Salman Rashid

Travel writer, Fellow of Royal Geographical Society

Pen [ultimate]: I recommend these books

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School Atlas. As a child, the atlas was my favourite schoolbook. The maps with their different colours to depict varying terrains captivated me: yellow and orange for deserts, purple for snowy mountains and green for forested areas. My first journeys were on these coloured sheets. To this day the fetish for maps remains.

The Histories of Herodotus has played an immensely important role in my education and in making me a travel writer. This 5th century BCE writer talks history as though narrating a romantic tale. His writing is vivid; it shows you his world. He engrosses and enthrals. That is the way history should always be written.

Indica of Magasthenes. Written after the Greek ambassador spent fifteen years (300-285 BCE) in India, the book is extant now only in fragments. Nevertheless, it provides a precious insight into what we were two thousand years ago. This should be essential reading for graduate level history students to develop a sense of pride in ourselves.

Eric Shipton’s Blank on the Map. Unlike every other Pakistani trekker who heads for the hills, all my mountain journeys have always had purpose. Shipton was an explorer-mountaineer and his various expeditions were for map-making. I have followed his footsteps, seen what he saw and through his work inherited some of his wisdom, knowledge and understanding of geography.

E Shipton’s autobiographical Upon that Mountain. Reading about great men may not make the reader great, but it certainly reveals the ingredients that made them what they were. A recounting of the life of arguably the greatest mountaineer-explorer of the 20th century teaches one essential life lesson: humility. Couple that with resolute singularity of purpose and you have success.

Robert Byron’s The road to Oxiana was published in the early 1930 to dramatically alter the concept of travel writing. It is a lively and playful recounting of a journey through Turkey and Iran to fulfil the obsession of seeing the Oxus River. Though not an architectural historian, Byron astonishes with his expertise on the subject.

Peter Fleming’s News from Tartary. When a correspondent of The Telegraph writes, it is only logical for the book be thus titled. Leaving Peking (Beijing) to travel across the heart of Asia to India, Fleming maintains a wonderfully clipped narrative holding the reader spellbound. Both Fleming and Byron should teach Pakistani travel writers that erudition is a must for this genre.

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posted by Salman Rashid @ 00:00,


At 8 December 2015 at 06:57, Blogger Ali Gohar said...

Your depth of knowledge and erudition amply reflects in your writings. The books referred by you will certainly pique the interest of our young readers to explore the glorious and eventful history of the region, and to take pride in their roots and culture. As for me, a relatively recent travel writer, Paul Theroux' " Dark Star Safari" has captivated my imagination. like no other book. I am so enamoured with his subtle wit and style that I have ordered another book authored by him titled "The Great Railway Bazar".

At 8 December 2015 at 09:03, Anonymous Salman Rashid said...

Ali Gohar, I have not read Dark Star Safari, but The Great Railway Bazaar is an old and highly favoured classic that I've read at least three times.

At 8 December 2015 at 09:17, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank You sir for the suggestions. Are Shipton's books available in Lahore?? Like at Sang e Meel

At 8 December 2015 at 10:04, Anonymous Salman Rashid said...

No, sir. These books are not available in Lahore or anywhere in Pakistan. Get them from Amazon.

At 9 December 2015 at 03:43, Blogger Muhammad Imran Saeed said...

Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy....
More to read, more to treasure. Thank you sir! for opening another dimension on the path of reading. I shall always stay indebted to your wisdom.
@Ali Gohar: here is one more seeker of The Great Railway Bazaar...

At 10 December 2015 at 16:54, Anonymous Salman Rashid said...

Imran Saeed, you are welcome to borrow something from me. But only if you cannot find it elsewhere. My copy of News from Tartary is however quite tattered!


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My Books

Deosai: Land of the Gaint - New

The Apricot Road to Yarkand

Jhelum: City of the Vitasta

Sea Monsters and the Sun God: Travels in Pakistan

Salt Range and Potohar Plateau

Prisoner on a Bus: Travel Through Pakistan

Between Two Burrs on the Map: Travels in Northern Pakistan

Gujranwala: The Glory That Was

Riders on the Wind

Books at Sang-e-Meel

Books of Days