by Jan Morris
I picked this book up, as with so many other travel books I own, at a second-hand book shop for a few dollars. It was a great get. Jan Morris, Welsh travel writer and historian, put this book of travel essays together in 1984, chronicling some of her more memorable journeys through places like Las Vegas, Sydney and Shanghai. I found it to be very different from any other travel book I’d read, in that there were no big events, no dramatic re-telling of epic adventures. The essays were simply journal of what had happened, what had been observed, on a regular day of travel. To my mind, it seemed her writing was very skeptical and she seemed, to me, to find the dull and the boring and the unimpressive in the places she visited, rather than the exciting, special and different. I’m still not sure whether I liked that or not…
I did find it a good read, though, with her essays being long enough to get to the point, but short enough to keep you engaged without getting bored. It was also a nice look into the average, the every day of travel, when the crazy things that you can’t wait to write home about aren’t happening. If you can’t find a battered old copy in a second-hand book store like I did, you can pick up a copy here.