11 Books That Will Kickstart Your Wanderlust

Before I ever left home, I’d left home a thousands times in the pages of the books I loved. I grew up as a bookish kid, who wolfed down words faster than food. Still today, after I’ve been to more than 20 countries, books have this wonderful ability to take me to new places — even when I’m nowhere more exotic than a comfy armchair in my own home.

Here are 11 of my favorite books to kickstart your wanderlust:
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Book Review: Sixty Meters to Anywhere by Brendan Leonard

 

Last Saturday, I found myself in Trident Booksellers, a cute coffee shop/bookstore in downtown Boulder, Colorado. Trident sits off the West End of the Pearl Street Mall, in the shadow of Boulder’s signature Flatirons—three iconic rocks that provide a slabby playground for the thousands of climbers that call the city home.

Even though the weather was beautiful, I wasn’t spending my weekend outside. I was alone, tapping away on my manuscript inside Trident. I spend a lot of days this way.

A man I know—a Bangladeshi Buddhist monk—tapped my table as he went to order a drink at the front. I smiled; happy to see him. He came back, Kombucha in hand. “We are studying out back, if you would like to join us.” I grinned a big grin, and said absolutely, I’d be out in a minute.

Boulder’s the sort of town where things like that aren’t too far out of the ordinary.

Out back, I found my monk with two friends who I had met once before, while rock climbing. They were all studying for their exams at Naropa University, a small Buddhist university. They asked me what I was doing. Writing my book, I responded. “Oh sweet, what’s it about?” one asked me. “Climbing?”

I laughed. “No, although you’d be forgiven for thinking that,” I said. “I am reading a book about climbing, though,” I said, brandishing a copy of Brendan Leonard’s new, bright-yellow book, Sixty Meters to Anywhere. “Have you guys been climbing since we last went?”

No!” the woman says. “We’ve tried to get out with Meg a few times, but it hasn’t happened.”

“I’ve got a rope and draws with me,” I said. “I could take you.”

We worked for a few hours, and then skipped off at 4:30, rushing home to grab our climbing gear, reconvene, and squeeze in some evening laps before the daylight died in Boulder Canyon.
We cheers over a few post-climb ciders and a vegetarian pie at Backcountry Pizza. Glad I ran into you two, I say. That was fun.

“I just feel so good after I climb,” the woman says. “I really want to learn more!”

This sentiment is what lies at the center of Brendan Leonard’s memoir, Sixty Meters to Anywhere.

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Book Review: Catcher in the Rye

 

I interviewed for a job recently, largely off the strength of this blog. The interviewer, who, after clicking around this site surely knew a lot more about me than I’d like, said: “The thing I like about you is your authenticity. You seem to be honest, no matter what you’re talking about.”

This was a big compliment for me, even though I ended up not getting the job.

Even now, the comment still warms me from within. It means I am doing something right. It means I am being the person I want to be. The kind words multiple interviewers gave me about this project warmed me against the sting of rejection.

“Authentic.”

Why does that word carry such a positive charge for me? And why is it such a deadly sin—in my perception—to be fake?

These are the questions that were knocking around in my head while I reread “Catcher in the Rye.”

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Book Review: 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

I brought my Amazon Kindle on my most recent backpacking trip through the Balkans. There are many reasons for traveling with a Kindle—it’s smaller, lighter, and more versatile than bringing a physical book. Essentially, you can bring every book and magazine in all of human history without adding more than a few ounces to your bag.

And yet, I didn’t read a single book on my Kindle during my trip.

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