Summer travels are as close as a good book

Good Reads1 copyBy John Hoover

I have met very few people who haven’t wished to travel, to see other parts of our nation or our world, even if only from the comfort of their armchair. Since summer is the time when many people travel, the owners and staff at Misty Valley Books thought we’d share with you some of our favorite travel titles, books that we think will take you places you’ve never been or perhaps remind you of some of the places you’ve visited.

VoodooLynne starts our journey with a visit to the island of Haiti, recommending Amy Wilentz’s Farewell, Fred Voodoo ($27). “Wilentz, a foreign correspondent on assignment in Haiti, who calls Haiti ‘my great love,’ gives us historical perspective, revealing detail, and a visceral feel for Haiti’s extraordinary people and their resilience. I had read her novel Martyr’s Crossing, and found her non-fiction just as riveting.”Frank Mosher

Returning home from Haiti, Bill recommends Howard Frank Mosher’s The Great Northern Express ($15),a funny account of Mosher’s three-month, 20,000-mile journey to discover what he loved enough to live for. Just before Mosher turned 65e, he learned that he had prostate cancer. Following intensive treatments, Mosher set out alone in his 20-year-old Chevy Celebrity – The Loser Cruiser, his high school students called it – on a monumental road trip and book tour across America.  As is always the case with Mosher, fancy and imagination enhance the narrative.”

Time of GiftsAmanda takes us across the Atlantic and back in time with the first of her two selections, A Time of Gifts ($16.95) by Patrick Leigh Fermor. “This book will take you on a journey unlike any you’ve imagined.  As the author looks back on a walking expedition that took him, at age 19 in 1933, from Holland to Constantinople, we see Europe through the lens of an earlier era.  Fermor meets and befriends people of all stations and sleeps in barns and castles alike as he treks across Europe, a journey that will take him over 12 months.  I loved his writing as well as the opportunity to glimpse an adventure I’m unlikely to experience myself.”

Tuscan Sun CookbookEver the kitchen maven, Amanda has been known to visit far off places through her cookbooks and the recipes she prepares. She recommends The Tuscan Sun Cookbook ($29.99) by Frances Mayes. “The photographs are beautiful and they are matched by wonderful recipes.  I gave this book to my daughter after she had lived in Umbria for a year and it brought back memories of stunning scenery (and meals!) that we shared together there.”

Grandma Gatewoods walkFor the next stop on our journey Kim brings us much closer to home. She suggests Grandma Gatewood’s Walk ($26.95) by Ben Montgomery. “For anyone with even a passing interest in the Appalachian Trail, Grandma Gatewood’s story is an inspiring one that should be shared.”

At age 67, after bearing 11 children, and suffering for years at the hand of an abusive and manipulative husband, Emma Gatewood up and left her home to hike the entire 2,000+ mile Appalachian Trail, with nothing but a pair of Keds sneakers, a cloth sack with some snacks and an old shower curtain for a raincoat. She not only became the first woman – ever – to hike the trail in its entirety, she then went on to hike a second time. And then a third time. The first person, man or woman, to ever do so. She was a pioneer in what today would be called ultralight-weight hiking,” but in 1955, was just what she thought to be practical” for such a hike. An amazing story and an amazing woman.”

DisenchantmentsJory keeps us in the United States with her young adult selection The Disenchantments ($8.99), by Nina LaCour. “Colby and Bev carry out their longstanding high-school graduation plan: an epic road trip with Bev’s band. Part of what makes this road trip so epic, though, is all of the things these friends have to wrestle with along the journey. Sometimes the biggest journeys happen when you hop in your car and just drive.”

Travels in SiberiaThe last stop on our journey is half-way around the world. I’ve always been fascinated by accounts of huge continent-spanning journeys, and Travels in Siberia ($20) by Ian Frazier is one of the best I’ve ever read. Starting in St. Petersburg Frazier and his two guides/travel companions head east in an ancient Renault van – which constantly breaks down – for an epic journey that eventually takes them to the Pacific Ocean. Filled with descriptions and stories of the people and places along the way, as well as some history of the region, I found this book fascinating.

Be sure to check out July’s Good Reads for our recommendations of summer beach/lake/porch/campground reads.

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Filed Under: Community and Arts LifeGood Reads

About the Author: After a 35-year career as a high school social studies teacher, John Hoover and his wife, Sally, retired to Vermont. He lives in Windham where he serves as a Justice of the Peace and Library Trustee. He works part time as a book-seller at Misty Valley Books, is active at St. Luke's Episcopal Church and sings in several choral groups.

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