Armchair Travel

 Emily Dickinson said,"There is no frigate like a book." As two of my favourite activities are reading and travel, my fondness for the literary or armchair travel genre will not come as a surprise. An entire shelf of my bookcase is dedicated to this form of literary locomotion.  Whenever I want to escape the "grisaille", I find vicarious adventure between the pages of a book.

One of my favourites is Paris in Mind, a compilation of essays, book excerpts, articles and journals by American authors (and Canadian-born Saul Bellow). One of the excerpts that I found interesting was from Langston Hughes' autobiography The Big Sea where the author describes his arrival in Montmartre with only five dollars.  When he looks for a job, he is constantly asked if he sings or plays an instrument.

A House Somewhere:Tales of Life Abroad recounts the adventures of those who were already living my dream when I bought the book a few years ago. It's hard to imagine that now I am living like a cuckoo in other people's nest for part of the year. I liked the story of Mort Rosenblum, a special correspondent for Associated Press based in Paris.He took over a beat-up houseboat, La Vieille, (the name says a lot) and has lived on the Seine for many years, building friendships with an ill-assorted group of neighbours.

The third book is The Unsavvy Traveler:Womens' Comic Tales of Catastrophe which is an anthology of  selected travel mishaps and situations. Have you ever wondered why these unexpected adventures always make your best travel tales?  My first husband and I, having already run out of money in the days before ATM machines, missed the plane in Rome on our honeymoon. The Roman holiday has become one of my best stories.  All of these tales are hilarious.

I am fortunate in my life to have grown up in a family who enjoyed travel. On a road  trip, my dad would stop at every historic signpost.  Travel was regarded by my family as the ultimate form of education.  Even when my dad was sick, my mother drove, unloaded the car, and laughed off the concerns of others so that Dad could have one last trip. When I can no longer travel, I hope to have my armchair, my books and my memories to transport me.


  1. Thank you for these wonderful book recommendations! I've added these to my reading list. My father enjoyed car travel, but my mother hated travel in just about any form (especially flying) so we rarely did when I was growing up. It's something I developed a minor passion for in mid-life.


Post a Comment