Traveling in words. January 23, 2010Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
Tags: armchair travel, Daniyal Mueenuddin, Frances Mayes, Peter Mayle, travel, travel books
Our friend Ben and Silence Dogood always like to pack a few books when we travel, so we’ll have something to read during the endless airport stops between flights and in the late evenings (and often early mornings) in the motel or before our hosts are up and about, or after they’ve retired. We’ll often swing by the library to stock up before a trip, but this time around didn’t get there, so we grabbed the books from the tops of our to-read piles. As it turned out, they were all, in a way, travel books, so in addition to traveling in reality, we’ve been traveling in words.
Silence brought along Peter Mayle’s French Lessons, an amusing look at the specialty food festivals in various regions of France. Since of course we couldn’t resist swinging by the airport bookstore once we arrived, she also indulged in a cooking magazine featuring the foods of Mexico, with gorgeous photos and enticing recipes. So far, we’ve managed to refrain from rushing around trying to find a Mexican restaurant (we doubt that our hosts would approve of this sort of behavior), but are looking forward to making (Silence) and eating (OFB) some delicious moles and salsas (not to mention a trip to various groceries in search of Mexican cheeses) when we return to scenic PA.
Our friend Ben grabbed Frances Mayes’s A Year in the World, a travelogue that takes the reader with Frances and her husband Ed to locations like Morocco, the Greek Isles, the Turkish Coast, Burgundy, and many another place Silence and OFB would like to go (at least in our armchair travels). Last night, OFB joined Frances in the souks (markets) of Fez. And at the airport, we found a book of short stories contrasting the decline of the feudal and rural classes with the rise of the middle and industrial classes in modern Pakistan, Daniyal Mueenuddin’s In Other Rooms, Other Wonders. Since our dear friend Huma is Pakistani, the topic was of great interest to us, so our friend Ben snatched it up and had finished it by the following day. (We’ll pass it along to Huma, if she hasn’t already read it, on our return, assuming Silence has also finished it by then. Get going, Silence!)
One great thing about books like these—besides, of course, their ability to transport you around the world—is how much fun they are to share. When we finish, we simply switch books and start in on a book that we know (based on an always energetic review by the first reader) we’re going to enjoy. Then, of course, there are the hours of enthusiastic discussion that follow. It still fascinates us how we can both read the same book, yet be struck by such different things. To us, these are all good reasons why travel—even armchair travel—is always best shared.