Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Travel Book: A House Somewhere

One afternoon this past December, with time to kill in the town of Alice Springs in the heart of Australian outback, I entered a used bookstore. This book, with contributions from a number of travel-writing stars caught my eye. But I already had plenty to read and I managed to resist the temptation to buy it.

Back home in Chicago I got hold of the book and read the pieces at a slow pace, enjoying them one at a time. I finally finished the book yesterday.

The idea behind this travel anthology is a great one: We all dream of owning or renting a house in some exotic place. Travel writers who have actually done it, write about their experience of their ‘house somewhere.’ With writers like Theroux, Jan Morris, Simon Winchester, and Karl Taro Greenfeld included, you can’t go wrong.

A couple of related asides: 1. Compilations such as this often help me find interesting writers I’d otherwise have missed. If I enjoyed their article, I will try to get hold of their book. 2. Any compilation by Don George of is well worth reading.

There simply isn’t enough time for us to live in all these places. Our only choice is to experience things vicariously, through the eyes of these observant writers. You should consider checking out this book, even if you think you only have time to read a few of the stories.


  1. I agree about visiting some places vicariously but there is no substitute for being there, isn't it?

  2. Yes, Mridula.

    There will never be a true substitute for visiting a place. But 2 people could visit (say) Cairo at different times and have completely different experiences.

    That's what is fun about reading books, esp. if the writer is good.

    If we read about a place while being there, it is as if someone with a highlighter is marking the pages for us telling us to pay closer attention.