Ah, my favourite World Day, when I can wax lyrical about my literary obsession with the excuse of being topical. If you, like me, are the sort of person who turns into a child in a sweet shop on entering a beautiful old library, and are intoxicated by the heady scent of hundreds of years of dust between pages (apologies to any asthmatics), then you will know what it is like to have an excuse for an in depth conversation about books. Whether it’s the style and substance of Charles Dickens or Jane Austen, or the triumphs and disasters of film adaptations, from Anna Karenina to the Life of Pi, there’s a luxurious sense of indulgence and comfort in talking about these works, which have become our friends after a good few hundred chapters of getting to know each other.
This year I find myself drawn to celebrating World Book Day one particular genre of writing: travel writing (who knows why; anyone would think I’d started my own travel company!) Perhaps one of the most competitive styles of scribbling, it seem that everyone today is taking to the blogosphere with a backpack full of advice for fellow travellers and more anecdotal luggage that you can fit in a budget airline carry-on. I, evidently, am about to swell those ranks, but I can’t say I’m against this modern breed of Internet guides.
It may be logical to place your trust in famous published travel ‘bibles’, but with a growing number of tourists and fewer roads less travelled left, I love the personality and whimsy of a random stranger’s continental musings. Which is why I’m such a fan of travel writing with a comic flair. In my experience, the best journeys are the ones that take you somewhere unexpected, off of the planned itinerary, providing you with those funny old chestnuts that keep the conversation flowing in any social situation.
Which brings me to the well-thumbed copy of ‘Notes From a Small Island’ by Bill Bryson, which I am about to re-read as I research new trips and think about what the tourist would want to see as an insider perspective. American born, with a British sensibility, after 20 years living in the UK Bryson makes a farewell tour of England before moving back to America, revelling in the history, heritage and humour of our nation. This is exactly what I would love to explore abroad with Drink Dine Discover; those things that dry guides fail to capture; the quirks and curiosities that make a place and it’s people.