Road Trip!

Summer can be rough for book groups. Vacations deplete group numbers and those who remain steadfast don’t even get the proverbial lousy t-shirt. You should take this, well… sitting down. Why not take the group on its own armchair tour with a round of travel books?

state-by-stateThere are some fun choices available now. I highly recommend State by State: A Panoramic Portrait of America edited by Matt Weiland and Sean Wilsey. It’ s a thoughtful, funny, often insightful collection of essays, one for each of the fifty states, by fifty interesting writers. Contributors include Jhumpa Lahiri, Tony Horwitz, Jonathan Franzen, Sarah Vowell, Dave Eggers, Anthony Bourdain, Louise Erdrich, Ann Patchett, Myla Goldberg, Rick Moody, Susan Choi, and many other great up and coming writers. To top it all off, the book contains some interesting statistics about the fifty states.

A much-better-than-average celebrity book is Jerry Camarillo Dunn’s My my-favorite-placeFavorite Place on Earth: Celebrated People Share Their Travel Discoveries. Dunn works in interviews with folks from the Dalai Lama to Jerry Seinfeld, Buzz Aldrin to Morgan Freeman, James Taylor to Tom Brokaw, a total of 75 celebrity travelers. He also raids National Geographic‘s vaults to provide background information about the destinations they mention.


Or consider combining the reading of a classic with Novel Destinations, a book by Shannon McKenna Schmidt and Joni Rendon. It covers places like Jane Austen’s Bath, Oscar Wilde’s London, or Kafka’s Prague. It also has coverage of literary museums and festivals.

Whichever of these books you pick, supplement it with information from your own lives. For State by State, compare your impressions of your home state with those of the essayist in the book. If you try My Favorite Place on Earth, come prepared with lists of your own favorite places. And if you choose Novel Destinations, talk about the most vivid settings you’ve experienced in books or your own literary travels. In any case, you’ll get good discussion and a fun travel experience without breaking up the group. Enjoy the journey!



About the Author:

Neil Hollands is an Adult Services Librarian at Williamsburg Regional Library in Virginia, where he specializes in readers’ advisory and collection development. He is the author of Read On . . . Fantasy Fiction (2007) and Fellowship in a Ring: a Guide for Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Groups (2009).

2 Comments on "Road Trip!"

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  1.' Nicki Seidl says:

    If you are in Chicago for ALA on Thurs July 9, author Mary Pat Kelly will be signing copies of her novel, Galway Bay, at O’Brien’s River Walk Cafe, 45 E. Riverwalk South, 312-346-3131. There will be free hors’douvres and a cash bar from 5:00-7:00 pm.

    Our library hosted Mary Pat for a book signing in March, which was well attended. The book has enjoyed some success and good reviews. Those who have visited Ireland or who have ties to the country will appreciate the history if Irish immigration it depicts.

    Neither I nor our library has any affiliation with the author or the book; I told her I would help spread the word. The Riverwalk is lovely, especially if the weather cooperates.

  2. We have recently (March 2009) published the most original guidebook/armchair travel book on Rome to appear in decades–and I mean that literally. Alternative but very useful. Foreword by Walter Veltroni, former mayor of Rome. Even native Romans like this book and find much in it that they didn’t know about their own city. Title: Rome the Second Time: 15 Itineraries that Don’t Go to the Coliseum (Curious Traveler Press). Any way you could see your way clear to mention it in your blog?

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