Books read, influence of books and reading, book reviews, books on travel, memoir, and WWII.

Books, Writing, History, and Me

In “Books, Writing, History, and Me” I share my thoughts on travel, cooking, van-life, books, the process of writing, the experiences of an indie-publisher, WWII, the Holocaust, and anything else I feel might be of interest to readers of my books. Please send me comments and let me know what you like and what you want to know more about. Everything in this blog reflects my personal ideas and feelings–a memoir of sorts, it is my perspective and any errors or omissions are mine.

Balanced Memoirs of the Un-famous

Celebrity memoirs frequently appear on best seller lists, but what of the memoirs of the unfamous?  If your name is well-known in the arts or politics, publishers will clamor for anything you might write.  But, when a regular person with an interesting story writes a memoir, one of the first dilemmas they encounter is how to stand out in the market.  What makes readers pick up the memoir of an unknown person, love it, and recommend it to a friend? […]

2022-08-02T15:28:19+00:00October 22nd, 2021|0 Comments

Four Books about the Silk Road

For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated by the Silk Road.  Before adoption of the magnetic compass and advances in ship design in the early 1500s, this overland journey, also known as the Spice Road, served as the main trade route between China and Europe. Visions of camel caravans crossing the dry deserts and snow-capped mountains of Central Asia captured my imagination.  I longed to travel along this exotic route. I don’t know where my interest in the “Stans” (those mysterious countries along the Silk Road) originated.  Was it my early interest in China, my first visit to Venice as a teenager, the exciting tales of Marco Polo, or Michener’s novel, Caravans, which I read in the mid-1960s? […]

2021-09-12T16:15:53+00:00September 10th, 2021|0 Comments

The Ultimate Road Trip Memoir

In 2007, Dina and Bernard joined the Centennial Beijing to Paris Motor Challenge, a 36-day car rally that would stretch for 9316 miles across the Gobi desert, Siberia, Russia, and eastern Europe. Married for twenty years, the couple had owned and operated a successful business together. In 2005 they were living on a ranch in Colorado, bailing hay, fixing fences, and horseback riding in the sunset.  At a local event, they learned about the motor rally and quickly decided to enter. They had a lot to learn and a car to purchase, but they would do it together. […]

2021-08-13T16:00:25+00:00August 12th, 2021|1 Comment

A Reading Challenge for Travel Lovers

I have been aware of book-reading challenges for some time but I never thought I would join one.  My own bookshelves offer enough of a challenge. I am a book buying addict and my shelves overflow with books waiting to be read. I love used book stores, Friends of the Library shops, and most of all, the shelves of college bookstores in the English literature section.  I have a weakness for YA fiction because of its edginess and always check out those shelves in bookstores. Even the neighborhood Little Free Library across the street from my home occasionally offers up treasures.  My Kindle library is almost as full as my actual book shelves. During the “stay at home days” of 2020, I, like many, read more than ever and made inroads into my stacks of unread books. And I have to admit I bought a few new books too. The [...]

2021-01-17T19:09:18+00:00January 17th, 2021|Tags: , , |0 Comments

Books for the Armchair Traveler

In early January of 2017, when I sat down at my computer to begin my memoir, I knew it would be of interest to armchair travelers.  But I never imagined, as I typed the first words of the first chapter, that the book would be released in the middle of a pandemic when travel was limited. Now many who would otherwise be roaming the globe are stuck at home. The AAA membership magazine Westways (September /October 2020) featured an article titled “Transported by Armchair.” The authors, Paul Lasley and Elizabeth Harryman, state, “Vicarious adventures can get us through tough times.” They point out that would-be travelers can adventure vicariously through movies, books, magazines, and on the internet. I have always loved books and movies that take me to foreign places. Everything, from my favorite childhood book, Heidi, to the 2014 movie The Hundred Foot Journey about Indian food in a [...]

2020-12-03T20:10:42+00:00December 3rd, 2020|Tags: , , |1 Comment

Paris Memoirs of Art and Love

Art and Paris memories flow from A Paris Year, by Janice MacLeod. I found this book just as the Covid-19 pandemic nudged into our consciousness. Days later, I regretfully cancelled a planned “April in Paris/Tulip season in the Netherlands” trip. Instead of walking the streets of Paris myself, I read Janice’s book, a delightful guide to the vicarious delights of France’s most famous city. […]

2020-05-25T19:51:01+00:00May 25th, 2020|Tags: , , , , , , |0 Comments

Travel as Education (after the Pandemic)

For those of us with travel in our DNA, this is a difficult time. We are stranded in our homes with no place to go. Besides this, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, many parents have unexpectedly found themselves home alone educating their children. As they struggle with this difficult role, many parents can’t wait for schools to reopen. They want their children back in a classroom environment. It seems like a good time to share my belief that education outside the classroom can be just as important to expanding minds as any normal schoolroom curriculum. Subjects like science, literature, art, history, civics, anthropology, and geography are easily pursued at home with the aid of the internet and books. Paradoxically, the current stay-at-home orders remind me of the value of travel for children. OK, I can hear you screaming, “But we can’t travel! We have to stay at home.” Very true. [...]

Nomadland, A Book about Van-life Today

Over the last months, while I was researching travel memoirs, I came across Nomandland, by Jessica Bruder. Not a memoir, still this triumph of personal journalism hit a cord with me because it reveals van-life as it is today. I am aware of the trend of adventurous youth to spend some years living in a van or camper on the road.  Some time ago, I read about the upswing of interest in van living that was highlighted in The New Yorker Magazine (“#Vanlife, The Bohemian Social-Media Movement,” April 2017 issue).  Instagram reveals dozens of hashtags about this lifestyle, including #vanlife (266,126 posts), #vanlifediaries, and #vanlifeexplorers.  […]

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