Monday, June 1, 2009

Destination: Novel

summer reading...
Those two words used to strike fear in the hearts of middle and high school students everywhere. Who wants to spend their three months of vacation reading books for school? I mean, not only does it keep you from doing everything else you want to do, but you actually have to pay attention to plots, characters, and themes. Who knows, there may be a paper or test on them when school starts up again in fall. Like many students, I hated dealing with summer reading. I preferred reading for pleasure, choosing books that I was interested in, not books I was told to read. Now that I'm in graduate school, I have the freedom to select whatever I want to read during these long summer months. And there are some interesting new travel novels that will surely keep me entertained as I sun myself on the beach--or more than likely my porch. Here is just a quick overview of a couple books that really stood out to me.
  1. Rag and Bone: A Journey Among the World's Holy Dead, by Peter Manseau-- The title alone should spark some interest. Basically, Manseau travels around the world in search of artifacts--body parts mostly--belonging to saints and other holy figures. An entertaining story about a man's desire for spiritual transcendence through these holy relics.
  2. 99 Drams of Whiskey: The Accidental Hedonist's Quest for the Perfect Shot and the History of the Drink, by Kate Hopkins--Anything about alcohol has got to be entertaining, especially whiskey (extremely dangerous). Kate ventures with her friend Krysta to the distilleries of Ireland, Scotland, Canada, and the U.S. in search of the best whiskeys.
  3. I'll Never be French (No Matter What I do): Living in a Small Village in Brittany, by Mark Greenside--A New Yorker turned Californian ends up in a tiny Celtic town in Brittany at the western edge of France. The book chronicles the experience of a man adapting to life in a place where he does not speak the language and is unfamiliar with how things are done. But through it all, his life changes, and he develops a second life in France.
There are plenty of other travel essay novels, but these were the ones that I was interested in reading. Also, this is what I hope to one day be doing with my life. Writing about my travels, or places I live. But perhaps I need an ulteriar motive like some of these authors, although I don't think I'll go in search of whiskey or dead saints' remains. I guess I'll have to think about what the point of my book will be.

If travel is your thing, check these books out. If not, just pick up any book and enjoy a good summer read...I promise there won't be a test.

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