My favorite books with journeys in them

Why am I passionate about this?

As a child, I wanted to be either a chook (chicken) farmer or an archaeologist. In high school, my Latin teacher gave me a copy of The Hobbit and changed my passion to travel, which, for Australians, mostly means, Overseas. In second year University, The Lord of the Rings cemented that longing, and I have "travelled" Overseas almost annually ever since. But a long research trip for a historical novel taught me that the best travel is a journey: travel with a purpose. And whether or not I'm on a plane, train, bus, or foot myself, some of my favourite reading has always been books with journeys at their heart. 


I wrote...

Everran's Bane

By Sylvia Kelso,

Book cover of Everran's Bane

What is my book about?

My first fantasy novel grew from a reverie on dragons in an Australian landscape, which led to a dragon ravaging the small wine and olive oil-producing kingdom of Everran. The story follows king Beryx and his house bard Harran, as their desperate struggle to stop or destroy the dragon culminates in a wild-hope journey to the continent's desert heart. In Australian terms, a desert is a geographic waste, but may be a spiritual wellspring. So both king and bard must make arduous internal as well as external journeys before they can hope to reach the weapon they so desperately need.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Odyssey

Sylvia Kelso Why did I love this book?

Journeys are most often linear – Here to There – or circular – "There and Back Again." The Odyssey is actually a return leg in the most traumatic and perennial circular journey: going to war, and then, getting back. "Wily" (in modern terms, read, "sneaky," "trickster")  Odysseus left Troy a famous warrior, but takes seven years to get home. The fabulous episodes of that journey, the Cyclops, the Sirens, Scylla and Charybdis, Circe, and Calypso, the wreck in Phaeacia that leaves him bereft even of clothes, have grounded the Western imagination. But the concluding little things – the recognition scenes, the dog that dies, and the nurse who doesn't – push that epic past into a close, human Now.

By Homer, T.E. Shaw (translator),

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Odyssey as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Homer's epic chronicle of the Greek hero Odysseus' journey home from the Trojan War has inspired  writers from Virgil to James Joyce. Odysseus  survives storm and shipwreck, the cave of the Cyclops  and the isle of Circe, the lure of the Sirens' song  and a trip to the Underworld, only to find his  most difficult challenge at home, where treacherous  suitors seek to steal his kingdom and his loyal  wife, Penelope. Favorite of the gods, Odysseus  embodies the energy, intellect, and resourcefulness  that were of highest value to the ancients and that  remain ideals in out time.

In this  new…


Book cover of The Pilgrim's Progress

Sylvia Kelso Why did I love this book?

From multi-culture epic to English 17th Century Christian allegory, from the breadth of the Mediterranean, gods, and giants, to a foot journey down a strait path to a distant wicket gate. I'm at best agnostic; like Tolkien, I don't care for allegory, and Bunyan's is rather simplistic in comparison to its masterful use in Piers Plowman, the great medieval poem. Yet years after I met them, Christian and his companion Valiant-for-Truth linger in memory. And however unassuming, Bunyan's language can suddenly take flight: as when Valiant-for-Truth dies – allegorically, crosses the river of Jordan – and, "All the trumpets sounded for him on the other side."

By John Bunyan, Tom Griffith (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Pilgrim's Progress as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With an Introduction by Professor Stuart Sim.

John Bunyan was variously a tinker, soldier, Baptist minister, prisoner and writer of outstanding narrative genius which reached its apotheosis in this, his greatest work. It is an allegory of the Christian life of true brilliance and is presented as a dream which describes the pilgrimage of the hero - Christian - from the City of Destruction via the Slough of Despond, the Hill of Difficulty, the Valley of the Shadow of Death and Vanity Fair over the River of the Water of Life and into the Celestial City.

The Pilgrim's Progress has…


Book cover of The Lord of the Rings

Sylvia Kelso Why did I love this book?

Founding text of the modern fantasy genre, expander of Homer's beautiful or horrific fantastic gallery; but unlike Odysseus or Christian, Tolkien's characters change, either to grow or become "better," or to spectacularly regress. This novel-type flux matches his unique gift, the modulation of style. Most good writers can find one "voice" and maintain it. But unlike the films, the books will show you Tolkien starting in a cozy-children's-story mode in the Shire, rising to the King James Bible or mythic level of Gandalf's resurrection story, or the Fields of Cormallen and then drawing the whole vast arc of quest and war down into Sam's circle to the Grey Havens, and the six concluding so-simple monosyllables: "'Well, I'm back," he said."

By J.R.R. Tolkien,

Why should I read it?

