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1. Assassination Vacation
$10.36 $6.00 list($12.95)
2. Into the Wild
$16.29 list($23.95)
3. Honeymoon with My Brother : A
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4. Chasing Matisse : A Year in France
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5. I'm a Stranger Here Myself: Notes
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6. Almost French: Love And A New
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7. Touch the Top of the World: A
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8. The Motorcycle Diaries : A Latin
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9. Tales of a Female Nomad : Living
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10. Without Reservations : The Travels
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11. A Thousand Days in Venice (Ballantine
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12. North of Ithaka : A Journey Home
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13. Walk Across America, A
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14. Travels
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15. Bill Bryson's African Diary
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16. Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing
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17. In Search of Captain Zero: A Surfer's
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18. American Traveler: The Life and
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19. My Kind of Place : Travel Stories
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20. Plane Insanity: A Flight Attendant's

1. Assassination Vacation
by Sarah Vowell
list price: $21.00
our price: $14.28
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0743260031
Catlog: Book (2005-03-29)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Sales Rank: 250
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Sarah Vowell exposes the glorious conundrumsof American history and culture with wit, probity, and an irreverent sense of humor. With Assassination Vacation, she takes us on a road trip like no other -- a journey to the pit stops of American political murder and through the myriad ways they have been used for fun and profit, for political and cultural advantage.

From Buffalo to Alaska, Washington to the Dry Tortugas, Vowell visits locations immortalized and influenced by the spilling of politically important blood, reporting as she goes with her trademark blend of wisecracking humor, remarkable honesty, and thought-provoking criticism. We learn about the jinx that was Robert Todd Lincoln (present at the assassinations of Presidents Lincoln, Garfield, and McKinley) and witness the politicking that went into the making of the Lincoln Memorial. The resulting narrative is much more than an entertaining and informative travelogue -- it is the disturbing and fascinating story of how American death has been manipulated by popular culture, including literature, architecture, sculpture, and -- the author's favorite -- historical tourism. Though the themes of loss and violence are explored and we make detours to see how the Republican Party became the Republican Party, there are all kinds of lighter diversions along the way into the lives of the three presidents and their assassins, including mummies, show tunes, mean-spirited totem poles, and a nineteenth-century biblical sex cult. ... Read more

Reviews (25)

5-0 out of 5 stars Wierd but Funny - A Great Way to do History
This book is just a touch wierd. Who would take a vacation with the specific intent of going to see where the presidents got shot?

OK, I'll admit having visited the Texas Book Depository building in Dallas. But that was because of the publicity that was high at the time regarding who actually shot him. An aside -- anyone who has ever gone rifle shooting can look out the window he used and will think, "I could have made that shot."

Still, her dry wit can't help from coming through, "Going to Ford's Theatre to watch the play is like going to Hooters for the food." She makes the study of history come alive much better than the dry history books I remember from school.

As now the author of five books, television appearances on several shows, and the voice of Teenage superhero Violet Parr in "The Incredibles," Ms. Vowell is a budding great voice in American literature.

1-0 out of 5 stars For Presidential History Geeks Only
I like Sarah Vowell's personality and normally enjoy reading her books and listening to her on This American Life.Plus she kicked ass in The Incredibles.

I found this book really dull reading though. Unless you, like Sarah, are obsessed with the tiny details of President Garfield's presidency (and other subjects equally dry) you may be as bored as I was. She herself keeps saying how the companions she brings along on her research trips are bored to tears by the subject matter.

I look forward to her next book and a return to more interesting territory.

5-0 out of 5 stars It's No Coincidence...
This book is great! The wit and humor of Vowell's essays, collected in Take the Cannoli and The Partly Cloudy Patriot, translate well to this more focused tale of her visits to sites related to presidential assassinations. Filled with Vowell's quirky observations and animated by the rapid-fire connections her mind makes, Assassination Vacation is a page-turner AND a history lesson at the same time. Vowell's deep appreciation of and enthusiasm for her subject matter is infectious. Highly recommended, especially if you're planning a trip that includes visits to historic sites. Vowell's viewpoint will give you a new way of enjoying them that will definitely enhance your experience!

5-0 out of 5 stars quirky history tour
Very informative, hilarious and even moving at times. One other reviewer mentioned Vowell's Bush bashing, but they should read or listen to more than a snippet. The "current president" only pops up a couple of times and briefly. The rest of the book is for the most part a quirky nonpartisan journey through American political history. Vowell's narration in the audiobook abridgement is broken up with some interesting guest voices. Stephen King as Abraham Lincoln for instance.

5-0 out of 5 stars Charming, Witty and Funny
I just, today, discovered Sarah Vowell's work. It is a wonderful treat. She looks at history in an amazingly honest way. Her history is never boring, of course. I was fortunate to see Sarah do an author presentation on C-Span2 BookTV.

She presents history in a quirky, honest and humorous way. This book is about the history of the people and events surrounding the assassintions of Lincoln, Garfield and McKinley. You will learn historical details that you never knew or even thought that you wanted to know. You will be very pleased with Sarah's look into history. ... Read more


2. Into the Wild
by JON KRAKAUER
list price: $12.95
our price: $10.36
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0385486804
Catlog: Book (1997-01-20)
Publisher: Anchor
Sales Rank: 1144
Average Customer Review: 4.03 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

"God, he was a smart kid..." So why did Christopher McCandless trade a brightfuture--a college education, material comfort, uncommon ability and charm--for death by starvation in anabandoned bus in the woods of Alaska? This is the question that Jon Krakauer's book tries to answer. While itdoesn't—cannot—answer the question with certainty, Into the Wild does shed considerable lightalong the way. Not only about McCandless's "Alaskan odyssey," but also the forces that drivepeople to drop out of society and test themselves in other ways. Krakauer quotes Wallace Stegner's writing on a youngman who similarly disappeared in the Utah desert in the 1930s: "At 18, in a dream, he saw himself ...wandering through the romantic waste places of the world. No man with any of the juices of boyhood inhim has forgotten those dreams." Into the Wild shows that McCandless, while extreme, washardly unique; the author makes the hermit into one of us, something McCandless himself could never pulloff. By book's end, McCandless isn't merely a newspaper clipping, but a sympathetic, oddly magneticpersonality. Whether he was "a courageous idealist, or a reckless idiot," you won't soon forgetChristopher McCandless. ... Read more

Reviews (745)

4-0 out of 5 stars Krakauer's story of Chris McCandless
Why would a talented and gifted young man walk away from his life of promise and lead the life of a penniless wanderer? Jon Krakauer, the nature/travel journalist, takes on this question in the story of Chris McCandless, who after two years of coast-to-coast travel, was found dead in the Alaskan wildreness.

Krakauer retraces McCandless's steps from his childhood to his days at Emory and uncovers a smart, compassionate young man who revelled in the works of Tolstoy, Jack London, and other figures who advocated a simple self-sufficient existence, turning away from money, government, etc. He interviews several people that Chris, "Alex Supertramp" as he calls himself, met in his hitch hiking travels and discusses his journal writings. I came upon this book after reading Krakauer's newest book, Under the Banner of Heaven. I appreciated Krakauer's style of being in the story as an author/journalist, but keeping the story in its purest form.
Krakauer first encountered this story after McCandless's death in 1992. He wrote a feature story in Outside magazine, but was very interested in McCandless, so he decided to research the events more. This book is the further research. He provides some insight and answers some of the questions with his own experiences as a mountaineer and outdoor-lover.

5-0 out of 5 stars FINDING CHRIS MCCANDLESS
As the mother of sons and a writer for whom reading is the greatest pleasure, I found "Into the Wild" to be one of the finest and most unexpectedly beautiful books I have read in a very long time.

It is the harrowing story of the death and short life of Chris McCandless, a bright, charming, adventurous young man whose mysterious travels and untimely death left a legacy of heartbreak and confusion to those who loved him.

In returning to the scene of his own admittedly incomplete reportage of the story for :"Outside" magazine, Jon Krakauer reveals his own honesty and decency as a writer and a man.

The book is as beautifully written as it is fascinating. Krakauer and his readers come to know Chris McCandless as our own youthful hopes made flesh. We also come to know this boy -- and love him -- as everyone's son, perhaps even our own.

Late in his troubled adolescence, Chris set out into the American "wilderness" on a journey to adulthood. He did not return.

He didn't return, that is, until Krakauer, who recognized in this story aspects of his own difficult youth, embarked on an odyssey of his own in McCandless' footsteps. .

With almost unbearable detail he pieces together the last year of this young man's life and derives from it a compelling pilgrim's tale of anger, fear and courage. Through those who knew him during his "lost" days, we move from dissatisfaction and yearning to spiritual rebirth that arrives gratefully, but late and despite terrible twists of fate

.Chris McCandless tunneled through Peer Gynt's mountain, punted across the Slough of Despond and into the dark and icy forest. He received boons and encountered spirit guides; listened and learned from scouts and story-tellers All of them later helped the auther piece together the real story, heretofore untold, of a boy who found himself and death in the same process and in the same place. Free at last, he quietly, and even joyously, welcomed the arrival of both with valor and uncommon grace.

4-0 out of 5 stars Interesting
How does a young man leave a comfortable life with an education and well to do parents and just wander into the wild? This is one of the questions that Jon Krakauer tries to answer. At first the reader is given the idea that Chris McCandless read one too many books like "On the Road" or "White Fang", but as the story develops, he becomes more complex a character. This young man was looking for adventure and decided to leave "normal" life behind. Unfortanuatly for him. it cost him his life.

Krakauer does an amazing job of bringing McCandless back to life by trying to show what he was thinking. Krakauer used personal notes, interviews with family and friends and historical experiences to flesh out this person. When the personal notes run out and speculation starts, Krakauer gives a personal tale to explain why McCandless was not an idiot and just had some bad luck. This book is a very good read and is time well spent.

5-0 out of 5 stars The dark side of idealism
Last Christmas I gave this book to my father. I thought he might enjoy the adventures of Alex (though you know from the start his life will end badly), and thought if things went well I might use this to try to explain to him why it is that I spend all my extra money on travel and why I do illogical things in pursuit of my dreams. His reaction, though, was nothing but frustration with Alex's "idiocy."

The difference between my response to the book - that Chris/Alex lived an extreme form of the longing I and many others feel - and my father's response is the same gulf that this story seeks to bridge. Jon Krakauer, who has also sacrificed a great deal and risked his life in pursuit of his dreams, clearly feels some sympathy for Alex's wild decisions. But the result of Alex's tramping is his own death and the heartbreak that ensues, which seems to outweigh any selfish satisfaction Alex may have received from his experiences.

When people create great art or invent something remarkable, society celebrates their achievements in spite of any collateral damage. But Alex is an example of someone whose idealism was far greater than his accomplishments. The art he left behind in his notebooks is unremarkable, and the few friends he made in his travels have not been catalysts for improvement in the world. His one success (or failure) was that he was able to unbind himself from his expected, normal life and give himself wholly to his ideals. So many of us secretly wish that we had the courage to do something similar, and this book forces us to confront that desire. Is the pursuit of a dream a worthwhile end, in and of itself?

There are no clear answers, in this book or in life, but the question is worth asking, no matter whether you see Alex as someone to be admired or throttled.

5-0 out of 5 stars Lonesome pines in snow
This is an excellent read! But more than that, it is one of most moving and human stories you will ever have the pleasure of encountering by an author such as Krakauer, a splendid naturalist with a true ear for epiphany. Krakauer has a style unlike any writer this side of the twentieth century, and makes his way honestly and earnestly into the psyche of the reader, unexpectedly portraying a very real and true, almost unspeakable understanding of the young adventurer, Chris McCandless. If you are American, you absolutely must read this book! It should be cannonized. ... Read more


3. Honeymoon with My Brother : A Memoir
by Franz Wisner
list price: $23.95
our price: $16.29
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0312320906
Catlog: Book (2005-02-01)
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Sales Rank: 159772
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Book Description

This is the true story of Franz Wisner, a man who thought he had it all- a high profile career and the fiancée of his dreams- when suddenly, his life turned upside down.Just days before they were to be married, his fiancée called off the wedding.Luckily, his large support network of family and friends wouldn't let him succumb to his misery.They decided Franz should have a wedding and a honeymoon anyway- there just wouldn't be a bride at the ceremony, and Franz' travel companion would be his brother, Kurt.

