February 2020 Non-FictionCat: Travel
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One of the joys of living, travel can add adventure, excitement, and knowledge to our lives. Whether we are travelling for pleasure or for business, to a new place or a familiar one, travel takes us out of our daily lives and gives us a chance to explore something new.
If we can’t actually be travelling at this immediate moment, then the next best thing is to read about travelling. So whether you are planning a trip, or simply want to do some armchair exploration, this month our non-fiction cat is looking at travel.
Just a few examples of travel books are:
In a Sunburnt Country by Bill Bryson
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
A Year In Provence by Peter Mayle
Blue Highways by William Least Heat-Moon
Kon-Tiki by Thor Heyerdahl
Enjoy your month of travel and exploration, let us know what you are going to be reading and please don’t forget to add your book(s) to the Wiki: https://wiki.librarything.com/index.php/2020_Non-fiction_CAT
I am off to the romantic city of Paris with Paris in Love a memoir by Eloisa James.
My online reading group is going to be reading the first half of The Odyssey in February, so I think that counts as travelling
I have chosen In A Sunburned Country or Down Under as it is called here. Someone else (and I am sorry that I cannot remember who!) was discussing it and thought it would be interesting for an Aussie to read it and see what it is like. It is still travel for me as I have by no means been to all the places in Australia!
I'm thinking of Dervla Murphy's Full Tilt: Ireland to India with a Bicycle. Also considering A Place Apart. I have a copy of Peter Fleming's News from Tartary which I'm interested in reading because it's the same trip as Forbidden Journey but the print is small, so it won't be easy.
Recommending a few favourite travel books: From the Holy Mountain by William Dalrymple; Bad Land by Jonathan Raban; Red Dust by Ma Jian; Imperium by Ryszard Kapuscinski. Adding James Fenton's All the Wrong Places.
>5 pamelad: I have been trying to find The Emperor by Ryszard Kapuscinski. But no library in Victoria has it. They do however have a biography about him which I have down for the biography non fiction month.
I have Full Tilt on my future list as well as next year I want to do a travel category of people who have travelled by walking or cycling. Last year I read The Amazing Story of the Man Who Cycled From India to Europe For Love - it was a lovely read.
I've earmarked Winter Studies and Summer Rambles, by Anna Brownell Jameson, for this challenge. It's an older travel memoir, and I found out about it on a road trip with my other half.
>10 pamelad: I may have to buy it as my library has absolutely none of his books in my whole state!
Ok, I'm leaning toward:
- Where Am I? / Colin Ellard
- I'm a Stranger Here Myself / Bill Bryson
>12 JayneCM: I just did a search on ZPortal and found it. I put in Shadow of the Sun, then narrowed the search down with Ryszard (because it has no accents and is shorter than Kapuscinski!). Or is your local library not participating in the Inter-library loan system? ETA Yes it is. Central Highlands Regional Library.
There are 3 copies of The Emperor on ZPortal.
>14 pamelad: Hmm, that is interesting. I do see that Eastern Regional have a copy on your search. I thought we could access pretty much all libraries in Victoria from our library but maybe that one isn't in our catchment. There are one or two systems that have not joined the Swift network - this must be one of them. What a pain!
I'll likely read Journey to the Alcarria by Camilo Jose Cela. It will fit this as well as the TravelKIT's "in translation" theme. I found it on someone's thread this month for city vs. countryside and thought it would be a good option for next month. It also fits Europe in the GeoCAT. One book--3 CATS/KITS! Good option for me!
I love travel books;
Travels with Charlie by Steinbeck
Wild by Nature: From Siberia to Australia, Three Years Alone in the Wilderness on Foot by Sarah Marquis
The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific by J. Maarten Troost
The Places in Between by Rory Stewart
The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey Candice Millard
Journey to the Alcarria: Travels through the Spanish Countryside A 1001 Book to Read Before You Die Camilo Jose Cela
The Windows of Brimnes: An American in Iceland Bill Holm
The Road to Oxiana Robert Byron
Notes from a Small Island Bill Bryson
Some of those that I've enjoyed.
I read Brazilian Adventure by Peter Fleming about ten years ago and really liked, even though some things are a bit shocking to the modern reader (I remember a mass killing of alligators just for the fun of it). For me the charm in the book lay in the somewhat goofy way this trip was planned, which was endearing though it made me roll my eyes. I heartily recommend it.
I'm tempted to stretch a bit the definition of travel and read We Crossed a Bridge and It Trembled: Voices from Syria that is about migration and has been on my wishlist for a while.
I've taken Blue Highways by William Least Heat-Moon from the library to read.
I've just finished Scottish Island Bagging which is a travel guide about, you guessed it, bagging the Scottish islands.
COMPLETED the first half of The Odyssey, which I think fits the theme of travel.
Three Men in a Boat and Three Men on the Bummel by Jerome K. Jerome are available free on Project Gutenberg. Content warnings: Victorian sexism & racism; the latter book also contains views about Germany that clearly emanate from a proud Englishman and might be offensive. Apart from all that, they're excellent reads, especially Three Men in a Boat which I have read about a dozen times. Of course, these are presented as nonfiction, but are most likely highly embellished accounts.
