Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature/meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is Top Ten Books Featuring Travel In Some Way (road trips, airplanes, travelogues, anything where there is traveling in the book!)
I was rather spoiled for choice on this topic. Just browsing my bookcases brought me more than twice the designated 10 — and that was without looking at the books in the basement, and without resorting to books I’ve read but don’t own. I tend to prefer fiction for most of my reading, so there aren’t any nonfiction books in my list, but there’s a good mix of ages and genres, not to mention methods of travel! And as usual for me, they’re in no particular order.
- O Jerusalem (Laurie R. King) 18-year-old Mary Russell and her partner and mentor, Sherlock Holmes, find themselves wandering Palestine, disguised as Arabs, with a pair of itinerant spies as their guides. King masterfully evokes post-WWI Palestine, newly come under British control. Methods of travel: boat, feet, and the odd motorcar
- The Lord of the Rings (J. R. R. Tolkien) I could be flippant, and say that it’s about a little guy who crosses half a continent to drop a piece of jewelry down a volcano. Seriously, though, Tolkien’s trilogy is a masterpiece; the world through which his characters travel is richly imagined, and set the standard for fantasy worldbuilding. None of the characters are unchanged by their quest; the moment when Frodo — and we — realize that he cannot stay in the home he risked so much to save is pure heartbreak. Methods of travel: horses and feet (lots of walking in this one.)
- The Blue Sword (Robin McKinley) Harry’s travels are as much cultural as they are physical. Kidnapped by the king of Damar, alone in an alien culture, she must learn not only the Hillfolk’s language and customs but what the kelar, the king’s magic which she too bears, expects of her. Methods of travel: train, horses.
- The Incredible Journey (Sheila Burnford). Left with a friend while their family is abroad, two dogs and a cat travel through treacherous wilderness to find their way home. A wonderful read-aloud for the whole family. Method of travel: four feet, mainly.
- The Wizard of Oz (L. Frank Baum) The classic story of Dorothy, swept from her colorless Kansas world into the magical but dangerous world of Oz. Methods of travel: tornado, feet, Winged Monkeys, balloon, and magic silver slippers (no, they aren’t ruby slippers in the book!) Did I leave anything out?
- A Wrinkle in Time (Madeleine L’Engle) Another classic. Meg, her little brother Charles Wallace, and her friend Calvin travel the universe to find and rescue her father, trapped on an alien world. Method of travel: tesseract (think of it as a space warp, or maybe teleportation.)
- Shadow of Night (Deborah Harkness) (review) Witch Diana Bishop and her vampire mate, Matthew Clairmont, travel from present-day Salem, Massachusetts, to Elizabethan England, and thence to France and Prague before returning to London and finally, to modern France. Harkness is a historian, and her portrayal of 15th-century Europe, particularly London and Prague, is magnificently detailed, while the intrigues and mysteries surrounding Diana and Matthew continue to develop — as does their relationship. (My review). Methods of travel: timewalking, carts and carriages, boats, as well as more modern vehicles.
- The Wise Man’s Fear (Patrick Rothfuss) The second in Rothfuss’s picaresque epic fantasy sees the minstrel-mage Kvothe on the road again, traveling in search of first a patron, then bandits, an irresistible Fae temptress, training in martial arts and swordsmanship, and the name of the wind — and as always, the lovely and elusive Dena. (I reviewed the first book in the series here.) Methods of travel: mostly feet and the occasional horse.
- Citizen of the Galaxy (Robert A. Heinlein) Thorby goes from orphaned slave boy to junior officer on a space ship before discovering his true identity. The writing is among Heinlein’s best, taut and gripping. Methods of travel: feet, sedan chair, space ships
- The River of No Return (Bee Ridgway) Nick Falcott, baronet and soldier in the Napoleonic Wars, jumps from imminent death in battle to modern London, where he is collected by the mysterious Guild and trained to live in today’s world. Time-travel is a one-way trip, they tell him; you can never go home. Until, of course, they need him to. (My review) Methods of travel: the conventional ones of both 1815 and today, plus the most novel approach to time travel I’ve come across yet.
Runners-up — these almost made the top ten, and I think they deserve at least a mention:
- The Hobbit (J. R. R. Tolkien) — The only reason it didn’t make the list is because I already picked LOTR.
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (J. K. Rowling) — I really, really wanted to include this one, too.
- Little House on the Prairie (Laura Ingalls Wilder)
- the Belgariad series (David Eddings)
- 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (Jules Verne)
- The Unlikely Ones (Mary Brown)