During the "honeymoon," Franz reconnected with his brother and began to look at his life with newfound perspective.The brothers decided to leave their old lives behind them.They quit their jobs, sold all their possessions, and traveled around the world, visiting sixty countries for the next two years.In Honeymoon With My Brother, Franz recounts this remarkable journey, during which he turned his heartbreak into an opportunity to learn about himself, the world, and the brother he hardly knew.
... Read more

4. Chasing Matisse : A Year in France Living My Dream
by James Morgan
list price: $25.00
our price: $16.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0743237544
Catlog: Book (2005-04-05)
Publisher: Free Press
Sales Rank: 10642
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Who hasn't had the fanthasy of leaving his or her old life behind to start over? What would happen if you gave up your job, city, state, and routine to move to another part of the world? Critically acclaimed writer and aspiring painter James Morgan does just that. Risking everything, he and his wife shed their old, settled life in a lovingly restored house in Little Rock, Arkansas, to travel in the footsteps of Morgan's hero, the painter Henri Matisse, and to find inspiration in Matisse's fierce struggle to live the life he knew he had to live. Part memoir, part travelogue, and part biography of Matisse, Chasing Matisse proves that you don't have to be wealthy to live the life you want; you just have to want it enough.

Morgan's riveting journey of self-discovery takes him, and us, from the earthy, brooding Picardy of Matisse's youth all the way to the luminous Nice of the painter's final years. In between, Morgan confronts, with the notebook of a journalist and the sketchpad of an artist, the places that Matisse himself saw and painted: bustling, romantic Paris; windswept Belle-île off the Brittany coast; Corsica, with its blazing southern light; the Pyrénees village of Collouire, where color became explosive in Matisse's hands; exotic Morocco, land of the secret interior life; and across the sybaritic French Riviera to spiritual Vence and the hillside Villa Le Rêve -- the Dream -- where the mature artist created so many of his masterpieces.

A journey from darkness to light, Chasing Matisse shows us how we can learn to see ourselves, others, and the world with fresh eyes. We look with Morgan out of some of the same windows through which Matisse himself found his subjects and take great heart from Matisse's indomitable, life-affirming spirit. For Matisse, living was an art, and he never stopped striving, never stopped creating, never stopped growing, never stopped reinventing himself. "The artist," he said, "must look at everything as though he were seeing it for the first time." That's the inspiring message of renewal that comes through on every page of Chasing Matisse. Funny, sad, and defiantly hopeful, this is a book that restores our faith in the possibility of dreams. ... Read more

Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars Best of the Best
If you've read Peter Mayle and Frances Mayes, you might be expecting a humorous look at life in another country.This book is not like that.Morgan is a thoughtful, introspective artist who risks all to follow his passion, and he brings us along with him as he travels around France to get inside the head and heart of Henri Matisse.This is a wonderful, informative study of Matisse and his struggles for artistic identity as he singlehandedly explodes color onto the drab palette of French art.It is also a personal journey for Morgan, and you will be touched by his sensitivity and candor.A must-read for anyone who contemplates midlife.

5-0 out of 5 stars So enjoyable, I didn't want it to end!
I highly recommend this book.Chasing Matisse totally transports! James Morgan is truly a very gifted writer.This is one of those "best-sellers" that will be popular for eons.

4-0 out of 5 stars Baby, Iknow what you mean! Living the good life in France.
Kudos to the author! Jim Morgan does it again! The man keeps reinventing himself, moving forward in his quest to expand his personal horizons and live life to the fullest. After an earlier career as a successful magazine editor (Playboy, Southern Magazine), Morgan chucked it all to pursue his childhood dream of being a writer, like his hero Ernest Hemingway. Now, at the age of 62, he's written yet another beautiful book. This one is a moving paean to his love of Matisse, France, painting and his wife, Beth. If you've ever wanted to be inspired to take a chance on following your dream, Chasing Matisse may give you just the push you need. Buy it, read it, savor it, laugh over it. I'm sure you'll love it, just like I did!

5-0 out of 5 stars ExrtraordinaryTravelogue
In Chasing Matisse, Jim Morgan takes the reader on a tour of Henri Matisse's France. He takes us into the interiors we've seen in Matisse paintings as well as the land and seascapes seen from those rooms. In this delightful book, Morgan introduces us to Matisse, the man and paints a verbal canvas describing the vivid colors seen and painted by Matisse. I loved this book and highly recommend it.

5-0 out of 5 stars How to Follow Your Bliss
This very enjoyable read should appeal to the interests of several types of individuals.For those who like to travel, the book takes you through parts of France as well as Corsica and Morocco.For those who appreciate art and artists, the life of Matisse unfolds in unique ways throughout the book.For all us who dream of leaving home to pursue the fantasy of living in a different culture with fascinating people, this book helps you realize that it can be done. For me it is a reminder of the 5 wonderful months we spent in Nice.We were not chasing Matisse, just the Nicois food customs and way of life.With each page I lived our dream once again. ... Read more


5. I'm a Stranger Here Myself: Notes on Returning to America After 20 Years Away
by BILL BRYSON
list price: $14.95
our price: $10.46
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 076790382X
Catlog: Book (2000-06-06)
Publisher: Broadway
Sales Rank: 1682
Average Customer Review: 4.04 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

After living in Britain for two decades, Bill Bryson recently moved back to the United States with his English wife and four children (he had read somewhere that nearly 3 million Americans believed they had been abducted by aliens--as he later put it, "it was clear my people needed me").They were greeted by a new and improved America that boasts microwave pancakes, twenty-four-hour dental-floss hotlines, and the staunch conviction that ice is not a luxury item.

Delivering the brilliant comic musings that are a Bryson hallmark, I'm a Stranger Here Myself recounts his sometimes disconcerting reunion with the land of his birth.The result is a book filled with hysterical scenes of one man's attempt to reacquaint himself with his own country, but it is also an extended if at times bemused love letter to the homeland he has returned to after twenty years away.


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Reviews (158)

4-0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable perspective on America
Bill Bryson can be a curmudgeon. A very funny curmudgeon. This book is a collection of columns he wrote for a British publication over the course of a year. Collected here, they contain the experiences of a person returning to their homeland after 20 years and reacquainting himself. As mentioned by previous reviewers, a couple of the columns seem as if he was rushed (although I found the tax column funny), but many of them are spot-on. Many column subjects are about things Americans like to remember fondly - diners, drive-in movie theatres, the outdoors, and are therefore touching. Others are just plain hilarious. When he's in the 'zone', Bill Bryson is among the funniest authors alive. If you've read a column or any previous books by Bryson and slightly enjoyed it, there will be something here for you. Keep in mind that it is a collection of essays written over the course of one year, so a couple may not sway you, but overall this collection is definitely a keeper!

4-0 out of 5 stars Interesting insights from the outside
Bill Bryson's "I'm a Stranger..." is an interesting collection of observations and comments about several aspects of American life. As they are taken from weekly columns he wrote for a paper in England, this is not a "book" per se. But that fact doesn't take away from its charm, or, at times, stinging criticism.

This is mostly a humorous work, like the article Bryson wrote poking fun at the US Federal Tax Return (wait 'til you hear it!). But it's not all light-hearted; Bryson also finds time for more serious matters, like immigration and gun control. His analyses of these situations and his expose' of inconsistent American values/beliefs is worth the price of the book alone. Sometimes it takes an outsider, like Bryson was, to show you things you couldn't see yourself. He does this splendidly.

Others have commented that the book was a little too formulaic; I have noticed this too. Many of the articles end with a "punch-line" of sarcasm, and it seemed a bit predictable the more I read. For this reason I would recommend not reading too much at once. It worked better for me listening to one or two themes at a time, and then taking a break. The material (and Bryson's approach) remained more fresh that way.

In all, though, this was a good effort. Bryson definitely makes you think about issues you might have taken for granted. Four stars.

5-0 out of 5 stars An American Portrait
After reading and enjoying "Notes From a Small Island," I was looking forward to Bryson's witticisms in regards to every day life in America. Although an American, having spent twenty odd years in England gives Bryson a unique perspective on what makes America, and Americans, tick. "I'm a Stranger Here Myself" is a collection of essays Bryson wrote for an English audience; but they lack none of their charm when read by an Anglophile American.

"I'm a Stranger Here Myself" is and odd conglomeration of essays that deal with a range of topics: small-town America, shopping, the inconvenience of our numerous "conveniences", and several entries on his own ineptness when it comes to technology. In each of his essays Bryson is a bit of a wanderer, starting in one direction, only to go off on a tangent. Usually he's able to bring himself back to the point, and can even poke fun at himself for doing so. His wanderings are what sets his style and what generates the largest laughs or head shakes of disbelief.

While Bryson is at times critical of what happens in America, "I'm a Stranger Here Myself" is a loving portrait of a revered country. However, Bryson's perspective is one of a man living a blessed life. He now resides in a virtually crime-free small New Hampshire town and grew up in small-town Iowa. His essays sometimes lack the experiences that growing up or residing in other areas might offer. However, due to his extensive travels, Bryson's perspective is truly unique and a joy to read.

2-0 out of 5 stars Not Bryson's best
Bryson's best book is "Notes From a Small Island," about traveling in Great Britain. It's one of the funniest books I've read. The British are funny, and Bryson knows them well after living in Britain for 20+ years.

His book about Australia, "In a Sunburned Country," is also entertaining. He studied Australian history, met many interesting locals, etc. After reading it, I feel like an expert on Australia and its people.

His book about Europe, "Neither Here Nor There," isn't so good. The problem is that he speaks no languages other than English. He didn't talk to anyone on this trip. Wwithout any characters (other than Bryson) the book isn't engaging. The book has only one joke, which he repeats: "The waiter/hotel clerk/taxi driver didn't speak English so I tried to make him understand that I needed..." Some of these moments are quite funny, but they don't constitute a book. Bryson didn't study the places he visits. Unlike the Australian book, you learn almost nothing about the countries he visited.

Bryson's book about America, "I'm a Stranger Here Myself," failed to make me laugh. It reads like a series of Erma Bombeck columns. Bryson comments about various aspects of his life in a small town in New England. Not other people's lives, which might have been interesting, but only about his domestic life.

I got only a few chapters into his book about the Appalachian Trail, "A Walk in the Woods." I wasn't amused that two people with no backpacking experience would attempt a six-month hike. After several chapters of Bryson repeating one joke -- "I know nothing about any of this!" -- I stopped reading.

This suggests that the old advice "write about what you know" is worth following. It also made me realize that traveling is only enjoyable if you do two things: meet interesting people, preferably by speaking their language; and studying the area you're visiting.

Review by Thomas David Kehoe, author of "Hearts and Minds: How Our Brains Are Hardwired for Relationships"

3-0 out of 5 stars A stranger in a strange land.
"The intricacies of modern American life" leave Bill Bryson wondering, "what on earth am I doing here?" in this collection of short, anecdotal essays (pp. 231; 286). Born in Des Moines, Iowa, Bryson (best known for NOTES FROM A SMALL ISLAND, A WALK IN THE WOODS, and A SHORT HISTORY OF NEARLY EVERYTHING) lived in the Yorkshire Dales of England for twenty years before returning to the States in 1995 with his English wife and his four children (p. 1). The Brysons lived in Hanover, New Hampshire, before recently returning to Britain (where Bryson is finishing a new book on Shakespeare).

This book offers a compilation of Bryson's whimsical contributions from 1996 to 1998 to London's Night & Day magazine, offering his humorous observations upon life in the United States and in New England in particular. While Bryson recognizes that there is a great deal about American culture that is appealing--"the ease and convenience of life, the friendliness of the people, the astoundingly abundant portions, the intoxicating sense of space, the cheerfulness of nearly everyone who serves you, the notion that almost any desire or whim can be simply and instantly gratified (p. 286)--with his characteristic wit, he chooses instead to skewer American culture in all of its idiosyncrasies--diners, drive ins, dental floss hotlines, diets, processed foods, cable TV, lawsuits, drug laws, running shoes, and garbage disposals.

