Homage to Calatonia by George Orwell
‘Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic Socialism as I understand it.
Thus wrote Orwell following his experiences as a militiaman in the Spanish Civil War, chronicled in Homage to Catalonia. Here he brings to bear all the force of his humanity, passion and clarity, describing with bitter intensity the bright hopes and cynical betrayals of that chaotic episode: the revolutionary euphoria of Barcelona, the courage of ordinary Spanish men and women he fought alongside, the terror and confusion of the front, his near-fatal bullet wound and the vicious treachery of his supposed allies.
A firsthand account of the brutal conditions of the Spanish Civil War, George Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia includes an introduction by Julian Symons in Penguin Modern Classics.’
The Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux
‘The Orient Express; The Khyber Pass Local; the Delhi Mail from Jaipur; the Golden Arrow of Kuala; the Trans-Siberian Express; these are just some of the trains steaming through Paul Theroux’s epic rail journey from London across Europe through India and Asia. This was a trip of discovery made in the mid-seventies, a time before the West had embraced the places, peoples, food, faiths and cultures of the East. For us now, as much as for Theroux then, to visit the lands of The Great Railway Bazaar is an encounter with all that is truly foreign and exotic – and with what we have since lost.’ (WHSmith)
Down Under by Bill Bryson
‘It is the driest, flattest, hottest, most desiccated, infertile and climatically aggressive of all the inhabited continents and still Australia teems with life – a large portion of it quite deadly. In fact, Australia has more things that can kill you in a very nasty way than anywhere else.
Ignoring such dangers – and yet curiously obsessed by them – Bill Bryson journeyed to Australia and promptly fell in love with the country. And who can blame him? The people are cheerful, extrovert, quick-witted and unfailingly obliging: their cities are safe and clean and nearly always built on water; the food is excellent; the beer is cold and the sun nearly always shines. Life doesn’t get much better than this…’ (Penguin)
The Motorcycle Diaries by Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara
‘In January 1952, two young men from Buenos Aires set out to explore South America on a 500cc Norton. One of them was the twenty-three-year-old Ernesto `Che’ Guevara.
Written eight years before the Cuban Revolution, these are the diaries of Che Guevara, full of disasters and discoveries, high drama and laddish improvisations. Touring through Argentina, Chile, Peru and Venezuela, his greatest concerns are where the next drink is coming from, where the next bed is to be found and who might be around to share it. Within a decade Che Guevara would be a household name. His trip might have been the adventure of a lifetime – had his lifetime not turned into a much greater adventure.
More recently made into an Oscar-winning film starring Gael Garcia Bernal, `The Motorcycle Diaries’ is an extraordinary account of a hero in the making.’ (Waterstones)
The Island by Victoria Hislop
‘Fifty years later, making a life-changing journey of her own, Alexis Fielding feels the pull of the abandoned island. A distant shadow off the coast of Crete, she knows it holds the secrets to her mother’s past, buried for so long but surely not forgotten . . .’ (Waterstones)
By Anneliese Speller