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Travel Literature

Adventure

Far From Home: Father-Daughter Travel Adventures edited by Wendy Knight. 

A wonderful collection of writings about the travel adventure relationships between daughters and their fathers.  A friend and fellow travel writer Judy Wolf has an essay in this collection.  When Judy read her essay, The Alchemy of Dread and Daring,  at a recent bookstore appearance, there was hardly a dry eye in the audience.

Any parent and every daughter with travel in her veins should read Far From Home.  It will help both understand the feelings of the other about travel and adventure. 

 

Airline

Window Seat: Reading the Landscape from the Air by Gregory Dicum.

Have you ever looked out of the window of an airplane on a transcontinental flight and wondered where you were and what you were looking at?  Window Seat will help you answer this question by providing aerial photographs of familiar landmarks and labeled geographic and topographic features. 

What I would like to see is mile by mile photos along regular airline routes published by the airlines.  Until those guides come along this is your best choice for deciphering the topology of the world you are flying over.

 

Alaska

Upside Down: Seasons Among the Nunamiut by Margaret B. Blackman

"Offers a unique and deeply evocative picture of an at once disappearing and evolving world A vivid description of the people and the life of Anaktuvuk Pass, the essays in Upside Down are also an absorbing meditation on the changes that Blackman herself underwent during her time there, most wrench-ingly the illness of her husband, a fellow anthropologist, and the breakup of their marriage. Throughout, Blackman reflects in unexpected and enlightening ways on the work of anthropology and the perspective of an anthropologist evermore invested in the lives of her subjects. Whether commenting on the effect of this place and its people on her personal life or describing the impact of "progress" on the Nunamiut - the CB radio, weekend nomadism, tourism, the Information Superhighway - her essays offer a unique and deeply evocative picture of an at once disappearing and evolving world."

From the book flap

"In the roadless Brooks Range Mountains of northern Alaska sits Anaktuvuk Pass, a small, tightly knit Nunamiut Eskimo village. Formerly nomadic hunters of caribou, the Nunamiut of Anaktuvuk now find their destiny tied to that of Alaska’s oil-rich North Slope, their lives suddenly subject to a century’s worth of innovations, from electricity and bush planes to snow machines and the Internet. Anthropologist Margaret B. Blackman has been doing summer fieldwork among the Nunamiut over a span of almost twenty years, an experience richly and movingly recounted in this book.

A vivid description of the people and the life of Anaktuvuk Pass, the essays in Upside Down are also an absorbing meditation on the changes that Blackman herself underwent during her time there, most wrenchingly the illness of her husband, a fellow anthropologist, and the breakup of their marriage. Throughout, Blackman reflects in unexpected and enlightening ways on the work of anthropology and the perspective of an anthropologist evermore invested in the lives of her subjects. Whether commenting on the effect of this place and its people on her personal life or describing the impact of "progress" on the Nunamiut—the CB radio, weekend nomadism, tourism, the Information Superhighway—her essays offer a unique and deeply evocative picture of an at once disappearing and evolving world."

 

Asian Culture

I read a lot about Japanese culture.  The insights that I get from reading about Japan help me to better understand my own culture, better understand corporate cultures, and help me deal with all foreign cultures.

 Lost Japan by Alex Kerr.  My imagination of what Japan looks and feels like includes images of Zen gardens, women in kimonos, and delicate tea ceremonies.  Kerr's description of modern Japan paints a different picture filled with omnipresent power lines, fluorescent lights and garish pachinko parlors.  The Zen monasteries and all of the other images I conjure up still exist, but in isolated spots with a totally urbanized country.

If you are planning on visiting Japan this is a recommended book to prepare you for the reality of what you will encounter.  Kerr's writing is easy to read and understand.  What he conveys is enlightening.

The Road Through Miyama by Leila Philip.  This is the story of a young American woman who travels to a small town in Japan to study pottery.  What she learns about the Japanese process of learning is nothing short of amazing.  Philip speaks with a clear honest voice that sometimes expresses pain and frustration and other times the excitement and enthusiasm of discovery.  She overcomes her gender, being foreigner, and being student to learn a craft.  

France

Audio clip of Bogart saying, "We will always have Paris." From the film Casablanca (Order the film on DVD).  "Paris is for lovers" is an overly used cliché, but it is so accurate a statement that it is repeated.  Everywhere I went in Paris I saw couples holding hands, embracing, kissing, and sometimes having sex.  These couples were old and young and from all classes.  The great food, the wonderful culture, the beautiful light, the art, and the architecture all work together to produce atmosphere of romance.  It's palpable and it is infectious.  If you go to Paris with someone you love, plan to stay a few extra days.  If you don't you may miss some of the tourist attractions.

