Top ten books that feature travel.

Another Tuesday. This week the topic is books featuring travel. I chose books where the main plot is around some sort of journey. The meme top ten Tuesday is hosted by the Broke and the Bookish

1. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien – Can’t do this list without the Hobbit. It’s one of the books my mother read to me when I was a kid, and I love it. A lot of the appeal is the way Tolkien writes. The story is about the hobbit, Bilbo Baggins who is shanghaied by Gandalf the Grey, a wizard, to join a group of dwarves on an adventure. Bilbo is referred to as a burglar, he doesn’t really want to be one, or leave his home, but he does go after all. They go through forests full of elves, meet unpleasant men, Bilbo has a riddle contest with a very creepy creature, and they fight a dragon. It’s so lovely.

2. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams – It is so brilliant. It starts out with Arthur Dent facing his house being bulldozed over to make way for a motorway. He tries to stop it, but then his best friend, Ford Prefect, tells him they have bigger problems, the earth is about to be blown up to make way for an inter-galactic super high way. Ford reveals he’s an alien who has been doing research on earth for a travel book; The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The earth’s entry is: Mostly Harmless. Ford and Arthur manage to hitch a ride with the Vogons, who are the ones blowing up the earth. They are then thrown out of this ship and picked up by the Heart of Gold, a space ship that uses an Infinite Improbability Drive. It is driven by the President of the galaxy, Zaphod Beeblebrox. They dart around the galaxy doing fun stuff. It’s hilarious.

3. Starship Titanic by Terry Jones – This book was based on a computer game made by Douglas Adams and written by a Monty Python, under the circumstance that he wrote it naked. The Titanic is a huge, fancy spaceship that has sort of accidentally landed on earth. Three humans go on board, and the spaceship then takes off and starts for home. There are a bunch of subplots with a bomb, love triangles and insurance fraud. It’s extremely hilarious, the writing is brilliant. It’s not like Douglas Adams’ books, it’s more slapstick, but I loved it.

4. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien – Yes. The sequel, sort of, to the Hobbit. In the Hobbit Bilbo finds the ring, and in the Lord of the Rings Bilbo’s nephew Frodo has to take the ring back to Mordor to destroy it. They set out from Rivendell, the home of the elves, in a company of nine people. They have to go to Mordor, eventually the company breaks up, people go to Rohan, Gondor, there are huge battles. The writing is absolutely beautiful, there are songs and poems, and it’s so poetic, and it’s a very timeless story, the little good guy against the big bad guy.

5. The Hero’s guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy – This is a middle grade book. It’s about the princes Charming from Fairytales, specifically from Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella and Snow White. The princes are in general sort of silly and useless. They want to be known as prince Fredric, Liam, Gustav and Duncan, rather than nameless men in the stories of women. They stumble upon a big plot that could ruin the kingdoms and decide to stop it. Sadly they are a bit useless and get into a bit of trouble. They do however try, and they get help from some of the princesses, I think everyone except Sleeping Beauty, but I might be wrong. It was hilarious.

6. The Girl who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente –
The book is about a young girl named September who is transported to Fairyland. September needs to find a talisman for the new marquess, who is young and fickle. If she doesn’t the Marquess will make life in Fairyland horrible. September travels through Fairyland with a Wyvern who is half library and needs keys to unlock his wings. She also meets a young boy, named Saturday, and they save him. It’s so beautiful, the language and the illustrations are wonderful. It’s a middle grade book, but it is absolutely wonderful. It’s sort of Alice in Wonderland, it’s really cool.

7. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova – This is a take on the Dracula story. It is about a young woman who finds an old book in her father’s study addressed to “My dear and unfortunate successor.” The discovery sends her on a travel and she discovers things about her own family, history and folklore. The story is essentially about this 16-year-old girl and her dad, Paul, travelling around Europe trying to find Vlad Tepes’ tomb. Vlad is supposedly the “real” man who became Dracula. He has somehow gotten hold of the narrator’s mother, and they don’t know whether or not she’s still alive. The story is split into three narratives. It’s about Paul’s mentor, Paul himself, and Paul’s daughter. A lot of people have gotten these books and they are plunged into a world of Dracula and awesomeness. It’s been a while since I read it, and I sort of want to reread it, but it’s enormous, so I need time and some serious persistence if I want to read it. I remember liking it though.

8. Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey – This book is set in a sort of parallel Europe, mainly France. The country is called Terre d’Ange, The country of angels. Supposedly the country was made, or established, by fallen Angels led by Elua. Elua was born when the blood of the crucified Yeshua (Jesus) mixed with the tears of the Magdalene (Mary). He went off with eight angels and they settled in the place that would become Terre d’Ange, which is pretty much France. In this country a young woman named Phedre is born. She is left by her mother at the Court of Night-Blooming Flowers. They are basically a court of very high-end whorehouses. The whores are very highly thought of and are more like courtesans and geishas. Phedre has the godgiven ability to find pleasure in pain. It is given to her by Kushiel, one of the fallen angels, to balance out the fact that some people in the world want to punish people. She is bought into servitude by a rich man, who uses her as a spy: when she sleeps with men and women she learns things that is interesting to him. She discovers a plot to take down the future queen, and she is sold into slavery to avoid her tell them about this treachery. She travels through Skaldia (Germany, with some Nordic mythology), and escapes, then she manages to tell the queen what’s happening, and travels to Alba (Britain), to find the queen’s betrothed, a pictish prince. The story is really cool, also the protagonist is an antihero, sort of (a whore), who is completely badass and takes on the world. She’s awesome.

9. American Gods by Neil Gaiman – The book is about Shadow who has just been released from jail to find his wife has been killed in a car crash. He meets a peculiar man called Wednesday, who claims to be a former god and the king of America. They travel through America, meeting gods and strange people and all around them there seems to be a sort of supernatural storm breaking. It’s really awesome. It’s so weird, because it is after all Neil Gaiman. It took me way too long to figure out who Wednesday was, but other than that I loved it.

10. Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente – This is sort of, I’m not sure if it fits, but I decided it does. It’s basically based on Russian mythology and folklore. It’s about Koschei the Deathless who comes to the home of a young woman, Marya, and takes her away to his homeland. They seem to travel through time and space, and it’s really cool. Also, folklore is really cool.