About A Traveler’s Library

Pull up a chair and make yourself comfortable. Join the discussion.  I want to hear your recommendations for additions to my travel library.

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In my grandmother’s living room there was a cabinet, and in the cabinet was a child’s book from long ago.* Each page showed a child in elaborate costume of its native land and in an appropriate setting–palm trees, snowy fields, sand dunres.  When I was very young I saw that book and wanted to see those places in person.

I was particularly entranced by the Bedouin and the Laplanders, because they moved all the time. WOW! Many years later I traveled to northern Sweden and ate reindeer meat in a restaurant run by Samis, the native name of Laplanders. I brought home a delicate bracelet made of reindeer hide. And I visited Israel where I saw Bedouins, now sadly confined to a very small area and subsisting partly on selling pictures of tourists on camels. I bought a beautiful necklace a Bedouin crafted out of bone.

When I was in high school, I snitched an adult novel from my mother’s stack of books.  The romance/adventure was set on a South Pacific Island and I wanted to go there.  I read James Michener’s Hawaii, and I wanted to go there.  I saw a movie set in Ireland and I wanted to go there.

Me in Kastro, Sifnos Island, Greece

Me in Kastro, Sifnos Island, Greece

When I was able to actually start “going there,” I looked for books and movies that would be my guide to a different landscape, a different people, a different culture.  I have accumulated shelves of books of this kind. You might call them metaphorical guidebooks because they are not literal guidebooks. My travel library contains both fiction and non-fiction, biographies, histories and novels. Mystery novels are the best because the authors must create a strong sense of place.  This is what I want to share with you here.  Books that inspire and inform your travel.  And a few movies that do the same.

My Disorganized Library

My Disorganized Library

Of course I have a collection of guidebooks as well, but another blog can cover those.  Sometimes we may make an exception for the guidebooks that are exceptionally well written, or those that concentrate on  literature or culture of a place.  I will start with the books on my own shelves. You will quickly see that Greece dominates my travel library.  But we will wander the globe, in no particular order, ignoring the Dewey Decimal system, the alphabet, continental boundaries, or any other artificial organization.

Come join the conversation about our travels and our books and movies.

*That sentence about grandmother was a little test. If you have read Patagonia, the travel classic by Bruce Chatwin, you may remember his opening line, “In my grandmother’s dining-room there was a glass-fronted cabinet and in the cabinet a piece of skin.” I can’t resist this parallelism with my own memories.