Free: Read 9 Travel Books Online by Monty Python’s Michael Palin

Image cour­tesy of Chipps
Most of us come to Michael Palin through his work as a com­ic actor (in the role of dead par­rot sales­man or oth­er­wise), but at this point almost as many know him sec­ond as a found­ing mem­ber of Mon­ty Python, and first as an affa­ble glo­be­trot­ter. That part of his career began in 1988, when he host­ed the Earth-cir­cum­nav­i­gat­ing BBC trav­el series Around the World in 80 Days. (See an episode here.) Its suc­cess has led him, over the sub­se­quent 27 years, onto fur­ther (and far­ther-flung) tele­vised jour­neys: from the North Pole to the South, around the Pacif­ic Rim, in the adven­tur­ous foot­steps of Ernest Hem­ing­way, across the Sahara, up the Himalayas, across the “new” cen­tral and east­ern Europe, around the world again, and most recent­ly through Brazil.

Not con­tent to set a high water­mark for trav­el tele­vi­sion, Palin has also writ­ten a com­pan­ion book for each series, lav­ish­ly col­lect­ing maps, pic­tures, and his own trav­el diaries. Those last reveal a more nuanced side of “the nicest chap in Britain,” whose famous­ly easy­go­ing, def­er­en­tial, and unsur­pris­ing­ly good-humored per­sona place him so well to deal with the world’s stag­ger­ing vari­ety of peo­ple, places, and incon­ve­niences. “I can sum­mon up noth­ing but res­ig­na­tion at the thought of cook­ing with the locals all morn­ing, then hav­ing to lis­ten to music and songs I don’t under­stand for the rest of the after­noon,” he writes after wak­ing up on yet anoth­er island, in an entry excerpt­ed in last year’s Trav­el­ling to Workthe lat­est pub­lished vol­ume of his life’s diaries. “And, worst of all, hav­ing to look as if I’m enjoy­ing it.”

But these books also reveal that most of the time, Palin real­ly is enjoy­ing it. His insa­tiable curios­i­ty (not to men­tion his inex­orable pro­duc­tion sched­ule) dri­ves him con­tin­u­ous­ly ahead, a curios­i­ty in which you, too can share now that he’s made all these books free to read online at Click on the links/titles below, and then look for the prompts that say “Dis­cov­er the Series Here” and, below that, “Start Read­ing the Book.”

And if you make a free account at the site, it will even allow you to you keep vir­tu­al “book­marks” in as many of the books as you like, guar­an­tee­ing that you won’t get lost amidst this wealth of trav­el con­tent. But if you choose to fol­low Pal­in’s exam­ple and actu­al­ly get out there into every cor­ner of the world, well, no such anti-lost­ness guar­an­tees exist — but as every fan of Pal­in’s Trav­els knows, those very com­pli­ca­tions make it worth­while. As least you won’t have a five-man crew trail­ing behind.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Trains and the Brits Who Love Them: Mon­ty Python’s Michael Palin on Great Rail­way Jour­neys

Michael Palin’s Tour of the Best Loved Mon­ty Python Sketch Loca­tions

Col­in Mar­shall writes on cities, lan­guage, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer, and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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