Saturday, March 8, 2014

This traveler's bookshelf

Confession time:

My first trip abroad was to Great Britain.

I was 17 years old, still a senior in high school (sophomore in college, actually... it's a rather confusing story) and I read something that inspired me.
17 years old and hanging out in a pub in Bath

It was the kind of inspiration that plants a seed in your mind and torments you until that seed grows into action.

For me, that seed was "I need to go see this place with my own two eyes! Like now. Right now!"

So are you ready for it?

This great piece of literature that inspired me to wander around Great Britain for nearly a month?

Okay, here goes... Harry Potter, of course.

I know, I know.

You were expecting Pride and Prejudice or some great classic like that.

Whatever.

I read a children's book, fell in love with the setting and people and made my then-best friend spend three weeks backpacking through England and Scotland with me.

And, forgive the pun, it was simply magical.

Since then, I've visited 23 countries.

Nine years later, my inspiration comes from the same place: books and stories and pictures.

These stories stretch my imagination and open my eyes to the endless possibilities before me.

They are proof positive that we get to create our lives. That we are authors and we have the power to choose where our tales take place.

And because of these stories I am writing my own book and not simply following the script placed before me.

So here is this traveler's bookshelf:

Stephen Fry in America by Stephen Fry
What I love most about it? Fry helped me fall in love with my own country. He visits each states via his black London taxi cab and tells fabulous, honest and rick stories of great American people and cities and landscapes.

Faery Tale by Signe Pike 
What I love most about it? Pike also chased childhood dreams and found magic while questing the globe on a search to uncover the truth about fairies.

The Good Girl's Guide to Getting Lost by Rachel Friedman
What I love most about it? She's as neurotic as I am and braved Death Road in Bolivia.

Beyond the Earth and Sky by Jamie Zeppa
What I love most about it? Um, hello... it's freakin' Tibet!

Getting Stoned with Savages by J. Mararten Troost
What I love most about it? Troost's kava induced hallucinations.

The Long Way Down (and Around) by Ewan McGregor
What I love most about it? Having the opportunity to see the Congo and Sudan and other African countries as something more than war and disease and pain.

Sideways on a Scooter by Mirana Kennedy
What I love most about it? Understanding a bit more what Sean is going through after moving to Taiwan for my job.

Blue Latitudes by Tony Horwitz
What I love most about it? That Horwitz is even more obsessed with Captain Cook than me and he actually traced his voyage by boat!

The Pirates of Somalia by Jay Bahadur
What I love most about it? Digging deeper into this little understood country and international issue.

The Media Relations Department of Hezbollah Welcomes You by Neil MacFarquhar
What I love most about it? How he humanizes the statistics and news reports and just makes you laugh your butt off!

Blood River by Tim Butcher
What I love most about it? His sheer bravery (or stupidity?).

Pink Boots and a Machete by Mireya Mayor
What I love most about it? Her wild dreams and ambition and success!

Not Quite Paradise by Adele Barker
What I love most about it? The sensory overload of Sri Lankan life. Beautiful.

Saved by Beauty Roger Housden
What I love most about it? Instead of focusing on nukes and leaders, it focused on culture and art and language.

The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner
What I love most about it? I found it simply poetic that even though Iceland's economy sucks, the PM cannot lay off workers because they're his brother's best friend or mother hair dresser.

I'll Never Be French No Matter What I Do by Mark Greenside
What I love most about it?  The book in a nutshell: author cannot figure out how to open door (from inside house) so he crawls out second floor window, needs to take off his pants in the process and the whole scene is witnessed by a little old french lady walking her poodle after buying a baguette. What more could you ask for?

1000 Days in Venice by Marlena de Blasi
What I love most about it? Venice... me amore.

No Touch Monkey by Ayun Halliday
What I love most about it? This lady's travels are as absurd as mine! I felt like I could have written this book... crazy monkey and all.

The Lost Girls by Jennifer Baggett
What I love most about it? Three friends, four continents... a lot of land was covered.

Notes From a Small Island by Bill Bryson
What I love most about it? Bryson gets kicked out of a small B&B because he didn't flush his poo all the way down the toilet.

Lost on Planet China by Troost
What I love most about it? It made me choose Taiwan instead of mainland China... and I'm immensely grateful!

The Sex Lives of Cannibals by Troost
What I love most about it? I challenge you to find Kiribati on a map. Go have a look see.

Naked in Baghdad by Anne Garrels
What I love most about it? Iraq before and after America ruined it. What a tragedy.

Round Ireland with a Fridge by Tony Hawks
What I love most about it? Um, a dude hitchhikes around Ireland with a mini-fridge. Just because he can. He makes it.

MaCarthy's Bar by Pete MaCarthy
What I love most about it? Tracing roots...

The Lunatic Express by Carl Hoffman
What I love most about it? Man researches the world's most dangerous planes, trains, boats, etc and then proceeds to ride them all. Grrrreat read!

Undress me in the Temple of Heaven by Susan Gilman
What I love most about it? The author goes to Chine literally right after visas started being issued and experienced first hand the side effects of Larium, an antimalarial.

The Motion of the Ocean by Janna Cawrse
What I love most about it? Young kids buy a boat and sail around the world. Epic.

These tales inspire me to go see something.

I read like a fiend so I never stop dreaming and plotting and seeing.

So what about you?

What's on your traveler's bookshelf?

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