Travel Magazines

A Thousand Worlds in One Room

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St Augstine

Travel, like books, tea and the theatre, is food for the soul. Without it, we see only a tiny nook or cranny of the wide, wonderful world in which we live and thereby remain limitedly aware of the abundance of culinary, artistic, cultural and theological diversity that exists. Raised in Zimbabwe and Australia, I’ve had a taste of both the third and first worlds and now foster an overwhelming desire to paint the world with my footprints. I’ve been to Zimbabwe, Zambia, South Africa, Mauritius, France, United Arab Emirates, New Zealand and Australia and am now pining for an Italian coffee, a day spent among the ruins of Machu Pichu, a road trip down Route 66 and a paint powder fight during India’s Holi Festival. Yes, travel is one of those wonderful things in life and if you haven’t yet ventured beyond the perimeter of your home town, do so for the sake of opening your mind, nourishing your soul, discovering new life and challenging your boundaries.

I do know however, that the up-and-go-without-a-care-in-the-world scenario is often only really accessible to the young and responsibility-free. Travel requires a significant investment of finances and time and is not always easy to squeeze into a calendar predominated by work, family and social obligations. And although there is no excuse great enough to account for a lifetime spent entirely void of foreign adventure, I can concede that there may be certain time frames within which travel and life can simply not coincide. Never fear however, for this is where we venture into the room of a thousand worlds: the travel book section!

The travel section of any book store is a colourful and delicious cornucopia of worldly wonders. Usually populated by country and city guides, travel novels, photography books, memoirs and cultural reference books, these few shelves (or entire corners in the larger book stores) present a literary microcosm of the earth and its many smells, sights and sounds.

Travel Books

Want to see New York but simply cannot find the time or monetary resources right now? Grab a copy of Lonely Planet’s New York City guide and read of the customs, gastronomical delights, diverse boroughs and cultural life. It may not be the same as walking through Time’s Square but it sure as hell beats pining for the Big Apple without even stroking your intellectual appetite for the city that never sleeps.

New York City Lonely Planet

Crave a month in the life a French chef, tasting the delicacies and speaking the language of romance? I’m not sure if you’ve read the book, ‘Julie and Julia’, but the very same Julia Child wrote her memoir, ‘My Life in France’, based on her wonderfully heart-warming experiences as an American woman in the city famous for its cuisine, love and art.

My Life in France Julia Child

There are also travel novels: intimate journeys through foreign nations, tasting the smells and feeling the sights through the eyes of characters as opposed to guide writers. ‘ The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul‘, by Deborah Rodriguez, is an example of a novel set in the midst of war-torn Afghanistan while David Byrne’s ‘Bicycle Diaries’ takes you on a pedalled adventure through some of the world’s major cities: Istanbul, San Fran Cisco, Buenos Aires, London and beyond. The true beauty of travel novels, as opposed to travel guides, is that they take you on a sensory, human adventure. You learn about the people, how they feel, how they would make you feel. You learn about how the food actually tastes instead of about which are the finest restaurants. Travel novels tell us about people, about humanity, about love and about perspective. You needn’t even leave the comfort of your bedroom while walking in the shoes of a Spanish girl on the streets of Brazil or a gypsy on the circus circuit of Europe.

However, if you’re in need of something a little more logistically informative, you can’t go past the magazine rack of your local newsagent. Brimming with information, inspiration and innovation, the majority of travel magazines offer excellent safety tips, mind-bogglingly cheap accommodation deals, fun itinerary ideas and fascinating articles about places you never even knew existed. My personal favourites are ‘Get Lost’ and ‘Lonely Planet’ but I’m almost certain that Conde Nast’s ‘Traveller’ would be just as worth your time and money.

Travel Magazines

Yes, travel is a delicious facet of the human experience and while it may not always be possible to pack your suitcase and jump on the next plane to anywhere, there is always within a reach a good book in which to disappear for a while and experience the wonders of wandering.

Creative Non-Fiction

Creative non-fiction…sounds a little like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? When you think of non-fiction, you usually think of hard, cold facts, executive summaries, scientific analyses, hypotheses, statistics, university assignments and other such forms of writing. Of course, these examples do all belong in the non-fiction aisle but they aren’t its entirety. For years, I thought of professional writing as a two-sided coin: creative fiction and uncreative non-fiction, stories versus essays, arts versus sciences. However, the wide world of writing cannot be separated so definitely into black and white for there are a myriad of writing styles that amalgamate both genres. For example, creative non-fiction.

I am a creative, expressive writer who likes to embellish and describe but when it comes to dialogue and characterisation, integral aspects of fiction, I am completely and totally inept. Character and plot are not my forte and for a long while, I felt lost in my monochrome perception of literary genres. If unable to write fiction, how was I ever to channel my flair and love for creative writing? The answer became clear upon subscribing to the New Yorker magazine and the New York Times daily newspaper. Both of these publications opened my mind to the idea that non-fiction can be colourful, creative and imaginative while still retaining real, fascinating and important content.

The New Yorker, a well respected magazine of the Condé Nast group, exemplifies sublime and creative non-fiction. Articles discussing film, theatre, dining, philosophy, the underbelly of politics, books and the world colour its pages and do so with flair, professionalism and innovative writing. Likewise, the New York Times, while featuring very factual and political articles, also celebrates creative non-fiction with genres devoted to the arts, theatre, travel, dining, fashion and literature. The ‘Movies’ section for example, is less about statistical analysis and direct quotations and more  about opinionated reviews on films, the emotive power of the latest drama and the very subjective world of cinematic evolution. Yes, creative non-fiction is out there and it is a wonderful thing to read.

As an eighteen year old girl, out of high school but yet to attend university, I am understandably at a confusing and uncertain fork in the road of my life. I have very diverse but specific interests; I love the dramatic arts: the theatre, acting, directing, film but I also love words: books, magazines, newspapers, blogs. Since around the beginning of my senior year, I spent hours upon days weighing my options. Should I attend an acting school or go to university? Should I pursue drama or get a degree in writing? Neither path seemed entirely satisfying as both excluded the other, a sacrifice I wasn’t willing to make for either area of interest. But alas, I have found a solution: creative non-fiction. The world of creative, imaginative and colourful journalism opens to the door to writing about film, books and travel (my three greatest loves). You may be thinking, ‘Why on earth didn’t she think of that before?’ But you must understand, that for so many years and throughout all of my research of Australian university courses, creative writing and non-fiction have been kept very separate and due to my lack of plot and character proficiency, I never considered the realm of creative writing as an option in spite of my distaste for the bland world of tasteless non-fiction. Creative non-fiction however, is the best of both worlds.

Tell me, Readers, what your thoughts are on the subject of creative non-fiction. Do you like fiction, scientific pieces of writing, imaginative journalism or a mixture of all that the written word has to offer? Also, if anyone has any ideas or recommendations as to how best one could harness a love of creative non-fiction, do be a honey and share your sweet knowledge!