Getting started, simply. Heading south. Because, while reading, the mind wanders.
Heading for nowhere in Lada
Two friends, Maik and Tschick, both 14 years old, are uncomfortable in their class and they are fed up. They flee together in an old stolen Lada, towards Wallachia. Although neither of them know if it really exists. The Hamburg author Wolfgang Herrndorf, who died in 2013, won the Children’s Literature Prize with this teenage story. However, adults shouldn’t take offense. For them, it will be a half-fig, half-grape journey, a return to the time when the world seems to belong to you and only the present counts.
Wolfgang Herrndorf: “Goodbye Berlin”, Children’s Pocket Book, 2015
Around the globe in Triumph Tiger
“Actually, I’m not that good a biker,” journalist Ted Simon claimed in 1977 after spending four years riding around the world on an old Triumph Tiger. This flagship of travel literature has inspired generations of backpackers. With his very detailed descriptions, Ted Simon takes us far beyond a banal motorcycle tour. It gives readers a dynamic line of thought: stay curious about everything,
and go get your own idea of the world. At worst, from your sofa.
Ted Simon: “The voyages of Jupiter”, Interfolio 2017
My father was a man on land and a whale on the sea
The title of Michelle Steinbeck’s debut novel alone is convoluted. The journey of her heroine Loribeth is also: with a dead child in her suitcase, she searches for her missing father, over mountains, dale and across the oceans. But the end of the journey (in fact the beginning too) does not really play a role in this 150-page book. We are captivated by the incredible surrealist encounters of Loribeth, echoing the absurdities of Alice in Wonderland. Pages that take you far.
Michelle Steinbeck: “My father was a man on land and a whale in the water”, éditions Lenos, Bâle, 2016 (not yet translated into French, English and Italian versions available)
On foot to Sicily
“I buckled my knapsack at Grimma, and we set off.” This is how the “Voyage to Syracuse” begins, a great classic of travelogues. The man is 28 years old, he is a scraper and goes on a mop, on foot. His hikes took him from Vienna to Rome, then to Naples and Sicily. His favorite dish on the way? Dried olives. On his return, he made a detour via Paris. He thinks that “everything would be better if we walked more”. To conclude, he pays his shoemaker a compliment: the boots have held up.
Johann Gottfried Seume: “Voyage to Syracuse”, Renne University Press, 2011
A visit to Greece
“When I was born, there was no name for what I was. This is why I was called a nymph by others. ” Circe is different. Not as powerful as her father, the sun god Helios, nor as mean and seductive as her mother, the nymph Perse. Finding her ugly, Circe’s brothers banish the little one to an island from where she comments on the vagaries of Greek mythology. She will have many visits, Medea or Odysseus. Very original prose. A book that you never leave.
Madeline Miller: “Circe”. Pocket, 2019
Diving into another dimension
“My life has been nothing but a nest of secrets, those secrets that are best left in the dark”: this is a nine-volume fantasy series that describes in detail a parallel world. We meet a boy with supernatural powers, who will later become a man. He can communicate with animals and interfere in the thoughts of other beings. Populated with dazzling characters, these novels are a believable option for “Game of Thrones” fans. Here we dive into another dimension.
Robin Hobb: “The Citadel of Shadows”. Pygmalion, 2012 (part of the saga: The Royal Assassin)
On a luxury cruise
Why, after the first day of heavy weather, “one in two passengers seems to have cut themselves while shaving in the same place under the left ear, even women”? David Foster Wallace spends seven days on a lavish cruise ship in the Caribbean. The quirks of this floating universe first appeared in “Harper’s Magazine”. Les Inrocks love: “What stands out, […] it is the author’s incredible gift of observation, able to capture the most striking details, whatever the context. ”
David Foster Wallace: “A supposedly great thing that I will not be taken back”. Au Diable Vauvert, 2005
The two scents of the river
Starting off at high gear, the book settles down and follows the Danube from the mouth to the source. Building 4000 km in forty-eight days, two cyclists suffer: broken spokes, punctures, inoperative GPS. Beyond the biclou serving as a common thread, the traveler paints a modern fresco from Odessa to Strasbourg: peasants, truckers, parties, churches, graffiti, conflicts, ruins, we scrutinize European history. This tour of the Balkans won the 2019 Nicolas Bouvier Prize. Great art on a fluvial rhythm, just to smell the scents of the beautiful brown Danube.
Emmanuel Ruben, “On the Danube road”, Payot & Rivages, 2019
Along the rails
A story by Stephen King, taken from the collection of novels “Different Seasons”. Even though four young people go in search of a corpse, there is nothing horrific about it. Fifty kilometers on foot, following a railway line. A pistol is part of the baggage. Few provisions, but a good ration of adventures: on a railway bridge (you risk your life), with a dog, leeches, a rival gang. The most beautiful moment for the narrator of this story, Gordon, is his meeting with a deer.
To read while listening to “Stand by Me”.
Stephen King: “The Body”. Albin Michel, 2019
Across Middle Earth
Bilbo believes that adventures are useless, if not to shorten the time devoted to meals. Hobbits like comfort and move very little. Travel enthusiasts do not have a good reputation. But Bilbo is on his way. A magician wants him to recover treasure stolen by a dragon. It makes him want to leave. It goes from surprise to disappointment because, Tolkien notes, “when you search, you usually find something, but it’s not always exactly what you wanted. That was what happened in this case. ”
JRR Tolkien: “The Hobbit”. LGF Pocket Book, 2015