The nine commandments of travel writing

Pico Iyer writes that “a travel book can be defined as one that its author would never think of as a travel book; to him, it is history or anthropology, memoir or even camouflage fiction. I know that because for 20 years I’ve been writing books which appear on the travel shelves, and none of them, deep down, have anything to do with travel. Yet the first thing any traveler learns is that every rule is made to be broken; if you stick to the guidebook, or the itinerary, you’ll come home wondering if you ever left.”

Rule #1

The ideal travel book is a quest, a question that’s never answered, as in Peter Matthiessen’s The Snow Leopard, a radiant account of searching for that animal in the Himalayas. It’s the getting lost, the being thwarted, the stumbling into what you never thought to look for that makes a journey indelible. See remaining commandments at

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