Tuesday, September 25, 2012

"Book Lust to Go" by Nancy Pearl

Adventure is just a book away as America's favorite librarian, Nancy Pearl, returns with recommended reading for more than 120 destinations around the world. [This book] connects the best fiction and nonfiction to particular destinations - whether your bags are packed or your armchair is calling. With stops from Texas to Timbuktu, this informed literary globetrotting guide points readers to the literature of place of destinations near and far. Whatever your port of call, Nancy Pearl's reading recommendations will send you on your way.

The subtitle for this book is "recommended reading for travelers, vagabonds, and dreamers" - and much as I admire the author, I think this book misses the mark a bit.

Don't get me wrong; there are tons of recommendations in here for just about every place on the planet. Pearl obviously did her homework finding works that work for this book. She has recommendations for countries I've never even heard of. But the style of this book didn't make me long to visit any of those places, let alone pick up any of the books listed here to "explore" these places. In that sense, the book doesn't succeed in its mission.

I started reading this just like every other book, word for word, straight through. I quickly got bored and started skimming, so that should tell you something. I read more about what she said about each country/place than I read about the recommendations.

And there were, in my humble opinion, some glaring omissions. In her chapter "Hiking the (Fill in the Blank) Trail", there's no mention of Bill Bryson's hilarious "A Walk in the Woods", which really did have me considering if I could hike the Appalachian Trail (I'm about 99% certain that I could not). And I was disappointed not to see "Under the Tuscan Sun" by Frances Mayes in the chapter "So We/I Bought (or Built) a House in..." I so wanted to move to Italy after reading Mayes' book, and I laughed right along with her as she not only re-built the house, but also the olive groves and the grounds. Granted, this is Pearl's book and not mine, but these two books just beg to be included.

Before it sounds as if I've lost all faith in the nation's most famous (or infamous) librarian, I will say that she gives a major shout-out to one of my favorite authors, Ian Rankin. In the chapter "Scotland: More than Haggis, Kilts, and Ian Rankin", she shows much love to Rankin, author of the John Rebus series. Everything I think I know about Edinburgh, I learned from Rankin's books. Pearl highly recommends the series, and thankfully recommends that readers start at the very beginning, reading them in order. I very much agree; the mysteries themselves could probably stand on their own, but so much happens in Rebus' life that it's best to read them chronologically.

I haven't given up entirely on Pearl, as I just picked up "More Book Lust" as the library the other day. But this book didn't make me want to pack my bags.

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