Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Travel Bookshop

Wouldn't that be lovely? To have a bookshop devoted to travel books? Well, ok, you wouldn't make any money, look at Notting Hill, but still, it would be lovely. I would like it. Anyway. the point? right.

My mom gave me a $50 gift card to Barnes and Noble for Christmas and I spent the whole thing in about 20 minutes. I just love books, the way they feel, the way they smell, the way they take you out of yourself for a while. I don't always like every book I read, of course, but I rarely can't get through the darn thing and I've come to that point in a book I bought with my gift card.

I love travel, and I have a collection of guidebooks of places I've been and places I want to go. In the travel section, I found some books written in kind of "I was here and it was like this, and some funny stuff happened" way, which I thought would be a welcome departure from the guidebooks but also give me my travel book fix. Um, sort of.

The first one, by Tony Hawks(not Tony Hawk, yeah I was a little confused too), is absolutely delightful. I've been reading it at work and a couple of times I had to stop myself from falling out of my chair laughing. It's called Round Ireland with a Fridge and, really, it's one of the funniest things I've read in a long time. It's like reading someone's blog about their travels, so fun. Tony makes a drunken bet with his friend to hitchhike the circumference of Ireland with a fridge as a companion. Tony takes the bet and starts out having no idea what his idea would get him into. He quickly becomes an Irish legend and is baffled with the attention he receives from just about everyone as he makes his way across the country. If you have a yen to meander across Ireland, sitting in warm pubs, soaking up the music and culture (like I do), give this book a try and enjoy the ride.

On the other hand, I accidentally grabbed the other book this morning on my way to work and I think it's going to be one of those that I throw across the room in frustration because I just CANNOT like it. I've tried, it's just not happening, which is a shame, really. This should be a lovely little book about travelling to small-town America, but it's not. I bought it because he made me laugh on the first page, which is usually an indicator of greatness, not so for Bill Bryson's The Lost Continent.

I don't know what happened to this man as a child, but 76 pages in, the things that have stuck with me are his disdain for fat people (and almost everyone he meets apparently is fat, or old, or both), for old people, and his completely inaccurate commentary on some things.
He goes on and on about how Carbondale, IL doesn't have a downtown, or anything to offer a traveller but fast food. Um, I didn't grow up in Carbondale, but I have spent some time there. It's a college town, a rather large college town that was famous for it's Halloween riots a few years ago. In 1989, when he travelled through there, it was a college town with an old downtown with bookstores and little cafes you could walk to. I don't know where he was, but it wasn't Carbondale. When I graduated high school, my parents refused to let me even consider attending the university there, but he couldn't find anything going on, in September? Really?

Never mind that everyone he meets is fat and/or stupid, I was ready to throw in the towel when he fondly remembered afternoons at the local downtown movie theater where he would sit on the balcony, dribbling Coke on unsuspecting patrons below him and throwing candy at the movie screen. Now, you don't want to get me started on morons who don't go to the movies to, I don't know, SEE a movie, but then he goes on to complain about movie theaters in malls with tiny auditoriums and minuscule screens. Um, where is he finding these theaters? Because the movie-plexs that I have been to have reclining seats and cup holders and stadium seating so that unless you have the misfortune to sit behind someone REALLY tall, everyone can see the screen.

Seriously, unless there's someone out there who can come up with a reason not to, I'm done with this book.
Gah! End of rant.


  1. Kendra said...
    Gahh, he sounds like an idiot. I will definately pick up the other one though :). $50.00 at B&N? I'd have that gone in a heartbeat. Thats like taking a kid to the candy store and giving him a
    Simon said...
    I read another of his books called "Neither Here Nor There" where he "does" Europe. One of the worst travel books I've ever read. He comes across as an arrogant, opinionated little creep.

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