Paris

Food Lover's Guide to Paris, 4th edition by Patricia Wells.  "I love this book so much that I have given it as gifts to more friends than I can remember.  Patricia Wells made my stay in Paris enjoyably delicious.  If you are going to Paris, take this book with you.  If you are short on money, don't buy a travel guide, buy this book instead.  Anyone in Paris can tell you how to get to the museums.  Only Patricia Wells can tell you how and where to eat." Max Lent

Paris to the Moon by Adam Gopnik.  "If you have ever wondered what it would be like to really fulfill your fantasy of moving to Paris, this is the book to read.  Paris to the Moon to the moon starts slowly, but builds interest along the way.  Be careful where you are when you have read half the book, you may not be able to put it down until the end." Max Lent

Italy

Once in a great while a perfect little travel resource book gets sent to me for review.  Italy: Instructions for Use by Nan McElroy is one of those books.  A book that I took to Italy on my first trip was a Berlitz Italian Phrase Book which served me well.  I needed more than phrases, so I purchased other guides.  Unfortunately, my daypack became heavy with tour books of which only a few pages were of value.  What I needed was "Italy: Instructions for Use."

Most travelers from the U.S. spend far too little time vacationing.  That means that they are usually not in Italy long enough to require a full fledged language book, a book on Italian culture, and a book on how to live in Italy.  The short-term traveler's needs are few, but important.  McElroy's book provides just enough useful day to day information to make your trip enjoyable without weighting you down.  The book measures a mere 0.35 x 4.36 x 5.68 inches and easily fits in a pocket.

 

What you will not find in McElroy's book are guides to museums, restaurants, and attractions.  There are other books recommended on this Web site that will those needs.  This is the book that you take with you when you go out for an evening walk to a nearby Piazza for gelato.  My suggestion is to purchase this book and read it cover to cover on the plane.  It will prepare you nicely for what you will live when you get off the plane.

If I have one complaint about the book, it is the size of the type.  However, to complain about type size while applauding the books diminutive size is a contradiction.  On my next trip to Italy, "Italy: Instructions for Use" will be in my pocket.

Nepal

Video Night in Kathmandu : And Other Reports from the Not-So-Far East by Pico Iyer.  Simply put, Pico Iyer is the best living travel writer.  His perceptions are fresh and his writing is articulate.  Having walked the same streets Pico Iyer describes, I can tell you that he comes as close as possible to describing the feeling of Kathmandu.

Patagonia

Patagonia: At the Bottom of the World by Richard L. Lutz. 

Road Trips

Live Your Road Trip Dream by Phil and Carol White.

"Where would your journey take you if you had a whole year just to travel? But, perhaps you are thinking, "If only I knew how to start planning my adventure!"

Live Your Road Trip Dream is a detailed "how to" guide that will get you moving from the dreaming to the doing in no time at all.

Included is step-by-step, real-life information on planning the trip you've always wanted to take -- along with generous doses of humor and advice.

Once you've decided to "leave it all behind," Live Your Road Trip Dream takes you along on an action-packed, whirlwind tour of the authors' trip -- just to help you visualize what months on the road might really be like and to offer a glimpse into how decisions and discoveries are made along the way."

Visit Phil and Carol White's Web site at: http://www.roadtripdream.com/.

 

Travel Humor

Successful travelers have a great sense of humor.  If you can't laugh at being stranded in some malarial backwater village during a monsoon, you probably shouldn't be there.  If you can't go along with the humor when the locals of some far off culture make fun of you, you should have gone on a cruise.  One of the ways I know that I have achieved adventurous travel is when things have gone so bad that I can only laugh at my situation.

Pass the Butterworms : Remote Journeys Oddly Rendered
by Tim Cahill.  No two books written by Tim Cahill are the same.  He always finds new ways to get into trouble, have a great time, and spin tall tales.  This book is no exception.  Buy it and enjoy it!

Pecked to Death by Ducks (Vintage Departures)
by Tim Cahill.  Tim Cahill's writings will tickle your funny bone.  If you have read Outside magazine, you have probably ready some of Tim Cahill's articles.  Don't start reading this when you go to bed with your spouse.  Keeping a spouse up until the wee hours with your chuckling and laughter, especially on a weeknight, could lead to marital problems.

 


 
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