Do you like to read books about far-away places? Travel guides, memoirs, whatever? Places you’ve been? Or places you’ve never been?
I do! Including made-up places. I feel like I say this all the time with this meme, but I try not to dismiss any genre or subject matter–except for, like, that one time Paul’s brother recommended me a Glenn Beck book.
I’ve also talked about the fact that one of the things I love about both reading and writing is perspective. Reading about a place isn’t on the same level as traveling to it by any means, but it’s definitely a good way to learn about a place.
I don’t know that I’d say I read as an escape–I’ve always just read for the love of it and for a story, not so much to forget about or escape something, although I guess there’s an element of escapism to all entertainment. But reading about far-away places is a great way to mentally get away, too, especially if you’re like me and picture everything that’s described to you.
The catch is I’m not too into straight travel writing. It gets a bit dry for me, although I would like to pick up books on things like good places to visit in certain areas. Paul has his eye on a book listing the best hiking trails in the state, which could be fun and useful to have. But anything like that is gonna serve as a reference or coffee-table book for me.
Anything else, though? Sure. I always like memoir, and I’m a big fan of Jon Krakauer’s more journalistic style with books like Into Thin Air and Into the Wild. (Krakauer’s written other books that aren’t so rooted in place, and while I haven’t read them yet, I have bought every book he’s ever written.)
Of course, it’s always a little easier to picture a place you’re already familiar with, but the flip side is how neat it is to visit a place you’ve only read about.
I also love reading fiction set in Pennsylvania, especially the Pittsburgh area–it’s an area you don’t see a lot used as a setting in fiction, but it has a lot to offer. I mean, it’s not always good–I once read a book set in Fayette County that pretty accurately captured the sort of run-down, economically depressed nature of the place. I obviously don’t need a reminder of that, but it was still neat to see the place used.
And finally, my college professor once said I write really well about place. I obviously still take pride in that comment.