Summer Reads for Travel Inspiration

Summer is just starting to get underway, and I’ve been stuck inside for almost two weeks with a terribly nasty sinus infection. This has given me plenty of time to read and dream about future travel plans. For anyone else out there who wants to find some fresh pages to explore, here are my recommendations.

1) Suite Venitienne by Sophie Calle

This unusual book of photos is the fascinating result of a photographer who spent her time following strangers and photographing them without their knowing. One day she followed a man, and when she accidentally bumped into him later at a party she decided to follow him all the way to Venice to continue photographing him. The book is full of her black and white photos of Venice and her search for the mystery man. It is fantastically weird and uncomfortable, and the mystery of it all will keep you turning the pages.

2) Cry of the Kalahari by Mark and Delia Owens

This book is the real-life adventure of Mark and Delia Owens who packed up the bare necessities and took off into the trackless expanse of the Kalahari desert in Botswana, Africa to study the wildlife there. With no other humans for hundreds of miles and nothing but desert wilderness surrounding them, this couple become deeply involved with the animals that populate the Kalahari and the delicate ecology there. This book is a thrilling and emotional look at one of the few places of true wilderness left to humans on this planet.

3) No Baggage by Clara Bensen

Clara Bensen had only been dating Jeff for a month when he invited her on a three week trek across Europe, starting in Istanbul. Jeff proposed a trip with no itinerary and no baggage. Clara said yes, and the rest is in the book. This story takes readers on an unpredictable ride through eight countries over twenty one days, all done with absolutely no baggage (they each only brought one outfit to wear) and trusting to the universe to provide them with places to stay and things to do.


What To Read On Your Next Trip

Spoiler Alert: these book recommendations are subjective, so make your own choices!  These just happen to be things I personally have really enjoyed.

It’s only February, but after two weeks of sunny weather in the 60’s and 70’s I couldn’t help but start to daydream about summer road trips.  I spent a good deal of time on REI’s website researching which backpacker’s tent to buy…Anyway, whether you are taking a roadtrip or flying somewhere far away you will probably want some choice reading material (besides this blog of course).  Here are some books I have recently read and really enjoyed.  

1) The Claire Dewitt mysteries by Sara Gran: Claire Dewitt and the City of the Dead.  This is the first book in the so-far two book series and it will simultaneously feed and satisfy your curiosity.  The book takes place in New Orleans just two years after Katrina and the city is still pretty much in ruins.  Claire Dewitt is the [self styled] best detective in the world.  She is called back to the city she once loved to find a missing DA.  This book is much more than just a crime-detective-mystery story though; it’s about a woman who lost her best friend and could never solve the case, a woman who lost her mentor to petty theft, and a woman who is pretty much Bat Man.  She is the hero people deserve but not the hero they need.

Claire Dewitt and the Bohemian Highway is the second installment, and actually the book I read first after stumbling across it in the library.  This book has Claire back in her hometown of San Francisco and investigating the murder of an old lover.  It turns out he might have been more important in her life than she gave him credit for and the idea is killing her- literally.  

2) The Girl in the Woods by Aspen Matis: this memoir covers the story of how Aspen was raped her second day of college and the falling out from being disbelieved and shamed by everyone from the college to her own mother.  Aspen picks herself up, leaves school, and thru-hikes the Pacific Crest Trail.  Since I have my own aspirations for hiking that fabled trail I was quite enthralled with this book and couldn’t put it down.  

3) Unmentionable: The Victorian Ladies’ Guide to Sex, Marriage, and Manners by Therese O’Neill.  This books is a witty, hilarious, and informative guide to surviving the 19th century without dying of consumption of being put into the asylum for “hysteria”.  The author has done her research and will answer all your burning questions, such as: what to do with my menstrual rags when they’ve been washed?  How can I avoid getting consumption from the wrong water temperature in my hip bath?  What kind of lead is okay to put in my face cream?  Ultimately, you will learn that just about everything in your filthy, smelly, and desititute 19th century life will give you consumption, so just accept it now.  *this book is exceptionally funny to read aloud to others.

5) The River of No Return by Bee Ridgway: this is a book I am actually still reading, having snagged it on impulse from the library when I was checking out all of my PCT trail guides.  It is a great piece of historical fiction, so what along the lines of the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon.  This books has tragic romance, people jumping through time, and great plot twists and turns.  I am excited to see how it all plays out!

That’s my list!  I am always on the hunt for new and exciting reading material, so I usually have about three books “going” at one time.  These six were some that really stood out for me.  Happy reading folks!