On a long straight narrow road just north of Winnemucca, Nevada.
It really is beautiful out here. Ever since high school I have been an admirer of desert beauty. The stark bareness of the hills in view is even more striking with white snow on top. Long shadows from a sun low on the horizon create more texture than I remember from the usual summertime traverse of this landscape. Just stopped at Pilot in Winnemucca to top off the gas: the cold crispness of the air is refreshing. I like it when I am wearing a warm jacket and it’s so cold my nose tingles on the inhale.
With a few hours left before we return to Boise and my kitties [oh, how I cannot wait to pick them up and give them a big squeeze!] this would be a great time to share the reading list during the Big Adventure.
Now I don’t know what everyone else does when they travel, when they explore, when they go out to enjoy new experiences. There are so many different objectives of and reasons that we travel. On a two week trip a parent might just want as much recharging time as possible between activities with their kids. Or a family might prefer to share activities together like sight-seeing or beach time or whatever. A newlywed couple might be enjoying whatever they do each day knowing that they are creating moments that will later become shared memories to reflect back on. Still others may want to engage in whatever is in front of them. Others seek thrilling or dangerous activities for that ever-exciting adrenaline rush. Some people spend all their time volunteering; some with a church group or other type of ‘give back’ project. The reasons we travel are many, as diverse as the populations.
One thing that became clear in our travels is that I needed something extra to do sometimes. Especially in the shorter winter days and especially to help combat being overwhelmed. I believe there are basically two types of reading. There is the reading of books to distract the reader from life, whatever reasons we do that. And there is the reading of books to gain more understanding or connection to life. I engaged in both in the last few months.
Some reasons that I had to read:
Lots of time, too much time, to wait.
Waiting in airports, waiting in train stations, waiting around.
Long spans of time on trains.
Shorter hours of daylight during winter travel. A great way to occupy during long winter nights.
There are books that -like with a person- just click right away with what is needed in that moment and it just begs to be my friend till it’s finished.
Did I mention how long the winter nights can be in the northern latitudes?
Now, some of you might be thinking you were in Europe, France, Italy, Switzerland! Why would you spend so much time reading when you could have been hanging out with locals? You could have been out hiking, drinking, eating, adventuring! And I would like to say here that yes, I could have been doing more of all of that. Yet when you are homesick or tired or overwhelmed by any of those random variables that make travelling abroad a wonderful experience you find that just sitting with a good book is a tangible and real way to overcome and just be with some of those moments.
First here are some books that were for reference along the way.
365 Science of Mind: A Year of Daily Wisdom From Ernest Holmes (2007) Penguin.
A great start to the day. Some time with spiritual contemplation. Sometimes this comes in handy when I’m scared or nervous. Almost all spiritual resources suggest that Fear is not necessary when there is Love and Divine guidance. I sometimes needed reminding.
Words That Matter: The Little Book of Life Lessons. The Oprah Magazine Editors of O. (2010) HarperCollins Publishers.
Sometimes I just wanted to spend five minutes reading nice quotes to infuse a little more positivity into the day. Or sometimes I knew we had only 15 or 20 minutes left on a train journey and didn’t want to “commit” to reading a longer book or get involved with writing. This little text was a great one for those moments.
Animal Speak: The Spiritual and Magical Powers of Creatures Great and Small. Ted Andrews. (2010 digital version). Llewellyn Worldwide Limited.
I have been using this text in paper form since the mid-nineties. I love the idea that there is a reason that we see and notice what we do and that there are ideas for me to consider. I believe that animals are a connection to the unseen world and the Great Spirit and for years have enjoyed reading and re-reading suggestions as to what it might mean. I always notice the hawks and other raptors. When I saw foxes in Switzerland I could look up the information about fox. When I saw deer or turtles or herons or egrets I could look up what quiet messages I might want to consider in relation to keeping it spiritual.
Rabbit! A rabbit just hopping along the side of this long and isolated road! See? Another thing to look up. I love it.
Before we left I wanted to read a few books related to travel as a way to get motivated and excited about it. I also was searching for an objective, something to make our trip different than just scraping the surface and being just tourists.
The Geography of Bliss: One Grumps Search For The Happiest Places in the World. Eric Weiner. (2008) Hachette Publishing
Loved it. Appreciated the author’s candid assessment of various countries. A fun and thought-provoking arm-chair read about other cultures and our own. Super fun to read before heading out into the travelling world.
