25 Nov, 2016

The Wonder Trail

/ posted in: Reading The Wonder Trail The Wonder Trail: True Stories from Los Angeles to the End of the World by Steve Hely
on June 14th 2016
Pages: 336
Genres: Nonfiction, Personal Memoirs, Travel
Published by DUTTON
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)

“Steve Hely, writer for The Office and American Dad!, and recipient of the Thurber Prize for American Humor, presents a travel book about his journey through Central and South America. Part travel book, part pop history, part comic memoir, Hely’s writing will make readers want to reach for their backpack and hiking boots.The Wonder Trail is the story of Steve’s trip from Los Angeles to the bottom of South America, presented in 102 short chapters.  The trip was ambitious – Steve traveled through Mexico City, ancient Mayan ruins, the jungles and coffee plantations and remote beaches of Central America, across the Panama Canal, by sea to Colombia, to the wild Easter celebration of Popayán, to the Amazon rainforest, the Inca sites of Cuzco and Machu Picchu, to the Galápagos Islands, the Atacama Desert of Chile, and down to the jagged and wind-worn land of Patagonia at the very end of the Western Hemisphere.
Steve’s plan was to discover the weird, wonderful, and absurd in Central and South America, to seek and find the incredible, delightful people and experiences that came his way. And the book that resulted is just as fun. A blend of travel writing, history, and comic memoir, The Wonder Trail will inspire, inform, and delight.”

I loved this book.  I listened to the audio and the author’s enthusiasm for his trip was infectious.  He was so excited that he got to spend time fishing in the Panama Canal, for example.  He set off on this trip with no set plan other than a few dates where he would be meeting up with friends at a specific spot.  I’m never brave (or crazy) enough to travel like that.   He’s the kind of traveler who always finds interesting people to talk to in bars.  They tell the best stories.

The other thing I loved about this book is that it led me to other books.  The author read a lot of books set in and about South America.  He listed many of them.  Since I was listening to the audio it was hard to remember a lot of them but I did mutter some names over and over until I got to a place where I could write them down.  In fact, I’ve already read one of his recommendations and it was as exciting as he promised it would be.

If you are looking to read more books set in South America, this is a great place to start.

27 Feb, 2015

Lost & Found by Brooke Davis

/ posted in: Reading Lost & Found by Brooke DavisLost & Found by Brooke Davis
on January 22nd 2015
Pages: 320
Genres: Fiction
Published by DUTTON
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)

An irresistible debut novel about the wisdom of the very young, the mischief of the very old, and the magic that happens when no one else is looking.  Millie Bird, seven years old and ever hopeful, always wears red gumboots to match her curly hair. Her struggling mother, grieving the death of Millie’s father, leaves her in the big ladies’ underwear department of a local store and never returns. Agatha Pantha, eighty-two, has not left her house—or spoken to another human being—since she was widowed seven years ago. She fills the silence by yelling at passersby, watching loud static on TV, and maintaining a strict daily schedule. Karl the Touch Typist, eighty-seven, once used his fingers to type out love notes on his wife’s skin. Now that she’s gone, he types his words out into the air as he speaks. Karl’s been committed to a nursing home, but in a moment of clarity and joy, he escapes. Now he’s on the lam. Brought together at a fateful moment, the three embark upon a road trip across Western Australia to find Millie’s mother. Along the way, Karl wants to find out how to be a man again; Agatha just wants everything to go back to how it was. Together they will discover that old age is not the same as death, that the young can be wise, and that letting yourself feel sad once in a while just might be the key to a happy life.


Millie Bird

  • Her mom told her to wait for her in the women’s underwear department so that’s what she’s going to do.  If she has to move, she’ll leave notes so her mom can find her.  She’s been waiting for days now.
  • Fascinated with dead things like her dog Rambo, flies, and now her Dad.

Every one knows everything about being born, and no one knows anything about being dead.

Karl the Touch Typist

  • On the run from his nursing home and so far no one has noticed
  • Steals typewriter keys and a mannequin
  • Lost since his wife died

They lived such a small life.  Trees and flowers and ocean and neighbors.  They never scaled mountains, or braved rapids, or went on telly.  They never ate strange animals in Asian countries.  ….

But they had loved.  They grew plants, drank tea in the afternoon light, waved at neighbors.  They watched Sale of the Century every night and, together, were reasonably accomplished at it….  Their life was a twenty-kilometer radius around their house.”

Agatha Pantha

  • Maintained a strict schedule inside her house for the last seven years
  • Main entertainment is yelling judgements at strangers she sees through the window

“He clutches a mobile phone to his ear like a life preserver.What are you saying on that thing? she says.  What do children have to say to other children? “Fred, I didn’t wet myself last night?”  The boy shakes his head.  You’re crazy, lady, he says as he turns and keeps walking.  In my day, teenagers didn’t exist! she announces to his retreating back.  You were a child until you were two and then you were an adult!”

Now they are on the run together, trying to find Millie’s mom before the police find them. The three of them understand and compliment each other in ways none of them could have expected.


Read it!  Go now!  The insights in the writing are wonderful.  As I reading I kept thinking of the word “profound” and it is that without being heavy.