It’s Monday! What are you reading?

/ posted in: Reading

Hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time by Mark Adams

The author is an adventure editor for magazines but has never been an outside type of person. He decides to retrace the steps of Hiram Bingham, the Yale professor who publicized the existence of Machu Picchu. He finds himself hiking through Peru with a guide and a group of mules.

This book was an interesting follow-up to a book I read earlier in the year. Unfamiliar Fishes by Sarah Vowell was the story of Hawaii. Hiram Bingham was a missionary who featured prominently in the story. His grandson, Hiram Bingham III, is the focus of this book.

I enjoyed the story of hiking to Macchu Picchu but this book was never a page turner for me. I found the community of amateur archeologists who are doing research into the Incas fascinating and I learned a lot about the history of the region.

Women from the Ankle Down: The Story of Shoes and How They Define Us by Rachelle Bergstein

This book is a brief history of shoes in the 20th and 21st centuries and how historical events shaped fashion and vice versa.

I like shoes. I buy less now because I’ve accepted the fact that comfort is more important than looks. But a book about the history shoes combines most of my favorite things. This is a very light read. It doesn’t delve deeply into history and I wish it had pictures of the different shoes that are discussed.

Not Going to Finish

Five Weeks in a Balloon by Jules Verne

This satire of English explorers tells the story of three Englishmen who set out to cross the center of Africa in a balloon in the early 1900s.

I was browsing my library online to find more African books for my Around the World in 80 Books challenge. I saw this book and figured it was perfect. It is Jules Verne who inspired the challenge. I read Around the World in 80 Days as a kid and liked it and it covers some central African countries. I’d never heard of this book so I figured I’d try it.

Oh my God. This is the most casually racist book I’ve ever read. Forget banning Huck Finn for using racist language. The people in Africa are never referred to as people. They are always “the blacks”. They never speak. They are always portrayed as stupid and easily swindled. There is one section where the balloon is attacked. After the fighting is over here is the dialogue.

“That was an attack for you!” said Joe.
“We thought you were surrounded by natives.”
“Well, fortunately, they were only apes,” said the doctor.
“At a distance there’s no great difference,” remarked Kennedy.
“Nor close at hand, either,” added Joe.

I’m about halfway through and it is just obnoxious. I’m going to count it for one of the countries I read through but I have no interest in finishing.