Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Favorite Travel Books

Last Chance to See

It never ceases to amaze me, in the course of writing this blog, when I run across an entire genre or subgenre of books I am shockingly unfamiliar with. You'd think, out of all the books I've read in my life, I would have read a few enjoyable books categorized in "travel." But despite all my searching and list-reading and remembering, I don't recall reading very many, and the few I have read, I didn't really like. (See exhibit A, The Museum of Intangible Things, the first one that came to mind.)

But I saw that Douglas Adams' Last Chance to See was on a Goodreads list of "travel books" so I'll roll with that. I haven't finished the book - I picked it up out of curiosity years ago and got really busy so I never got back to it - but I really liked what I did read.

Douglas Adams went to Madagascar with a zoologist to write about what he saw there. He wrote about how beautiful and unique it was, but also how we shouldn't be flocking there to gawp at it because we won't be doing it any favors, because humans are pretty destructive, if you haven't noticed. (Go ask the Galapagos... actually, don't, because you'll be doing more damage than good if you go there, too.) It's classic Adams funny, but also really serious and important.

So is it technically a traveling book?  Well, three out of our four main characters travel.  And the pants themselves, which are also kind of a character too, travel, so I'm going with yes, this is a travel book, if not one in the most traditional sense of the word.

It's a book about four friends who get separated for the first summer in sixteen years.  And not just a little separated: one goes to mexico, one goes to Greece, one goes to North Carolina and the last stays home.  So the pants (that mysteriously perfectly fit these four girls with DRASTICALLY different body types) are mailed from friend to friend, connecting them and keeping a hold on their friendship and making them realize what their friendship is about.  They go through really hard times, and made some huge mistakes, and all four of them do a whole lot of traveling that summer, but inevitably, the pants bring them through it.

The book, really, is about friendship, but it's also about learning how to be a friend when you're not together, and there is a lot of traveling, so it's my favorite travel book.  (Plus the word TRAVELING is right there in the title.)

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