30 Days to Change Your Life

St. Francis' olive grove, Assissi

Italian Olive Grove

Destination: Italy

Book Cover: A Month in Italy
Book: A Month of Italy: Rediscovering the Art of Vacation (NEW 2012) by Chris Brady

This book alternately amused me and annoyed me.  The subject is promising–a family of six, already widely traveled, decides to get away from the pressure of everyday life in America for a month in Italy.

Mostly, the father, Chris Brady, author of

A Month of Italy Rediscovering the Art of Vacationdecides HE needs to get away from HIS business.  Since he and his wife Terri home school their four children, he uses the educational opportunities as a selling point to his wife.  However, if his portrayal of Terri is accurate, she pretty much goes along with whatever Chris comes up with.

We never learn if Terri also sees this as a chance to “get away” but with four children to look after while Chris takes off for rides in the hills of Tuscany on his motorcycle or in the villa for his writing time, Terri has shopping to do and meals to cook and four children to round up.  It does not sound like much of a break from HER busy-ness at Mommy, Inc.

Italian countryside

Hills of Italy

In spite of the annoyances in A Month of Italy, Brady gets points for sharing some really interesting facts and trivia about Italy; and for not painting his children as adorable little geniuses.  The kids come off as pretty normal. And I love the great travel quotes at the beginning of each chapter.  My hat is off to Brady (or an assistant) who came up with this collection, which could almost make a book in themselves, since there are 38 chapters. On the other hand, it reminds us that what it takes Brady 11 pages to say, was once summed up pretty neatly in a line or two.

Chris Brady, when he is not selling the idea of lengthy vacations, is a bombastic, hard-sell, inspirational speaker and writer. (If you question the description, take a listen to his “welcome” video on the books website.) His mission is to convince American business people to take a lengthy vacation. In A Month of Italy, he aims squarely at the people whom his own business teaches (with books and seminars)  how to strive for success.

However,  a month off sounds a bit tame in the face of the blossoming number of websites and blogs devoted to people with or without partners and children  who sell everything and take to the world-wide road.  From solo travelers like Barbara at Hole in the Donut, to the family of three in Soul Travelers 3 and from the Canadian couple, the Hecks who house sit, to the Indie Budget Travel Podcast couple  from New Zealand who couch surf around the world, we are inundated with examples of people for whom a month is small potatoes. Not to mention major companies like Intel, who grant regular sabbaticals.

Roman Soldier on the Via Imperiale

Roman Soldier on the Via Imperiale in Rome

When he is not lecturing us, Chris Brady cracks wise about just about everything…poking fun at himself for adventures with the rental van which doesn’t quite fit into Italian parking spaces, let along medieval villages in Tuscany. He makes fun of his ignorance of fine food and wine, calling himself a “food Neanderthal.” About getting scammed by the fake Roman Guards at the coliseum. And we hear about his misadventures with the language, which definitely should not be one of the subjects for his home schooling of the kids, if we are to believe his self characterization.

But, see, I’m doubting several things Chris relates.  We’re supposed to believe that neither he nor his wife know the name of the town on the Amalfi Coast where the first villa they booked is located.  At least they know the name of the villa, and Terri has the good sense to call the manager for directions.  I particularly have doubts about his kids enthusiasm for his long-winded expositions on history. He does admit their limit at one point, when after a day of touring the Vatican,

“We finally left without climbing to the top of the dome or touring the crypts of former popes below…Seeing the body of deceased Pope John XXIII in a glass coffin didn’t even interest the kids.  That’s when I knew they had had it.”

And I did mention that Brady is long-winded?  I suspected logorrhea might be the diagnosis, when I saw the length of the book.  Brady describes 30 days in 332 pages. (Not counting appendices.) Eleven pages per day?  To me, that indicates a serious lack of a stern editor axing repetitions and extraneous detail. Selectivity? Not much. Focus? Scattered. Is this a travelogue of Italy? Yes. An education in Italian history? Yes. Is this a how-to-travel with a family of six? Yes. Is this what Brady repeatedly SAYS it is–an inspiration to workaholics to take a long break? Yes. Does this book extol Slow Travel? Yes. Could that be a few too many foci? Yes.

You must decide for yourself if the nuggets of information and the wisecracks are sufficient reward for reading this motivational travel book.

The web site for the book shares plenty of interesting information, and I think as a traveler who reads, you’ll particularly like Chris Brady’s suggestions for further reading on Italy. You will find his book recommendations here.

Here is a video from the author’s webpage (also found on You Tube) in which he reads from the book.

Are you among the people who needs to get more than a two-week vacation? or even be convinced to take the vacation coming to you?

Disclaimers:  The book was provided for review, with no guarantees of the outcome.  All the pictures here are mine. The video is available publicly on You Tube. The links to Amazon enable you to buy the book if you wish, and at the same time support A Traveler’s Library. It costs no more when you shop through our Amazon links, but we make a few cents. Go on, buy anything you want. Thanks!

A freelance writer who loves to travel. When she is not traveling she is reading about travel. When she is not reading or traveling, she is sharing with the readers of A Traveler’s Library, recreating her family’s past at Ancestors In Aprons. She writes frequently for Reel Life With Jane and other websites. Also co-author of a biography, Quincy Tahoma, The Life and Legacy of a Navajo Artist. Contact Vera Marie by e-mail.

