Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Quick Trip to...

As the winter weather comes & goes, all I can think about is taking a trip far away. However, until I accrue more vacation time, I'll just be reading about faraway places. With that in mind, I have been checking out the site Bibliotravel ("for books that take you away").

Right on their home page, they have a booklist called "A Quick Trip to Berlin", which recommends Bad Company by Jack Higgins, Berlin Game by Len Deighton, Berlin Stories by Christopher Isherwood, & Body of Lies by David Ignatius. All thrillers, which is good, but curled up by the heater I think I would like to read about somewhere warmer than Berlin. Likewise, Bibliotravel's featured city is Ottawa (which has, perhaps surprisingly, 98 books set there), which is also too far north for my needs. Time to explore...

I can search by "author" (but it seems like I really have to know who I'm looking for), or by "title" (again, kind of specific, but at least the place the novel is set is indicated). However, if I search by "place", I can choose "The Caribbean", but I then I would have to have a country in mind-although there is a section called "Caribbean (as a whole)". If I choose "Oceania" (where it is currently summer!), limiting to Sydney, Australia, I could read Blue Latitudes or In a Sunburned Country. Getting warmer now...

If I try a different search, by "genre", I can choose between categories such as children's, fantasy, photography, memoir or biography, travelogue, mystery...the list goes on. A quick dip into "memoir or biography" reveals that titles are listed with "year written" & "places". I might check out The House on Dream Street: Memoir of an American Woman in Vietnam...but, on second thought, maybe fiction is what I'm after.

In the "mystery" section, I see local author Pari Noskin Taichert gets a nod...how about Gumbo Limbo? It's set in Key West. "Like most mysteries, Gumbo Limbo uses many details about a specific place, in this case Key West, to tell the story; we learn a lot about the area due to different chases, shenanigans, scrapes, and escapes," Bibliotravel explains. But the main character sounds kind of seedy. Maybe not a mystery after all.

I've got a winner! From the "novels" section, I bring up Admiring Silence by Abdulrazak Gurnah. The author's first book was shortlisted for the Booker Prize; it's set in Zanzibar & London; it was reviewed favorably by Kirkus, Library Journal, & Publishers Weekly (I can see these reviews from the library catalog!).

It's not exactly light reading ("poignantly evokes the cultural limbo of many emigres"), but I think I will enjoy it. You can visit Bibliotravel to find books set all over the world, too! Let me know what you found!

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