Travel Literature Makes My Heart Beat Faster.. discussion

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Books to read before going to Europe?

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message 1: by Ana (new)

Ana Leticia (mapgeek) Books to read before going to Europe?


message 2: by Jim (new)

Jim O'Donnell | 41 comments "Notes for the Aurora Society"


message 3: by Alex (new)

Alex That's a...that's a broad topic, Ana. There are at least three different countries in Europe. Where are you going? What kind of books do you like? Would you prefer living novelists, or historical books?


message 4: by John (new)

John Agreed, Alex - we'd love to help you, Ana, but more details please?


message 5: by Nancy (new)

Nancy (nancybartellsbcglobalnet) | 48 comments Are you wanting travel guide book suggestions or travel essay? Or books like Alec mentioned?

What countries specifically did you have in mind?


message 6: by Harvey (new)

Harvey | 53 comments Alex wrote: "That's a...that's a broad topic, Ana. There are at least three different countries in Europe. Where are you going? What kind of books do you like? Would you prefer living novelists, or historic..."

Three????? Come on!!!! Every 50 miles are different! I happen to be a bit pan-European due to my parents and have travelled throughout a fair amount of Europe... but still not all!

Good point... where?


message 7: by Rdonn (new)

Rdonn | 17 comments I lived in Europe many years, Germany and England, as I taught for DODDS and have been to all but 5 countries. My way is to get a good guide book and figure out what places I want to go to. I dislike city tours, and giving yourself enough time, you can see what you like and have your own adventures. For example, in Florence I needed a guide that went into detail into architecture, paintings, etc. in the different churches and took that guide with me often a Michelin Green Guide. Afterwards I'd read others adventures in that country. it's important to just soak in the atmosphere, talk to people, if possible, and enjoy!!! I can remember in the Uffizi's seeing one of my favorite paintings, a Masaccio, and a group came in with a guide who talked about two paintings in the room and then they left. I called to the last couple and made them look at the Masaccio. Museums should be done at your leisure.


message 8: by Jim (new)

Jim O'Donnell | 41 comments Ana, please excuse my sarcasm for simply suggesting my book about Finland. It would be worth picking up, I think....

Anyway, Ive lived for almost 7 years in Europe. Finland, France, Spain and Switzerland. I really enjoyed travelling by reading travel literature and supplementing that as Rdonn suggests. I would have a number of suggestions based on where you are going. Give us a list and we can help out more.


message 9: by Lisa (new)

Lisa (lisalovestoread) | 14 comments I think the "at least three countries" comment was a joke...


message 10: by Alex (new)

Alex Thank you, Lisa. I was being facetious. :)

Rdonn, couldn't agree more. Museums should be ambled through, not toured. Great post. And I love Florence.


message 11: by Paul (new)

Paul Veitch (geordiereader) | 4 comments Some authors have tried to capture the 'essence' of Europe, travelling to many countries and giving reportage as they go. Two of my favourites are 'The Pillars of Hercules' by Paul Theroux and Eric Newby's 'On the Shores of the Mediterranean'.

Both of these authors use journies along the coastline, so you get a view of Europe which is biased toward the experience of the south and also North Africa. However both of these chaps have their own style and way of organising their travels and they were also written 10 years apart, one by an American and one (very much) by a Brit.

The Bill Bryson books are sometimes dismissed as cheap laughs but I find he is a hugely enjoyable writer and capable of great insights into the world around him. His 'Notes on a Small Island' I woulld say was worth reading for any visitor to the UK.

Really interested in hearing about Northern European books, especially the Scandinavian countries.

I have just bought the 'Blue Guide' on Tuscany pending a visit there and the series seems to be far more culturally accomplished than most other travel guides I've looked at.


message 12: by Jim (new)

Jim O'Donnell | 41 comments Again, I'll throw in my book "Notes for the Aurora Society" about Finland for the Scandanavia category. In 2003 I walked 1500 miles from the Baltic coast to the Arctic Ocean thru Finland talking to Finns about thier connection to nature. It was my first book and, inretrospect, there is alot I would do differently but its a good book overall and worth picking up. Any of you who read it...I'm curious what your rating would be here on good reads.