I am a big Bill Bryson fan. I have rated this book with three stars only when measured against some of his better books--A WALK IN THE WOODS, NOTES FROM A SMALL ISLAND, A SHORT HISTORY OF NEARLY EVERYTHING, for example. This book didn't hold my attention as those books did, and Bryson's reunion with American culture didn't leave me with a sense of wonder and delight. Rather, his encounters with the American "have-a-nice-day" culture left me feeling like a disenchanted stranger in a strange land myself. Ah, well, who wants to be "normal" by the cultural standards described here anyway?

G. Merritt ... Read more


6. Almost French: Love And A New Life In Paris
by Sarah Turnbull
list price: $13.00
our price: $9.75
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1592400825
Catlog: Book (2004-08-05)
Publisher: Gotham Books
Sales Rank: 13619
Average Customer Review: 4.41 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The charming true story of a spirited young woman who finds adventure--and the love of her life--in Paris.

"This isn't like me. I'm not the sort of girl who crosses continents to meet up with a man she hardly knows. Paris hadn't even been part of my travel plan..."

A delightful, fresh twist on the travel memoir, Almost French takes us on a tour that is fraught with culture clashes but rife with deadpan humor. Sarah Turnbull's stint in Paris was only supposed to last a week. Chance had brought Sarah and Frédéric together in Bucharest, and on impulse she decided to take him up on his offer to visit him in the world's most romantic city. Sacrificing Vegemite for vichyssoise, the feisty Sydney journalist does her best to fit in, although her conversation, her laugh, and even her wardrobe advertise her foreigner status.

But as she navigates the highs and lows of this strange new world, from life in a bustling quatier and surviving Parisian dinner parties to covering the haute couture fashion shows and discovering the hard way the paradoxes of France today, little by little Sarah falls under its spell: maddening, mysterious, and charged with that French specialty-séduction.

An entertaining tale of being a fish out of water, Almost French is an enthralling read as Sarah Turnbull leads us on a magical tour of this seductive place-and culture-that has captured her heart.
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Reviews (22)

5-0 out of 5 stars Almost French: Love and a New Life in Paris
In an unpretentious manner, the strong yet empathetic Turnbull relates the transition from her Australian home to a new life with her French fiance, adding a good twist of dry, self-deprecating humor. A freelance journalist, Turnbull has a knack for describing the salient and entertaining episodes succinctly yet vividly, which prevents the story from descending into monotony. From meeting her husband's extended family to attending haute couture fashion shows, Turnbull candidly assesses her new environment. She also takes the stereotypes of French culture, such as the obsession with aesthetics, acknowledges their basis in reality, and then delves deeper to find an explanation for each. Turnbull's love for her husband tempers the frustration and humiliation she experiences while mastering not only the language but also the idiosyncratic rules and customs of the French. This enjoyable and insightful book is suitable for public library collections

4-0 out of 5 stars Seduced by Paris
I don't know if Sarah Turnbull author of "Almost French" could be described as 'spoiled' as one reviewer suggests, but I do know that reading the memoir of her years adjusting to life in Paris provides enough proof to allow me to categorize her as 'adventurous' perhaps, 'impulsive', throughly 'enamoured' with her adopted city and possessing that "je-ne-sais-quoi" that gives us pause.

Meeting Frederic while on a journalistic assignment in Bucharest throws a curve ball in Australian-born Sarah's easy-care wash-and-wear lifestyle where getting dressed up means making sure there isn't any caked mud embedded in the soles of her Doc Martens. On a romantic whim, she takes Frederic up on his offer to visit him in Paris, and suddenly Sarah finds herself living in the City of Lights where her honed communication skills become meaningless in the whirlwind of French.

Language is not the sole barrier keeping Sarah outside the proverbial candy store window with her nose pressed up against the glass. She doesn't quite understand the French social situation where quiet mannered restraint is the order of the day. In chapter after chapter of amusing Anglo-Saxon vs. French/Latin anecdotes and speculations, Sarah allows us a sparkling glimpse of her personal epiphanies: how acquiring a dog allowed her otherwise forbidden entry, why wearing sweatpants in the street lowers the standards of an entire city, how she could NEVER eat low-fat again, how the Latin interpretation of the law leads to furtive games played opposite the French authorities, how wording something in seemingly flowery language lands her the money needed to sponser her journalism course and why becoming "almost French" isn't nearly as important as "just being yourself." Sarah is certainly not 'spoiled', she's just a victim of intense culture shock. Her revelations are imparted with a cozy friendly narrative sprinkled with just enough dialogue to imbue each character with some depth. I would like hear more from her in a further book as the shock wears off or new shocks electrify with new situations.

Readers expecting the details of Sarah's personal relationship with Frederic, her future husband, to be spun out like a rich romantic fairytale, be warned; even though the book is subtitled love and a new life in Paris, the love portion remains private; she relates only that they met in Bucharest, connected and suddenly were living together in France. The reader catches glimpses of Frederic as the quintessential Frenchman; the memoir focuses on Sarah's adjustment, not to Frederic, but to his country and its occupants. It makes for charming light reading and is recommended to all who like travel essays and don't mind a change from finding the provincial country idyll to discovering the heartbeat of a city.

5-0 out of 5 stars Will whoever borrowed it last give it back? Please?
Sarah Turnbull, an Australian journalist, takes a year off work to travel. While she is roaming around Europe she meets a Parisian named Frederic, who invites her to visit him in Paris. It sounds like a good idea at the time; she does, although by the time her plane lands at Charles de Gaulle she is beginning to wonder what possessed her to agree to stay with essentially a complete and total stranger.

The visit goes well, though; so well, in fact, that she moves permanently not just to Paris, but into Frederic's apartment. The memoir that follows is a charming and amusing account of two cultures, embodied by two very different people -- the uptight, nattily dressed Frenchman and the casual, easy-going Aussie -- trying to coexist in a small space. He is appalled when she wears her sweat pants to pick up her morning baguette ("But it's not nice for the baker!"); she doesn't understand his sense of humor. This is a happy story that ends with a wedding, but not before the author has myriad battles with the language, countless misunderstandings with the the customs of the place, and some truly homesick spells yearning for Australia.

I found this book laugh-out-loud funny (although I'll admit my reaction may have been a little extreme) because I have spent time in Paris and saw myself very clearly in Ms. Turnbull's language struggles, efforts to get a journalistic career going, and just general befuddlement. I've passed my copy on to some travelling companions who felt the same way I did. But even if you've never been to France, "Almost French" is well-worth reading for the entertainment value alone. The descriptions are apt. The voice is personable and interesting, so much so that by the time you've finished, you'll feel not just that you've visited Paris, but as if you've made a new friend while you were there.

4-0 out of 5 stars Very Insightful
Almost French is the story of how Sarah Turnbull, an Australian, moves to Paris and slowly becomes French herself. She covers many of the cultural differences that served as stumbling blocks for herself and anyone else who might find themselves in the same situation. She manages to lift the veil on the reason why Parisians are generally considered rude......the simple fact that they don't know you and that it takes time (alot of time) to build a friendship there. It also serves as an informative eye-opener for anyone who may be considering a visit to France with its abundance of useful information for getting by. Definitely recommended for any Francophile or potential visitors.

4-0 out of 5 stars Not so intimate, or romantic
Sarah Turnbull has written a book that will appeal particularly to people familiar with the typical Australian lifestyle. I found it a well written observation from within the heart of France of the differences between the French and Australian lifestyle and customs. This is not a novel about romance, it is more of a memoir of experiences that stem from a romance, but it does start and end in fairytale style.

I read this book while vacationing in Australia, because it happened to be left behind in the apartment I was staying in, and curiously because I've always had it as one of my goals to learn the French language one of these days.

I found the book an easy read and thoroughly enjoyed Sarah's observations on French culture, in particular their social customs. Being Australian and knowing quite a few French people myself I can empathise with a lot of Sarah's views that stem from the French "amour propre", or self pride that is oft misconstrued for arrogance when it comes to language and social etiquette. Sarah is well in touch with her Australian inner self and the descriptions of events when her boyfriend Fred is holidaying with her in Australia are very amusing. The Frenchman's description of swimming in the surf as being "too violent" had me laughing out loud. I could have left out the Paris fashion show experiences, and her desires to move closer to the centre of Paris for the simple reason that the new postcode would label them with a higher social class status actually appalled me, as it might the "average" Australian.

Sarah does tease us though with here complete steer away from the intimate details of her life. It must have taken a very powerful reflex to want to spend a two week "holiday" with a man she'd met once over dinner a while beforehand. We are left wondering what made the "holiday romance" so successful in the two weeks she spent with him, and subsequently we are also left wondering what Sarah and Fred's recipe for success on the relationship side is. I couldn't help but get the feeling that Sarah has written a book about the side issues that are inevitably associated with the real reason for her desire to live in France, which is of course her lover. The result is a story with a romantic shell but a substance of experience outside of the real driver or purpose for it to be there in the first place.

The book ends in a fairytale style where she walks down the aisle and gets married. And lives happily ever after ? I am sure Sarah and Fred will find out. ... Read more


7. Touch the Top of the World: A Blind Man's Journey to Climb Farther Than the Eye Can See
by Erik Weihenmayer
list price: $14.00
our price: $10.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0452282942
Catlog: Book (2002-04-01)
Publisher: Plume Books
Sales Rank: 45669
Average Customer Review: 4.63 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

"A vivid and compelling book." (Time magazine)

Erik Weihenmayer was born with retinoscheses, a degenerative eye disorder that would leave him blind by the age of thirteen. But Erik was determined to rise above this devastating disability and lead a fulfilling and exciting life.

In this poignant and inspiring memoir, he shares his struggle to push past the limits imposed on him by his visual impairment-and by a seeing world. He speaks movingly of the role his family played in his battle to break through the barriers of blindness: the mother who prayed for the miracle that would restore her son's sight and the father who encouraged him to strive for thatdistant mountaintop. And he tells the story of his dream to climb the world's Seven Summits, and how he is turning that dream into astonishing reality (something fewer than a hundred mountaineers have done).

From the snow-capped summit of McKinley to the towering peaks of Aconcagua and Kilimanjaro to the ultimate challenge, Mount Everest, this is a story about daring to dream in the face of impossible odds. It is about finding the courage to reach for that ultimate summit, and transforming your life into something truly miraculous.

"I admire you immensely. You are an inspiration to other blind people and plenty of folks who can see just fine." (Jon Krakauer, author of Into Thin Air)
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Reviews (19)

5-0 out of 5 stars Just Terrific
This is just a terrific book, filled with humor, wisdom, pathos and adventure. The author poignantly describes his childhood descent into blindness, his efforts to ignore it, his initial rebelliousness, and his gradual coming to terms with his handicap. Before long, the reader, like Erik, no longer sees blindness as a handicap, but as one of many hurdles life tosses in our way. It is certainly less of a burden to him than was the sudden, tragic death of his mother, which he movingly addresses and comes to terms with. He finds purpose to his life, he finds love, and he finds friendship and adventure on the mountains that he climbs. Buy this book and give it to any friend who has an inclination toward self-pity, and it may change their life. Read it and be inspired by the resiliency and strength of the human spirit.

5-0 out of 5 stars Touch the Top of the World
This is a fabulous book. One minute you are laughing out loud and the next, tears are pouring down your face. The tears are not of sadness but of joy for all the wonderful experiences Erik has had; his relationships with friends and family, his adventures among the cracks and crevices. With great wit, Erik expresses his triumphs along with his challenges. My son has been blind for two years. He lost his sight to genetics, but we had no cue that the family had the gene until his sight started going three weeks before his nineteenth birthday, it only took those three weeks. He just turned 21 on August 2. Unlike Erik, Larry does have the talent of music and travels with his band, Jepetto, around the East Coast. He even has gone back to taking Classical piano lessons. Like Erik he found no encouragement in what his abilities would do for him. TOUCH THE TOP OF THE WORLD really helps you understand the the feeling of blindness, not of the limitations the world puts on you, but of the heights to which you can arise. Please read it, you will not be sorry you did, only sorry if you hadn't read it. I am donating a copy to each of my son's schools.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Triumphant Life
This is an ease read but surprisingly soul-awakening book for me. There are statements on life lessons strung together like jewels hidden everywhere in this book, from the start to finish, mostly on self-assumed constraints that are common to everyone, sighted or not. I found vicariously the family love, friendship, and community support invigorating. I sensed the humor, strength, commitment, and perseverance Erik W carries with him daily, not just to the mountain top, which makes this book an absolute page-turner. Thanks Erik W for writing this book and share intimately with the readers the details of your journeys and the poeple in your life, we all have a lot to learn and draw from your experiences touched by the top of the world.

