A Traveler's Library in July

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Aug 11, 2010 / 0 comments

When you were a child did you go to the library and get stickers on a construction paper rocket ship or covered wagon in the summer? Every time you read a book, you got a reward for your literary travels. The Summer Reading Program is alive and well at most libraries around the country, and certainly at A Traveler's Library as well.

As the Great American Road Trip followed the Mississippi River into the heart of the country on Wednesdays, we talked about famous American authors Faulkner (Mississippi), Twain (Missouri), and the less-well-known Donald Harington who writes engaging prose about Arkansas.

An interview with Walking Guidebook author, Jane Eppinga, reminded everyone that Tombstone is a real place in southern Arizona and so is the picturesque mining town of Bisbee. Reader's roused themselves from beach chairs and iced-tea sipping to appreciate the conversation with Susan Van Alllen, author of 100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go. Both these authors provided suggested reading lists for their areas of expertise.

Our actual, as opposed to literary, summer travels included a trip to Carmel with a stop at the fascinating Steinbeck Center in Salinas.  If you are a Steinbeck fan, don't miss the montage of scenes form his books and movies, recorded interviews with his wife and his acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize for Literature. (I love that he wrote to William Faulkner  a "you-have-done-this-please-HELP" letter). Rocinate, the makeshift camper in which he and Charlie, the poodle, took a road trip around the U.S. sits in the center of the museum.

Just for fun, a little light reading included A Free Man of Color, a mystery set in 19th century New Orleans. We paired new cookbooks from Louisiana plantations and nearby southern Texas. Don't ignore the potential of cookbooks as guides to a destination. They can tell you a lot. Beach reads included Island Story, a true life adventure in Okinawa and the new book, Summer Shift, a Cape Cod romance with recipes.

And although much of our reading this summer was "made in the USA", guest writers took us to Southern India with a book of essays by R. K. Narayan, and to Southeast Asia with photographer Joel Carillet. And we had a great discussion about the best French movies. People are still giving me suggestions and my Netflix queue runneth over.

Looks like our rocket ship is crammed full of stars for July , and we're already busy, busy with new books and classics of travel literature and author interviews in August. Come by any time and see you here next month.

Vera Marie Badertscher writes about travel and books and movies at A Traveler's Library. She's the Traveler's Library Editor for Wandering Educators.