Until last spring, when the unpronounceable volcano (Eyjafjallajökull) exploded in Iceland, it seemed like we’d almost forgotten that we are a world on the move. But with airspace over parts of Europe shut down for nearly a month, we were reminded of just how much travel has become a part of modern life, how much we depend on planes, trains and automobiles to get us from one place to another. Similarly, some writers still remind us there is magic in travel. Here are some of the books from 2010 that do that best.
Country Driving by Peter Hessler
Several in this year’s literary travel highlights were road books. Peter Hessler’s “Country Driving: A Journey Through China From Farm to Factory” is a brilliant evocation of modern China and its conundrum, as Hessler drives far into the now-emptied empire. (Related: World Hum interview with Hessler and book excerpt.)
Travels in Siberia by Ian Frazier
A bit to the north, humorist Ian Frazier takes us along on several forays into the Russian hinterlands in “Travels in Siberia,” a masterpiece of humor and exploration, with Frazier serving as the best possible companion.