This season, we are so excited to collaborate with Fathom on the third edition of our Passport box: passport 03 x Fathom, and share Pavia Rosati’s and Jeralyn Gerba’s stunning picks with you! For our past passport boxes, we selected books to take on your travels, and now, Pavia and Jeralyn have selected the books to inspire us to travel, to wander to explore, and to grow. I had the opportunity to chat with Pavia and Jeralyn, the founders of Fathom, one of our absolute favorite places to wander online. All images are provided by Fathom. Happy wandering . . .
QL: How did Fathom start? I love hearing the stories behind that very first spark of an idea — would you be willing to share that beginning flash of inspiration for Fathom?
PR: Fathom is the travel website that we felt was missing. We built it for ourselves, to help us explore and celebrate discoveries and stories all over the world.
JG: At the time of the website’s launch, Pavia was living in London and I was playing house in Berlin — so it felt particularly salient to develop a business to help people (ourselves included) become better travelers and global citizens.
QL: What are your favorite books to bring on a trip? Is there one particular genre you turn to when traveling?
PR: I read “A Moveable Feast” on the train when I first went to Paris when I was twenty, and ever since I’ve tried to read the books set in the place I’m visiting. Among my favorites are Jeanette Winterson’s “The Passion” in Venice, the stories of Paul Bowles (the scarier, the better) in Morocco, Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels on the Amalfi Coast, and, most recently, “Havana,” Mark Kurlansky’s latest, in Cuba.
JG: I couldn’t agree more. From memoirs to novels, having the opportunity to read something contextual to the place you are visiting feels really luxurious. Some of my favorite memories of traveling in Central America are linked to reading “100 Years of Solitude” by Gabriel García Márquez. I loaded up on H.V. Morton in Italy and read Orwell while winding my way through Myanmar. I felt like I needed to visit sites mentioned on the pages, which made for some nice detours, and some wild goose chases, while traveling.
QL: Any books that give you that feeling of travel, or escape?
PR: Isn’t the point of every good book to evoke escape in some way? That’s what travel is for me — escape. Even if I’m doing it from my living room or on my iPhone in the subway.
JG: Even when I am staying put, E.B. White’s account of the Big Apple in “Here Is New York,” gives me an adrenaline rush. Similarly, I remember sitting in NYC’s Washington Square Park as a teenager, reading Kerouac’s “On the Road,” and feeling energized by the craziness that comes with wide, open spaces.
QL: I imagine you’ve come across some amazing bookstores on your travels — would you be willing to share a few “must-visits”?
PR: Can I just lament for a second that in our Amazonian Age, I don’t come across as many interesting bookstores as I’d like? That’s why Powell’s in Portland and the used bookstores of Seattle in the grungy 1990s spring to mind as the Platonic ideal of bookstores. Also from my college days, Politics and Prose in Washington, DC, and Pegasus Books in Berkeley. And although it’s not terribly original of me, more recently, I’d give the prize to Daunt Books in London. The one on the Marylebone High Street.
JG: Stumbling upon a quirky old bookstore can feel like hitting the jackpot. Bart’s Books of Ojai is half inside, half outside. It feels like a flea market and a camp site and hippie enclave and a library all in one. I tell everyone to go to the Winding Stair in Dublin, which is really adorable and has a charming restaurant above it. Argosy Bookstore in Manhattan is a living museum — the last of its kind.
QL: I often feel that a good book can become a totally immersive experience, almost like going on a trip. For me, it’s Hemingway every time, whether to Spain, France or the fishing boat, I am right there with him. Are there any books or authors that you find carry you on an immersive, almost travel-like experience?
PR: Above all, H.V. Morton’s Italy series.
JG: I want to take a walk in the woods with Helen MacDonald! She’s an English author and naturalist and a falconer whose essays on animals and the natural world are incredibly, deeply moving.
QL: A classic question — who are three authors, alive or deceased, with whom you’d love to share a meal — and which meal? (I tend to love a long and lingering lunch).
PR: I’d have cocktails with Dorothy Parker to talk about men, work, and living in NYC. I’d have spaghetti with Edith Wharton, though she’d probably order a Cobb salad. And hazelnut gelato for dessert with Gertrude Stein because a rose is a rose is a rose.
JG: A drive-thru milkshake with Joan Didion. A late-night meal (several courses, obviously) with Robert Caro. A picnic lunch anywhere in the world with Alice Walker.
QL: Where are your travels taking you next? What are you most excited to see?
PR: I’m in Morocco at the moment. I travel at least once a month, but almost never know where I’m going next.
JG: I have been in Croatia and Montenegro all week — and will meet up with Pavia in Marrakech next. There are so many places I want to visit and revisit that it’s impossible to jot them all down. Back home, I want to make my way through all of America’s National Parks.
QL: What’s next for Fathom? Any exciting projects on the horizon?
PR: In addition to our redesigned website, we’ll keep bringing readers amazing stories from around the world, and then helping them make their own travel stories happen.
JG: We’re fine-tuning our travel agency services and looking at new ways to tell stories beyond words on a page.