This summer, I’m traveling all over the world…for free! You are probably jealous right now and want to know exactly how I’m pulling this off. Well, it’s easy. All you have to do is open a book (any book really, but I’ll let you know which ones in particular I’m traveling with this summer). I’m always amazed when reading a book about different places, no matter the genre, and how the author (if they are good) can literally transport you to that place. Currently I’m reading Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert and I am in Italy (and in love with her writing). The book is a memoir about her struggles with divorce, discovering what she truly wants in life and her yearning to travel and learn about herself; thus, she spends one year traveling to Italy, India and Indonesia. This past weekend I finally had some free time and could have caught up with friends, but instead I spent my Saturday evening in Italy with Gilbert–eating the best pizza in the world from Naples, walking down the quaint streets in Rome, stopping by the fresh market stands and just becoming immersed in the culture as she did. What I especially love is her inclusion of Italian words and phrases-Gilbert loved the Italian language and took some classes while she was there and practiced with friends she met in Italy and with people in the streets. Her emphasis on the beauty of the language makes me want to learn it now (and I’m in luck, because OWL has some self-teaching CD’s on Italian!) Gilbert weaves her sense of humor into her comments–I was laughing out loud at some parts 🙂 I’ll be anxiously awaiting my travels with Gilbert to India and Indonesia where she will spend the remainder of her year away.
As often is the case when I become enamored with a place through my readings, I’m seeking everything about the Italian culture now. My boyfriend is probably going crazy with my talk of wanting to visit Italy, unusual cravings for “real” pizza, bringing home Italian foreign films from OWL, and repeating the beautiful Italian phrases Gilbert uses in her book. Part of my obsession may be fueled as well from my two new Italian friends who came to work here this past year, and who sadly returned to Italy in June (I’d like to think I have some connections now if I ever get over there!) I wonder what will happen when I reach India!
As I continue my journey through this book and the various countries, I recall others I have read that have had a similar effect:
Under The Tuscan Sun (914.55 MAY): Frances Mayes creates a delicious picture of Italy in her memoir. Mayes buys and restores a small villa in the Tuscan countryside, taking us along on her journey as she discovers the simplicity and and beauty of Italy. Mayes inserts some of her recipes throughout too, making for an extra juicy read.
Bella Tuscany (14.55 MAY) and A Year in the World (914.04 MAY) are also by Frances Mayes and if you enjoy her descriptive prose you’ll like these as well. Bella Tuscany focuses on Spring, and her return to Cortona. Be prepared to be away awhile (at least mentally) because Mayes takes the reader all over the world to Spain, Portugal, France, Turkey and Greece to name a few…her narrative style is so personal you’ll have a travel companion!
Visions of Italy (DVD Tra Vis) The images you’ve created in your mind can come to life with this DVD exploring Italy and its landscapes. Great if you can’t get over there right now, or if you’re planning a trip.
The Italian Summer: Golf, Food and Family at Lake Como (914.523 MER) by Roland Merullo. This is a new one to OWL and I haven’t read it yet (I’m not a golfer), but it looks like a wonderfully adventurous narrative full of relaxation and fun.
In the Time of the Butterflies (FIC ALV) by Julia Alvarez. I read this novel last summer and was drawn into the lives of the four sisters, Minerva, Patria, Maria Teresa and Dede. The chapters alternate between each sister, telling the story of their lives in their own voice. There’s not much of a focus on the land (like in Under The Tuscan Sun for example) but nevertheless the girls’ stories draw you into the Dominican culture and the turmoil of the 1960’s.
Into the Wild (B McCandle) by Jon Krakauer. Into the Alaska wilderness we go! A poignant story about a young man, Christopher Johnson McCandless, who left the modern world and its possessions behind and walked into the wilderness. Krakauer’s writing brings you into this isolated world, both magnificent and scary at the same time. I will say it’s not a light read.
A Cottage in Portugal (914.69 HEW). “the Atlantic Ocean spreading out below us on three sides of the Sintra peninsula. Slapping up on the rocky beaches, it threw huge, billowing cascades of white foam high into the air. We were ascending green hills of pine and eucalyptus that alternated with erratically terraced vineyards…” Don’t you feel like you’re there?
Cape Cod Stories (FIC CAP). A fine collection of stories from famous authors like Sylvia Plath, Thoreau, Poe and Cheever. A fun read if you love Cape Cod like I do.
Cape Cod by Thoreau- (818 THO). Of course I had to include this. The Cape is one of my favorite places, and I return each year with a longing to be surrounded by the salty fresh air laced with the warm, earthy pine. Thoreau captures it poetically in his book.
Of course, you can jump onto OWL’s Global Road Warrior and get a tasting of the culture with pages on Italian Society/Culture (recipes included), Maps, Photo Gallery, Common Words and many more. A fun site to explore whether or not you’re going away.
*Sarai is the Publicity Coordinator/Library assistant and is anticipating her travels to Cape Cod (and India, and Indonesia, and Portugal and….)