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Forums » Books » Books That Compelled You to Go.

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Ramblinman

Books That Compelled You to Go.

by Ramblinman »

I've been re-reading The Odyssey.  It makes me want to go back to Greece.

Some somewhat random suggestions for other books good to read before going there:

Roumeli: Travels in Northern Greece and Mani: Travels in the Southern Peloponnese  by Patrick Leigh Fermor.  Generally recognized travel classics.   The Flight of Ikaros: Travels in Greece During the Civil War by Kevin Andrews.  One of the best books about modern Greece.   Freedom or Death by Nikos Kazantzakis.  Classic novel of Cretan life in the late 19th century.   The King Must Die, The Bull from the Sea, and The Last of the Wine by Mary Renault.  Novels set in ancient Greece; there are also others by the same author, but these are the best.   The Messenger of Athens and other mysteries set in Greece, by Anne Zouroudi.  These detective novels set in various places in rural Greece are good both as mysteries and as an unromanticized portrait of current Greece.  They are very knowledgable about Greek village life.

 

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Joanna

RE: Books That Compelled You to Go.

by Joanna »

I think we may have had a similar discussion on O.F.  (Old Frommer's) but I'd like to begin again for the sake of N.F. so we'll have it here for reference.

During the years I was gearing up for my big travels and still working in the library I ran across several itmes that in some cases gave me ideas for places of which I wasn't aware and in others confirmed for me that the places I'd thought about were, indeed ones I should visit.  Here are a few that fall into these categories.

-  'The River's Tale: A Year on the Mekong', by Edward A. Gargon.  I enjoyed the entire book but when a saw a small photo of a neighborhood in Lijiang I was hooked.  I was planning a RTW trip and Yunnan Province in China was added to list of places to stop and spend a month.  It was of a woman walking alongside a small canal with a stone footbridge.  I go back to the book and look at it from time to time to remind myself.

-  'Stranger in the Forest', by Eric Hansen.  I was planning a trip to Borneo in a larger Asia trip and saw this one on a shelf in the library.  My first thought was, oh, one of those "guy" books but decided to read it anyway, maybe glean something from it.  It could have not been more wrong.  It's an adventure tale of the "truth is stranger than fiction" variety written by a young man from my neck of the woods and I couldn't put it down.  

-   'A Walk Across France', by Miles Morland and 'Long Walks in France', by Adam Nicolson.  I'd already begun my rambles in the UK when I picked these up.  The result was a walk through the Loire Valley, different than walking in England as you'd expect with it being French, but a fantastic experience.

-  Last but not least for this post, one of my all time favorite books and the one that inspired my travels in Morocco, 'The Sheltering Sky', by Paul Bowles.  I knew as soon as I'd begun that I wouldn't be able to resist Morocco and I don't really know which came first, the book or my desire for the country.  It was one of those visceral cravings, like a feeling of going home and unlike any other I've ever felt.  Someone told me that Paul Bowles loved to receive visitors in his Tangier home but I could never bring myself to intrude.  It's too late now, of course, but reading his work and this one in particular led to my first trip there in 1998.

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PHeymont

RE: Books That Compelled You to Go.

by PHeymont »

Ramblinman, you are likely forcing me to put Greece on my agenda again.

As someone whose travels in recent years have been at least partly compelled by mysteries with strong local character and setting (Donna Leon/Michael Dibdin/Andrea Camilleri in Italy, Simenon/Adrian Magson in France, Mankell/Nesbo/Fossum/Larssen and more in Scandinavia, Indridason/Bates/Sigurdadottir in Iceland)...I find the suggestion of Anne Zouroudi is welcome...but travel-inducing.

I will also have to find the Kazantzakis; I read Christ Recrucified a long time ago (I think that later copies may bear the title of the movie based on it, He Who Must Die

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Ramblinman

RE: Books That Compelled You to Go.

by Ramblinman »

Ann Zouroudi is excellent, but for some reason her books, though fairly recent, are hard to find, and can be expensive when you do find them.  Some public libraries may have them (and remember in many places you could ask the library to try Interlibrary Loan.)  Used book web sites list them, at a wide range of prices.  I believe Amazon has most of them on Kindle.

 

On a related subject, anyone who has gone to or is going to the popular Greek island of Idhra (Hydra) might be interested in the unjustyly neglected film A Girl in Black.    An excellent film in itself, it's also interesting for showing what Idhra was like before it was overrun with tourists.  There's a DVD available, but it's expensive if you buy it new.  Some public libraries have it or can be persuaded to buy it.

