Andrew Sean Greer’s 6 favorite travel-themed books for those that crave an adventure


Andrew Sean Greer, the author of Fewerfollowed up on this Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel Less is lost, a sequel that follows struggling gay writer Arthur Less on a road trip down south. Below, Greer names six of his favorite travel novels.

Traveling With My Aunt by Graham Greene (1969)

That is One of Greene’s mere “entertainments,” as he called his graphic novels, but I think it’s one of his best books: a life-affirming tale of a grumpy old aunt dragging a perfectly average man through the world. Radiant from the shadow of his colonial novels and their troubles, Greene portrays travel as a mischievous, life-changing event. Buy it here.

The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold by Evelyn Waugh (1957)

More of an inner journey than an outer, this is a fictionalized account of Waugh’s own nervous breakdown on a cruise to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). It’s also a hilarious and disturbing portrayal of our sensory experiences and how they fool us. Buy it here.

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Journey to the End of the Millennium by AB Yehoshua (1997)

An adventure novel in which the “journey” goes into a world that we westerners think we know: our own. In AD 999, a Jewish merchant and a learned rabbi set sail from North Africa to deepest, darkest France. Philosophical, beautifully written, and extraordinarily insightful about how the early Christian world was viewed as a dangerous alien landscape. Buy it here.

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Bruce Chatwin’s Songlines (1987)

Chatwin, one of my favorites, was despairing of ever completing this hybrid of fiction and nonfiction, until his editor said, “Show me your notes,” and suggested we mix them up with the text. The result is extraordinary and often imitated. You wonder how it could be otherwise. Buy it here.

My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell (1956)

Charm can get you through anything. His family’s sudden move from England to Corfu, where his eccentric siblings and biological obsessions are stranger than anything else on the island, certainly seems to have gotten Durrell. A classic and a pleasure to read. Buy it here.

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Mara and Dann by Doris Lessing (1999)

Is it a travel novel if it’s our world but set in the future? Perhaps this is a bookend for Yehoshua: a sci-fi classic about two young siblings fleeing danger in a future Africa. Traveling north to perceived safety, they see a world that will be very similar to our own if climate change continues unabated. Chilling, exciting and unbeatable. Buy it here.

This article was first published in the latest issue of The week Magazine. If you want to read more, you can try six issues of the magazine risk-free here.



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