Mitch Moxley hits a personal low in his mid-twenties. His career is pretty much nonexistent and he's tired of the cold, gray Toronto winters. He startMitch Moxley hits a personal low in his mid-twenties. His career is pretty much nonexistent and he's tired of the cold, gray Toronto winters. He starts looking for jobs overseas and stumbles on a job working for a state newspaper in China, the China Daily. He applies and lands himself a one year contract.
He heads on over, knowing that he isn't really prepared for life in Communist China but not really understanding what that means. He has issues with censorship at the paper almost from the beginning and quickly gives up trying to change anything or doing any actual reporting. He makes some friends, offends some people, drinks a lot, and starts heading down that tired old expat path.
Luckily, he does change directions. He finally goes into life in China with a bit of a Yes Man attitude and finds himself in some unbelievable situations. He watches all the buildup for the Olympics. He starts doing some serious reporting. Through it all, he slowly slides closer to the Chinese side on the Foreigner/Chinese scale.
I like reading books about people who are brave enough to pack up and move away from everything they know, not just to another city, but to a whole different country. I can't even begin to imagine the culture shock, especially going from Canada to China. I have been disappointed a couple of times in other books when the author chooses to write about his or her experiences partying and drinking. That is not even remotely what I'm looking for when I pick up this kind of memoir.
Mitch started down that path and I got worried but then he turned himself around and started writing about life in China, not life in bars. He started getting out and experiencing things that I can't even conceive of from my armchair in the States. "Rent a White Guy." Seriously? They do that? Human trafficking. Chinese dating shows. The Beijing Olympics. Chinese music videos. I found it all fascinating, occasionally scary, and sometimes hilarious. I learned a lot about a country that is very much a big unknown to me. This was what I was hoping to find when I requested a copy of the book for review.
If, like me, you love to experience other cultures from the safety of your home, go ahead and give this a try. ...more
Journalist Alice Steinbach decided that she was going to take a break from the life she was living. She was happy, but she felt that she needed some tJournalist Alice Steinbach decided that she was going to take a break from the life she was living. She was happy, but she felt that she needed some time to get acquainted with herself now that her two sons were grown. So she planned an open-ended months-long trip to Europe. She had only the vaguest of itineraries and very few travel reservations. She went to Paris, London, Oxford, Milan, Venice, Rome, Siena, and Asolo.
I genuinely liked the Alice Steinbach I found in these pages. She is intelligent, educated, and interested. My copy is littered with post-it flags marking books she mentions that I have to read or artists whose work I want to look up. She is curious and she is friendly and she is a traveler, not a tourist.
Her writing is beautiful. I've had a sort of "I'd like to go to Paris but, you know. That reputation Parisians have" attitude for a while. Within pages, I was dying to go. The city came alive for me as she described it. I want to follow in her footsteps and take the time to just stand in the light in the chapel of Sainte-Chappelle. I want to buy a ridiculously expensive French dress. I want to see the Carré Rive Gauche celebrate Five Extraordinary Days.
Ms. Steinbach is a curious, friendly traveler. She strikes up friendships wherever she goes and writes meaningfully about the people she meets. She is willing to learn whatever they teach her either directly or indirectly.
Paris was the strongest section, but I enjoyed her other destinations as well. She dislikes Rome, for a very good reason, but I wish she had liked it. I somehow loved the city when I visited.
Each chapter begins with a picture from a postcard and a message that Alice has mailed to herself at home. I loved these. I looked forward to each new chapter for that reason.
There is a lot of introspection in the book as well. She never crosses the line into being self-indulgent. She always pulled her story back into her travels before I lost interest in her internal musings.
I recommend this for the well-read armchair traveler. I feel like I've had a mini European vacation now that I've finished it....more
I just love Rick Steves. He's funny while at the same time packing a lot of history and very useful information into his travel guides. We used his boI just love Rick Steves. He's funny while at the same time packing a lot of history and very useful information into his travel guides. We used his books for our trip to Italy and just knew we had to have one for our trip to Spain. We caught ourselves mentally thanking him several times for the tips! Highly recommended if you're heading to Europe....more
I used this to plan my recent trip to San Francisco. Apparently, there is a newer edition out, which I didn't realize, but this is the one my local B&I used this to plan my recent trip to San Francisco. Apparently, there is a newer edition out, which I didn't realize, but this is the one my local B&N had shelved.