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Mango

RE: Books That Compelled You to Go.

by Mango »

Read Salman Rushdie's Midnights Children and you'll definitely want to go to India. Unfortunately, they just made a terrible movie of the book. And The Distant Shore is terrific if you're considering Australia. A gripping, almost novel-like history of the country.

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kringenwally

RE: Books That Compelled You to Go.

by kringenwally »

Mango writes "...The Distant Shore...", would that be 

The Fatal Shore: The Epic of Australia's Founding, by Robert Hughes?

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Ramblinman

RE: Books That Compelled You to Go.

by Ramblinman »

I've reposted my books list in the Greece forum, with additions.

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drfumblefinger

RE: Books That Compelled You to Go.

by drfumblefinger »

Hello Joanna, 

I'm glad you've re-started this thread.  Since everything from the Old Frommers is now in the ether somewhere, i will respond with my prior answer.

"2001 A Space Odyssey" was the eye opening book for me.  I was not even a teenager when it was published, but it made me go to the moon.  Seriously.  I was too young to know that this was all but impossible.  It was the 1960s....a time of Apollo launches and great optimism about the future.   Little did I know that some 25 years later this book would lead me to a series of visits of Sri Lanka to visit it's author, Arthur C. Clarke, who became a dear friend.

I also very much enjoyed the book "Travels" by Michael Crichton, one of the great geniuses of our time.  His untimely death greatly saddened me.  My wife and I were actually discussing this the other day.  When we hear of the death of one of our favorite writers, our first reaction is selfish -- no more new books!!

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Joanna

RE: Books That Compelled You to Go.

by Joanna »

As we here all know well, information is where you find it.  I just remembered a magazine article I read, the ripples of which I'm still feeling.

My library office mate brought in the mail and sorted it before sending the magazines down to the room where they were displayed.  I'd often snag anything that looked interesting and in July 2003 the August issue of Architectural Digest looked very interesting indeed.  This is the article that reached out and grabbed me:  http://www.architecturaldigest.com/ad/travel/hotels/archive/hotels_cheong_article_082003

I was thrilled by look of the place and as I was about to leave my job to travel in Asia I knew it needed to be added to my itinerary.  I made a reservation to stay a week and on arrival found it and Georgetown more interesting to me than I could have imagined.  As the place had recently opened, despite the fact that only half the rooms at that point were fit for habitation, there was still plenty of availability.  So after a week in the Cameron Highlands I came back for another week at the Mansion.

During my time there I became friends with a very entertaining young Chinese Malaysian Eric, an employee of the hotel.  We spent time talking during the days there, he got me coffees and G&T's and we went out for dinners.  I never actually knew what his position there was but he seemed to have a finger in lots of things as he'd commended me one day for my tidiness, said he loved cleaning my room.

Flash forward to a few months ago.  I was hanging out in S. China and had moved to a hotel outside Yangshuo for the last nights in the area that was nicer than I usually allow myself these days.  There was an Englishman staying there whose company I enjoyed and during one of our conversations I spoke of how much I'd loved that place, the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion.  He said "oh, then you must know Eric".  He told me later he wished I could have seen my face at that moment.  We talked more about it and, since he seemed to know Eric even better than I, I asked him what Eric's position had been.  He said "he was the manager".  

It all still thrills me somehow to think about.  Thanks, Architectural Digest.

http://www.cheongfatttzemansion.com/

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Travel Rob

RE: Books That Compelled You to Go.

by Travel Rob »

Joanna- I really liked your last post. And it's interesting what books or info inspire you to take a trip

I  received the book "When My Love Returns From the Ladies Room Will I be too Old to Care" by Lewis Grizzard. on my first trip to Europe.His books were mainly his newspaper columns with his unique brand of Southern Humor.I guess it would be called summer reading or light reading today.

Anyway, I remember reading it in the common room of the Youth Hostel my first night.As I laughed out loud , people gathered around and asked me to read it aloud . I read his column  "Vending Machines that don't work "at least 4 times with the whole group howling and asking me to explain what certain words he used  meant. Well his humor helped me fit in  ,made me popular and I felt confident meeting people . That trip ended up being three years and the first night set the tone for me that Europe could be a welcoming place.

Over the years, I read all of Lewis Grizzards books and heard about his love for Georgia .And that humor was the main reason I  visit Georgia to this day.

 

 

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