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I am a terrible traveller. Though I love seeing new things and exploring new places, I am a complete scaredy cat and am also a horribly annoying flyer, which leads me to putting off trips quite often.  Before meeting my fiancé, I had hardly been anywhere and that was fine with me, but his sense of adventure rubbed off and in the past five years, I’ve been to many new, beautiful places.

This afternoon, he and I took a trip to the bookstore so that I could pick up a graphic novel I was lusting after. When that particular graphic novel ended up not being what I expected and ultimately not my thing, I wandered around looking for something else. Going to the bookstore expecting to leave with something and then ending up empty handed is the worst, but I surprised myself by heading into the Literary Travels section.

I’m not a huge Non Fiction reader, but do own a few pieces of travel literature (mostly about Paris, but sadly none of which I have read yet).  For me, my absolute favourite trip we have taken thus far has been to Paris.  I fell in love. I could have stayed for weeks and weeks, waking up near noon, walking through the park under the Eiffel Tower, having wine, dinner and then perusing the shelves of Shakespeare & Co and taking my new book to the steps by Notre Dame to read and then wandering along the Seine until midnight. I could do this over and over.

When I got back, I collected a bunch of books about Paris or about those who spent years of their lives in Paris, and saved them for those nights when I wanted to return. I also picked up a collection of stories by Londoners, because my armchair traveller was now dreaming of England.

As I scanned the shelves, I landed on Bill Bryson’s enormous selection of Travel Literature and pulled out a few.  On a whim, I picked up Neither Here Nor There and Notes From a Small Island. I actually hugged the books in the car on the way home, getting a smile-but-head-shake from my fiancé who debatably only comes book shopping with me to watch me act like a child who just got a new toy on the drive home. When I got home, I stacked all of my travel books on my beside table and decided that I would like to go back to Paris, and finally see London.  For financial reasons, it will have to be through literature for now, but mark my words Europe, I’m coming back for you!

What are some of your favourite travel narratives? Any I should add to this pile? Also I’ve heard many wonderful things about Bill Bryson.  Have you read any? What did you think?

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5 thoughts on “Armchair Travels

  1. Bill Bryson is the best. I’ve been trying to get my hands on Notes from a Small Island with little success so far. That Julia Child book about her time in France is really excellent too. I’ve been curious about that Londoners book. I’ve passed it up in the library a couple of times now…

    Your fiance and mine sound similar – mine always takes me to the bookstore and smiles indulgently when I act like a 7 year old, chatting all the way home about the books I’m going to read.

  2. I don’t think I’ve ever read any travel literature. Except for Bill Bryson! But even his books I’e only ever read extracts here and there. I must read one from cover-to-cover one day because I really enjoy his writing style. Quite a few bits of Notes From A Small Island made me laugh out loud!

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