Thursday, June 5, 2008

Summer Armchair Travel

If you can't actually run away to far off lands this summer, I have some reading recommendations that will get you where you might yearn to go. 

Let Julia Child take you away to Paris and Marseilles in the 1940's as she recounts her years living abroad with husband Paul and discovering her unknown passion for cooking in, My Life In France.  I thought it would read dryly as some memoirs can, but her wit and enthusiasm for her profession and life in general will certainly entertain.  I was reminded of watching her show on PBS in Chicago when I was a little girl and was captivated by her scratchy, shaky way of speaking and all the tricks she could pull in a tiny studio kitchen.

Three friends take a postwar walkabout into the arid terrain of North Africa in Paul Bowles, The Sheltering Sky.  The journey is more than they and the reader bargains for as all are introduced to an intricate foreign culture which draws everyone into its grasp.  Mr. Bowles was the consummate Renaissance man being author, translator, classical music composer and film scorer living much of his life in Morocco.  As that is a part of the world I find so intriguing, this story was able to make it come alive for me.  

I have just finished The Age of Shiva by Manil Suri and was introduced to life in India narrated by Meera, a woman we watch transform from teenage girl to young wife and ultimately mother; the role which provides her with the most important relationship in her life.   Yet, it is clear that all the men revolving around her world shape the path she travels down.  What was most amazing for me is that while the story was through the voice of a woman, the words were written by a man.  Mr. Suri, with prose that frequently read like poetry was able to capture so intimately what a woman might feel should she find herself in this character's shoes.    

Finally, I am currently reading The Enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie.  I have never read anything by him before, controversial or otherwise and am being taken on travels through the ancient Mughal empire while making our way to Rennaissance Florence.   So far, I am loving every twist and turn in this adventure and am surprised to find that Mr. Rushdie does indeed have a wonderful sense of humor.  Be forewarned:  his philosophical musings will require a good dose of concentration!

I highly recommend all of these books as they were, at least for me, the kind of reads where I would only allow myself bits at a time to prolong the pleasure!


Phivos Nicolaides said...

Kim, you forgot my book, for Greek speaking readers!!!


Kim said...

AHHHH!!! Link to it in a comment and I will add to my post!!

Phivos Nicolaides said...

I will try. Thanks on all accounts Kim.