1-0 out of 5 stars This man is an ass
I've heard this idiot speak about his experiences, and right away, I'd perceived he was an arrogant jerk who was writing a book for recognition, not to neccesarily inspire other climbers. I was at a conference where his book was touted all over the place, and that's when I knew it wasn't worth buying. Please, people, look beyond the fact that he's blind and that he climbed some of the most difficult mountains in the world, and have a look at his personal life. As one other reviewer said, this guy is a jerk, through and through. I'm not even going to read the book, that's how sure I am that it isn't worth my time.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Character named chris at the beginning makes the book
It was a flavorful read. I believe the character chris seems to tie everything together. He is a dashing young buck so to speak. I could read about him for hours. I kept wanting to know what Chris was doing when the minor character Erik was climbing Mt. Everest. My only suggestion for improvement would be to have more of Chris in the book. Otherwise it was a dandy of a book. ... Read more


8. The Motorcycle Diaries : A Latin American Journey
by Ernesto Che Guevara, Cintio Vitier, Aleida Guevara
list price: $14.95
our price: $10.17
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1876175702
Catlog: Book (2003-08-15)
Publisher: Ocean Press
Sales Rank: 551
Average Customer Review: 4.43 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

These travel diaries capture the essence and exuberance of the young legend, Che Guevara. In January 1952, Che set out from Buenos Aires to explore South America on an ancient Norton motorcycle. He encounters an extraordinary range of people -- from native Indians to copper miners, lepers and tourists -- experiencing hardships and adventures that informed much of his later life.

This expanded, new edition from Ocean Press, published with exclusive access to the Che Guevara Archives held in Havana, includes a preface by Che's daughter, Aleida Guevara. It also features previously unpublished photos (taken by Che on his travels), as well as new, unpublished parts of the diaries, poems and letters.

In January 2004, the film by the same name, The Motorcycle Diaries, will have its world premiere at the Sundance International Film Festival, in Park City, Utah. Directed by Walter Salles (Central Station, Behind the Sun), produced by Robert Redford and with a screenplay by José Rivera, the film stars the up-and-coming Mexican actor Gael García Bernal (Amores Perros, Y Tu Mamá También, The Crimes of Father Amaro). ... Read more

Reviews (30)

4-0 out of 5 stars Rethinking Che's 'Motorcycle Diaries '
Like the book's very title, two out of three comments on the cover of the book are absurd and entirely misleading. "Easy Rider meets Das Kapital" and "It's true; Marxists just wanna have fun" could not have been written by people who read this book and took it seriously. First, there is not one moment in the book where Che might offer us a hint that he had already studied Marx. If anything, there appears a crude and commonsensical 'discovery' of the plight of the poor from the part of an immature white bourgeois. Secondly, to imply that the book is just about having fun misses this very crucial point that there is a 'discovery' being made, however superficial it may seem. I think the implications of this discovery were to be more deeply felt only in the next few years following Che's first South America trip.

It is rather unfortunate that the book has been subjected to this form of misleading marketing. But this aspect aside, Che's writing itself should be valued for its insight into the future revolutionary's mind. In between an often confused prose, unsuccessful jokes and a linear and seemingly uneventful (because it is nothing but eventful) storyline, we find a clear inclination toward military tactics, as the lengthy and impressive analysis of possible defence strategies at Machu Picchu reveals. As we know from biographical work, this was indeed Che's strong point, as opposed to Marxist theory.

I cannot help saying I was in a certain sense disappointed with The Motorcycle Diaries. Although I had been told that it would dispel any romantic ideas I had about Che, I was not quite prepared for the shock. The feeling that his political analyses were crude to the point of being racist and that his typical Argentine parochialism seeped through the pages only made his choice of style, a distanced, unreflective approach all the more difficult to wade through. But, with a few weeks' hindsight, I must admit that this revolution in the way I see El Che has actually been quite beneficial to the very romanticism of the picture I have of him in my mind. There is more character, more depth, to the blend. Out of the three comments on the cover, then, I can only stick with the third: "Politically-correct revolutionary hero ? Perhaps a few years later, but in this account Che Guevara comes over as one of the lads."

5-0 out of 5 stars che's diary blazed a trail across my own adventuresome heart
although this book was edited by che some time after returning from south america, he acknowledges this at the beginning of the book by saying, "the person who wrote these notes died the day he stepped back on argentine soil. the person who is reorganizing and polishing them, me, is no longer me, at least i'm not the me i was." and in the next paragraph, commenting on how people might interpret his words he states, "i present a nocturnal picture, you have to take it or leave it, it's not important. unless you know the landscape my diary photographed you've no option but to accept my version." it doesn't get much more simple than that. take me or leave me, i don't care.

i read the pages of "the motorcyle diaries," and was completely blown away! i wanted to be right there on la poderosa with che and his amigo, alberto - drinking at all the dives; conversing with the people; playing soccer with whatever team, in whatever town/country they happened to be; scamming places to eat and sleep, and making their way across the continent on the back de la poderosa until, bless her little hot-rod heart, she literally came apart. then, it was hitching, stowing away on boats, and, finally, floating downriver atop a not-so-navigable homemade raft, the whole while surrounded by the mystery and beauty of wild and mountainous south america. it was an awesome adventure to share! che's writing style is so conversational, and his wit will run up on you like a hairpin turn. i laughed out loud so many times. might i suggest you get a map of south america before turning the cover of this fantastic, freaking adventure. believe me, you'll get so wrapped up in it that you'll want to pinpoint each madcap pitstop. en fin, this is a tale of a grand adventure, of determination, willpower, curiousity, and guts. a great first read of the che. he was a believer in the underdog. sin duda.

5-0 out of 5 stars In his own words
Felix Rodriguez, an anti-Castro Cuban who was sent to assasinate Che, said he was a fascinating man he wanted to know better and felt sad at having to hunt him. He protested at Che's execution.

With that insight, I eagerly read The Motorcycle Diaries. They are very well written, amazingly entertaining, witty and occasionally insightful and the translation is not only excellent, but well-referenced where terms are transliterated.

Personally, I wound up detesting the little troll. He and his friend masqueraded as experts on leprosy, which they milked for guest space and food. They stole liquor, whined about hospitality until they got even better fare and generally were locusts on the local economy. Che complains mightily about bureaucracy and control that keeps him from his wants (The lack of border stops some places, which made it harder to cadge rides from passing trucks), yet makes a point of mentioning his illegally carried revolver and knife that he smuggled through other border checkpoints (and heck, who wouldn't, when traveling like that?). In other words, "If I want it, it's good government. If I don't, it's bad." The true moral dishonesty of the Latin communist comes through.

And yet...he was honest enough to preface the book with a note that it represented only a momentary view of his life at that time and place. He didn't edit out any of the bad. The contrast and complexity is fascinating, and I'll have to find more to read about a no doubt highly intelligent man.

Love him or hate him, the book is honest in its documentation and pulls no punches. It's a great period piece, a great low-budget travelog, and a journal of a young, brilliantly stupid college punk like lots of us were. I can't recommend it highly enough. If you want to understand the Latin communists or Che, you must read this.

5-0 out of 5 stars Easy Rider goes Marxist
It is a beautiful thing to see the political awakening of a young man. And it becomes even more notorious when we know that this man will be a true revolutionary years later.

'The Motorcycle Diaries' is the account of a journey made by Ernesto 'Che' Guevara and his friend Alberto Granado throughout South America in early 1950's. Beginning as a pair of youngsters' journey, this trip become more a self-discovering journey having as background the impoverished and exploited, but above all, not well known America.

As most young people, Che and Granado had late-adolescent angst and trying to find a relief they went in a journey in the heart of South America, trying to find what was beyond their middle-class homes. What they find out was much more than what they were expecting to: poor people, with almost no conditions of living, consumed by diseases and being exploited and ignored by the government and the system.

It is a joy to see Che transforming from almost a brat into a real man of value, fulfilled with social and political conscience, caring for the poor and sick people. At first, he and his friends are only two guys who want to be on the road and learn about the world. But little did they know how was this world they were about to learn about.

Nearly the end, Che is another completely different person. He, now, has social and political thoughts --almost Marxist ideas -- about the world we live in and how South America has been systematically exploited throughout the years.

Sometimes painfully funny, sometimes extremely sad 'The Motorcycle Diaries' is a pleasant read, written with heart and soul, by someone who was destined to be big, a person who was destined to change and touch the lives of thousands --as Che did indeed.

5-0 out of 5 stars If you want to know the man before the revolution
In October I went to Cuba and began to learn a tremendous amount about Ernesto "Che" Guevara. Just before reading this book I read two other by him, Reminiscences of a Cuban Revolution and The Che Guevara Reader. If you want to know the man before the revolution, this is the book to read. It is a very interesting book. It is details his trip from his home in Argentina around much of South America. It reads at times like a travel guide which is what I suppose people would write in their travel diaries - what they see and what they thought. My favorite parts were when Guevara told what he thought of life and his experiences while on the road. He writes of the low opinion many people have of the indigenous populations, the exploitation of the land and the populace and the suffering he and his traveling companion endured. The are also very light moments of frivolity and fun. You truly get a sense of who he is and what he values. I was left wanting more, not for want of lack of description but because I wanted to know of who he was. He was a remarkable figure and an great writer. He paints quite a picture with his words. ... Read more


9. Tales of a Female Nomad : Living at Large in the World
by RITA GOLDEN GELMAN
list price: $14.00
our price: $10.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0609809547
Catlog: Book (2002-05-28)
Publisher: Three Rivers Press
Sales Rank: 4861
Average Customer Review: 3.92 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

“I move throughout the world without a plan, guided by instinct, connecting through trust, and constantly watching for serendipitous opportunities.” —From the Preface

Tales of a Female Nomad is the story of Rita Golden Gelman, an ordinary woman who is living an extraordinary existence. At the age of forty-eight, on the verge of a divorce, Rita left an elegant life in L.A. to follow her dream of connecting with people in cultures all over the world. In 1986 she sold her possessions and became a nomad, living in a Zapotec village in Mexico, sleeping with sea lions on the Galapagos Islands, and residing everywhere from thatched huts to regal palaces. She has observed orangutans in the rain forest of Borneo, visited trance healers and dens of black magic, and cooked with women on fires all over the world. Rita’s example encourages us all to dust off our dreams and rediscover the joy, the exuberance, and the hidden spirit that so many of us bury when we become adults.
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Reviews (50)

5-0 out of 5 stars This is a must read for summer and a must to pass on to all!
I absolutely loved this book and wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who has an appreciation for travelling and the lessons one can learn about themselves from such experiences. Rita's travels and lifestyle change left me in complete awe and filled me with absolute admiration for the guts, courage, and trust that were required of her. This book will not only inspire the reader to embark on travels of his/her own, but will cause some much needed introspection into the routines that so many of us lead in our daily lives. This book serves as a shot in the arm to get out and experience life, others, and other places.

In the book, Rita allows the reader to vicariously experience her life with her. The reader cannot help but feel as if Rita Gelman is a good friend by the last page. And once the book is over it is hard to stop thinking about the incredible adventures and gutsy lady that comprise Rita Gelman.

Definitely read this book and check out some of her great children's books while you're at it. Rita is a true jewel and anyone who loves to read should be reading her books.

I look forward to future books and the book tour!

5-0 out of 5 stars RUN TO THE BOOKSTORE, RUN TO THE BOOKSTORE.
I loved this book, and I'm not alone. I picked this book for our book club, and everyone loved it. I was in awe of the author for her courage, stamina, and her basic love of humans. Rita Gelman will take you along on her adventures you will travel to Mexico,, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Israel, Galapagos Islands, Indonesia,New Zealand, Thailand and the United States. You become part of the adventure with each chapter. You will be surprised, you will laugh, you will cry, and you will admire and be astounded that this woman could do this on her own. I hope every man and woman could read this book to not only learn about other cultures, but to reach inside your souls to make this world a better place.

