What Else Did We Read?
I tried to warn you in my “Best” List—2012 was a very difficult year for sorting out the best from the very, very good. Please keep in mind that the criteria here is good, engaging writing, but ALSO very importantly, a book must bring a place to life for us. A book may not reside in the travel section of the bookstore, but it must make us want to go there. Or help us learn more about what that place is like.
The books discussed in my 10 Best list only slightly edged out this next 10….
P.O. Box Love,by Paola Calvetti
A mature love story set in a Milan book store and a Manhattan Carnegie Library. What could be more perfect for traveler’s who read?
Blue Asylum by Kathy Hepinstall
Life is full of surprises in an unusual asylum in Sanibel Island, Florida just after the Civil War.
Alys Always by Harriet Lane
A very British novel shows us how real English families live as a rather creepy plot unfolds. This one was part of my week of focus on books that featured writers and publishing.
Shopping in Paris Markets by Dixon Long and Marjorie R. Williams
Along with the walking guide to Palestine, this struck me as another nearly perfect guide book, as I once more made an exception to my rule about not writing about guide books.
The Violet Season by Kathy Leonard Czepiel
This touching family story takes place in the Hudson River Valley of New York State during the early 20th century as feminists are beginning to flourish.
The Headmaster’s Wager by Vincent Lam
In this gripping novel, a Chinese man lives in the Chinese section of Saigon where he tries to escape the tyranny of first the Japanese in China, and then the Viet Cong in Vietnam.
Day of Honey by Anna Ciezadlo
I liked this memoir better than the similar Jasmine & Fire, also reviewed here. Jasmine was written by a Lebanese-born American writer searching for her “home”. Both were about writers who relate to a place through food. Day of Honey takes place in Lebanon and in Iraq and I am still cooking the recipes furnished by the American writer.
Walking the Amazon by Ed Safford
This was one of the books featured in my week devoted to adventure. Safford walked the length of the Amazon and documented his amazing trip. The biggest surprise was to learn what the biggest danger really was.
Travels With Epicurus by Dan Klein
This one came at the end of the year. A tiny book, it is more philosophy than travel, but does paint an engaging picture of Hydra in Greece, along with entertaining thoughts about how to best live your old years.
Royal Cities of the Ancient Maya Photographs by Barry Brukow
The only reason this book didn’t appear on my first list of 10 Best is the narrow range of its subject. Gorgeous photos of an intriguing area of Central America, it will appeal to those traveling to that area, or interested in archaeology.
Where Did We Go?
So, in these 10 + 10 Best Books alone, during 2012 at A Traveler’s Library we visited Cambodia, Paris, London and the south of France, Africa, Malaysia, Alaska, Northern Ireland, Palestine, Timbuktu and London, Siberia, Milan, Sanibel Island in Florida , England, the Hudson River Valley in New York state, Vietnam, Lebanon and Iraq, the Amazon in South America, the island of Hydra in Greece and a few miscellaneous places. Not to mention all the other places covered in other new books, and oldie but still good books.
I think it would be safe to say that none of the readers of A Traveler’s Library actually booked tickets to that many places in one year! But with our help, you can roam the world. If you have not yet subscribed, you can be sure not to miss all these literary travels in 2013 by clicking here.
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Of course, I’m not the only opinionated reader of travel literature. You’ll notice, perhaps, that the following lists define travel literature more narrowly than we do here–no novels or food memoirs to be seen. Nevertheless, I wish I’d seen some of these books earlier!
Here’s a stellar list of five by Richard West, former editor of Texas Monthly and travel writer.
So what book did you read in the past year that had you pulling out the suitcase? And what was your favorite review here at A Traveler’s Library?