Books that transport readers
From the staff of Raynor Memorial Libraries
Good books can take readers on virtual tours anywhere in the world. Marquette Magazine asked the voracious readers on the staff of Raynor Memorial Libraries to suggest their favorite contemporary books for armchair travelers. Choose one, settle into a good chair in the backyard and begin!
Anatolian Days and Nights: A Love Affair with Turkey, Land of Dervishes, Goddesses, and Saints by Joy Stocke and Angie Brenner (Wild River Books, 2012)
The American co-authors met on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey and began a 10-year journey that pulls the reader along with stories that reveal the history and culture of a fascinating land.
The Black Nile: One Man’s Amazing Journey Through Peace and War on the World’s Longest River by Dan Morrison (Viking, 2010)
Journalist Morrison enlists a friend to travel in a small boat from Lake Victoria, 3,600 miles to Cairo and the Mediterranean. In a humorous tone, he documents tribal conflicts, disease and poverty in an Africa largely unseen in mass media.
Don’t Mention the Wars: A Journey Through European Stereotypes by Tony Connelly (Dublin, New Island, 2009)
Irish news correspondent Connelly sets out on a tour of Europe to test the modern-day credibility of long-held cultural stereotypes. The result is a thought-provoking, intelligent and often funny critique of 10 countries as seen through the eyes of locals, ex-pats and Connelly himself.
Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World by Eric Weiner (Twelve, 2008)
After covering too many wars and disasters as an NPR foreign correspondent, Weiner spends a year wandering to identify happier places. He shares wonderful stories of the happier countries (Iceland, Bhutan and Switzerland) and the least happy (Qatar and Moldova) in this little gem.
The Good Girl’s Guide to Getting Lost: A Memoir of Three Continents, Two Friends, and One Unexpected Adventure by Rachel Friedman (Bantam, 2011)
Settle down for a story about doing what everyone dreams of — escaping into the unknown. With the “real post-college world” looming closer and closer, Friedman takes off on a journey as much to avoid as to discover what her future holds. She is funny, honest and entirely relatable.
Paris, I Love You, But You’re Bringing Me Down by Rosecrans Baldwin (Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux, 2012)
A young writer moves to Paris (2007–08) to work in an advertising agency. His anecdotal account of a year of language problems and cultural differences and his love affair with the city is sometimes lyrical, sometimes comical and very enjoyable.
Sideways on a Scooter: Life and Love in India by Miranda Kennedy (Random House, 2011)
During five years as an NPR reporter in New Delhi, the 20-something Kennedy covered women, family issues, marriage, the caste system and Indian politics. Portraits of her female friends illustrate cultural issues in a traditional, but modern, society.
To the Last Breath: A Memoir of Going to Extremes by Francis Slakey (Simon & Schuster, 2012)
Georgetown physics professor Slakey set out in 1997 on a 12-year odyssey to climb the highest mountain on all continents and surf every ocean. Inspiring and riveting, this intense memoir is more than physical adventure — it is a spiritual journey as well.
Travels with My Donkey: One Man and His Ass on a Pilgrimage to Santiago by Tim Moore (St. Martin’s Press, 2005)
Enjoy a great travel memoir of the author, his donkey and their 500-mile journey from France through Spain along the famous camino de Santiago de Compostela. Moore’s story of his experience as a donkey-dragging pilgrim is funny, insightful and slightly irreverent.
Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time by Mark Adams (Dutton, 2009)
Part history, part adventure, part archeology and all fascinating! The author recounts the 1911 “discovery” of the ancient city by stepping into the shoes of Yale professor Hiram Bingham III.
Walking to Canterbury: A Modern Journey Through Chaucer’s Medieval England by Jerry Ellis (Ballantine Books, 2003)
Enjoy this, the the second pilgrimage Ellis has undertaken — the first, Walking the Trail, recounts his story of walking the Trail of Tears. In the story of his seven-day trip along the medieval route, Ellis shares tales of the people he encounters, discusses the history of the pilgrimage and its walkers, and reflects on one of the inspirations for his journey, Chaucer's Canterbury Tales.
A Wedding in Haiti: The Story of a Friendship by Julia Alvarez (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2012)
A Vermont creative writing professor and Dominican Republic native, Alvarez recounts a hilarious and heartwarming story of attending the 2009 wedding of a young man met years earlier. The memoir is an up-close view of pre- and post-earthquake Haiti.