December 2021

by Jeremy Bassetti

We blink and December is here. The sun’s arc over the horizon grows smaller and smaller. Darkness consumes. Cold penetrates. But sometime near the end of the month, the sun will appear to stop moving southward. December brings pause and celebration. We don’t pause just to reflect on what we’ve done or where we’ve been. We celebrate the future — what we will do and where we will go. There is much to be hopeful for. What else can we do but be hopeful?

I write you from Florida, where there is little to complain about. The weather is beautiful. Covid numbers haven’t been so high. But now I’m trapped indoors, achey and feverish. The booster dose has done a number on me, a one-two punch to be specific. But I’m hopeful, if a little stiff. New projects are on the horizon. New pages (and not just the calendar’s) will be turned. And, dear reader, wherever you are in the world, I hope you — despite the darkness and the cold, the news and the virus — can also find something to look forward to in 2022.

Until then, here are some links of interest:

Last month we published

A few “postcards” from Italy, Spain, and England (Postcards Newsletter) on my website
A podcast with Tharik Hussain about his book Minarets in the Mountains on Travel Writing World
A podcast with Jordan Salama about his book Every Day the River Changes on Travel Writing World
A podcast with Pamela Petro about her book The Long Field on Travel Writing World
A bonus podcast episode with J.R. Patterson about writing book reviews on Travel Writing World
An author profile of Jordan Salama on Travel Writing World
A book excerpt of Jamie McDonald’s Adventureman: Running America on Travel Writing World
A review of Edward Stanton’s Vidas: Deep in Mexico and Spain on Travel Writing World

🗺 Stanford’s book of the month is Brilliant Maps: An Atlas for Curious Minds. They also have a few of in-person author talks scheduled for December.

👂 Jo Frances Penn speaks with Sarah Hinlicky Wilson about borders and empire, and with Peter Fiennes about Greece on her Books and Travel Podcast.

🐪 Ryan Murdock has a special guest planned next month for his Personal Landscapes Podcast.

🇦🇫 Taran Khan writes about life in an uncertain Afghanistan.

✈️ William Atkins edited Granta 157: Should We Have Stayed at Home? New Travel Writing.

🛬 Rick Steves on the return of travel and why It matters.

🐒 Jake Cline asks “What do we owe animals?” New books reevaluate our relationship to the natural world.

📸 November was photography month at the Talking Travel Writing newsletter. Check out the archives here

📝 Some writing insights from Gary Younge for the Always Take Notes podcast.

🐧 The Justice Department sues to stop Penguin Random House’s purchase of Simon & Schuster.

🇯🇵 Craig Mod is on another 500km+ walk across Japan. Follow along here.

🏆 Damon Galgut’s book The Promise won the 2021 Booker Prize.

✍️ Jan Morris on her career, as compiled by Rolf Potts. 

🔊 Rick Steves and Pico Iyer talk about travel writing on Travel With Rick Steves.

🚂 Monisha Rajesh talks trains on Little Atoms.

📫 The Rendez-vous Carnet de Voyage was held in Clermont-Ferrand, France on Nov 19-21.  

🏆 Nat Geo UK announced the 2021 winners of its Travel Writing Competition.

🤩 Review: How a SoCal travel writer found beauty in the ugly places by Nathan Deuel.

🗺 Cassidy Randall asks us if we want to find wonder in our fully mapped world?

👨‍💻 Thomas Swick muses on what the end of the Best American Travel Writing says about travel writing.

👩‍💻 A short article on how the internet saved and also killed travel writing for InsideHook.

✒️I somehow missed this profile on Colin Thubron in the Financial Times.

🏔 Suzanne Simard’s book Finding the Mother Tree won the 2021 Banff Mountain Film and Book Grand Prize.

📸 Pamela Paul writes how photos are too flattering now for The Atlantic.

🏝 Tim Leffel offers some suggestions on becoming a good travel writer.

📸 Steve McCurry posted a collection of images on his blog on the theme of family meals just in time for the holidays.

📷 Steve also gave an interview for The Times.

📰 JoAnna Haugen thinks about “writing” the wrongs in travel media.

🎖 The 2021 Nan Shepherd Prize longlist has been announced. 

🏅 The 2021 Highland Book Prize longest has also been announced.

🥇 Patrick Radden Keefe’s Empire of Pain won the 2021 Baillie Gifford Prize.

😔 Remembering Barry Lopez, lyrical travel writer and ecological prophet.

📉 According to Jane Friedman, NPR and Edison Research released a report on spoken word audio, which includes consumption of radio, podcasts, and audiobooks. Consumption of travel, history, and memoir programming has decreased by 22, 13, and 17 percent respectively since 2019. Download the PDF

🙅‍♂️ Levison Wood tweeted about his experiences trying to find a publisher for his first book. 

🇮🇳 The 2022 Jaipur Literature Festival’s speakers are being announced.

🎭 Stephen Sondheim on endings

🌳 Stephen Moss offers his 2021 nature book roundup.

👸 The reigning queen of travel writing Dervla Murphy turned 90. Praise from Deskbound Traveller, Halfman, Halfbook, Irish Examiner, Stanford’s, and more.

📚 Jane Friedman gives some advice on writing a book proposal

📝 It is the “best travel books of the year” season. Weighing in are Travel Pulse, Smithsonian Magazine, Financial Times, Forbes (with a second “travel memoir” list), Washington Post, etc.

Books received

🧳 Bill Colegrave. Scraps of Wool: A Journey Through the Golden Ages of Travel Writing. Unbound, 2017
🇧🇴 Ursula Pike. An Indian Among Los Indígenas. Heyday Books, 2021.

Back matter

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