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What makes a good travel fiction?

For June 2016, we will be reading Travel Fiction/Non-Fiction.

What makes a good travel fiction?

Post Number:#1 by kio
» 04 Jun 2016, 12:39

Travel fiction and non-fiction do not necessarily have to be as dry as they may sound. Travel, by definition, means "to make a journey, typically of some length or abroad." In this case, either fictional or relatively true. Most of these examples are in the present, but travel fiction can be in the present, past, or future or virtual world. Science fiction would, in some ways, an example of such.

What book did you read? What did you like or dislike about it? What, to you, makes a travel fiction/non-fiction story worth reading?

-- 04 Jun 2016, 13:40 --

For me, it's not so much about the travel, but what the person learns on their travels. Of course, time travel is always a plus :) , but I like to relate to as well as learn vicariously through the main characters.
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Re: What makes a good travel fiction?

Post Number:#2 by hsimone
» 08 Jun 2016, 01:49

I recently finished a Travel Fiction book, which happens to be Historical Fiction, as well. It is called The Boxcar Traveler by Christopher Morosoff. It is about a young man, Harry, who had it all (a stable job, a great mom, and a beautiful wife), until one day the stock market crashes and now there is nothing to his name. He meets someone who calls himself a 'Boxcar Traveler', which he explains as someone who jumps from one freight train to the next; this supportive character admits it to be quite the adventure. Harry decides to take up this lifestyle and ends up traveling from one side of the US to the other (and back).

This character, I felt towards the end, showed growth in maturity and continually showed compassion for others. Sometimes his compassion showed his naive side because not everyone is honest, but in the end he grew up some. For me, demonstrating character growth in some shape or form, no matter how small it may be, is key for both Travel Fiction and Non-fiction genres. If there isn't character growth, I tend to ask the question 'Why am I even reading this?'

Overall, I enjoyed the read and gave it a 3/4 stars.
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Re: What makes a good travel fiction?

Post Number:#3 by Gravy
» 11 Jun 2016, 07:03

I just read Wild by Cheryl Strayed, and while I'm sure everyone knows what it's about, I'll cover that anyway :lol:

In this memoir, Cheryl Strayed lost herself after the death of her mother and decided to find herself again on the PCT, or Pacific Crest Trail, a wilderness trail that stretches from the Mexican border to the Canadian border, along the western mountain ranges of the continental US.

I looked so forward to this book, and I hate that I have to say that it only earned a three out of four from me. Still a good rating, and completely worth the read, but I just can't offer it a full four, and here's why.

I couldn't empathize with Cheryl. No, that's not exactly true, I could and did empathize with her, but it seemed to me that every time I thought she might've learned something, she hadn't, and it grew very tiresome when that kept happening throughout the book.
She also reiterated things to death (or it seemed to me), which, with my prior statement, just made the entire thing feel repetitive.

Obviously, the story was enough for me to keep reading. As I said, I gave it a three (and it completely earned that) despite my issues with it, and here's why.

It's hilarious! There were parts that I couldn't help but laugh out loud.
In an effort to avoid spoilers I'll say that "something" was dealt with in a manner which impressed me, and I am profoundly greatful for that.
Also, just how incredibly interesting it is that she hiked the trail at all, much less alone. I may not care for her very much, but I respect her a great deal.

So, while I felt that her lesson seemed to have to be hammered into her head, and that she thought certain things were worth hammering into mine, it was a good, and funny, and interesting read, and I understand why others have rated this a four.
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Re: What makes a good travel fiction?

Post Number:#4 by hsimone
» 12 Jun 2016, 19:22

Thank you for your input, Gravy! It's good to know your thoughts because it gives me an idea of what to expect when I do end up reading it. I like that it has humor, but I can see the not learning aspect off-putting. However, I'm glad that you enjoyed some parts enjoyable. I will definitely will still be reading this at some point.

It looks like we both like when the main character/person learn as they travel.
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Re: What makes a good travel fiction?