1-0 out of 5 stars Innocence Abroad
Our book club read this book and not one person liked it. From the very first paragraph in which she questions why someone like her, leading such a star-studded life, could possibly be unhappy or unfulfilled, I took an instant dislike to her.
She undertakes her travels with a cluelessness that is truly astounding in a reasonably sophisticated person of mature years. The bit about her sitting around in the lobbies of the better hotels hoping that someone will invite her to dine with them is truly pathetic. Oh! There's a whole group of back-
packers who travel in foreign countries! Who knew?
The descriptions of her wandering around in the Zapotec villiage were just sad. Why don't people speak to her? It must be her blue eyes! She reasons that if she wears sunglasses, it might not be a problem, but alas this turns out to be no solution. Oh, but all the discomfort and tedium is swept away when all the women assemble to make a meal! Instant bonding! This book is rife with cliches. Her skin condition?...why, of course, it represents the shedding of her old life (skin)!
I'll confess I couldn't finish it. A truly terrible book, poorly written but a really annoying, self-absorbed author. Lets just hope I don't run into her on my own travels.

5-0 out of 5 stars Read the Dream!
I read this book a few months ago and still find myself drifting off and thinking about it quite often. It was an excellent book, but I must warn that it is a dangerous read if you have a bit of wanderlust in you (and I definitely do!)That said, it is an amazing book that I would highly recommend!

Rita takes us along with her over several years as she travels through many different countries. She writes very honestly and is a very interesting woman to get to know along the way. It is nice to read because she is an older woman that rediscovers a new way of life after a divorce. I travelled around the world as a backpacker and mostly encountered other people in their early 20s, so it is nice to get a perspective from an older woman, and also refreshing to know that it is never too late!

Rita has a website that you can check out first to figure out if she is someone that you would be interested in reading a book about. I really enjoyed this book and definitely think it is worth reading! For me, it was an amazing way to read about the lifestyle that I can only dream about now! It definitely has made me think (quite often) about quitting my job, writing a book, and traveling around the world!

2-0 out of 5 stars Inspiring but annoying
This book started with a great title and premise, but then goes downhill from there. As one who spends a significant amount of time daydreaming about "leaving it all behind", I was anxious to hear what promised to be an exciting account of her new life, but the book disappointed me.

I enjoyed the first third of the book as she begins her life-changing experience, but found her personally annoying by the end. Perhaps my dislike of her is politically based, but I quickly grew tired of her self-righteous, understander of all peoples, angry at America attitude. Where initially I saw her as a courageous woman dealing with a dramatic life-changing event, by the end she came across as a somewhat bitter, nearly unstable expat. Please just more objective descriptions of your unique experiences and less left-leaning ranting. It was hard to finish.

If you're not bothered by the politics of the author, this book does provide an interesting account of a variety of experiences. ... Read more


10. Without Reservations : The Travels of an Independent Woman
by ALICE STEINBACH
list price: $14.95
our price: $10.17
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375758453
Catlog: Book (2002-03)
Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks
Sales Rank: 7097
Average Customer Review: 3.73 out of 5 stars
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Book Description


Paris

Dear Alice,

Each morning I am awakened by the sound of a tinkling bell. A cheerful sound, it reminds me of the bells that shopkeepers attach to their doors at Christmastime. In this case, the bell marks the opening of the hotel door. From my room, which is just off the winding staircase, I can hear it clearly. It reminds me of the bell that calls to worship the novice embarking on a new life. In a way I too am a novice, leaving, temporarily, one life for another.

Love,
Alice


In the tradition of Anne Morrow Lindbergh's Gift from the Sea and Frances Mayes's Under the Tuscan Sun, in Without Reservations we take time off with Pulitzer Prize winner Alice Steinbach as she explores the world and rediscovers what it means to be a woman on her own.

"In many ways, I was an independent woman," writes Alice Steinbach, a single working mother, in this captivating book. "For years I'd made my own choices, paid my own bills, shoveled my own snow, and had relationships that allowed for a lot of freedom on both sides." Slowly, however, she saw that she had become quite dependent in another way:"I had fallen into the habit . . . of defining myself in terms of who I was to other people and what they expected of me." Who am I, she wanted to know, away from the things that define me--my family, children, job, friends? Steinbach searches for the answer to this provocative question in some of the most exciting places in the world: Paris, where she finds a soul mate in a Japanese man; Oxford, where she takes a course on the English village; Milan, where she befriends a young woman about to be married. Beautifully illustrated with postcards Steinbach wrote home to herself to preserve her spontaneous impressions, this revealing and witty book will transport readers instantly into a fascinating inner and outer journey, an unforgettable voyage of discovery.
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Reviews (60)

3-0 out of 5 stars good not great
I think my main problem with Without Reservations was that I was expecting something else. I looked forward to the author's detailed travelogues of Venice, Paris, and Oxford, to see these places through her alleged journalistic penchant for detail. When she describes that she has no experience in traveling abroad, I expected a tale about her foibles and discoveries about the different cultures where she planned to reside. What I found was that Steinbach DOES have reservations -- about her self-esteem, about her place in the world, of her sense of self, of how others define her and how she defines herself. I think the disappointment came from my hoping for a travelogue where the focus is on art, culture and external experiences. Still -- as the book progresses she relaxes more and more into her own skin and she learns how to let go, stop deliberating over every move and just go with whatever life has in store for her. Her physical travels begin to parallel her journey of self-awareness and confidence. The more far-out she perceives an event to be, the more she loosens up to have fun and find out about herself and who she is, from a love affair with a Japanese gentleman to developing unexpected and immediate friendships to dancing all night with her Oxford classmates. Maybe my incessant reading of travel books and cookie-cutter expectations put a damper on my total enjoyment of Steinbach's book. I found it interesting, but I wouldn't recommend it to someone looking for a straight-forward detailed travel memoir.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Delightful Read
Having heard about Steinbach's book on public radio, and being a divorced mother of a grown son, with my own love of travel, and some experience traveling on my own, I was anxious to find out how the author's experiences compared to my own. I got so much more than I had expected, and was sorry to have the book end. "Without Reservations" is non-fiction but reads like a novel in many ways. She is a fine story teller, and her descriptions of all that she observed in her travels, (from the distinctive and unpredictable rooms she rented in small European hotels, to the views of an amazing Italian countryside, as well as the wide array of interesting, yet unexpected short-term relationships she developed along the way) were vivid and very entertaining. I would have liked a little follow-up regarding her life since her travels which took place back in 1993, but this is a minor complaint. I highly recommend this book!

4-0 out of 5 stars Inspirational Woman of Independence and Adventure
I purchased "Without Reservations" after returning home from a quick trip to Europe. You see I had left my heart there and I needed a quick fix while pining away at home waiting for yet another friend to venture out and dare get a passport.

Alice Steinbach writes with a capturing style about her adventures abroad (England, Paris, Italy etc..) all alone. For once a woman who believes in experience over fear! She is a mother, divorced, successful and still desiring a fulfilling life. I admire her spirit and enthusiasm for life. While capturing her inner fears she relies on her wit and knowledge to overcome what would leave most of us sitting at home cowering in a corner.

Ms. Steinbach meets interesting people along the way, a fashionable older woman in Paris, a Japanese man who shares her love of Monet, a young student eager to grow and many others. She inspires one to want to reach out and learn something from the others around us, not for gossip, but for true wealth of character. I believe after reading this book I will no longer seek the security of familar travel partners but instead search for a lesser known commodity, me, a suitcase, a destination and a dream! Sounds exciting to me!

5-0 out of 5 stars Carpe Diem
Who doesn't dream of quitting her job and traveling the world? Alice Steinbach wangles a leave of absence from her job and goes to Europe -- the dream with training wheels. Even though she has the security of knowing her home and job are waiting for her and she goes to countries that are comfortably strange, it is still a big leap for her. She makes the most of it and tells a great story.

Steinbach seems to make friends everywhere she goes. She travels with the attitude of a college student backpacking through Europe, hooking up with temporary friends at each stop. She treats her affair with Naohiro like a summer romance, intense, but sure to be temporary. Sometimes you forget that she is a middle-aged woman with two grown sons and a responsible career back home.

And that is the point. She wants to see who she is when the responsibilities of adulthood are stripped away. Is the young woman who wasn't afraid to take chances still there somewhere? Who is Alice Steinbach when she is not defined as "mother" and "reporter"? In nine months of travels through Paris, Britain, and Italy, she gradually sheds her inhibitions and fears, and gets reacquainted with living for the day.

Without Reservations is an upbeat, sometimes bittersweet, narrative of what feels like a prelude to a bigger leap. I am looking forward to her next book, Educating Alice.

5-0 out of 5 stars Beautifully layered tale of travel and life
I just finished this book and will miss spending time following Ms. Steinbach around on her travels,reading her musings on her life and the world around her. It is a book that will resonate with women who have empty nest. I completely identified with her; having 2 sons myself, 2 cats and terminal wanderlust. She writes so eloquently of how she feels when her children are grown and independant. It's her personal journey to find out how she fits into this new life-without-children. She christens it by taking time off to travel for 9 months alone to discover, who she is, was and who she will become. Even though most people will not be able to do as she did, it does not affect the enjoyment of the book. It is written in a very warm style and you will end the book wishing that in your travels, you will bump into her. ... Read more


11. A Thousand Days in Venice (Ballantine Reader's Circle)
by MARLENA DE BLASI
list price: $12.95
our price: $9.71
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0345457641
Catlog: Book (2003-06-03)
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Sales Rank: 6091
Average Customer Review: 4.27 out of 5 stars
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Book Description



He saw her across the Piazza San Marco and fell in love from afar. When he sees her again in a Venice café a year later, he knows it is fate. He knows little English; and she, a divorced American chef, speaks only food-based Italian. Marlena thinks she is incapable of intimacy, that her heart has lost its capacity for romantic love. But within months of their first meeting, she has packed up her house in St. Louis to marry Fernando—“the stranger,” as she calls him—and live in that achingly lovely city in which they met.

Vibrant but vaguely baffled by this bold move, Marlena is overwhelmed by the sheer foreignness of her new home, its rituals and customs. But there are delicious moments when Venice opens up its arms to Marlena. She cooks an American feast of Mississippi caviar, cornbread, and fried onions for the locals . . . and takes the tango she learned in the Poughkeepsie middle school gym to a candlelit trattoría near the Rialto Bridge. All the while, she and Fernando, two disparate souls, build an extraordinary life of passion and possibility.

Featuring Marlena’s own incredible recipes, A Thousand Days in Venice is the enchanting true story of a woman who opens her heart—and falls in love with both a man and a city.


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Reviews (37)

5-0 out of 5 stars An Enchanted Romance with a Man and a Place
A Thousand Days in Venice is proof that it's never too late to live a dream. The story has a fairy tale quality, yet it really happened: Marlena de Blasi, a chef who is at a bit of a loose end in her life meets a Venetian bank clerk who had observed her before on one of her previous trips to Venice and fallen in love. Throwing caution to the winds, (as she says, "There hasn't been a prudent decision in this story."), de Blasi gives in to her love-at-first-sight response to the "blueberry-eyed stranger" and follows her heart where it leads her. Dispersing her home and possessions in the States, she packs up and moves to Venice to be with Fernando. Their romance and courtship against the backdrop of one of the most romantic places on earth is enchantingly and sensuously told. De Blasi is a master at evoking in word pictures the sights, and scents, textures, and sounds of La Sererenissima.
The adustments, compromises, and mutual discoveries that romance and a new marriage bring into the lives of Marlena and Fernando are related with humor and a sense of wonder at the changes brought about by this unexpected later life event. True to her her passion for cooking, foods and recipes play a part in de Blasi's story. Best of all, she ends her book with a selection of recipes that play a role in her romance so that the reader may extend the enchantment into the kitchen.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Beautiful City, A Very Human Story
I've read the on-line debate about this book with pleasure. I understand the conflict, but I come down on the side that says this book is a great read.

