DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!
Jun 10 2011

ShareReads: Travel humor

by ShareReads

ShareReads appears on the DCPLive blog on Fridays. Each week, a different person will share a little about what they’re currently reading, and why they like or don’t like it. The heart of ShareReads will be responses from blog readers, and the window of opportunity here is wide. Feel free to respond and discuss the book or author being mentioned, ask or answer a question, or even take the conversation in a different direction: mention what you are currently reading, and how you feel about it. The point of ShareReads is to have an ongoing discussion about books and reading. Remember: posting a response also counts as an activity for the Summer Reading for Adults program.

My favorite type of vacation is traveling to a place I’ve never visited before. Since I don’t often have the time and money to head for other parts of the world, I visit foreign lands by reading the experiences of travel writers. I especially enjoy reading books by authors who don’t take themselves too seriously and who show a sense of humor.

J. Maarten Troost is a writer with a real talent for coming up with catchy titles. His first book was called The Sex Lives of Cannibals, the second was Getting Stoned with Savages. I just finished reading his most recent work, Lost on Planet China: The Strange and True Story of One Man’s Attempt to Understand the World’s Most Mystifying Nation, or How He Became Comfortable Eating Live Squid. Troost lived on islands in the Pacific for a number of years, and his experiences there are told in the first two books. He now lives in California, but is open to the idea of moving overseas again. He convinced his wife they should consider moving to China, so he went to explore the country to decide if that might be a good idea.

Lost on Planet China chronicles Troost’s months spent roaming over much of China. He tells of visiting large cities with gleaming skyscrapers but horrible air pollution. He compares Hong Kong with other large Chinese cities. He travels to Tibet and western China, where the people are not ethnic Chinese. He shares a sleeping compartment on a train with a man who sleeps with music blaring from his cell phone. And, he visits many of the major tourist attractions, like the Great Wall and the Terracotta Warriors. While he is often critical of the government and the pollution, he always finds China to be interesting, if not mystifying. Lost on Planet China is longer and somewhat less funny than his previous books, but I enjoyed reading it.

If you enjoy Troost’s style of writing, you might like Bill Bryson’s In a Sunburned Country, I’m a Stranger Here Myself, and his other travel books. Tim Cahill, who wrote Pecked to Death by Ducks and Pass the Butterworms, is another travel writer who is a lot of fun to read.

Where have you traveled in your reading?

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Nancy M June 14, 2011 at 2:02 PM

Great post. I love travel writing. One of my favorites is Hokkaido Highway Blues by Will Ferguson. The author hitchhikes the length of Japan following the cherry blossom front and it is totally hilarious.

MsCruick June 16, 2011 at 3:16 PM

Recently I completed Sista Souljah’s newest (and I hope not the last) novel in the Midnight Saga…Midnight and the Meaning of Love. Considering that Souljah is pigeon-holed as an “urban novelist” she sure took us to places that many urbanites will never go outside the pages of her novel: Japan and Korea. With her wonderful descriptions and attention to detail, I feel as though I was taken along for the ride with Midnight and Akemi.

Prevailing Wind June 16, 2011 at 11:14 PM

I enjoyed “Storyville U.S.A.” (not a library book – I think I got it via a mail-order book club). It’s by Dale Peterson. He & his two kids would pore over maps, pick towns with odd names and then go there to attempt to discover why/how the towns were named….towns like Cut and Shoot, Texas, Accident, Maryland (and the companion town, Detour, MD) and Zig Zag, Oregon. My favorite town name was Monkeys Eyebrow, KY.

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