I love to travel. I love traveling– the act of getting from place to place. I’m also a voracious reader, so these things go hand in hand. I have not given over to a Kindle or a Nook, and sometimes I feel like I may be one of the only people left reading hard copy books. (Am I?) If I’m going to be away for more than 10 days, there will be at least two paperback books tucked away in my luggage.
So what do I read? Anything I can get my hands on. I love fiction – children’s literature, murder mysteries, law thrillers, and of course, travel literature. Through recommendations from friends, and sometimes just a good feeling at a used bookstore, I’ve picked up some excellent reads. Here’s a list, in no particular order, of what has traveled with me over the last year...
- A Year in the World: Journeys of a Passionate Traveler by Frances Mayes
Yes, she did write Under the Tuscan Sun and no, I have not read it (or watched it). But I did read this one, encountering one of the best phrases ever: “Two of my favorite words are linked: departure time.” Be advised this is no backpacker’s tale .. Mayes does let slip that she charters a boat here and rents a villa there; not for the average wallet.
- A Year in the Merde by Stephen Clark
Red, white and $#!T. A hysterical look at a year in the life of a Brit gone Frog, covering everything from food to sex to a house in the country in Paris, France.
- Tales of a Female Nomad: Living at Large in the World by Rita Golden Gelman
This was my first read focusing on (1) women and (2) solo travel. I was not disappointed. To read this book is to travel alongside Gelman – to share her fears and cheer for her success. One day I hope our paths cross and we can post up at a café somewhere and trade secrets.
- A House Somewhere: Tales of Life Abroad by Lonely Planet
A gift from my friend Holly, and a true testament to wanderlust. Very different stories from from different locations. Authors write about setting up shop in a foreign country and finding a way to make it their own. Tales range from funny to curious to strange.
- Expat: Women’s True Tales of Life Abroad by Christina Henry de Tessan
One of the women writing in this collection said: “Your first foreign country speaks to you as no subsequent one can.” She was talking about Spain, and about my life. At least, I like to think so!
- Driving Over Lemons: An Optimist in Andalucia by Chris Stewart
I was lucky enough to meet Chris this past year at an engagement in Seville during the International Film Festival. He is a charming Brit who once played with the band Genesis, and gave up his life to move abroad. My bias shines through with regard to Andalucia, but he does have a way with words. If you like this, you can look for Parrot in a Pepper Tree and Almond Blossom Society .. but you may have to get them shipped from the UK.
- It’s Not About the Tapas: A Spanish Adventure on Two Wheels by Polly Evans
She rides a bike, she encounters troubles transporting said bike, and has the Pyrenees in the background the whole time. Not one of my favorites, but duh – Spain.
- Foreign Babes in Beijing: Behind the Scenes of a New China by Rachel DeWoskin
I had no idea what this was when I picked it up, but I was surprised to see that it followed an American girl who schlepped to China and worked in a PR firm by day and on a racy TV drama by night. What are the odds? An interesting read.
- Journey to Portugal: In Pursuit of Portugal’s History and Culture by José Saramago
So this guy won a Nobel Prize for literature. Does this mean I loved this book? No. Sadly, I could not get into a rhythm with his narrative choice (“the traveler” as third person main character). His passion for the topic is clear, but sometimes acted as a roadblock rather than a motivator.
- Without Reservations: The Travels of an Independent Woman by Alice Steinbach
Yes, one more about women traveling solo. What can I say? This is my life! Steinbach takes a sabbatical from real life and tries to “find” herself. She sends herself postcards and dedicates herself to discovering each city, and her own emotions about the place it belongs in her life.
- Traveling with Pomegranates: A Mother Daughter Journey to the Sacred Places of Greece, Turkey and France by Sue Monk Kidd
Sue wrote “The Secret Life of Bees,” which I enjoyed. My mom and I both read this one and found several false starts and an overall unsatisfying story. We’ve never traveled together but I daresay this is a damn good excuse to try!
What are you reading? Feel free to leave some recommendations.