Post Number:#5 by kio
» 14 Jun 2016, 21:40

Gravy wrote:I just read Wild by Cheryl Strayed, and while I'm sure everyone knows what it's about, I'll cover that anyway :lol:

I couldn't empathize with Cheryl. No, that's not exactly true, I could and did empathize with her, but it seemed to me that every time I thought she might've learned something, she hadn't, and it grew very tiresome when that kept happening throughout the book.
She also reiterated things to death (or it seemed to me), which, with my prior statement, just made the entire thing feel repetitive.

Obviously, the story was enough for me to keep reading. As I said, I gave it a three (and it completely earned that) despite my issues with it, and here's why.

It's hilarious! There were parts that I couldn't help but laugh out loud.
In an effort to avoid spoilers I'll say that "something" was dealt with in a manner which impressed me, and I am profoundly greatful for that.
Also, just how incredibly interesting it is that she hiked the trail at all, much less alone. I may not care for her very much, but I respect her a great deal.

So, while I felt that her lesson seemed to have to be hammered into her head, and that she thought certain things were worth hammering into mine, it was a good, and funny, and interesting read, and I understand why others have rated this a four.


That's good to know, @gravy. I worried about how I couldn't empathize with the character in the movie, but maybe the book is worth the shot :)

-- 14 Jun 2016, 22:42 --

hsimone wrote:I recently finished a Travel Fiction book, which happens to be Historical Fiction, as well. It is called The Boxcar Traveler by Christopher Morosoff. It is about a young man, Harry, who had it all (a stable job, a great mom, and a beautiful wife), until one day the stock market crashes and now there is nothing to his name. He meets someone who calls himself a 'Boxcar Traveler', which he explains as someone who jumps from one freight train to the next; this supportive character admits it to be quite the adventure. Harry decides to take up this lifestyle and ends up traveling from one side of the US to the other (and back).

This character, I felt towards the end, showed growth in maturity and continually showed compassion for others. Sometimes his compassion showed his naive side because not everyone is honest, but in the end he grew up some. For me, demonstrating character growth in some shape or form, no matter how small it may be, is key for both Travel Fiction and Non-fiction genres. If there isn't character growth, I tend to ask the question 'Why am I even reading this?'

Overall, I enjoyed the read and gave it a 3/4 stars.


Me, too, I think if the character doesn't grow, then the book isn't as good :) I also like if the adventure part is realistic enough to buy into.
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Re: What makes a good travel fiction?

Post Number:#6 by bookreviewer2016
» 15 Jun 2016, 01:10

Interesting post. Other than time travel sci-fi, I've never heard of this genre. I did read a book once that was an adventure in which the main character traveled by seaplane. The problem I saw with it was that it read too much like a guide book. I find long setting descriptions and location histories boring.
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Re: What makes a good travel fiction?

Post Number:#7 by qsbookrec
» 20 Jun 2016, 18:46

Hello
The book Harbingers was an unusual travel book in that it spoke of past, present and future all at once. To read it you must be willing to listen and think.
Investigate the story on your own.
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Re: What makes a good travel fiction?

Post Number:#8 by melmo17
» 22 Jun 2016, 11:03

This book sounds like a great read! I love stories like this one, where a character has the "perfect" life but then loses everything. These types of plot lines really show readers how much life can change in a moment and also shows how the main character deals with the tragedy and what they learn from it all.

I think The Boxcar Traveler will be on my list to read next. Thank you for the recommendation!
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Re: What makes a good travel fiction?

Post Number:#9 by hsimone
» 22 Jun 2016, 11:25

kio wrote:
hsimone wrote:I recently finished a Travel Fiction book, which happens to be Historical Fiction, as well. It is called The Boxcar Traveler by Christopher Morosoff. It is about a young man, Harry, who had it all (a stable job, a great mom, and a beautiful wife), until one day the stock market crashes and now there is nothing to his name. He meets someone who calls himself a 'Boxcar Traveler', which he explains as someone who jumps from one freight train to the next; this supportive character admits it to be quite the adventure. Harry decides to take up this lifestyle and ends up traveling from one side of the US to the other (and back).

This character, I felt towards the end, showed growth in maturity and continually showed compassion for others. Sometimes his compassion showed his naive side because not everyone is honest, but in the end he grew up some. For me, demonstrating character growth in some shape or form, no matter how small it may be, is key for both Travel Fiction and Non-fiction genres. If there isn't character growth, I tend to ask the question 'Why am I even reading this?'

