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Book Reviews: Travel


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Vanilla Beans & Brodo: Real Life in the Hills of Tuscany by Isabella DusiBook Cover of Vanilla Beans & Brodo:  Real Life in the Hills of Tuscany by Isabella Dusi

Read by Tracy in January 2009

Tracy recommends if you are inspired to try something different with your life

Yep another book about a couple who are on holidays, find the perfect house and become so besotted with it they sell up their home (in this case Australia) and move there. That is a pretty gutsy move, most people would try it out first. This book is different, Isobel and her husband Lou (who later becomes Luigi) want to be accepted and fit into their community through a shared passion for wine, cuisine and football. They become heavily involved into the Italian community which is full of rivalry with neighbouring villages and therefore full of drama. They pick the beautiful sounding Montalcino and I have to say her descriptions just won me over.

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The Carpet Wars by Christopher KremmerBook Cover of The Carpet Wars by Christopher Kremmer

Read by Tracy in 2009

Tracy recommends for those who become obsessed

Who hasn't become obsessed by a range of trinkets - I went through a buddha statue stage. Christopher Kremmer becomes obsessed with finding the perfect carpet which sees him travel from Kabul to Baghdad. Again Kremmer uses evocative descriptions (as per Inhaling the Mahatma) of the countries he visits, which are ones that are rarely on the tourist trail. Inbetween his journalistic exploits Kremmer is able to track down some beautiful stories about the carpets he sees. This shared passion enables him to communicate as an equal amongst other people who are also passionate about the history of these carpets. I know last time I went to India I started to look at the carpets in a different way and became interested in the tribality and history of them. This book could easily have become a travelogue, ignoring the underlying stories of those that had gone to extraordinary lengths to secretly transport carpets and rugs to ensure they were saved.

Read the reviews for Bamboo Palace and Inhaling the Mahatma.

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Lonely Planet Unpacked by Tony Wheeler and other Lonely Planet authorsBook Cover of Lonely Planet Unpacked by Tony Wheeler and other Lonely Planet authors

Read by Tracy in 2009

Tracy recommends for a fun look at other travellers tragedies

I must admit I love these kinds of books, enjoying and even relishing other people's misery - weird I know. I travel a lot and only hope that none of these stories are ever on my list of memories and anecdotes. I particularly enjoyed the stories on Borneo and India - I can really imagine them happening. I like the fact that they are written by travel writers who obviously take a lot for granted but when the unexpected is thrown up, they are able to describe in detail all the sounds, smells and feelings providing an evocative taste of the unimaginable.

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Bamboo Palace by Christopher KremmerBook Cover of Bamboo Palace by Christopher Kremmer

Read by Tracy in 2009

Tracy recommends, but be warned you will want to visit Laos

Christopher Kremmer travels to Laos to uncover the Lost Dynasty. Twenty years previously Laos went through the Indochina wars which forever changed the structure of their political system. The country now seems to be weighed down in secrets and intrigue with the big question of what happened to the royal family who disappeared during the 1960's and 1970's. Laos is on my bucket list and I am so desparate to go there before it loses even more of its history. For me Kremmer has the knack of being able to combine politics, history and travel in such a way that I become absorbed into the country. He finds himself able to be meet and discuss the history of the country with those that lived through the changes. He is also persistent which keeps you guess and waiting for the next carrot to appear.

Read the reviews for Inhaling the Mahatma and The Carpet Wars.

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Lost in Transmission by Jonathan HarleyBook Cover of Lost in Transmission by Jonathan Harley

Read by Tracy in 2009

Tracy recommends as a great Indian travel adventure

I read every and any book about Indian life I can, so this book by Jonathan Harley was right up my street. Harley becomes the foreign correspondent for the ABC in South Asia - his dream job, or is it? It is not exactly the plush job he expected, instead he moves from war zone to war zone and is constantly trying to overcome fatigue when he is faced with the prospect of continually documenting the tragedies that unfold. Harley gives a frank account of the hardships that he faces in a world that changes rapidly (earthquakes, September 11, Taliban and Kashmir just to name a few). I have always had a romanticised vision of living in India, but sometimes the reality is so different that it is uncovers the rose-coloured glasses. Harley has confused emotions from harrowing, moving, funny and tragic, yet the region gets under his skin which does not help with his long-distance romance.

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