Monday, June 22, 2009

Summer Reading

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As an English teacher, it is a given that I love to read. Summer is the one time of the year when I can really make a dent in my reading list. Typically, I read almost exclusively about Tudor history, and in particular, Anne Boleyn. Lately, though, I have found that new books on the subject have been slow to come out. So, I have found myself entering a new genre: travel memoirs.

Like many people, if I had the means, travel would be one of my top priorities. Until I become the first millionaire teacher, though (I'm still working on that), I can only travel in my mind through books. I had the opportunity once to travel to Italy, which was a life's dream of mine. I have been into European culture, music, food, history, you name it, since I was old enough to read about it. And let's face it, what says style and elegance more than Europe?

This summer will actually find me re-reading some fabulous books that have the ability to transport you to another place. First up will be Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. This will actually be the third or maybe even fourth time I have read this, but it never fails to inspire. A very easy read, with casual, humorous prose, Gilbert explores the direction of her life in three different places: Italy, India, and Indonesia. Okay, not the whole book takes place in Europe, but India and Indonesia are the perfect locales for the more spiritual second and third portions of the book.

The second on my list is The Reluctant Tuscan by Phil Doran. This will be my third time reading this. This was one of those lucky finds on a table at Barnes and Noble. I had never heard of the book or the author, but this book was so enjoyable. It is the autobiography of Doran as he leaves his high-powered career and life in Los Angeles and show business, for an old, dilapidated country house his wife purchases in Tuscany. Oddly, while most of us would dream of living life in one of the most beautiful places on Earth, Doran has a hard time adjusting to a slower pace of life, and resists at every opportunity. This is a humorous, and very honest look at the Italian way of life. Great book to enjoy with a glass of wine.

The newest one I've found is Without Reservations by Alice Steinbach. I've read it once and have mixed feelings about it. I'm going to give it another look, however, because it does take you to some wonderful countries. Steinbach is looking for a change in life and takes time to live in three different countries: France, England, and Italy. I found the first section, France, to be quite charming. You could almost imagine yourself dressed to the nines and enjoying a cappuccino and croissant at a sidewalk cafe. The other sections didn't quite live up to the first for me, even though I have a fascination with both countries. Steinbach's writing style is not quite as down-to-Earth as Gilbert or Doran, and not quite as humorous. It is another tempting look at what it would be like to leave your ordinary life behind, for the style and elegance of life abroad.

I'll be looking for more great travel memoirs to tackle this summer, but this should be a great start. Happy reading and happy traveling!

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