I read a lot of lovely, frustrating fiction that leaves me yearning for places I can never go. I’ll only visit Juraasic Park, Narnia, Yoknapatawpha county, and Hogwarts in my dreams. When I find a book that makes me want to visit a location and it’s possible, I want to jump in the car and go. Mark Twain has made me ache for the Mississippi River. Jack Kerouac made me want to hit the road, and Into the Wild had me dreaming of Alaska. These are the best types of travel books. I don’t want lists of things to do — I want the lure. Recently, I’ve read two books that have given me bad cases of the travel bug.
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
by Cheryl Strayed
Wild is the story of Cheryl Strayed who, on somewhat of a whim, decides to hike the PCT. It follows her 1,100 mile hike through California, Oregon, and into Washington. It is a hiking book, but it isn’t about hiking. You learn why she is hiking. The book dives deeps into her relationships and shows her unique bond with her mother and dealing with loss. The film adaption with Reese Witherspoon is fantastic, but you do miss some of the inner dialogue. By the end of it, I was ready to lace up my boots and hit the trail. I want to experience the beauty of the mountains, feel the wind, and conquer the beast that is the PCT.
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
by John Berendt
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is a riveting novel that revolves around the killing of Danny Hansford in Savannah, Georgia. The eccentric cast of characters bring so much life to the book that you want to attend an elegant dinner party with a voodoo witch, an antique dealer, and a drag queen. The realization that they are closely based on real people, is mind-blowing. Taking place in Savannah, the book colors such a rich image of the south. The sophisticated socialites that have murder and deceit in their blood as well as their southern charm. Berendt paints the picture of Savannah by saying:
“For me, Savannah’s resistance to change was its saving grace. The city looked inward, sealed off from the noises and distractions of the world at large. It grew inward, too, and in such a way that its people flourished like hothouse plants tended by an indulgent gardener. The ordinary became extraordinary. Eccentrics thrived. Every nuance and quirk of personality achieved greater brilliance in that lush enclosure than would have been possible anywhere else in the world.”