Travel as a Political Act. Rick Steves (2009) Nation Books.
This one packs a punch and really got me thinking about the things people choose to do with their spare time. I wanted my trip to be meaningful and profound and not just some carefree jaunt through time and space. This one helped me keep that idea on the plate.
Still more interesting travel-related titles.
Cruising Attitude: Tales of Crashpads, Crew Drama, and Crazy Passengers at 35,000 Feet. Heather Poole. (2012). HarperCollins Publishers
Anyone who has been on a plane will have something to appreciate from this book. She shares personal stories or things she has seen and it elicits emotion and recognition. Some of the people in our world are crazy and outrageous, and she captures some moments creatively to share with her readers. It was a fun read.
Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality. Jacob Tomsky (2012). Random House
As with the above book, anyone who has stayed in a hotel can appreciate what this author has composed to share with his readers. His is a raw account of things that happen in the hotel industry in general and in his own experiences specific. Personally I really like his descriptive style and personality; the content was a bonus. It has changed the way I chose to do things when staying in a motel/hotel. I realized that now I will wash the provided glasses [again, perhaps?] with the hottest water and my own soap, for example. Check out the book and you will know what I mean.
Other: Texts to bring experiences closer
Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl. Anne Frank. (1947). Bantam Books.
The compact four-story building is right on a busy street overlooking one of the myriad canals in Amsterdam. It struck me as so ‘in the middle’ of everything when we were waiting to get in. The small space where Anne Frank and the others hid during WWII struck me. I felt that I just had to read her story again. It brought the experience so much more to life after having visited the location, seeing more photos, and learning more about the whole family.
Later in the trip…
Norway was definitely a favorite. I had high expectations for Norway. And I was not disappointed. I learned a lot as well. It was a big bonus to live with a family because they were able to share many stories and much history. Especially about the Vikings. I also looked up and read portions of the following books:
Song of the Vikings: Snorri and The Making of Norse Myths. Nancy Marie Brown. (2012). Palgrave Macmillan.
Norse Mythology: 28 Short Tales From the Poetic Edda. Birgit Amadori. (2012). Lulu.com
Still other books along the way:
In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction. Gabor Mate and Peter A. Levine. (2011). North Atlantic Books.
I started reading this documentary before leaving for the adventure. It is an excellent and well researched text by a Canadian Doctor. He spends almost the first third of the book presenting true stories of his clients, patients, and ultimately himself. Then he goes into his own and others’ research to document and support his position. As an educator this book helped me to understand my students in specific, and other people in general. Very interesting read for those interested in why people do what we do.
Scattered: How ADD Originates and What You Can Do About It. Gabor Mate. (2000). Penguin.
Ditto the above. This Author really researched his topic and has excellent arguments and reasoning for his stance on current human psychology issues.
Little Bunch of Madmen: Elements of Global Reporting. Mort Rosenblum. (2010) de.Mo. Design Limited.
What can I say? I decided I would like to be a Travel Journalist. I figured I had better get started reading up on it a bit. Have not finished this one.
Buddy: How a Rooster Made Me a Family Man. Brian McGrory. (2012). Crown Publishing Group.
This is a very entertaining read by an excellent writer and well-known personality at the Boston Globe, as he has been employed there for nearly two decades. Having been a fond owner of chickens I figured this would be a fun story. I have also been enjoying books that include an element of auto-biography which this does nicely.
Akiane: Her Life, Her Art, Her Poetry. Akiane Kramarik. (2006). Nelson, Thomas Inc.
I cannot believe I had not heard of this amazing girl before! She even lives in Northern Idaho, apparently. What a wonderful book to reignite a flame for God.
Damaged: The Heartbreaking True Story of a Forgotten Child. Cathy Glass. (2009). HarperCollins Publishers.
If you have a soft stomach for young children and their lives then do not read this book. I was sad for days after I read this in practically one sitting. This story is an important read for people who would like to stay ‘in the know’ about what is happening in our world-as it was only written a few years ago- but it is so truly heartbreaking that you might like to save yourself the heartache.
Book of Sketches: 1952-57. Jack Kerouac and George Condo. (2006 digital). Penguin Group.
Travel book. Jack Kerouac is famous in the area where I am from, Central California. I love the idea of life as poetry and thought it would be nice to catch up on some cult classics, if you will.
Thank you for enjoying this list. I hope you find interest in one or a few of these titles. If you do, share what you think with me!