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Downtime and Good Books

A Short Discussion of Great Traveling Books

I'm in between trips right now. In two months, I'll hopefully be in or on my way to Montana for 2 months of skiing. Until then, I'm stuck in Duluth, watching it get colder and darker everyday. I am enjoying late fall around here though. Lately, I've been taking my morning coffee down on the shores of Lake Superior. I like sipping hot, excellent coffee while watching the dawn over the lake. I feel good, and it's a great way to start my day. I also shouldn't say "stuck". I can leave at anytime, it's just that I've chosen to hang around for awhile to save some money, and to research my upcoming journey. This downtime gives me a chance to write, and I'm looking forward to it, as I've 8 years of material to possibly write about.

I don't plan on writing a trip by trip monologue for every trip. That would get old fast, for everyone but myself. I want to write about some moments from over the years. I also want to talk about books, and road food. Two of my favorite subjects.


I guess I'll start with books. I love to read, and I like having access to libraries once again (Duluth has an excellent one). On the road, I have a stock pile of books I've collected. I take as many as I can, but they have to fit into a 1.5' by 10" by 7" plastic container (when living out of a van, you need to keep clutter to a minimum). When I've finished a boxful, I try to find the nearest town with a paperback exchange to flush out the old and bring in the new. These stores are usually small, but crammed with cheap books, and it's like being a kid in a candystore (to use an old cliche). I like cheap bookstores. Powell's in Portland, Oregon is the best bookstore I've ever been to. It takes up an entire city block with four stories of knowledge. Highly recommended. I've also found good exchanges in Los Osos, CA, Benson, AZ and Mena, AR. Before leaving on a trip I also fill up my mp3 player full of books from the library. I can also access their electronic library over the internet on the road. A very nice feature.

So now let us talk about great reading material for the road. Some of my favorite books are as follows (in no particular order).

Blue Highways and River Horse by William Least-Heat Moon
Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck
Coyote Nowhere by John Holt
Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey
On The Road and The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac
American Nomads by Richard Grant
Deep Survival: who lives, who dies and why by Laurence Gonzales
Into the wild by Jon Krakauer
The Endurance by Caroline Alexander
Down the Great Unknown by Edward Dolnick

The list could go on and on, but these 12 books are my favorites. In fact, I can't decide which one I like best, as they are fantastic reads. If you have any recommendations along the same lines, let me know. I'm always up for a good read. If I had to chose two to bring with me, I'd choose American Nomads and Deep Survival. Deep Survival should be read by everybody who ventures outside.


Two of my favorite pastimes.

Posted by Rhombus 15:39 Archived in USA Tagged books Comments (0)

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