Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Holiday Homework, Road Reads, and other Novel stuff

Nothing like a good book to get you in the mood for travel.

We turned to our local (just up the road 30 miles or so) travel guru Rick Steves’ for the homework part of our trip to Spain  Over the years we've come to appreciate his practical tips for getting around and saving money, not to mention hand-drawn, easy-to-understand maps. We've been reading his large book on Spain, but will only be taking one of his Snapshot Series books --  Madrid and Toledo -- with us. This series provides a compact, light-weight book specific to certain cities.

(I know you are thinking, why don't they use Kindle, or Nook or some phone with apps? Well, we pack light and between our cell phone, camera and Netbook, we have all the wires, chargers and batteries we want to carry - so give us a good ol' paperback in which we can jot notes and flag pages with the flick of a wrist and we are quite happy.)

Pre-trip reading:
I’ve learned much about the Spanish Civil War and the military coup of Francisco Franco in 1936, by re-reading the novel, The Return by English author Victoria Hislop. Caught up in the story she tells of Concha and Pablo Ramirez and their children, I’ve also learned much about flamenco dancing and its importance in the Spanish culture. Even if you don't travel to Spain, this would be a great summer read for beach or armchair.

A real life story by Frances Mayes, A Year In  the World, The Journey of a Passionate Traveler has almost had me tasting the tapas she ate and certainly smelling the orange blossoms as she has explored towns and cities in Spain and Portugal.  In her usual style she has also sparked my interest in not only the poetry of Spanish son, Federico Garcia Lorca, but in his life as well.  She’s also prompted me to research the Spanish concept of duende, in both flamenco dance and life itself. But, more on that later.

On the road reads. . .okay, so on the seas, reads:
HAL 2009 cruise photos 028I'll be seeing views similar to this photo -- taken on our repositioning cruise two years ago -- when I open Mark Twain’s Innocence Abroad the perfect re-read for the cruise. Then I want to find a copy of Bill Bryson’s Icons of England. . .you can never have too much to read.

We’ve got a lot of sea days reading time though and I am looking for your suggestions.  Any recommendations? Books set in Spain, England or France? Cruise stories? (I read Christopher Columbus's diaries on our last cruise and it was fascinating)

Note: Although I’ve added these books to the Amazon carousel on the lower right hand corner of the blog. I've also added a link in this post for those who get this by email and may want to look more closely at a book: simply click that link - it will take you to that book's page on Amazon. 


  1. Have you ever read "The Pillars of the Earth," by Ken Follett? It's a fascinating read, especially if you're interested in Gothic cathedrals.

  2. Oh yes, in fact, I've read it twice and his follow up book as well. I agree with you, it is fascinating reading!


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