I found the only other book I've read by Bryson to be overly snobbish (Neither Here Not There in which he is the personification of the the whiney AmeI found the only other book I've read by Bryson to be overly snobbish (Neither Here Not There in which he is the personification of the the whiney American tourist he claims to detest so much), but have always wanted to read this one because of my interest in the subject matter and many personal recommendations. I'm glad I gave it a shot as I really did enjoy it. Perhaps it's because here he's forced to confront a more primitive, humbling lifestyle on the trail and so his own humanity shines through a bit more? Perhaps it's because the book focuses more upon self-reflection and the natural world rather than cities and run-ins with all kinds of people he doesn't like. Perhaps it's just my personal taste and familiarity with the Shenandoah and Maine parts of the trail, where he spent the most meaningful time. Whatever the reason, he came off as much more approachable, funny, and thoughtful to me this time around and I especially liked the banter with Katz mixed in with the history of the A.T. and his experiences on it. I don't know that I'll ever be able to hike the whole of the A.T., but I've done some brief parts of it and will keep chipping away at it. Nice to visit parts of it, those familiar and unfamiliar as I read this on a cold and wet early spring day....more
We first came across this book a few years ago in a cottage we stayed at mid-Cape. It was the best guide in the stack and we found it came in really hWe first came across this book a few years ago in a cottage we stayed at mid-Cape. It was the best guide in the stack and we found it came in really handy for finding obscure beaches, all types of restaurants, trails, campgrounds, and sites of historic interest. Later, when we moved to MA, we purchased a copy of the 8th edition and have since used it on many day and weekend trips to the cape and have found some of our favorites spots with this book.
It is an incredibly comprehensive guide and is organized quite clearly with listings for just about any and every place on the cape and islands...not a small feat. This is it's main strength and you can find a wealth of information on places to eat, things to do, places to explore, as well as suggested itineraries for each area of the cape that highlight the best things in each town/village/etc. I'm not one for following guidebook itineraries but the info has come in handy when we only have a small amount of time and want to find the most interesting thing in a specific area.
It is a slightly outdated edition and I have not reviewed more recent ones, but we have occasionally run into instances where posted hours differed from that which was listed in the book. I mainly chalk that up to the Cape being the Cape with odd summer hours for smaller family run venues. The main weakness of the book however really lies with it's maps: they're terrible. Depend on them only to situate yourself mentally and buy a good road map to actually get around as the maps in this book are very poorly drawn and inaccurate, some just leaving out entire main roads and intersections, much to our chagrin when we are attempting to navigate new areas....more
This book reads quite well and there are some interesting bits about Ethiopia scattered throughout. It was a fairly entertaining read, enough so thatThis book reads quite well and there are some interesting bits about Ethiopia scattered throughout. It was a fairly entertaining read, enough so that I did not put it down even though I was sorely tempted to because of how arrogant and sad the author seemed to me.
I was expecting that someone who really wanted to discover such a historical site(s) would do plenty of scholarly research beforehand and that the whole thing would read a bit more legitimate than it did. He admits to not doing much research beforehand and the whole trip kind of feels like he's just winging it which amounts to a sugary travel account and not a devoted quest rooted in scholarship. In fact, the books he does quote from and seems most inspired by are the fictional ones and he seems to be so overtaken with seeing the sites from those books in person that he is convinced they must be where the mines are. Seriously? That is his evidence? The guy seemed a savvy traveler but otherwise just a sad little rich spoiled rich kid and try as I might, I could not shake the outline of him as a pampered brat who just happens to have enough cash to thrown around so that he can play in the world as if it is his own private sandbox and style himself as an Indiana Jones wannabe on his own book jacket.