52 authors picked The Lord of the Rings as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them

In ancient times the Rings of Power were crafted by the Elven-smiths, and Sauron, the Dark Lord, forged the One Ring, filling it with his own power so that he could rule all others. But the One Ring was taken from him, and though he sought it throughout Middle-earth, it remained lost to him. After many ages it fell by chance into the hands of the hobbit Bilbo Baggins.

From Sauron's fastness in the Dark Tower of…


Book cover of The Salt Path: A Memoir

Sylvia Kelso Why did I love this book?

An actual travel book, i.e. a memoir of real life, though it becomes a 21st Century fairytale. Starting bankrupt and homeless, Raynor and her husband "Moth" walk the UK South-West Coast Path as a last resort: the story opens into a wealth of journeys, geographical, social, emotional, and with Moth, astoundingly physiological. And a travel book's ideal mix of geography, history, incidents, encounters, emotional and physical landscapes, are all conveyed through a single but effortlessly lyric writing style. 

By Raynor Winn,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked The Salt Path as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Polished, poignant... an inspiring story of true love."-Entertainment Weekly

A BEST BOOK OF 2019, NPR's Book Concierge
SHORTLISTED FOR THE COSTA BOOK AWARD
OVER 400,000 COPIES SOLD WORLDWIDE

The true story of a couple who lost everything and embarked on a transformative journey walking the South West Coast Path in England

Just days after Raynor Winn learns that Moth, her husband of thirty-two years, is terminally ill, their house and farm are taken away, along with their livelihood. With nothing left and little time, they make the brave and impulsive decision to walk the 630 miles of the sea-swept South…


Book cover of Wanted, A Gentleman

Sylvia Kelso Why did I love this book?

An M/M ("male and male") romance novella that upends traditional romance tropes. There are no aristocratic major characters, and no heroine. Instead two hero/es, Martin St. Vincent, a freed Caribbean ex-slave, and Theo Swann, a failed curate-to-be now running a "marriage mart" rag and as "Mrs. Swann," writing Gothic novels, play out the original Georgette Heyer trope of a Foolish Young Female character's thwarted elopement. Their literally bruising There and Back coach journey retrieves the female, but also develops their own attraction, and brings them through emotional or financial liberations to the threshold of a "new world." The diversity of race and sexuality is thoroughly modern, but content warning: as per usual for the sub-genre, there's plentiful sex.

By K J Charles,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Wanted, A Gentleman as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Theodore Swann is a jobbing writer, proprietor of the Matrimonial Advertiser lonely hearts gazette, and all-round weasel. He’s the very last man that Martin St. Vincent would choose to rely on—and the only one who can help.Martin is a wealthy merchant who finds himself obliged to put a stop to a young heiress’s romantic correspondence in the Matrimonial Advertiser. When she and her swain make a dash for Gretna Green, Martin drags Theo on a breakneck chase up the country to catch the runaway lovers before it’s too late.Theo guards his secrets. Martin guards his heart. But as the two…


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Ferry to Cooperation Island

By Carol Newman Cronin,

Book cover of Ferry to Cooperation Island

Carol Newman Cronin Author Of Ferry to Cooperation Island

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Sailor Olympian Editor New Englander Rum drinker

Carol's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

James Malloy is a ferry captain--or used to be, until he was unceremoniously fired and replaced by a "girl" named Courtney Farris. Now, instead of piloting Brenton Island’s daily lifeline to the glitzy docks of Newport, Rhode Island, James spends his days beached, bitter, and bored.

When he discovers a plan for a private golf course on wilderness sacred to his dying best friend, James is determined to stop such "improvements." But despite Brenton's nickname as "Cooperation Island," he's used to working solo. To keep historic trees and ocean shoreline open to all, he'll have to learn to cooperate with other islanders--including Captain Courtney, who might just morph from irritant to irresistible once James learns a secret that's been kept from him for years.

Ferry to Cooperation Island

By Carol Newman Cronin,

What is this book about?

Loner James Malloy is a ferry captain-or used to be, until he was unceremoniously fired and replaced by a girl named Courtney Farris. Now, instead of piloting Brenton Island's daily lifeline to the glitzy docks of Newport, Rhode Island, James spends his days beached, bitter, and bored.

When he discovers a private golf course staked out across wilderness sacred to his dying best friend, a Narragansett Indian, James is determined to stop such "improvements." But despite Brenton's nickname as "Cooperation Island," he's used to working solo. To keep rocky bluffs, historic trees, and ocean shoreline open to all, he'll have…


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