I readily agree with those who say the descriptions can be too long and too colorful, and, especially those who say that they could not imagine moving to Venice to marry a "stranger." But, when I finished this book I felt I had spent the last few evenings with a highly entertaining, charming, and impulsive friend. That we had spent the visit talking about life, love, food, and Venice. And, that I wished she could have stayed longer. Not that I wanted to live like her, or agreed with all her decisions, but that listening to her talk was simply fascinating.

I loved the description of small things about Venice, her admission that all in love is not perfect, and her determined, wily temperment.

Take this book to the beach. Use it to spice up a dull week. Read about this woman's flight of fancy. Don't judge her life choices based on practicality or her word choices based on Hemingway. Just relax and enjoy.

5-0 out of 5 stars More than a fairy tale; maybe it's also a parable
Details, the essence of domesticity, shine in this story. There are the travelogue-esque descriptions of Venice: Napoleon's observation about Piazza San Marco and viewing works of art sequestered in ancient churches. There's a discussion of making house, once in the Midwest in a little house I would love to see and again in the grotty chaos of a bachelor's digs. And throughout are delicious descriptions of food and drink and the ways and places to enjoy them.

Like youth, this book may be somewhat wasted on the young. The small ruminations, the reflections on how we find a place and make a place in life may seem over-wrought. Until the onset of my own middle-age, I felt the same way about such memoirs. Now, I greet writings like this with a mixture of recognition and enthusiasm: recognition of the silly ways we fumble along and enthusiasm for another's discovery that it is not too late to savour what is delicious about life. In that, I find a parable of encouragement.

1-0 out of 5 stars ponderous tale of weighty self-reflection
everyone else seems to love this book - the star I awarded it was only in recognition of the wonderful city of venice in which it is set and the not frequent enough references to food and recipes contained therein. for the rest of it - I could have screamed. I think I might have.

Ms de Blasi has a very ponderous writing style - when I finally hit her expression in which I paraphrase she savoured time like an apronful of warm figs, I hit my limit. Every step she takes is weighty, every mouthful she eats has depth and every observation she makes she imparts as if burdened with wisdom.

and a healthy dose of self-esteem - we are assured she transferred a grotty venetian apartment into a haven of domesticity and style with a deft hand and some old scarves. After taking such a bold move in moving countries, she then seems to decide enough decisions have been made and leaves every other turn and ramble their life takes to The Stranger, who appears kinda weak-willed and slack jawed and rather irritating after a while.

for venice and an appreciation of food and the role it plays in life, only just enough to get me through the self-satisfied prosey prose.

5-0 out of 5 stars Venice in love
This book captured me from the start. By the end of the first chapter, I was in tears, reading it to my mother, explaining about this amazing true story of true love. Captivating writing by a woman who finds love in a stranger, trusts the fates and jumps head first into romance, and a new life in Italy. Take me to Venice so that I can absorb all the romance this sinking city eminates. I cannot wait for the continuing story of Marlena and the stranger. ... Read more


12. North of Ithaka : A Journey Home through a Family's Extraordinary Past
by Eleni N. Gage
list price: $23.95
our price: $16.29
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0312340281
Catlog: Book (2005-05-01)
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Sales Rank: 3076
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Lia revisited
It comes as no surprise that Eleni Gage turns out to be a gifted writer. It runs in the blood, I guess. Her father is the well known Nicholas Gage who wrote, among other fine books, one about his mother Eleni who was murdered by Communist guerrillas in the Greek civil war just after WW II. When I read it a few years ago it left me in a state of shock for about a week.
The present more upbeat work recounts the author's yearlong stay in the village of Lia, close to the Albanian border, where she succeeds in rebuilding the very house in which her grandmother and other villagers were kept prisoners before being brutally murdered more than a half-century earlier.
The author wants to strengthen her sense of rootedness in Epirus while holding on to the values and habits of thought she has acquired as an American woman. She wants to fit into life in her ancestral village without being seduced by a mindset she has been conditioned to reject - or at least question. She encounters lots of customs and practices that can be classed as superstition or magic (or even idolatry) that the locals think are part of Christianity but which she finds only marginally acceptable. Most of the people she runs into treat her with great kindness and become her friends even though none of them are nearly as well educated as she. They are, in fact, mostly old or elderly.
The author experiences some emotional turmoil as the reconstruction process runs into some snags and delays, and as she has to deal with bureaucrats and others whose venality and incompetence would make a less motivated person wonder if it is all worth it. An almost constant presence in the book is the author's earthy Aunt Kanta, the Greek-born American lady who speaks imperfect English, believes everything in America is perfect, and has opinions on every conceivable topic, including why her niece is single and what she should do to get married. Even though Kanta is very in-your-face and sometimes a pain in the neck, she is still lovable. And so are the villagers. And so are the undocumented Albanians who cross the border looking for work.
During the year the author has some fascinating close encounters with groups of people who enrich her experience and teach her a lot about the importance of history and continuity in the life of groups and individuals. A group of uprooted Greek Jews arrive from New York and take her to Ioannina to visit what is left of their cemetery and synagogue. She spends some time with a Gypsy family who are involved in local politics and even gets to attend a Gypsy wedding. She goes on a "field trip" to make contact with the descendents of the Dorians known as Sarakatsani.
The thing I like most about this book, apart from its being very well written and sometimes lyrical, is its spirit of optimism and hope for the future - of humanity.

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13. Walk Across America, A
by Peter Jenkins
list price: $14.00
our price: $10.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 006095955X
Catlog: Book (2001-09)
Publisher: Perennial
Sales Rank: 11607
Average Customer Review: 4.51 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Twenty-five years ago, a disillusioned young man set out on a walk across America. This is the book he wrote about that journey -- a classic account of the reawakening of his faith in himself and his country.

"I started out searching for myself and my country," Peter Jenkins writes, "and found both." In this timeless classic, Jenkins describes how disillusionment with society in the 1970s drove him out onto the road on a walk across America. His experiences remain as sharp and telling today as they were twenty-five years ago -- from the timeless secrets of life, learned from a mountain-dwelling hermit, to the stir he caused by staying with a black family in North Carolina, to his hours of intense labor in Southern mills. Many, many miles later, he learned lessons about his country and himself that resonate to this day -- and will inspire a new generation to get out, hit the road and explore.

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Reviews (70)

5-0 out of 5 stars This book is one that brings adventure into the heart of all
In his book, Peter Jenkins discusses his discontent with his life following college. He plans to leave the country, but in a last minute decision decides to take the advice of a friend and discover America. After some training for the adventure, he sets forth on his journey with his dog Cooper, who is his closest companion.

Jenkins first heads first (on foot) to the National Geographic office in Washington DC, where he obtains a camera. His experiences and adventures will be recorded for an article in the popular magazine.

From Washington, he starts south (destination unknown at this time). As he hikes through the mountains, he begins meeting all different types of people. His American journey takes him through a variety of places and introduces him to people of all backgrounds.

Following a tradgedy on a Farm in Tennessee, Peter's adventure becomes even more insightful as he attempts to discern life in general.

His walk takes him on many adventures, le! ! ads him to a religious experience, and introduces him to the woman that he eventually marries.

The book is truly sensational, and impossible to put down once you have begun to read it! A must-read, for sure!

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book, full of adventure and a spiritual journey
What a great book this is. Peter Jenkins in the 1970's walked across America and not only had interesting stories to tell, but also had his own spiritual journey to undertake. I first read this many years ago and it left a lasting impression upon me. Having recently re-read it, I still feel the journey he took and wish I too could take a journey such as his.

Maybe America was a tad more safe in the 1970's than it is today, but fortunately Peter only had a few incidents, that could also be because his trusting companion Cooper, a Siberian Husky also travelled with him many, many miles. From Peter's beginning travels in New England down the Atlantic states and across to Louisiana, he tells the reader his encounters as he faced them on the trails, roads, and forests, he also talks about his own self journey and inner strugle to find his "own path". His tales about the "Mountain Man" to his "adoption" by a black family is interesting and wonderful to read. He at last finds his "soul mate" and also what he is looking for. I love this book, and hopefully one day I would like to meet Peter Jenkins and let him know that his book made an impact upon me. I recommend this to anyone who would like to make a journey across America and get to know the people and land, also those who need a "spiritual journey" would find comfort in this book as well. Highly recommended!

5-0 out of 5 stars Stumbled upon the book, could not put it down!
Absolutely one of the best reads that I've ever encountered. Of course, throughout this book, I continued to hopelessly imagine myself taking this journey along with Peter. Its just a down to earth, true speaking, journey across the eastern US. I wish I could have been there to experience it too. Great read!

1-0 out of 5 stars A Schlock Across America
I would say that a worse book could not be produced, but I know that there's some hot-blooded hippy out there who is ten seconds away from jumping up from his pottery wheel to shout, "Hey! I'm gonna walk across America and WRITE ABOUT IT!" (Or, rather, since he's a hippy, "Hey, MAN! I'm gonna walk across America and WRITE ABOUT IT!") Nothing against hippies; most of them know how to write well. It's the hippies that don't who really annoy me, such as Mr. Peter "My Life Partner is an Alaskan Malamute" Jenkins. He even admits it! ". . . I was not a writer. I could barely spell my name" (p. 57). So, please tell us, Peaterr Jinkyns, why'd you do it? Do you enjoy lacing together poorly-worded images and emotions into a story that's actually PAINFUL to read? The whole book seems as if it were written like a high school student writes an English essay on "The Scarlet Letter" at 4 A.M. the day it's due. (Yes, that's right, I used a similie--something Peter Jenkins should never ever do again.) He should let his dog do the writing, instead. (Which he does, in some points. He's one of those people who thinks his dog can talk.)

This book got good reviews from other people because of it's optimistic outlook on our country, but I say don't listen to the optimists. They think that George W. Bush is a good president. It's the cynics who see the truth as it really is.

Don't get me wrong, I love this country and I'm very proud of it. In fact, I even wrote my own book about it. It's called "My Feet Hurt, America". Here's an excerpt:

"Today I started walking across this great country of ours, but half a mile out, I got tired and decided to go home and eat a Super-Sized BigMac combo meal with lots of ketchup. God bless the USA from sea to shining sea and the home of the brave. THE END"

MY POINT: I think it's great that people love this country so much that they want to walk across it and write books about it. But I do think people should learn to write first. So don't read this book, unless you want a story about a hippy-turned-Republican.

5-0 out of 5 stars Termendous. Couldn't get enough.
One of the best, personal, diarys that I have ever encountered.
Peter Jennings has a way of explaining his adventures that puts you right along beside him with every step. I purchased this book because of its preview within its cover, and it was the best book that I think I have ever read. I can't wait to get the next one.." The walk west". I couldn't lay this book down. ... Read more


14. Travels
by Michael Crichton
list price: $13.95
our price: $10.46
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060509058
Catlog: Book (2002-11-01)
Publisher: Perennial
Sales Rank: 14183
Average Customer Review: 4.26 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Often I feel I go to some distant region of the world to be reminded of who I really am.

When Michael Crichton -- a Harvard-trained physician, bestselling novelist, and successful movie director -- began to feel isolated in his own life, he decided to widen his horizons. He tracked wild animals in the jungles of Rwanda. He climbed Kilimanjaro and Mayan pyramids. He trekked across a landslide in Pakistan. He swam amid sharks in Tahiti.

Fueled by a powerful curiosity and the need to see, feel, and hear firsthand and close-up, Michael Crichton has experienced adventures as compelling as those he created in his books and films. These adventures -- both physical and spiritual -- are recorded here in Travels, Crichton's most astonishing and personal work.

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Reviews (95)

5-0 out of 5 stars Gets better with each read
This book is amazing. Not only does it have the great Crichton voyeuristic side of being taken into different worlds, but it also has a reveletory nature that really makes you stop and think about life. I am a super cynical person, but this book made me extremely contemplative about human nature.

Yes, a lot of it is like a time trip into the 70s (auras, bending spoons, esp) but since Crichton is SO well educated and smart, it makes it much more interesting to read about than from some new agey-type that you can just write off as being a weirdo. When hiking in the desert I've thought many times of him talking to a cactus and had a good giggle.

Also I really liked how each chapter is a self-contained story.

When oh when will he write Travels 2???