The whole thing seems a lot more about him convincing everyone in the book and us that he is indeed a certain kind of Adventurer than him searching for that which strikes his passion. Far from being an adventurer that one would look up to though, he is rude and selfish to his traveling companions time and time again throughout the narrative to the point where he pretty much flat out ignores the medical needs of his faithful friend and spends loads of money on his own equipment without even bothering about his companion who cannot fend for himself. He insists on paying for a bigger than necessary mule "entourage," lies about his horsemanship abilities, and goes out of his way to try and impress them and gain their respect by pretending not to eat while he is shoving his face with food he has hidden all the while…honestly though, who cares this much about appearances on a quest such as this? For a cause that seemed so important to him and a cause for which he went through so much for, it strikes me as quite shallow and silly that so much of the book is devoted to him showing off and playing the petulant child who makes so many absurd demands of his fellow travelers while insulting what they hold dearest at the same time.
I try to avoid the kind of book about the typical young woman growing up in turmoil as I read one too many of them in high school and slowly realizedI try to avoid the kind of book about the typical young woman growing up in turmoil as I read one too many of them in high school and slowly realized that after you've read one or two, they are really all the same.
I think this book carries a certain element of that but it only starts there and I enjoyed that it took the story a few steps beyond that. The author's voice is much more mature and the storyline takes the reader into truly thoughtful experiences as you follow the author through her adventures as a freelance photojournalist in war, famine, poverty, and environmental extremes.
Her insights as an independent woman traveler and photographer are honest and I enjoyed this close-up look into a field that I had considered for so long. It really brought out the gritty side of this glamorous world while still keeping an optimistic outlook for adventure and self reflection....more
one of my favorite Hemingway books and favorites all around. It's a standard so you should read it anyways, but it also provides entertaining and inteone of my favorite Hemingway books and favorites all around. It's a standard so you should read it anyways, but it also provides entertaining and interesting insight into the young Hemingway and the world of expatriots and literature he was stepping into. In addition, I think it's a wonderful and personal account of Paris in the 20's.
Hemingway has gained such an uber-macho reputation in his later years, but his younger self is much more likeable. Much more open to the possibilities of what lay before him, generally happy, and not the tormented man we see later on. We see him building his reputation and character as a writer/man, and socializing with some of the best writers of the period. Odd to see him looking up to other writers and beginning with self-doubt--very human here and i think it's quite refreshing.
I really wish I loved this book, but I just don't. Everyone is always telling me how great Bill Bryson is, I love the cover design, but I find the manI really wish I loved this book, but I just don't. Everyone is always telling me how great Bill Bryson is, I love the cover design, but I find the man to be quite egotistical and whiney.
There are many good laughs and interesting locals throughout the book, most of which are related to his memories of travels as a younger man. In the present story though, Bryson spends his time the same way in every single city: walks, eats, gets drunk, sleeps, complains about how it isn't as good as America. I'm sure he's a great guy in person and everyone has their cranky moments while traveling, but I don't want to read a whole book about some supposedly intellectual and funny guy being cranky all over europe and ripping on the locals in every town. After traveling the whole of Europe with him, this gets pretty damn old.
If you want a good travel book, there seem to be several out there and I would definitely skip over this one in your quest....more
another book that I wanted to love but only liked. I'd heard so many good things about it and did find a lot to like but was ultimately disappointed ianother book that I wanted to love but only liked. I'd heard so many good things about it and did find a lot to like but was ultimately disappointed in some of the writing style itself. It's a wonderful story, just not always wonderfully put-together.
For the most part, the author's voice is very clear and poignant, a joy to read. The landscape, food, and daily life comes alive brilliantly. However, all too occasionally, she goes off on these tangents of train-of-thought writing into memories of her childhood. etc. that she can't seem to connect back to the rest of the book very well. These sections become aimless and disconnected from the rest of book. It's like she's trying too hard to be deep and intellectual, so instead of adding a layer of insight into her childhood/lifeview, she just taints the rest of a beautiful memoir of a beautiful place.