Dead Mountain: The Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident / Donnie Eichar
Nine Russian hikers disappeared in February 1959 while hiking in the Ural Mountains in Siberia. When they were found, their tent was all set up nicely, though it had a few rips, and their bodies were a ways from the tent. The oddest part was that they were in various states of (un)dress and not one of them was wearing their boots. This was in very cold -- far below freezing -- weather. The American author heard of the mystery and was interested in trying to figure out what happened.
The book was told in three different “parts” - the hikers (almost all in their early 20s), based on photos and diaries; the searchers, only a month to three months following the hikers’ disappearance; and the author’s trek to Russia to see what he could find out (including a trip to the place they disappeared, and interviews with a tenth hiker (in his 70s when the author met him), who had had to turn back early due to health issues).
I was particularly interested in the parts from the ‘50s. The author’s story, I didn’t find quite as interesting, until he came closer to the end where he ruled out many theories (and, of course, explained why he ruled them out), and put forth a scientific theory as to what may have caused the hikers to retreat from their tent, to ultimately succumb to the elements. There were plenty of photos included, as well.
I just finished the delightful Paris in Love by Eloisa James and I highly recommend this book to anyone who has ever wanted to run away to Paris for a year.
>30 DeltaQueen50: Oh! I've had that on my e-reader for a couple of years now, and I just happened to finish off my last e-book this morning! :-)
>31 Tanya-dogearedcopy: I hope you can fit it in - it's quite short and very easy to pick up and put down as she's written it in the form of journal entries.
>30 DeltaQueen50: This sounds lovely, I've added it to my library wishlist.
I have started Black Lamb and Grey Falcon by Rebecca West, which is about her travels in Yugoslavia in 1937. I am understanding the 1990s fighting between Serbs and Croats a lot better now even though I am only 100 pages into this 1100+ page book!
>36 Jackie_K: Thanks - West has already said some things I find offensive (such as when white American dancers do a certain movement, they descend into animals while it is perfectly acceptable and right for black Amercan dancers to make that same movement) but she clearly thinks in a way that is quite different from me so I try to ignore those comments. For instance, I would never have chosen to tour Yugoslavia in 1937! I suppose hindsight makes it seem more threatening than it seemed at the time but the Germans on the train with them were so full of comments & attitudes showing where Nazi Germany was heading...
>37 leslie.98: Yes, there are a few instances of 'of its time' racism which obviously do not sit comfortably at all! She's clearly not a fan of Germans (there's another German who takes up a large part of the book later on), and indulged in rather too much conjecture for my taste. But in parts, her writing is absolutely exquisite and she evoked the time and place so beautifully.
The March non-fiction thread, Biography, is up at https://www.librarything.com/topic/316758
I thought that We crossed a bridge and it trembled: Voices from Syria by Wendy Pearlman was about migrants out of Syria but it's about much more than that. Wendy Pearlman interviewed many, many syrian people who opposed the regime and left the country. She constructed a narrative, in the persons' own terms, of what was life in Syria since the rule of Hafez al-Assad, Bashar's father, and how things evolved under Bashar al-Assad, then the onset of the revolution and the war.
I am vastly ignorant about the history and geopolitics of this part of the world, so this was a real eye opener for me of how much the regime was oppressive before the revolution started, and how terrible the events since the start of the revolution have been. Pearlman is cautious in reminding the reader that she presents only the narratives of people who opposed the regime, and has not interviewed any supporter (she was conducting her interviews in the neighbouring countries), but still this is eye-opening. This was not at all a pleasant read, but I thought it was an important one.
I just finished reading Paris in Love (by Eloisa James), an account of the prolific romance writer's time that she and her family lived in Paris for a year. Following the death of her mother and following her own bout with breast cancer, Eloisa James seeks to reconnect with the the gloriousness of the "now" moments of life by escaping their suburban lives in New Jersey for the 9th arrondissement. The book is a collection of a few essays mixed with Facebook posts (no pictures) and is surprisingly wonderful for its slightness and for not being an actual novel. There is definitely an arc here though, a timeline as she and her family negotiate the cultural clashes and, take notice of the little things (food, fashion, the shops, the weather) with a rather poetic eye. I, myself have spent a couple weeks in France, and only a few days in Paris, but now I really want to go back-- this time for an extended stay. This travelogue of sorts has made me somewhat "homesick" in ways that other books about places I have visited have not.
(And thanks to >30 DeltaQueen50: for reminding me about this title! :-) )
You Are Here: Why We Can Find Our Way to the Moon, but Get Lost in the Mall / Colin Ellard
In this book, the author, a psychologist with a particular interest in navigation, explores why humans are so bad at finding their way. In the first section of the book, he compares us to various animals: birds, ants, bees, wasps, sea turtles, and more. In the second section, he looks at places/spaces like our houses, workplaces, cities, cyberspace and green spaces.
This was interesting. There were a few places where I tuned out a bit (during some of the scientific explanations mostly, but not all), but mostly I found it interesting. It’s no surprise that most animals are much better at navigation (for various reasons) than humans are. This was published in 2009, so the cyberspace chapter may be a bit outdated already.
I read Grandma Gatewood's Walk by Ben Montgomery. In 1955, 67 year old Emma Gatewood, tells her family she's going for a walk. She leaves her home in Ohio, heads to Georgia with minimal supplies, and becomes the first woman to hike the entire Appalachian Trail by herself in one go. The book focuses mostly on her travels on the trail, but also gives a background of her life as well as a history of the Trail. I feel like I want to go do this now. Or maybe at least the part near me in New Jersey.
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