5-0 out of 5 stars Cadavers, Kilimanjaro, and physic auras, oh my!
This is book was incredible! Crichton's days as a medical student are humorous and thought-provoking, his globe-trotting is exotic and awe-inspiring, and his psychic adventures left me with a whole new vocabulary of chakras, auras, etc.

The amazing med school stories are great, which is no surprise since he's written Five Patients and is the creator of ER. The travelling stories were interesting because they seemed believable. Tourbook, camera, sore feet ... I can relate to this guy a lot better than a Hemingway-type figure.

I don't know if I'm going to go out and talk to cacti or fluff my aura anytime soon, but I thought Crichton's journies of the world and the soul were amazing. This is probably among the least-known of his books, but definitely a must read.

1-0 out of 5 stars Horrible
Boring and rediculous! Crichton experiences are laughably irrational and I was horrified that such a brilliant man would do the most illogical and bizzare things. He scares me.

4-0 out of 5 stars a fascinating book on Crichton's time travelling the world
I've been a fan of Crichton's fiction since I first read Jurassic Park years ago. I love how he mixes reality with the potential science of the future. The events in his novels may not be possible, but when Crichton tells the story you believe that they are plausible. Perhaps it is Crichton's attention to detail that makes the stories both so interesting as well as believable. It is this same attention to detail that makes Travels such an interesting book.

Travels is a series of essays broken up into two sections. The first section deals with Crichton's time in medical school. These stories are very interesting as we get to see some of the inner working of hospitals, and some of the stuff that we wouldn't see on TV (and might not believe if we did). This was a fascinating section. The second section of the book was most of the book and it dealt with Crichton's travels. I'm not a huge fan of travel writing (normally), but I was blown away by the depth (or length) of Crichton's travels. He truly is a world traveler and we are told of his experiences climbing mountains, exploring remote corners of the world. Not only has Michael Crichton had several lifetimes of experience, but he tells the stories very well. Most are very short, but very interesting.

I don't think that Travels will be a book that I have any interest in re-reading, but it was a good book to read once and I'm glad I did. Crichton has a lot of stories to tell and he tells them well.

4-0 out of 5 stars Interesting mini Bio
This book tells MC's early years. From his medical studies, when he wrote novels using pseudonyms to support himself to some of his adventures, some you wouldn't imagine.

If you like his books, you should read this one to get to know him a little bit more even though it is a pretty old book, he should write a newer Bio. ... Read more


15. Bill Bryson's African Diary
by BILL BRYSON
list price: $12.00
our price: $9.60
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0767915062
Catlog: Book (2002-12-03)
Publisher: Broadway
Sales Rank: 7214
Average Customer Review: 3.65 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

“Here is a man who suffers so his readers can laugh.” — Daily Telegraph

Bill Bryson travels to Kenya in support of CARE International. All royalties and profits go to CARE International.

Bryson visits Kenya at the invitation of CARE International, the charity dedicated to eradicating poverty. Kenya is a land of contrasts, with famous game reserves and a vibrant culture. It also provides plenty to worry a traveller like Bill Bryson, fixated as he is on the dangers posed by snakes, insects and large predators. It is also a country with many serious problems: refugees, AIDS, drought, and grinding poverty. The resultant diary, though short in length, contains the trademark Bryson stamp of wry observation and curious insight.
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Reviews (20)

4-0 out of 5 stars too short but fun bit of travel writing for a good cause
Bill Bryson is a fantastic travel writer, and made this very very short book (only 49 pages!) still fun to read. I definitely wish it had been longer, but as all of the book's proceeds go to charity (specifically CARE, a wonderful organization that spends its money wisely and helps those in impoverished countries help themselves), I don't really mind.

The book recounts his all too brief time in Africa (eight days), where he tours the east African nation of Kenya. He visits some of the areas in Kenya in the most need of CARE's help, such as the Nairobi slum of Kibera and the eastern refugee camp of Dadaab, filled with Somali exiles. It is quite sad to read about the horrible conditions many of these people face (wait till you read about what a flying toilet is), but heart warming to see that many are still hopeful and that all is not lost. It would seem that many of these people are good people; all they need is a chance.

...it was still fun to read and parts were hilarious. I enjoyed his early thoughts on Africa, such as the initial conversations with those who convinced him to go to Africa that except for the "diseases and the bandits and the railway from Nairobi to Mombasa, there's absolutely nothing to worry about"! I enjoyed reading about that railroad, which Bryson writes has a tradition of killing passengers and has even been named the Lunatic Express, though Bryson rode it without any serious mishap. Also lots of fun to read was his arrival in Nairobi; expecting the sunny little country town in "Out of Africa," Bryson was amazed to instead find traffic, high rise buildings, bill boards - as he puts it, Omaha! His description of a harrowing single-engine plane ride was very funny as well.

A fun little book, one in you can read in an hour or two.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Loin King
I promised myself I wouldn't write a review because I work for CARE and went on the trip to Kenya with Bill Bryson. However - His undertaking was phenomenal. Breaking off from his current writing project to travel to an unknown continent for 8 days, make sense of it, write up 10,000 words ( that's how many we felt we could ask him to undertake, he actually wrote 12,000)in two weeks, and turn it round in time for a Christmas book. Admire that, but also admire the motives and the results of this short but sweet volume. There are classic Bryson moments, humour and a well structured view of a country on the verge of great change. Believe me, your ($$) is making a huge difference to people's lives. And the book on your shelf can be a gentle reminder of your generosity and compassion. Thank you Amazon and all purchasers!

5-0 out of 5 stars More about the CARE organisation should be known
An enthralling account of Bryson's visit to Kenya to observe the work of CARE workers. Written with clarity as regards facts of what he saw and with his inimitable style that adds humor to serious topics. All royalties of his book he donated to CARE.

4-0 out of 5 stars CARE
I read Bill Bryson's book on my way to Europe. A great little carry along that doesn't take up much space, and doesn't take long to read. I love the fact that humor is mixed in with the seriousness of what the book really covers. It is great that all profits go to help the CARE cause.

5-0 out of 5 stars OK it is short but the cause is great!
OK it is rather short but the cause is great and Bryson really does convey his care for the people of Africa. So buy this book, buy one for each of your friends and make sure that they do the same. You will have a light but fun read and meanwhile you will have helped a lot of people who urgently need it. Christopher Catherwood (author of CHRISTIANS, MUSLIMS AND ISLAMIC RAGE, Zondervan, 2003) ... Read more


16. Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road
by Neil Peart
list price: $19.95
our price: $13.96
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1550225480
Catlog: Book (2002-09)
Publisher: ECW Press
Sales Rank: 2962
Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

In less than a year, Neil Peart lost both his 19-year-old daughter, Selena, and his wife, Jackie. Faced with overwhelming sadness and isolated from the world in his home on the lake, Peart was left without direction. This memoir tells of the sense of loss and directionlessness that led him on a 55,000-mile journey by motorcycle across much of North America, down through Mexico to Belize, and back again. He had needed to get away, but had not really needed a destination. His travel adventures chronicle his personal odyssey and include stories of reuniting with friends and family, grieving, thinking, and reminiscing as he rode until he encountered the miracle that allowed him to find peace. ... Read more

Reviews (119)

3-0 out of 5 stars Why does Neil Peart think he's "better" than us?
I'm not a Rush fan, and I'd never heard of Neil Peart before another motorcyclist cleared out his library and I got hold of Ghost Rider. I'm not impressed with celebrity motorcyclists, having met Malcolm Forbes, Peter Fonda, Jay Leno, et al. None of those guys think that they are "better" than us, on the contrary, they revel in the camaraderie and the egalitarianism of the 2-wheeled brotherhood. But Peart comes off as a parvenu
moto-snob, and he shuns Americans as being overweight and declasse. Who did he think was going to read his book on motorcycle touring, anyway, people who were working their way through their own grief? And he doesn't begin to understand his own personality type, and why he thinks that he loved his wife, while actually he was still a boy at heart, out having fun with his friends, while his wife sat at home. There was very little about his wife and daughter in the book, and lots about his attempts to run away from his own self, which he didn't like very much, and there was nothing of the guilt that he should have felt about not being there for his wife before the accident
where his daughter died. And, while he may have suffered from the loss of his immediate family, his other family and friends were still there for him and he didn't lose his career while he went off running away from responsibility. On the positive side, I did enjoy reading the travelogue parts and found his imagery of natural phenomena and scenery to be enchanting. Too bad he had to dwell so much on his grief. Oh, Peart did accomplish what
a writer needs to accomplish: he gained sufficient empathy with the reader (even though I though he was an a$$hole half the time)
to make me hope for a happy outcome for him. So I flipped to the back of the book to look at the denouement (a sure sign that the author is wearying the reader). I was amazed. He married a girl, instead of marrying Brutus, whom he loved more intimately than he could ever love another woman!

4-0 out of 5 stars Far more than just an insight into Neil Peart's life...
Just like many of the reviewers here at amazon.com had done, I purchased this book primarily because I am an avid Rush fan. It is true that Neil Peart has kept his private life very guarded from his fans and is very defensive about his privacy (see lyrics to "Limelight" by Peart). However...

The more I read this book, the less I was aware that the man on this "Healing Road" is the drummer of a legendary Canadian progressive rock power trio. I became totally immersed in the mind of a man who is on an intense journey of personal re-discovery. Further to that, I became thoroughly engrossed with Peart's simple yet amazingly effective description of life on the road (on two wheels). Peart had made me forget "who" he was and instead made me want to read about who he is becoming -- a man in the wake of devastating tragedy, born of a fragile, healing "baby soul."

My hat's off to Peart. This book is an excellent read.

5-0 out of 5 stars I feel the soft ground under my feet; and I am moved.
"Living in a fisheye lens, caught in the camera eye,
I have no heart to lie,
I can't pretend a stranger is a long-awaited friend."
-- Limelight

And who can blame you? Who will judge you? Lost your life, your family, your love, your child, your spirit ! O cruel world ! You turned in your ambition for a cold dark hostile ride through infinite space and endless pavement. But you do have love. You do have light. You gave so much to the world in your youth. You were our only voice. You taught us all a philosophy that we knew before we became wealthy and learned in philosophy. You were our only philosopher; the greatest of all philosophers. Your gift was not only the gift of words of enlightenment, but was the gift of energy: adrenalin flowing. You gave the world truth: the rarest of all precious stones. Thank you. You are loved by millions. And many more will be born to discover your genius. Music is timeless. Perhaps we are all strangers to you, but you should know that we, your audience, all hold you close to our hearts. And in this that we all share, we are not strangers, but very close friends.

"Ghost Rider" takes us into the soul of Neil Peart, percussionist, composer, and lyricist and poet of the combined genius known as Rush. It is a mystery why he opened his soul in this text, but he did. It's true: we cannot know another unless we walk in their shoes. But we can share it all with each other. Neil pours it out. How you see it, how it affects you, is all up to you, the reader.

MR

2-0 out of 5 stars Only for the dedicated
As a fan of Rush and Neil Peart for 20+ years, I was hoping this book would reveal more about Neil's human side and the tragedies he faced and overcame. It did, but not the way I expected. I was about 100 pages in when I realized the book is written for Neil himself, not for the reader. The author often seems not to know or care that a reader exists and wants to understand and empathize with his journey. He logs hundreds of pages of detail of his aimless wanderings, often interspersed with his own feelings of grief, but the few real insights are fragmented without any real coherence. In fact, some of them are probably unintentional; he seems as unaware of his own disdain towards most other people he meets, as he is of the reader himself. This becomes painfully obvious in the "Letters to Brutus" section, pages upon pages of correspondence that, while surely significant to Neil and his close friends, are mostly fragmented and irrelevant to anyone else. After 450 pages of material, through which we desperately want Neil to overcome his pain, the story of his recovery is tacked on in literally a single sentence, followed by 6 pages of epilogue.

My sense is that this book was written not for the reader, but for Neil to bring closure to his own grieving process, which is understandable given the terrible tragedies that the author experienced. The reader should approach it in that context, understanding that the process of grief necessarily makes a person very focused on the self to the exclusion of almost all else.

I'd recommend the book only to dedicated fans of Neil's work, with the caveat that this particular work is really written for Neil himself. All the band members have consistently said they feel they owe their followers their best possible performance in exchange for the CD price or ticket charge; for the $20 price of this book, this is the first work I've seen by any of them that falls far short of that standard.