I don't want to be too harsh, I'm sure the sentiments are true and meaningful, but I just wish she would have left some more of it in her personal journal and stuck to what she does best (i.e. not deep diving pyschology). Just because you have the money to buy a place in Italy and have other people restore it for you, does not mean you are an intellectual god. I am at once attracted to the life of a priveledged intellectual as I am repelled by the inescapable pretensiousness of it.
What does she do great? The recipes for instance! What a great way to bring that aspect of the book full circle. I would love to see a well-designed/scrapbookish/full color version of this book with photographs of the places and food.
She really opens this personal world up to the reader and brings them into the house and gardens, a warm and welcoming place where i would like to spend so many afternoons drifting into my own dreams of owning and restoring an old house....more
My feelings about this book are a bit muddled for several reasons: 1. I eat up memoirs and historical accounts, but the writing here is a bit contrivedMy feelings about this book are a bit muddled for several reasons: 1. I eat up memoirs and historical accounts, but the writing here is a bit contrived at times, thick (i.e. dull), and perhaps a bit biased. I enjoy a challenging read, but it wasn't always challenging for the right reasons. 2. I was really looking forward to reading about this fiercely independent, intelligent, and visionary woman who made her own place in the world. While all of this is true and I respect it, I deeply question her (Britain's) motives for "helping" the Iraqi people and can't exactly relate to her as I thought I would because she sometimes comes off as too rich, spoiled, or severely egotistical. 3. I loved learning more about the tribes that roamed Persia and Mesopotamia and the formation of Iraq. You can tell the author did some really great research (just as Bell did), even though much of the issues and facts are written from a flawed early 19th Century perspective. Of course, this is the world of Gertrude Bell herself..i just thought the reader would benefit from somehow incorporating a fresher contemporary perspective that is less one-sided. 4. The author does cover some of Gertrude Bell's failings/weaknesses. I understand that one might not want to spend the time writing a biography of someone unless they really looked up to them, but I felt that these failings/weaknesses could have been shown with more honesty. 5. Most of my complaints are balanced by the fact that the author really has outdone herself with her program "Seeds of Peace" that promotes understanding and growth among the youth of fueding groups in the middle east. It's some outstanding stuff and shows the author's passions and concerns for what they truely are.
All in all, I'm glad I read this. I learned a lot and would certainly recommend it to others interested in the history of the area, but would urge that the reader take it "with a bit of salt." If ever get the nerve up again, I'd consider reading some of the other biographies that exist on Bell for comparison and definitely some histories on the area from an arab perspective.
One other thing I might note: As I was finishing this book in an airport over Christmas, I was able to discuss it with a very intelligent Iraqi woman sitting in back of me. She had heard me explaining the book to the person with me and even though I normally do not like engaging in airport conversation with strangers, I'm so glad i did because i learned a lot from her about what the war is like on the ground in Iraq and her first-hand understanding of her people and the middle east. I never imagined what it would be like to have to evacuate my own home because there was a ticking bomb in the back yard and I hope she will never have to again...whoever you are, thank you for sharing your life with me. It is a wonderful and hopeful thing to be able to meet the individual faces behind an ugly war and to be able to share a mutual understanding....more
The women writer's/travelers collected in this book are refreshing, intelligent, and simply great story teThis was a great book and right up my alley.
The women writer's/travelers collected in this book are refreshing, intelligent, and simply great story tellers. It's adventure, food, social elements, and life lessons, but not all the typical touchy feely stuff—more off the beaten path kind of tales about the twists and turns life takes when everything familiar around you ceases to be.
Each story/essay is by a different woman who has taken a different path to traveling or living abroad. Some have sold everything from their previous lives to start over, some are volunteering or working abroad for only a period of time, some are there by marriage or because a marriage didn't work out. Whatever the situation, they are each sharing stories about their unconventional lives and what it's like to be an independent woman, not just traveling, but trying to put down roots in new and foreign lands.
It's an enjoyable and quick read with a lot of wisdom and good story telling. I'd definitely recommend it to anyone interested in women's issues or someone seeking out what it is like to live and travel abroad on one's own....more