Also check out one of the inpsirations for my book : "Clear Waters Rising". Fabulous book about a Brit who walked the spine of all the mountains in Europe from the Atlantic Coast to Istanbul in...I'd say...1992 or so. Incredible book.


message 13: by Harvey (new)

Harvey | 53 comments Thanks Jim... Baltic Coast! Where did you start from? (being half Baltic). Not crazy about Estonian beer though. Bryson did go to Scandinavia and he is Therouxish in some ways, though of course they are different people entirely. Caution though.... 'doing Europe' sounds a tall order. Better a smaller scale ambition in depth? No?


message 14: by Jim (new)

Jim O'Donnell | 41 comments I started on the island of Uto, the southernmost point in Finland, well out in the Baltic sea. Finnish beer is just as bad as Estonian but hey...when ya need a beer, beer is beer. My book is listed here on goodreads ("Notes for the Aurora Society") and is available on amazon.


message 15: by Harvey (new)

Harvey | 53 comments Have you tasted Latvian or Lithuanian beer.... beer is not just beer my friend!


message 16: by Lynn (new)

Lynn | 4 comments oooh I just have to jump in on this Baltic conversation. I'm a quarter Latvian and hope to travel there someday! Know of any good books for Latvia, fiction or nonfiction?


message 17: by Harvey (new)

Harvey | 53 comments wish by Aleksanders Caks poems are wonderful... I'm half Latvian.... he was an urban poet and dearly loved Riga


message 18: by Jim (new)

Jim O'Donnell | 41 comments Very true. Beer is not just beer...but sometimes....I still tend toward the Belgian stuff....but I have to say...having traveled most of Europe several times and having lived there for 7 years...we in the USA have by far the best and most diverse beers in the world. Sure, we have the budweiser and coors crapola but we also have all these amazing little breweries in nearly every town that makes some incredible stuff.

Lynn...I have not read any latvian fiction or non-fiction but I have been there and it is a gorgeous place. Fabulous.

As for a decent general history of the whole Baltic sea (up to 2004) pick up Alan Palmer's "Northern Shores". Its not the greatest book in the world but its a good general history of the sea, the major players, events, etc.

Someday...if I could ever raise enough funds...I'd like to take a long summer and sail the rim of the Baltic all the way around.


message 19: by John (new)

John Speaking of that region, I have this one on my TBR pile: To the Baltic with Bob.


message 20: by Harvey (new)

Harvey | 53 comments I'd join you and love to do a taste-off on Non-Estonian/Scandinavian brews vs the USA! :))


message 21: by Jim (new)

Jim O'Donnell | 41 comments A "contest" like that is one that I'm very much up for - sounds like is a win-win sort of contest!


message 22: by Jim (new)

Jim O'Donnell | 41 comments John, I'm going to definatly pick that book up. Thanks for the rec.


message 23: by Harvey (new)

Harvey | 53 comments Jim wrote: "A "contest" like that is one that I'm very much up for - sounds like is a win-win sort of contest!"

Yes... I think so! :))


message 24: by Trine (new)

Trine (trinespageongoodreads) | 8 comments Paul wrote: "Some authors have tried to capture the 'essence' of Europe, travelling to many countries and giving reportage as they go. Two of my favourites are 'The Pillars of Hercules' by Paul Theroux and Eric..."

Have you read True North: Travels in Arctic Europe ?


message 25: by Trine (new)

Trine (trinespageongoodreads) | 8 comments Ana - hope you'll have a wonderful time in Europe. :-)


message 26: by Paul (new)

Paul Veitch (geordiereader) | 4 comments Thanks for the suggestion Trine, new to this website and so have put this book on my 'to read' list. Think I'll keep it untill next winter as just pulling out of a long cold spell here in Northern England.


message 27: by Trine (new)

Trine (trinespageongoodreads) | 8 comments You're very welcome, Paul. Hope you'll enjoy the book. Happy Reading! :-)


message 28: by Nancy (new)

Nancy (nancybartellsbcglobalnet) | 48 comments Haven't heard you Ana since the initial post. Are you there and did you get the info you wanted?


message 29: by Ana (new)

Ana Leticia (mapgeek) Yea, Im still here. =] I like travel essays, novels , and historical books about Europe in general.


message 30: by Ana (new)

Ana Leticia (mapgeek) -La Bella Figura: A Field Guide to the Italian Mind

-Sixty Million Frenchmen Can't Be Wrong: Why We Love France but Not the French

-A Thousand Days in Venice


message 31: by Frances (new)

Frances | 8 comments Give A Yank Back to England: The Prodigal Tourist Returns by Denis Lipman a try! You can get a taste on the author's page, there's a youtube clip.


message 32: by John (new)

John Panther Soup is on my TBR pile. Though I have not read it yet, I can vouch for Gimlette as a good writer.


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