Book Lust To Go

If you are someone who is acutely aware that one's time on earth is limited and, as such, you cannot possibly read everything... well, then Nancy Pearl's wonderful Book Lust series of books might not be for you, unless you're also capable of being ruthlessly selective in the face of multiple fascinating options. If you are, however, like me and constantly add books to your fantasy "to read" list, daydreaming about the many hours spent in delight with a variety of books that might have no bearing on your greater purpose in life (save for the enlightened joy of one's soul), then I'll bet that you've already gotten your greedy hands on at least one Nancy Pearl book and this is just more fuel for the fire.

As if we all didn't have a long enough list of books to read, Book Lust To Go provides a fascinating collection of titles for the armchair traveler in all of us. Of course, that's just the issue here... folks who are likely to adore recommendations from Nancy Pearl are the exact people who will already have long lists of books (and who are also likely to make comments like, "Oh, but she didn't include __!") and this new abundance of titles only has the merit of at least being tidily centered around one topic (though one of the great benefits of this series is that it is very good at sorting books by subject matter). Nancy Pearl readily admits that she does not like to travel in person, but she's always eager to take off on a literary journey with the safe distance a book provides. There are also those of us who simply cannot afford to be jetting off to every exotic locale that charms us, and so the price of a paperback is a much less costly alternative. We may not get to bring home the photographs, but we also know we'll be coming home in one piece, no matter what adventure we embark upon. Pearl, then, provides us with a whole host of books that we've never even heard of (and allows us moments of joy when we're able to concur, "Oh yes! That book was excellent!" on the rare occasion when our own meager reading has overlapped with her extensive knowledge). Of course, there's always the danger that reading a book about a particular place will stir an even greater desire to visit that location in person... but that's just a risk you'll have to accept.

The book is organized, unsurprisingly, by location -- though my favorite little sections were those which had no specific location in mind, but rather, a mindset or a novel type. Some such charming sections include: Explorers, In the Footsteps of..., It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time, So We/I Bought (or Built) a House In..., and Making Tracks by Trains. For those familiar with any reading that focuses on a journey or a new location (and this need not be actual travel literature), these categories are staples and yet I cannot remember coming across a truly good list that endeavored to group many titles together. I was charmed by the fact that Pearl does not steer clear of mysteries and certain romances -- for quite honestly, writers of those genres tend to create incredibly vivid descriptions of places as well as people and as a result, they can make for some of the best venues for armchair travel. The only slightly frustrating bit to Book Lust To Go is that there isn't a really thorough index in the back of the book which lists absolutely everything -- authors, titles, and such. I suppose in a list of books, it might be asking too much for yet another list (though honestly, I would think this would be *particularly* useful in a book that is, essentially, a detailed list), but I would have found it helpful (especially when I wanted a specific location or was paging through and realized she had mentioned an author twice and I wanted an easy way to find out what the first mention had been). It might simply be something that didn't make the ARC, of course... along with an explanation for the world maps in the front of the book, which I assume will be labeled with arrows or something in the final product.

I imagine the most useful way to read this book is sitting in front of your computer so that you can immediately look up every title that catches your fancy and then add it to your queue or cart. The disconnect here is that it's increasingly less useful to have a book like this in actual book form -- online book communities have largely taken the place of such lengthy recommendations and it's pretty easy to find lists of similar titles. I know that whenever I consider buying a book online, I'm almost always going to look on goodreads.com or librarything.com to check and see what other people have said about it or what the average rating might be. Of course, the only thing I can really say here is that those forums are great for the casual kind of word-of-mouth buzz, but there is something comforting in getting a recommendation from a "professional" like Nancy Pearl, someone who has spent spent his/her life reading and reviewing books. Her lists are fabulous and include many modern titles as well as some classics and/or out-of-print titles that deserve a resurgence in popularity. If you're a book lover who takes pleasure in carefully detailed locations in a book and you're looking for some excellent recommendations (or if you're like me and you don't need any, but you can't help but solicit more), then you're sure to find something to delight in Pearl's collection. The next time I'm seized with the desire to visit a particular location, I think it's quite likely that my first impulse (well, after I indulge my imagination and visit Orbitz to check flight prices and see how unrealistic a real trip might be) will be to pull down Book Lust to Go and see what titles Pearl recommends that will at least whisk my imagination away to my desired locale... and all without transferring conditioner into tiny little FAA-approved bottles.

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