Book Review: The Lost Continent By Bill Bryson

Book Review: The Lost Continent

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By, Bill Bryson

(C) 1989/2001 Harper / Perennial

4/5 *

Travel writing has always been an interest of mine, and also anything to do with through hiking / long journeys. Recently I saw the “Walk in the Woods” movie which was based off of Bill Bryson’s book about the Appalachian Trail. To be honest, I wasn’t a huge fan of the move it’s self, but it did make me intrigued enough for me to want to read some of Bill Bryson’s work. Because I of the freshness of the movie, I didn’t want to start with his book on the Appalachian Trail. While browsing through HPB’s travelogue section I managed to find this book, “The Lost Continent: Travels in Small Town America.” For those who know me, I’m also fond of small towns.

I picked this book up excitedly, and immediately fell in love with Bill Bryson’s writing. This book basically chronicles his journey to re-visit the seemingly endless road-trips that his father had taken the family on in his youth. He starts in his hometown of Des Moines IA, and travels through 38 states – mostly in middle America, the south and New England. I did enjoy his family stories of his youth and previous visits to various places. I could really relate to his getting lost all of the time – though following seemingly simple road signs. I also enjoyed his wit, though it did sometimes trend toward cynical. The only thing I didn’t enjoy quite as much (that kept it from going to 5 stars) was that there was a lot of repetition regarding bad hotel rooms located in strip mall style areas. My thought was, if you don’t like them – stay somewhere else. Nearly every town he came to, the hotel was bad (road side motel), the food was bad (truck stop style dining) and it was in a terrible strip mall style place.

Over all I really enjoyed the read, and do look forward to reading more of his in the future

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Book Review: The Pilgrimage

Book Review: The Pilgrimage

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by, Paulo Coelho

original copy right 1987

3/5

 

Paulo Coelho’s book is the 3rd of my Caminio De Santiago theme’d reads of this year.
A blurb on the back calls it a “dazzling tale of the road traveled by ordinary people”, but really I didn’t find it much. The writing is beautiful, and I do have (& am looking forward to reading )”The Alchemist”. However, I think I went into this book with different expectations. The synopsis says this is Paulo Coelho’s writing of his personal journey on the Camino. If it was indeed, his true experience – then I find it a little hard to believe. To me it seems more of a novelization, than a true telling. Shirley MacLaine’s book was more believable to me.
That being said, I am not one of the Knights Templars, and I know nothing of their society’s, “magic” or quests. The book was still an interesting read, and I will be picking up more of Mr. Coelho’s books in the future.

Book Review: I’m Off Then

Book Review: I’m Off Then: Losing and Finding Myself on the Camino De Santiago

By, Hape Kerkeling (Translated from German by Shelley Frisch)

(c) 2009 Simon & Schuster

5/5

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This is the second of my 3 books on the Camino De Santiago experience. I received this book as birthday gift this past October, and just finished my second read through on it. I’m sure there will be many more readings! I absolutely love this book!

Chris got this tale as an audio in it’s original German, and it was the first thing that sparked his interest in doing the Camino. That being said, of course I needed to read it!

Hape Kerkeling is a German Comedian/Entertainer, who does the Camino to (re)find God, and his place in the world. The book is a daily account of his 38 day journey, and  it is read journal style. During his daily accounts, Hape is completely upfront about his triumphs and struggles. He explores both the challenges in both his physical, as well as his spiritual body, and takes us along for the ride.

I appreciate that he does not shy away from  showing his weaknesses, instead injecting them with a humor I am very familiar with. No matter what the he has gone through, he always ends each entry with a positive “thought for the day.”I can relate to Hape a lot in this book, and see a lot of my self in his anecdotes. I too love to sit around drinking numerous lattes, seem to always be looking for ways to get closer to God, am doing this as a person who is normally a couch potato, and can find myself both very much annoyed and endeared by the people of the world.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in doing the Camino, anyone who reads Bill Bryson’s books, or liked Cheryl Strayed’s “Wild”

Book Review: The Camino: A Journey of the Spirit

Book Review: The Camino: A Journey of the Spirit 

By, Shirley Maclaine (Atria Books, 2001)

3/5

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In preparing for walking the Camino De Santiago myself this year, I’ve been really interested in the journey of others who have walked “The Way.” My boyfriend gave me this book for Christmas, and I couldn’t wait to dive in. The only thing I went into this booking knowing , is that it is mostly about the author’s spiritual journey and that it has been the inspiration for many people to do the Camino.

The book was a mostly enjoyable read. I think it is worth it for anyone who is interested in doing the Camino. I will say however, it does go quite heavily into the spiritual aspect. I enjoyed following Shirley’s spiritual journey, but it did get tough to follow in some points. All in all it was interesting to see a celebrity’s take on the Camino, and her experiences add to the mysticism that surrounds The Way.