Pearl, Nancy. Book Lust to Go.

Seattle: Sasquatch Books, 2010.

I’ve been a heavy reader since about 1950 — and even in 1st Grade, I wasn’t just looking at the pictures. I was even then wondering what to read next and asking other people for recommendations. That love affair with the printed word led to my becoming a librarian, a career in which I spent my entire adult life, and in retirement I read even more books than I had the time for when I was working.

Nancy Pearl is “one of us,” a librarian of some note (she invented the “If everyone in this city read the same book” program, among other things) with a penchant for recommending books to readers. This time, it’s books “for travelers, vagabonds, and dreamers” — which is not to say it only includes “travel books.” Pearl herself, as she explains up front, isn’t really much of a traveler; she finds it hard to make the plans, do all the packing, and leave home. But in the vicarious sense, she’s been all over the world, and this volume reports the results of her globe-trotting literary experiences. Now, I have developed my own reading preferences over the years, and books about travel isn’t especially one of them. I traveled a good deal myself at an earlier stage of my life and memories of that are enough, usually. And while I’ve read a great many books, both fiction and nonfiction, set in Britain, and quite a few in and about France, Italy, and Japan, and sometimes Australia, there are certain parts of the world in which I simply don’t have much interest. That includes India and the Middle East, and Latin America, and Africa. It’s not a matter of prejudice but of experience — because I’ve repeatedly attempted well-reviewed and widely recommended books written in or set in all those places. But because I’m always willing to have my mind changed, I still read the reviews. Pearl is very useful in this regard since she’s already done the first shaking-out of possible titles and I’ve come to generally trust her taste in books.

Like the previous three “Book Lust” volumes, there’s no real plan to this one. It consists of a series of relatively short chapters, each on a theme, which allows a number of books to be briefly discussed together. The themes here include Laos, Oxford, Paris, Imaginary Places, New York City, Greece, Zimbabwe, Philadelphia, Martha’s Vineyard, ocean travel, and so on. Pretty obvious, given her focus, but this miscellaneous method allows you to dip in and browse, making notes along the way of titles you think might be of interest. All authors and titles are indexed if you want to check on something in particular. And that’s basically it — just jump in and see what you can turn up. (I still wish she had included dates of publication, though.)

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Published in: on 15 December 2011 at 1:32 pm  Leave a Comment  
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