Two Old Travel Books

I just finished Jules Verne book Around the World in 80 Days.  If you haen’t read it or seen the movies, it’s a classic travel adventure novel based in 1872 where the London-gentleman Phileas Fogg makes a bet that he can travel around the world in 80 days.  Jules dreamed up the book in a Parisian café after seeing an advertisement for taking an around the world tour.  The book is a good page turner and based in real places with the fictional characters.  The Skyler series of books that I’m writing will be similar and have Skyler travel to real places in each book.

The Jules Verne book was intriguing because of how Phileas went around the world on the latest technologies of steamships and trains.  The novel was based on the ability to be an around-the-world tourist because of the completion of the Transcontinental railroad and the Suez Canal.  I like the historical descriptions of various places from Suez to Bombay, Hong Kong to Yokohama and San Francisco to Salt Lake City.  The book is a great time capsule of the people and places in the book.

In Around the World in 80 Days, Phileas is not the least bit interested in the countries that he passes through and just jumps from train to boat and back.  He does fall in love on the journey with an Indian woman he saves from the funeral pyre of her deceased husband.  In the end, Jules says that finding his love was more important to Phileas than winning the $20,000 pound bet that is equivalent to over $2,000,000 today.

Last month, I finished Mark Twain’s book Innocents Abroad where Twain and a bunch of tourists went to Europe, Middle East and Africa on a steamer in 1867.  The book is a compilation of letters that he wrote for a newspaper about the trip.  Twain’s sarcasm and humor made it the best-selling book during his life – more than Huckleberry Finnn!  The book is one of the best-selling travel books of all time and gave Twain the freedom to waste his money on many money-losing ventures.

I’m taking note of the techniques in these books and how Twain and Verne made me laugh and kept me listening (I download audio books).  Around the World in 80 Days is much more similar to what I want to write since it develops characters and a plot instead of just Twain’s remarks of going from place to place. I want the places to be the background and influence the characters, but I still want the characters to be the driving force in the story.  I hope to learn from these masters so that I can be a great author as well.

PS. I also read a current travel adventure novel in the Jack Reacher series.  The book was interesting and I liked the mystery/detective part of the book, but I didn’t like the military aspect and couldn’t relate to the seriousness of Jack.  He was a little too James Bondish for me too.

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