Essential summer reads
Culture / July 18, 2011
By Matt Law
As costs for students rise it is becoming more difficult for university students to take a real vacation and experience other parts of the world, or even their own country. Here are three books that are sure to give readers a slice of travel life … and a laugh or two.
Beauty Tips from Moose Jaw: Travels in Search of Canada by Will Ferguson is a wonderfully written travelogue about Canada. The book begins in Victoria, B.C., exploring the world of poetry slams, opium dens and a secret room in the Fairmont Empress Hotel that has no doors. As Ferguson travels east, he explores his own past alongside the obscure, and often overlooked, past of Canada’s diverse provinces. He visits Manitoba and watches dancing polar bears while offering readers intriguing snippets about Canada’s arctic history. He explores the Republic of Madawaska – if you don’t know what that is, read this book and then hunt down your high school history teacher and smack them. The journey ends on the east coast with a wonderful examination of accents and Vikings. Beauty Tips from Moose Jaw is a great book that will be sure to inspire a cross-country road trip. Be sure to check out Ferguson’s’ Hitching Rides with Buddha to experience Japan as a hitchhiker (it’s even better than Beauty Tips from Moose Jaw).
A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail chronicles author Bill Bryson’s journey as he walks the 2,000 mile Appalachian Trail across 14 states in the U.S. Bryson’s mix of historical facts and comedic observations keep readers engaged and laughing while he attempts the hike from Georgia to Maine with his childhood friend Katz. His insights about a changing, and sometimes unchanging, America are both poignant and funny. Bryson’s talent for writing helps portray his bumbling-outdoorsman persona perfectly. The relationship between Bryson and Katz keeps the book ticking along and fills in any moments that the reader might tire of historical facts. A Walk in the Woods is a fantastic read for anyone who has ever donned a backpack for a hike, or has ever dreamed of it.
Neither Here Nor There: Travels in Europe by Bill Bryson gives readers a chance to experience Europe, from Oslo to Istanbul. Bryson retraces his 1970s journey through Europe with a first-person account of the joys and perils of traveling by yourself. The book offers a wealth of historical facts and personal insights that will leave readers wanting to experience Europe for themselves. From a search for the Northern Lights, to Bryson’s mixed feelings about the French and redneck Austrians, Neither Here Nor There shows a side of Europe that many will never see. Unlike some of Bryson’s other books, Neither Here Nor There can become a little dry without the humorous interactions between Bryson and his traveling companions, but the book is still well-worth a read.