Best books from off the grid

  1. Slowly Down the Ganges, by Eric Newby
    The thing you admire most about Newby’s account of navigating this preposterously long waterway is how he keeps his sense of humor amid constant setbacks.
  2. Shadow of the Silk Road, by Colin Thubron
    Thubron, who would otherwise be a pensioner in England, instead hikes across Asia with nothing but his satellite phone and a backpack. Dude is a hero.
  3. News from Tartary, by Peter Fleming
    This is Fleming’s account of a 3,500-mile trip from Peking to Kashmir he took with his Swiss journalist friend. Oh yeah, and his trusty .22-caliber rifle.
  4. The Spirit of Mediterranean Places, by Michel Butor
    Lydia Davis translated this slim collection of travel essays, which are unlike any other pieces of travel writing you’ll ever encounter.
  5. A Time of Gifts, by Patrick Leigh Fermor
    In terms of travel writing, it can easily be argued that the erudite Englishman Fermor is the most talented scribe of the lot. And this account of his trip through Western Europe is somewhat more accessible than his later volumes about Greece, which one must be a classical scholar to truly appreciate.
  6. The Innocents Abroad, by Mark Twain
    Twain’s observations, exaggerated or not, paint the stereotypical American tourist in a recognizable, preposterous light.
  7. Travels with Herodotus, by Ryszard Kapuscinski
    The late, legendary Polish correspondent had more in common with his ancient Greek forebear than you might think. A must-read for anyone interested in goings-on outside their own city limits.
  8. Arabian Sands, by Wilfred Thesiger
    If someone in the Bush White House had read this book, it probably could have saved us a lot of headaches in the Middle East.
  9. Exploration of the Colorado River, by John Wesley Powell
    This account of a gutsy, one-armed scientist’s trek into unexplored regions of the West inspired Wallace Stegner to write his equally solid book, Beyond the 100th Meridian.
  10. My First Summer in the Sierra, by John Muir
    Muir is the subject of two recent biographies, and remains one of the preeminent voices of conservation and bearded Scotsmen.