Vera Marie Badertscher – who has written posts on A Traveler's Library.

About Vera Marie Badertscher

A freelance writer who loves to travel. When she is not traveling she is reading about travel. When she is not reading or traveling, she is sharing with the readers of A Traveler's Library, recreating her family's past at Ancestors In Aprons. She writes frequently for Reel Life With Jane and other websites. Also co-author of a biography, Quincy Tahoma, The Life and Legacy of a Navajo Artist. Contact Vera Marie by e-mail.

9 thoughts on “30 Days to Change Your Life

  1. I absolutely loved this book! Mr. Brady spends a couple chapters detailing what a vacation really is and why people in America need to take them. He shows how research points to one month a year vacations are the best for optimum performance for the whole year. Then he spends all the rest of the book describing his vacation–the adventures, the missteps, the education, the family time (which, it seems, is his most valued part of the vacation, both quality and quantity time with his wife and children), the sights, the non-musical concerts, the blues bands, the driving and parking issues, and the incredible self-deprecating sense of humor. He even let’s his wife write a chapter about her away time learning how to cook Italian! This book reads like an action-adventure movie, including the attacking swarm of bleating sheep (gotta watch out for those meanies!). After reading this book, my to-do list grew and I now know some things in Italy I must do and a few things to avoid as well. A wonderful book that my wife, children and I will talk about for a long time (especially the attacking sheep). I’d recommend this book to anyone–it’s a smooth writing style, simple to read, hard to put down, exciting, and after reading this you’ll feel like you were actually there.

  2. I am very taken back by your luke warm review of this book. I just finished reading “A Month In Italy” and I thoroughly enjoyed it. As a business owner and a father of 4, it was hard for me to imagine taking a month off for vacation but this author cast a vision for me that was extremely compelling. I loved his writing style and how he wove together humor, great stories, and inspiration in every chapter. This book has inspired me to prioritize restoration into my calendar and I am so excited to help my kids experience more of the world while they are still young. I have already told more than a dozen of my friends about this book and I am optimistic that they will have a similar experience. I sincerely recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn how to create more balance in their life.

  3. Wait, we’re allowed to take a month off? That memo must be lost on my ultra-cluttered desk! I so need a month off. I’ll just start with a day and go from there.

    And I appreciate your honest appraisal of the book, Vera. You’re here to give *your opinion on the book and its readability, which varies from person to person.

  4. I read this book in four days (which would have been one had I not deliberately -and reluctantly- stopped at chapter 23 to savor the remaining chapters) You, in my opinion, missed the point of the book on so many levels I don’t know where to start. First, you mention whether or not his wife got a break. Are you part of a couple? Did you raise children? Of course she didn’t get a break, nor did he. You don’t take a break from being part of a couple or being a parent if you’re good at either role. He wanted strongly to do something with his family and got everyone to want the same thing. That’s teamwork. I, as a mother of four, certainly have enjoyed any chance I have had to do the familiar in unfamiliar surroundings. Even camping is fun because it’s different and helps one to notice things that get missed on ‘normal’ days, but it’s not really a break.
    You then go on to say he’s long winded. If someone’s looking for a travel brochure, I am sure they can find one. This is a BOOK. As in LITERATURE. As in story telling, transferring a feeling, sharing an experience. I felt like I was there, smelled the smells, heard the sounds, met the people and saw the views. I will even go so far as to say since reading this I feel my appreciation for my day to day life has grown… as has my determination to go on my own radical sabbatical! Don’t let a critic dampen your spirit~ read this book and discover the lost art of vacation!

    1. I fully realize that every reader will have a different reaction. I can only give mine, and so I’m glad to hear from someone who disagrees.
      While I know that many people stint on vacations, it just doesn’t seem to me that one month off is something to get so excited about. A six-month sabbatical, maybe–that would be true immersion in a foreign land.
      And for the record, I raised and traveled with 3 boys, and am now occasionally traveling with some of my 6 grandchildren.

  5. I liked that you pointed out Terri’s not getting any kind of vacation from her mothering duties. And, doing mothering in a foreign country is NOT easy. I did it in France. I knew people who had come with the romantic notion of getting away and experiencing something different with their kids. Some of the kids had a really hard time in French school. Now, these folks are homeschooling, so that is not a worry, but still. It doesn’t sound like this author is really thinking about his family. I am not going to read this book.

  6. You make a good point about the month away. We will also be spending a month in Italy this fall – the thought though of writing a book about it never crossed my mind. ‘A Year in the World’ (as is the title of a Frances Mayes book) maybe, but a month. . .really??

    And if he’s an inspirational speaker on the basis of a month’s travel, I should hang out my shingle in Seattle. . .I’ve got a few stories to tell as well.

    Thanks for such a candid review!

    1. Jackie: The inspirational speaking business precedes the travel book. He is very successful at motivating people to success, apparently. Now he wants them to slow down.

      And lucky you spending a month in Italy! Wow!

  7. Well, then. I love to learn about Italy but think your explanation will be quite enough. Although to spend a month living there – even while caring for four children – does sound rather tempting.

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