3-0 out of 5 stars This road gets a little long...
As a long time Rush/Neil Peart fan I may not be the most objective reviewer of this book as I tore through its pages with the mindset of a fan and not as a casual reader. Being a Rush fan and a motorcyclist, I'm probably as captive a reader as any author could hope for, so perhaps I grant this book some liberties where others may feel it falls a little short.

The passing of Peart's daughter and wife starts the book on it's haunting footing as the author takes you on a two wheel ride over miles and miles of road while simultaneously allowing you to feel his pain, recount his memories, think his thoughts, and bask in his ultimate healing. All while the odometer keeps clicking away.

What is immediately striking is the author's raw emotional openness - as though his motorcycle were the couch and the reader the psychologist listening to him poor it all out. The down side of this is that in his honesty you see him as not always being the most sympathetic of characters - often he comes across being uptight, anal, and often self indulged. Rather than recounting memories of his lost loved ones, allowing his devastation to be more concrete and real for the reader he regales in story after story of past motorcycle trips with his best friend Brutus. By the end of the book you know more about Brutus than the loved ones he lost.

The beauty of this book is experiencing the world as viewed through the eyes of a well-read, thoughtful artist. He has such a poetic sensibility about the world that the sights, sounds and smells of the passing countryside take on a fresh life. Throughout the book he is searching, but never out of control - he grieves as you would expect, but not driven by his emotions - instead he rides and thinks. ... Read more


17. In Search of Captain Zero: A Surfer's Road Trip Beyond the End of the Road
by A. C. Weisbecker, Allan C. Weisbecker
list price: $14.95
our price: $10.17
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1585421774
Catlog: Book (2002-09-01)
Publisher: Jeremy P. Tarcher
Sales Rank: 11284
Average Customer Review: 4.73 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

In 1996, Allan Weisbecker sold his home and his possessions, loaded his dog and surfboards into his truck, and set off in search of his long-time surfing companion, Patrick, who had vanished into the depths of Central America. In this rollicking memoir of his quest from Mexico to Costa Rica to unravel the circumstances of Patrick's disappearance, Weisbecker intimately describes the people he befriended, the bandits he evaded, the waves he caught and lost en route to finding his friend.

In Search of Captain Zero is, according to Outside magazine, "A subtly affecting tale of friendship and duty. [It] deserves a spot on the microbus dashboard as a hell of a cautionary tale about finding paradise and smoking it away."
... Read more

Reviews (33)

5-0 out of 5 stars Kerouac goes for a surf
First off, you don't have to be a surfer to enjoy this book. It's a well written account of a man looking for answers to life, a friend, some adventure, and some good secluded surf spots. The story will bring you out to the line up where you will experience first hand how beautiful and moving something as simple as being propelled by a wave on a surfboard is. It is more than just a surf book however, it is a document of a life lived on the road and on the sea, for better and sometimes for worse. A definite must read for anyone that loves travel, adventure and a good sea story or two.

5-0 out of 5 stars Loved This Book
I've been waiting for this book for some time, since i read Cosmic Banditos, the last one written by this author. I got my hands on an advance copy, and I read it in two days. It's a book that really speaks to my generation, the one that sat up and took notice when The Endless Summer hits the movie screens so many years ago, the one that took On the Road as its bible, the one that took so long to grow up. Unlike most of us, the author stuck to the road and to the waves, and this book is a great adventure through the years, as well as through the landscape of central america, as the author sets out in search of his old friend and surfing buddy, Chris. It is a real gift to those of us who loved Cosmic banditos so many years ago, and worth the wait. It's a cinematic kind of book, while at the same time a book of musing on life--not in a pretentious way, but in a real, intimate style that was witty and melancholy at the same time. Brilliant, funny, and a kind of sociological profile of the kind of baby boomer who never sucumbed to the lure of a regular salary and a daily cappucino at starbucks.

5-0 out of 5 stars More than the sum of its parts
First let me say that I have never surfed, and other than watching Point Break, am ignorant of surfing culture. Likewise, I have never journeyed south of the border, and I certainly never was an international drug smuggler (though I have been known to inhale). That said, Mr. Weisbecker's writing put me right there, and made me feel that I was participating in these adventures. He vividly and viscerally described surfing to the point that I felt the rush, and almost tasted salt water. His recreation of a sense of place when describing Mexico and Central America reminded me of Mark Twain's best travel writing. And his recolections of his outrageous adventures in his youthful bandito smuggling days made me cry from laughing.(Even if these tales are exagerated, as well they may be, only someone who knows what he is talking about could exagerate so effectively.)
Beyond all the surfing, adventuring on the edge, and bandito hilarity, this book has a strong undercurrent of melancholy, a deep sadness that adds depth and realism to this rollicking adventure. Someone has complained that this book is just about a self indulgent mid-life crisis. The author himself has admitted as much in his book. Yet the emotions and circumstances that bring a man to what we have chosen to call "mid-life crisis" are real, and nearly universal. Weibecker's genius is in the brutal honesty in which he communicates his own ambiguous emotional turmoil. Past a certain age, we all must find a way to live with the choices that we have made, and the bridges that we have burned, and that, at its core, is the heart of this book.
In Search of Captain Zero is engrossing, envigerating, hilarious, and sad. It is a swift read, and I was sorry when it was over. All in all, it is more than the sum of its parts, and I highly recommend it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great story
This an awesome story!, Alan tells a great story of travel thru Baja, Mexico and further south, If you surf you must read this book and if you have ever traveled through Mexico or down Baja you will appriciate this book as well.
Great Job Alan!!

3-0 out of 5 stars Great Disposable Writing but Nothing Profound Here
Zero is one of those titles you pick up when you want mindless rambling to distract you from the complexities of life -Weisbecker's biggest worries in life are finding the perfect wave & reuniting with long lost surfer brother, Christopher. We should all have a life this "complicated." I found the surfer lingo exquisitely trite however the storyline was amusing. This book is perfect if you're suffering from a male midlife crises and want to relive the endless summer days of your youth when chicks still found your saggy surfer body attractive. ... Read more


18. American Traveler: The Life and Adventures of John Ledyard, the Man Who Dreamed of Walking the World
by James Zug
list price: $25.00
our price: $16.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0465094058
Catlog: Book (2005-03-30)
Publisher: Basic Books
Sales Rank: 13768
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The astounding story of the eighteenth-century New Englander who traveled farther on four continents than anyone else in his day and who pioneered an American archetype: the restless explorer.

Called a "man of genius" by his close friend Thomas Jefferson, John Ledyard lived, by any standard, a remarkable life. In his thirty-eight years, he accompanied Captain Cook on his last voyage; befriended Jefferson, Lafayette, and Tom Paine in Paris; was the first American citizen to see Alaska, Hawaii, and the west coast of America; and set out to find the source of the Niger by traveling from Cairo across the Sahara. His greatest dream, concocted with Jefferson, was to travel alone around the world and cross the American continent from the Pacific Northwest to the Atlantic. Catherine the Great dashed that dream when she had him arrested in deepest Siberia and escorted back to the Polish border. Ledyard wrote the definitive account of Cook's last voyage and his death at the hands of Hawaiian islanders, and formed a company with John Paul Jones that launched the American fur trade in the Pacific Northwest.

Before the Revolution, Americans by and large didn't travel great distances, rarely venturing west of the Appalachians. Ledyard, with his boundless enthusiasm and wide-ranging intellect, changed all that. In lively prose, journalist James Zug tells the riveting story of this immensely influential character -a Ben Franklin with wanderlust-a uniquely American pioneer. ... Read more

Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars The First World Citizen
I've been fascinated by Ledyard since I first encountered him, in 1989, at a University of Washington history lecture.At the time I was struck by the fact that I'd never heard of him before.How could this guy have been forgotten?Poking around the stacks in the library led me to Sparks' and Watrous' work, but I couldn't believe that somebody wasn't out there researching and writing about Ledyard.I've been poking around ever since. At last, Zug has delivered the biography I've been waiting for.

American Traveler serves as an outstanding introduction to one of the most fascinating figures in American history.Zug does a wonderful job describing Ledyard's relationships with movers and shakers of the late 18th century (particularly Jefferson), as well as his role as a catalyst behind the eventual expansion of American power.However, the real strength of the book is Zug's portrait of Ledyard the world traveler--a guy on the road who, though frustrated by the restrictions of time and petty bureaucracy, takes a genuine interest in the people he encounters.Yes--Ledyard was a spectacular failure as a businessman, but he understood something that many (apparently including P.J. O'Rourke) do not: traveling isn't about arriving at your destination--it's all about the road trip and the people you meet along the way.In this sense, there has never been a more spectacular success than John Ledyard. ... Read more


19. My Kind of Place : Travel Stories from a Woman Who's Been Everywhere
by SUSAN ORLEAN
list price: $24.95
our price: $16.47
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0679462937
Catlog: Book (2004-09-28)
Publisher: Random House
Sales Rank: 2041
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20. Plane Insanity: A Flight Attendant's Tales of Sex, Rage, and Queasiness at 30,000 Feet
by Elliot Hester, Elliott Hester
list price: $13.95
our price: $10.46
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0312310064
Catlog: Book (2003-01-01)
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Sales Rank: 22075
Average Customer Review: 4.07 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Make sure your seatbacks and tray tables are in their full upright and locked position for these shocking, bizarre, hilarious, and outrageous stories of airplane travel.

You’re belted into a middle seat with burly businessmen on either side. It’s ninety-two degrees in the cabin and someone forgot to use deodorant. A baby screams. A kid kicks the back of your seat. After two hours you haven’t even left the taxiway. Welcome to modern airline travel! In Plane Insanity, Elliott Hester delivers stories that could only come from someone who “rides tin” for a living---a flight attendant.

You’ll hear about:
* the passenger from hell
* a smuggled python
* prostitutes working the lavatories
* a riot in coachclass
* a $500,000 heist
* the anatomy of a carry-on bag
* a malodorous couple
* the Mile-High Club
* and much more!

Fasten your seatbelts. After Plane Insanity, you’ll never think of air travel the same way again.
... Read more

Reviews (58)

4-0 out of 5 stars Funny, Funny, Funny
This book is pure entertainment value! The stories are laugh out loud funny and it's light read. The many vignettes are broken up into short chapters so this book can be read at one's leisure. As a Flight Attendant I, too, have witnessed many of the antics described so cleverly in this book. It's a great book for laughs; however, I do not recommend reading this as a guide to deciding whether or not the Flight Attendant career is for you. In almost every situation, Mr. Hester describes jetting off to some exotic locale, staying in 4 star hotels, crew lounges at the hotels which host wild parties, etc. This kind of lifestyle is only applicable (and attainable) to one out of every hundred (possible thousand!) flight attendants (and it is definitely not applicable to new Flight Attendants!). But his experience does make for some great stories!

4-0 out of 5 stars Highly entertaining
Flight attendant Elliot Hester's compilation of dozens of hilarious essays and stories about his experiences at 30,000 feet. Most of the essays in this book are things you may have read before -- a lot of them have been published on Salon.com and Hester is a syndicated travel columnist these days in addition to his day job in jets. But if you've never experienced his sharp wit and sharper tongue, you're in for a few belly laughs and groans. And also, you may never think about flight attendants in quite the same way ever again. Recommended to frequent fliers and anybody else who could use a few good laughs while squished into one of those tiny seats in coach!

5-0 out of 5 stars Funny Book
I loved this book. I read it in two days because I couldn't stop laughing. I fly frequently and have always wondered what kind of fun story's flight attendance have.

5-0 out of 5 stars Absolutely hilarious
This was the best flight attendant book I've read since Cabin Pressure. Most of the stories kept me laughing for days. Mr. Hester is an excellent writer and his way of wording things makes it even funnier. I don't know why people have given this book negative reviews and say it's "mildly amusing." These people need to get a life. Sure, the guy mentioned maybe TWICE that he was straight, but and uses humor about mentioning it those very, very few times that he does.

1-0 out of 5 stars This book is so bad, Amazon won't even list my review of it!
.
Amazon must be sleeping with the author of this piece of trash, because they won't list my negative review of this book! ... Read more


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