I felt like I learned a lot that I need to know before heading out to the city. The hotel I picked based on the books recommendation was very noisy though. I wish that had been mentioned somewhere. Some admission fees had increased (a lot in some cases), some hours had changed, and the one restaurant that we went to based on the dining recs had closed. This might all be fixed in the newest edition, but I did read this wishing that Rick Steves did American tour guides. It got us where we were going and we had a good time. What more can you really ask for?...more
John Steinbeck and his poodle Charley take off in a modified RV for a trip around the country.
Will the real Jennifer G please stand up? I seem to haveJohn Steinbeck and his poodle Charley take off in a modified RV for a trip around the country.
Will the real Jennifer G please stand up? I seem to have lost myself somewhere along the way.
When did I become a fan of Steinbeck? Because I now have to admit that I am. I held a grudge against him for years because of The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men, both of which I was forced to read in high school. I've been in denial for a couple of years but looking back through all the passages of this book that I flagged, I realized that I love the way this man writes.
I still don't forgive him for Lennie and can't imagine that I ever will, but if we both ignore that, we get along just fine. Better than fine.
It's been almost two years since I read this, but I do remember that Steinbeck's observations, conversations, and chronicles of daily left held me pretty much spellbound. I'll even let you in on a secret: the man had a sense of humor. Steinbeck! Dark, depressing Steinbeck! I literally laughed out loud several times as I read this. I remember a passage about hunting in New England (I think) that had me in stitches. Another section I had forgotten but flagged was about introducing Charley to sequoias and redwoods. "But from the start I had withheld from him any information about the giant redwoods. It seemed to me that a Long Island poodle who had made his devoirs to Sequoia sempervirens or Sequoia gigantea might be set apart from other dogs--might even be like that Galahad who saw the Grail. The concept is staggering."
Originally published in 1962, many of Steinbeck's observations still hold today. I was shaking my head at how little things change in the fundamentals.
"It occurs to me that, just as the Carthaginians hired mercenaries to do their fighting for them, we Americans bring in mercenaries to do our hard and humble work. I hope we many not be overwhelmed one day by peoples not too proud or too lazy or too soft to bend to the earth and pick up the things we eat."
"With all the polls and opinion posts, with newspapers more opinion than news so that we no longer know one from the other...."
I recommend this for a slice of American life in an earlier time and for a different look at an author who many seem to label as depressing....more
*Blackbeard's death *Building the first lighthouse on Hatteras *Trials and tribulations of the Wright Brothers on the islands until the first flight, in 1903 *A mystery ship stranded on the shoals *The sinking of the first German U boat in WWII (maybe that was the first German U boat sunk in the US) *Finding the wreck of the Civil War ironclad warship, Monitor *Corralling and protecting the wild horse population *The Lost Colony *Moving the Cape Hatteras lighthouse 1/2 mile inland *A massive whale beaching
There were many more that were pretty interesting, but those were my favorite stories.
I'm not a huge fan of nonfiction, but this book was very readable. It was a little dry, but by keeping each story to about five pages, the author kept my attention enough so that I read most of this book in one sitting. I really liked that the later chapters were based on interviews of people who were there. If you're from the area, or you're planning on visiting, this would be a great book to read....more
Our bed & breakfast in Tuscany gave us this book. We didn't use it for any travel planning, but I love looking through the photos and revisiting tOur bed & breakfast in Tuscany gave us this book. We didn't use it for any travel planning, but I love looking through the photos and revisiting the places we visited and seeing pictures of other beautiful places for the first time....more
In 1996, Jon Krakauer attempted to climb Mt. Everest as part of a guided group for a writing assignment for Outside magazine. An experienced climber iIn 1996, Jon Krakauer attempted to climb Mt. Everest as part of a guided group for a writing assignment for Outside magazine. An experienced climber in the hands of a reputable group of guides, he didn't really foresee any problems. Go, climb the mountain, hope conditions allowed them to reach the summit, go home, write the article. But things are rarely that easy. A storm blows up, reminding everyone that nature laughs at our best-laid plans; some questionable decisions are made; and suddenly the entire group is fighting for their lives.
