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10 Classic Armchair Travel Books To Get You Through Coronavirus

Photo: Gayle Potter

By Everett Potter

The coronavirus outbreak has many of us canceling, amending or postponing our travel plans. Fair enough, and sensible enough. But it fails to stave off the very real human need to get away. So if you can’t travel, you might as well delve into a classic travel account that can (virtually) take you there. Here are 10 of my personal favorites.


The Great Railway Bazaar, by Paul Theroux. I could have named any number of my favorite Theroux books, like Dark Star Safari, an extraordinary journey from the top to bottom of Africa or The Old Patagonian Express, about a similarly expansive journey through Latin America. But this, his first travel book, has all of the freshness of a young traveler exploring two continents in a way that was familiar in the 19th century: by rail. Nearly a half-century since it was first published, Theroux’s observations and insights in his first and arguably best book still ring true.


The Snow Leopard, by Peter Matthiessen. The book is ostensibly the quest for one of the world’s most elusive big cats, the snow leopard, found only in the most remote parts of the Himalayas … continue reading

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  1. March 17, 2020 at 5:24 pm — Reply

    Almost all are favorites of mine, too. There’s a line from The Snow Leopard that I’ve tried to fashion my life after, with fair success. It goes something like, The only sins are to pick wildflowers and threaten children.

    • March 17, 2020 at 5:27 pm — Reply

      Thank goodness I’m not guilty of either!

      As for scorpions, I’ll leave those to you.

  2. March 18, 2020 at 10:32 am — Reply

    Since I am not traveling as much myself these days, i have been catching up on the Theroux books I had not yet read and enjoying every one. He truly takes us on a journey. Marian

    • March 18, 2020 at 10:35 am — Reply

      I agree, Marian. If you get through the three books I mentioned, I’d recommend Riding the Iron Rooster, his book on China, and the Happy Isles of Oceania, two of my other favorites.

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