Monday, January 5, 2015

Highways and Byways

Paul Theroux: The Tao of Travel—Enlightenment from Lives on the Road (Mariner Books; 2012; ISBN 978-0547737379)

I've been a big fan of non-fiction but have not really read as much as I feel I should be over the past few years. This year I made a commitment to read more non-fiction and am proud to say that the first book of the year was in that category!

In non-fiction, I tend to concentrate on history, especially military history and what I call "micro-history". I would call a micro-history a book that concentrates deeply on one subject: salt, coffee, a historical figure, a region, a profession, etc. The name of Paul Theroux came up while I was looking for non-fiction last year; much (all?) of his non-fiction is "travel writing" but seemed to be the sort of offbeat stuff that I would like (a diary of somebody who spends a year on an airplane, shuttling from point a to point b would not interest me) with the benefit that they seemed to fit nicely into the micro-history category as well.

Of course, the first title I pick up by him does not fall exactly into the category! The Tao of Travel is more an anthology or journal, quoting both Theroux's own works but also the works of other people who wrote about travel (mostly real travel, but also imagined travel). It's a short work, I breezed through it in a couple of days, but it's a dangerous work: as a result I now have about three dozen more books to check into. Will Mount Toberead ever decrease in size?

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