The Way of the World, by Nicolas Bouvier (Eland 2007, first published in 1963)

Neil's picture

The Way of the World tells the story of two friends, the author and artist Thierry Vernet, drive in a Fiat Topolino from Geneva to the Khyber Pass in the 1950s. They had little money, and stopped off in towns along the way to teach, sell paintings, and play music to earn enough to continue. It's an epic journey, in the vein of Patrick Leigh Fermor, with vivid descriptions and illustrations of local people, landscapes and extreme weather, both hot and cold. Long a cult book in France and the authors native Switzerland, it has had a slowly growing readership since Eland's first publication in English, and deservedly so. It's a travel classic, and the insights into mid-20th Century Iran and Afghanistan, especially, are of note.