East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Karavansara Reading Challenge: the Bookshelf

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So, the Karavansara Reading Challenge 2016 is getting real, and I have no idea of what it’s going to happen, or how.
It’s part of the fun, I guess.
We have an official start date – February the 16 2016. Peter Fleming and Ella Maillart left Peking on the 16th of February 1935, so it feels like the right day to start.


In the next days I’ll start posting contents that will be hopefully interesting for both active challenge participants, for lurkers and for passers-by.
Today, a short roundup of the Challenge Bookshelf, the stuff I’ll keep at hand in the next weeks…

Core Challenge Books

556661We already mentioned them a number of times.

. 1935 – Ella Maillart, Forbidden Journey
I will be using the Italian edition, called Oasi Proibite, a fine, cheap paperback published by travel specialist publisher EDT1.

. 1936 – Peter Fleming – News from Tartary
My old copy of the Fleming book, in the Birlinn trade paperback edition.

. 1988 – Stuart Stevens – Night Train to Turkistan
Thelatest entry in my collection, a trade paperback published by the Athlantic Monthly Press.


51bp5iRr43L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Sure, Google Maps and the Marble software are great tools, but I’ll add something more specific for support…

. The Ancient Silk Road
Described as an illustrated map featuring the ancient network of routes between China and Europe, this was published by Odyssey and might be helpful should we get lost between ancient and modern place-names.

. The Silk Road Countries 1:3.000.000 map
Covers modern Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central Asia, and it will be useful in the final leg of the Challenge.

Travel Guides

290262Because we might need some extra information…

. Judy Bonavia, The Silk Road Xi’an to Kashgar
My old Odyssey Guidebook seems to cover exactly the same terrain that our travelers covered in their books, and so we might use it to get extra info and clarification.

. Paul Wilson, The Silk Roads, A Route & Planning Guide
The ultimate resource for anyone planning a trip along the Silk Road, and therefore exactly what I need as a how-to handbook, even if my travel will be a virtual one.

. Central Asia – The Languages of the Silk Road
A pocket-sized phrasebook by Lonely Planet – because we might need to know the local lingo.

pack small

Other stuff

A sturdy pocket notebook and a pack of post-its and a few pens for notetaking.

Plus, of course, the internet, and any other book here on my shelves, should we get completely lost.

Anything I forgot?
Please tell me.

  1. Italians are quite lucky in this case, as the very good EDT edition of Maillart’s book goes for less than ten bucks, and is readily available. 

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

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