July 12, 2010

Take a Trip: Travel Lit.

I can go anywhere
Friends to know
And ways to grow
A Reading Rainbow

It's summer, and I typically spend summer re-reading books. I don't know why, that's just how I work. As I get older, I find that my favorite thing to re-read is travel/history writing. Typically, my favorite authors bring a bit of humor to the table as well. If you like to go anywhere through good writing, here are a few of my favorite authors and books.

Tony Horwitz: One of my favorites--you learn and laugh! I would recommend three of his books very, very highly. Confederates in the Attic follows Tony as he travels through the American South, discovering how the Civil War continues to affect people today. It's not all racism, and you find yourself alternating between sympathy for the south and a bit of disgust for the inevitable racism that appears. The best parts concern Civil War reenactors. Blue Latitudes covers his journey re-tracing Captain Cook's voyages around the South Pacific and Indian Ocean. Informative and fun, it involves more reenactors--and this time they're Australian! A Voyage Long and Strange, his most recent book, traces what happened in America between Columbus and the Pilgrims, and what traces of the Vikings, Spaniards, and French still exist. I also learned that conquistador reenactors do exist.

Bill Bryson: The original travel/history/comedy writer. In my opinion, In a Sunburned Country about Australia is his absolute best, although A Walk in the Woods will make you guffaw, and making think about hiking the Appalachian Trail.

Sarah Vowell: Assassination Vacation involves a road trip I can see myself taking one day, as she traces the various stops in the United States associated with the four assassinated presidents. If you like presidential history, and can ignore politics that might not agree with you, this will make you chuckle.

Andrew Ferguson: Land of Lincoln is another road trip I can see happening, as Ferguson finds all the places in the U.S. associated with Lincoln myth, fact, and memory. The Lincoln impersonator conference is touching and funny.

Scott Huler: The only piece of literature I taught every year in my teaching career was Homer's Odyssey. In No-Man's Lands, Huler attempts to trace Odysseus's journey, while also covering the epic in-depth. I wish I could find a way to have all my students read this while reading the Odyssey. Brilliant analysis, and it makes me want to win the lottery and head to Greece and the Mediterranean.

Eric Weiner: Do you consider the place you live happy, or are you happy because of where you live? In The Geography of Bliss, Weiner visits the supposed "happiest" spots on earth (and one that isn't) to try to discover if where you live contributes to your happiness. I know I'm pretty happy as long as I live near a Target.

Anyway, I'm re-reading these this summer, and taking trips around the world from my couch. If you have any other travel lit recommendations, pass them along--I'm always looking for a new author!

1 comment:

Aunt Susan said...

I was thinking of heading to the bookstore today, so I'm taking a list of your recommendations! I've been planning on reading Confederates in the Attic, so I think I will start there. I actually finished Crime and Punishment in Wyo! Wish we could average our temperatures. 56 doesn't feel like summer.