstanWhen Stephen Fabes left his job as an emergency-room doctor and set out to cycle around the world, frontline medicine quickly faded from his mind. But leaving medicine behind was not as easy as it seemed.As Stephen crossed continents—on a journey that would take six years and cover more than 53,000 miles—he finds people w…
 
Patti Shales Lefkos at the Summit of Nya-laAt the age of 67 and with her injured husband at home, Patti Shales Lefkos sets off to Nepal on what would her first solo trip. She documents her experiences, which included volunteering at a high altitude school and taking off on a month-long trek in the Himalayas, in her book Nepal One Day at a Time. Pat…
 
A product of the California suburbs, Pam Mandel was overlooked and unexceptional. When her father ships her off on a youth group tour of Israel, he inadvertently catapults his seventeen-year-old daughter into a world of European backpackers, seize-the-day Israelis, and the fallout of cold war-era politics. Border violence hadn't been on the birthri…
 
When Indian journalist Taran Khan arrived in Kabul in 2006, she imagined it as a homecoming—a return to the land from where her Pashtun ancestors originated. Falling in with poets, doctors and other journalists, she began exploring the city on foot and discovered a Kabul quite different from the one she had encountered in the world’s media.Taran Kh…
 
Each year, 200 million people embark on a pilgrimage of some kind. We have been making ritual journeys for millennia, and while most of us have seen our mobility curtailed in recent months because of the pandemic, the impulse to travel somewhere sacred to us remains. In her new book “We Are Pilgrims,” Victoria Preston seeks to understand the reason…
 
For two years in the early 1980s, Monica Connell lived with a family in Talphi, a high-altitude village in Western Nepal that was so remote that it was a ten-day walk from the nearest road. From rooftop rituals and wild boar hunts to mangey village dogs and bridge-building, Connell—a social anthropology student—documented village life. She wrote ab…
 
In 2018, David Reynolds rented a Chevy Cruze and hit Route 50, driving as slowly as he could across the United States from Ocean City, Maryland to San Francisco, California. He snaked through the Blue Ridge Mountains, passed through the American heartland, and bounded over the continental divide, driving from sea to shining sea. David comes on the …
 
2021 couldn’t have come quickly enough.Most of us didn’t see the dumpster fire that was 2020 coming. Enough has already been said about the pandemic that saying anything more now borders on being redundant if not cliché. So, suffice it to say that here we are. We made it. Hopefully, that thing we see on the horizon is more of a finish line than a t…
 
JoAnna Haugen is the founder of Rooted Storytelling, an organization interested in ethical journalism and tourism. She has created a new, online course for travel writers and content creators called “Responsible Travel Writing” which helps writers think about their work in a way that impacts local communities, the environment, and the travel indust…
 
When Ben Aitken learned that his father had taken a four-night vacation marketed to seniors that included three-course meals, plenty of beer, and daily excursions, all for about 100 pounds, he signed himself up. Six times.Ben Aitken joins us today to talk about his book The Gran Tour, which documents his experiences traveling with elders. We also t…
 
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