The longtime "New Yorker" columnist's jaunty, round-the-world voyage by sea west from Hollywood to "all the areas celebrated by Kipling, Conrad and Maugham," then to the Middle East and Europe -- in all, 27 countries in nine months.

The endorsement

"A great funny travel writer was the late lamented S.J. Perelman. People thought he invented his wild tales set in Africa, China, Singapore, Israel and elsewhere -- in "Westward Ha!" and "The Swiss Family Perelman" -- but most of his travel stories were only one inch from the truth." -- Paul Theroux, author of "The Great Railway Bazaar" and "Mr. Bones," coming out September 30.

The funny

"I found myself in a very dim night club, teaching an exophthalmic Hungarian girl the Cubanola glide. The next morning I felt remarkably listless and there was an outbreak of beef Stroganoff on my tie as though I were coming down with a fever, but these symptoms soon passed, and by noon I was able to keep down a little clear broth made of Angostura, lemon peel and bourbon."

5. "The Great Railway Bazaar" (1975)

By Paul Theroux

The trip

Theroux's epic train voyage from London to Tokyo and back -- with stops in Iran, India, Thailand, Russia, Poland and more -- is both an eloquent travel time capsule and chronicle of timeless human foibles.

The recommendation

"A lot of people mistake Theroux's deadpan humor as grumpiness, but I love the way this book captures the hardship and absurdity of long, overland journeys and the slightly strange people you meet.

"Witty and clever rather than laugh-out-loud, it also contains my favorite quote about Australian travelers ever: 'At my lowest point, when things were at their most desperate and uncomfortable, I always found myself in the company of Australians, who were like a reminder that I'd touched bottom.'

"It makes me happy to think that I might be marking the bottom for someone nowadays." -- Peter Moore, author of "Vroom with a View" and "Vroom by the Sea."

The funny

"'It all looks absolutely hideous,' said Molesworth. But he was smiling. 'I think I'm going to like it.'"

4. "The Innocents Abroad" (1869)

By Mark Twain

The trip

A much-publicized 1867 transatlantic cruise from the United States to multiple ports of call in Europe and the Holy Land results in a breathtaking series of cranky one-liners and trenchant observation from America's classic humorist.

The recommendation

"The daddy of all travel books is 'The Innocents Abroad' by Mr. Mark Twain in which he said that a man never knows what a consummate ass he can be until he goes overseas. And 'Foreigners spell better than they pronounce.' Written in 1867 but still, miraculously, funny today." -- Garrison Keillor, host of "A Prairie Home Companion" and author of "Lake Wobegon Days," "The Keillor Reader" and more than 20 books.

The funny

"A street in Constantinople is a picture which one ought to see once -- not oftener."

3. "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again" (1997)

By David Foster Wallace