I've decided to try reading a non-fiction book in bed at night, thinking that I won't be quite as interested in non-fiction, and so will find it easy to put those books down and get to bed at a decent hour. This is the first book I grabbed from the library with that in mind. Ha! I don't know if I could have picked a worse book for tame, before-bed reading!
My poor husband has had to listen to me babble on and on about people he knows nothing about as I've made my way through this page-turner. Even if the climb had been fairly straight-forward, I found it interesting to read about what drove these people, how they acclimated to the altitude, and how exactly one manages to climb the highest peak on Earth. I know nothing about mountain-climbing, and, while I did find all this fascinating, I have to say that I'll be staying in my tame little Appalachians doing easy to moderate hikes. I'm not someone who likes to push myself beyond my limits, but it's always nice to step outside your comfort zone, even if it is through the pages of a book, and see what's going on with others who live differently than you.
There were so very many people climbing the mountain that I completely lost track of who was who. I had the head guides down, and one or two people who really stood out, but they really did start to run together. There is a list of who's who at the beginning of the book, but, in this edition at least, it only lists names, nationalities, and which group they were on. Not much to go on there.
It amazed me how many people climb Everest at one time. My edition only had a handful of pictures, but there were literal lines to get up certain sections of the mountain. I imagined that it would be your very small group and that would be it as far as you could see. But there are the bottlenecks, and even as they're blundering about in the storm, random people would suddenly pop up out of nowhere to ask for directions back to camp. It sounds comparatively crowded up there!
I don't know how it is now, but Krakauer even mentions the literal tons of trash littering the slopes of Everest and some of the cleanups that were underway around that time. I understand that you don't want extra weight on a climb like that, but, come on. Pack it out. I hope it's been cleaned up more in the 15 years since this book was published.
I at first thought this was a book my husband would enjoy. Then I realized that there were a few too many mistakes being made. As I told my husband about the book, he just said, "I can't read that. I don't have patience for that kind of thing." And he doesn't. Being a perfectionist, he does have a hard time reading about what might appear to be stupid mistakes.
Which brings me to my last point. It's very easy to sit in my snug little house under my comfy blanket and with a mug of tea by my side and believe that these people made some stupid mistakes. But, for me at least, Krakauer did a good job of explaining that you just can't think straight at that altitude. I was able to keep that in mind, read it as an adventure story with tragedy at its heart, and withhold judgment. Others, like my husband, may not be able to step back and do that. So, I say, withhold judgment yourself until you've been in their position. People paid for mistakes with their lives, some of the survivors feel guilty, and that's the end of that. No one else needs to throw stones.
I highly recommend this if you don't think you're too much of a perfectionist to be put off by it. Just don't try to read it before bed unless you do want to be awake all night, turning pages!...more
(Cut and pasted from my review of the Venice version)
I used this and Rick Steves on our trip to Italy. I like the color pictures and the size of this(Cut and pasted from my review of the Venice version)
I used this and Rick Steves on our trip to Italy. I like the color pictures and the size of this one, but the information in Rick Steves is much more comprehensive and useful. I'd buy Rick's instead. ...more
(Cut and pasted from my review of the Florence and Tuscany version)
I used this to plan our trip to Rome. If we missed anything, I don't know what it i(Cut and pasted from my review of the Florence and Tuscany version)
I used this to plan our trip to Rome. If we missed anything, I don't know what it is! I found out about places I didn't know existed and learned how to skip a lot of lines. I personally enjoyed the guy's sense of humor also, but I can see how it wouldn't appeal to everyone. He's kind of corny, but I can be too. Anyway, highly recommended. ...more
(Cut and pasted from my review for the Venice version)
I used this and Rick Steves on our trip to Italy. I like the color pictures and the size of this(Cut and pasted from my review for the Venice version)
I used this and Rick Steves on our trip to Italy. I like the color pictures and the size of this one, but the information in Rick Steves is much more comprehensive and useful. I'd buy Rick's instead....more
(Cut and pasted from my review for the Tuscany and Florence version)
I used this to plan our trip to Venice. If we missed anything, I don't know what i(Cut and pasted from my review for the Tuscany and Florence version)
I used this to plan our trip to Venice. If we missed anything, I don't know what it is! I found out about places I didn't know existed and learned how to skip a lot of lines. I personally enjoyed the guy's sense of humor also, but I can see how it wouldn't appeal to everyone. He's kind of corny, but I can be too. Anyway, highly recommended. ...more