Thursday, February 9, 2012

Books About Places (recommended reading)

I love travelogues. I love journals. I love people's accounts of places they've been or places they live. I've been slowly acquiring books about places. I can't get enough of them. These are a few of my favorites...

Books About Places

My Garden, The City and Me by Helen Babbs
Two of my great loves rolled into one. Writing about place + urban gardening. This book (born from a blog) is one year in the life of Babb's rooftop garden in London. She tells us all about her trials in the sprouting containers but also takes us all over the city to other gardens, other gardeners and wild places.

Atchafalaya Houseboat by Gwen Roland and C.C. Lockwood
My dear, distant friend Amy sent me this book from down in Louisiana. If you've ever dreamed about going back in time and living barebones on a houseboat in a swamp, this is the book for you. Roland's story spoke directly to my longing for a tiny home in the forest. It's a very personal look into an unusual homelife.

Books About Places

Books About Places
Balloons Over Reykjavík, by the Official Drawing Person of Reykjavík
This is maybe the most lighthearted of all of the books here. From what I can tell, Rán Flygenring declared herself the official drawing person of Iceland's capital, posted drawings of the city and her people every day online and then made a book of said drawings! There is even an intro by the mayor! (This video is great.)

A Year in Japan by Kate T. Williamson
The illustrations in this book are perfect. Williamson lived in Japan for a year and kept these notes and drawings of her temporary home. Tiny moments out of days spent in a new place. The colors are vivid. The lines are effortless and at the same time exact. I love every page.

French Milk by Lucy Knisley
This one is part graphic novel, part travel diary. French Milk is a little homesick and a keenly observational take on her month in Paris. Knisley's documentation of snacky meals shared with her mom are my favorite pages but her sometimes raw emotional moments are very real and very lasting.

My Alaskan Summer by Corinne Mucha
This one is near and dear. I found it last year while looking for travel books on Alaska before my big trip. This is another comic-style journal. Mucha's trip included WORKING which made the book's tone much different than a lot of the others I've read. This one is also very personal which I always appreciate. I wish there was more about the out-of-doors and her adventures but her drawings are so good and her tone is dry and funny.

Books About Places

And lastly...

Miss Sequential Zine no. 3 - San Francisco
I wish Marissa were capable of taking an amazing adventure-filled trip at least once a month and then had the time and physical stamina to create a zine about that trip immediately upon her return. (Someone get this woman a mysterious benefactor, please.) Marissa has a sharp eye and a sharper wit. Her zines are all genius but since I like to read about other people's travels, this one may be my favorite. I plan to use it as a tour guide on my next visit to San Francisco but I doubt I'll know all the secret passwords required to go where she went.

Reading about the wanderings of others fulfills my selfish need to see everything in all the places everywhere in the world. A good travelogue tells me about what they ate, what they saw and who they met.

I just realized that all of the books mentioned here are by ladies! I wonder why that is? Next time I'll have to write about my number one favorite writer and forever naturalist crush - John Muir. Never have I read a more lyrical, awe-struck account of nature than in this man's writings. Be still my heart.

Do you have any suggestions for books I should read in this genre?
I'm always hungry for more.


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