St Albans author goes around the world from the comfort of his armchair

John Brookes - photo by Lyn Todd

John Brookes - photo by Lyn Todd - Credit: Archant

He has walked the gritty streets of East London, experienced life as a concierge in Paris, dropped in on tranquil San Marino and ended up in a post-soviet Russian tenement – all from the comfort of his own home.

Now, St Albans author John Brookes has turned his literary experiences into a book of his own.

After realising it would take too much time and cost too much to travel to all the countries he dreamed of visiting, the modern day Phileas Fogg mapped out a plan to experience the multitude of different continents, cultures and civilisations without breaking the bank.

The explorer, who is based in Marshalswick, has been travelling the globe from his armchair by reading over 120 books published by international authors. He had some strict requirements when choosing his authors, though – the books must be published before 1990, translated into English or French and cannot be travel guides, but must reasonably represent the country he is travelling around.

John embarked on his literary voyage to over 270 destinations in 2009, beginning in England and has since visited countries like Greece, Senegal and Togo. For the larger countries like China and Russia, the adventurer read a book from each major region.

Now, the globe-trotter has compiled all of his new-found knowledge of these countries to create his own account of his travels. The first volume, Reading the World: A Global Journey through Literature, was released in October and details the first year of his journey between England and Russia, with helpful reviews of the hundreds of novels he has pored over to help him along the way.

Incredibly, all of John’s journeys between countries are as realistic as they would be if he was actually travelling there.

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He said: “It has been fascinating to note the often convoluted route that one needs to take to travel across a simple land border due to a region’s politics, a prime example being between Israel and Palestine.”

John added: “In my book you will join me not just in the written accounts by each country’s host author; but in interminable journeys in rickety buses, meandering river cruises through dense jungle, off road excursions in unofficial ‘taxis’ and numerous flights in planes of varying airworthiness.

“And there is more to come – I still have six more continents to explore!”

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