Overall, I enjoyed the read and gave it a 3/4 stars.


Me, too, I think if the character doesn't grow, then the book isn't as good :) I also like if the adventure part is realistic enough to buy into.


This is a good point: "I also like if the adventure part is realistic enough to buy into." It's true, if the adventure part is too unrealistic, then it's harder to enjoy the story.

-- 22 Jun 2016, 18:27 --

melmo17 wrote:This book sounds like a great read! I love stories like this one, where a character has the "perfect" life but then loses everything. These types of plot lines really show readers how much life can change in a moment and also shows how the main character deals with the tragedy and what they learn from it all.

I think The Boxcar Traveler will be on my list to read next. Thank you for the recommendation!


That's wonderful to hear, melmo17! If/When you do get to read The Boxcar Traveler, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! :)
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Re: What makes a good travel fiction?

Post Number:#10 by kio
» 25 Jun 2016, 00:10

Poll for July is up. Don't forget to vote.
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Re: What makes a good travel fiction?

Post Number:#11 by Esies98
» 25 Jun 2016, 19:11

I agree with hsimone there has to be a character growth, Im recently reading a song of ice and fire and as you might know there is a lot of travel and the characters always learn something. Just like in the real life.
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Re: What makes a good travel fiction?

Post Number:#12 by hsimone
» 26 Jun 2016, 12:39

Esies98 wrote:I agree with hsimone there has to be a character growth, Im recently reading a song of ice and fire and as you might know there is a lot of travel and the characters always learn something. Just like in the real life.


There is definitely a lot of traveling and character who are always developing. This is probably why it's just a popular series. The fantasy part is just that, fantasy. But, the characters are what draws people in.

-- 26 Jun 2016, 19:49 --

Interesting enough, I recently finished another book that I think would fall under this category. It is Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing. It is a nonfiction text about Ernest Shackleton, who took a crew of men to sail to Antarctica. Their mission was to cross the continent, which, at the time, wasn't accomplished yet. Unfortunately, their ship, Endurance became stuck and they never made it to the mainland. Instead, the crew spent a long ~17 months at sea determined to get rescued.

I fairly enjoyed this read and definitely commend the bravery of the men on the ship. However, there wasn't much character growth throughout the length of the book. Most men were able to keep a more positive look at things, which is great. Because of the minimal character growth throughout their journey to safety, I didn't feel as compelled as I might have been if the men learned more along the way. Don't get me wrong, of course, this lack of growth is probably due to the fact that they were strong from the beginning, which is what you need to be if making a trek like that, but still, I wouldn't call this a favorite read of mine.

I gave this book a 3/4 stars.
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Re: What makes a good travel fiction?

Post Number:#13 by Jyak
» 26 Jun 2016, 15:55

I have a quick question about how this genre works in tandem with other genres. I have read many books with a journey being the main front of the story but mixed with other genres like fantasy (One popular example is the Lord of the Rings). Would books like LoTR and other similar books pertaining to a journey as the main plot driving element be available for discussion or not? As LoTR primarily focuses of Frodo and Sam's journey to Mount Doom.
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Re: What makes a good travel fiction?

Post Number:#14 by hsimone
» 27 Jun 2016, 06:35

Jyak wrote:I have a quick question about how this genre works in tandem with other genres. I have read many books with a journey being the main front of the story but mixed with other genres like fantasy (One popular example is the Lord of the Rings). Would books like LoTR and other similar books pertaining to a journey as the main plot driving element be available for discussion or not? As LoTR primarily focuses of Frodo and Sam's journey to Mount Doom.


I would say yes to that. I'm no expert, but as long as there is a journey involved and you can state what made it a good (or not so good) travel book, then I think you would good!

The Boxcar Traveler that I mentioned earlier in the post is actually labeled as Historical Fiction as its top/main genre, but the main storyline is the protagonist's travels from freight train to freight train to different parts of the United States.

I hope this helps! :)
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Re: What makes a good travel fiction?

Post Number:#15 by lily_kh87
» 10 Oct 2016, 15:10

I've never read travel fiction before. It seems interesting and new. I would love to try reading something of that genre.
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