It’s a Weird, Weird World:New Travel Book

Destination: World

Book: Weird World: The Strangest Stories and Oddest Images from around the World from Bradt Books and Wanderlust Magazine. Publication October, 2009

FLASH! See my guest post about hiking the trails of Siphnos Greece at My Itchy Travel Feet.

We now return to our regularly scheduled programming.

Do you have a ten-year-old boy on your Christmas list? You might consider the travel book, Weird World, as a holiday gift.I know he would appreciate the displays of icky foods and disgusting photos of amazing things that people do to their bodies.

Of course, the book is not a children’s book, and if you WERE giving it to a ten-year-old, you might want to monitor some of the more adult pictures–not that there is much that is adult about this book.

I was once the mother of three boys–now men–and you would think I would be inured to yucky stuff mistaken for entertainment. Despite my experience, I spent most of the time when I was leafing through this book, saying “eeeeew!” and screwing my face into the kind of expression that would make my grandmother say “Your face is going to freeze that way!”

According to a cover blurb by Tony Hawks, the author of Round Ireland with a Fridge, “Weird World is sure to inspire the most stubborn of couch potatoes to get out there and discover the world’s wackiest travel adventures.”

I find this statement, and the book in general at puzzling odds with a quote from travel writer Bill Bryson about Wanderlust magazine, “There simply isn’t a better magazine for the serious traveler.”

What were those people at Wanderlust thinking when they co-published  this book with Bradt ( a publisher of esteemed travel guides)?

Serious travelers want to see people lacerate their faces with swords?–or even a chair? Serious travelers like to seek out butcher’s shops that display camel heads or iguana bodies? Sorry, but I thought serious travel was about learning about cultures, not ridiculing them. Circus sideshows have gone out of favor because we no longer think that sideshow freaks are an object of fun. So why is this book supposed to be entertaining? Oh, yes, I forgot to mention, it is made up of photos submitted by readers. So THIS is what happens when you leave professional writers behind, and rely on contributor-content.

Frankly, I think these people have been watching too much You Tube. (And I don’t mean the cute cat videos.)

Book supplied to me by the publicist for Globe Pequot, the U.S. distributor. And he may be wishing he didn’t send it.

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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, or recreating her family's past at Ancestors In Aprons . She has written for Reel Life With Jane, Life is a Trip 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.

8 thoughts on “It’s a Weird, Weird World:New Travel Book

  1. I guess the clue is in the title of the book.

    One sentence resonated with me: “Circus sideshows have gone out of favor because we no longer think that sideshow freaks are an object of fun.”

    Of course, if we are to be human, we must know why we should temper our curiosity with respect for the fact that these are real human beings – with feelings – and not just objects for our gaze.

    Still I can picture some people in a ‘modern’ audience at a freak show being interested, repulsed, and empathetic by turns – but sadly, not comfortable enough to feel a straightforward sense of curiosity without it being layered by social guilt rather than respect.

  2. I agree – would have liked to have seen a photo or two of the images you are describing! Surely publicist had some stock? Or did you not even want to put on your blog?

  3. Thanks for your honest review of this book. I’m a very visual person, so I’d love to see some pics just to see what you’re talking about.

    PS. stumbled upon your blog again after a long time and am happy to have found you again.

    .-= styleandinspiration´s last blog ..Simply Chic: Zoe Saldana =-.

  4. Hmm. I’m certainly not too comfortable with the idea of ridiculing cultural practices that seem strange to me, as this book is (apparently?) doing, but – sorry to be blunt – I’m not a fan of writing them off as “icky” or “disgusting” either.

  5. Well, I just posted a review of Extreme Cuisine on Perceptive Travel and thought it had great entertainment value. That’s food though, not self-mutilation, so maybe this is worse.

    (On a side note, why all the bold type scattered around the post? It’s distracting to read.)
    .-= Tim L.´s last blog ..Travel Prices in Ecuador =-.

    1. Obviously there still is a market for this stuff. I’m just not part of that market. My reviews are my views. (And I think you’re right about the bold type–I removed some. Thanks, Tim)

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