Discovering a Sense of Place


Imagine being in a room with all your favorite travel writers and having conversations about writing, travel, and life. That’s what Michael Shapiro’s A Sense of Place is all about.

A travel writer himself, although at that stage mostly writing about travel-tech issues, Michael Shapiro was looking to ‘learn from the masters’ by interviewing successful travel writers in their own homes.

For two years he traveled the world, reading only the best travel books and seeking out those who wrote them in an effort to discover what shapes and influences them in the book writing process.

Shapiro saw this as a means of creating his own ‘personal graduate school‘ where he could ‘soak up knowledge and wisdom by osmosis‘. Luckily, we are also allowed admission to this school.

In meeting and talking with 18 of the world’s top travel writers, most of whom would preferred not to be called a ‘travel writer’, Sharipo was able to piece together a fascinating collection of tips, tidbits, and useful insighs into how one’s travel and experiences gets translated into words, sentences, articles, and books.

sense of place bookWant to know the secret to success as a travel writer?

According to Bill Bryson, who gets asked this all the time, “the secret is you just pound a path to the top of the mountain. You don’t just sort of levitate your way up.”

Meanwhile, Sarah Wheeler tells aspiring travel writers “to read all the time.”

Isabel Allende on how to create a sense of place in your writing: “…describe it with the senses…the smell, the color, the temperature, the texture, how you feel time, because time varies in every place.”

Arthur Frommer has this advice for aspiring travel writers – “…I tell people who want to write guidebooks or magazine articles to simply perform a audition – make believe they are writing about some aspect of their own community for a guidebook…go out and do the research and write it up. If you are good at it, if you are truly talented, it will be recognized.”

Anyone who loves travel books will love Sharipo’s Sense of Place.

But the book is not just about travel writing. In conversations he has with each writer, the topic more often than not veers off into politics or history or art, allowing the reader insider glimpse of the people behind the writing. Get it at Amazon in paperback or Kindle version.



  1. Tim February 24, 2014
  2. Kristin February 25, 2014
  3. Liz February 26, 2014

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