Before I take any trip, I always read one or two books set in the location I’ll be visiting. These don’t have to be strictly non-fiction; fiction books can do a tremendous job of painting a general mood or feeling of a place before you’ve even been there.
With trips to Alaska, Europe, and British Columbia’s Haida Gwaii coming up, and with Australia in my rear-view mirror, I thought I’d share some fantastic summer reads with you. They’re perfect for the plane – or a deck chair, lounging by the pool. It’s always my personal favorite place to sit down and enjoy a good book.
Skagway in Days Primeval – J. Bernard Moore
I purchased this last year in Skagway, Alaska, at the fantastic Skagway Museum. It’s tough to find anywhere else, but a few places sell it online. Your best bet, though, is to pick it up if you find yourself in Skagway.
One of the town’s earliest pioneers, Moore chronicles his adventures in the Klondike and surrounding areas between 1886 and 1904, and the result is a book that, even over a century later, still holds insight. Alaska’s famous mosquitoes bothered Moore and his travelling companions as much as modern day travellers, and he literally witnessed the birth, boom, and relative bust of Skagway. His family home can still be visited in Skagway, near the Railway Station.
Essentially Moore’s private diaries, he can get bogged down in detail from time to time but the book remains a fascinating and sometimes unhappy chronicle of early pioneer life in Alaska.
Tracks – Robyn Davidson
Stop everything you’re doing and run to your local bookstore to buy this. I saw the movie adaptation of this amazing true story on my Qantas flight from Sydney to Perth, and then purchased the book, which is arguably even better.
The true story of Robyn Davidson’s 1977 trek from Alice Springs to the Indian Ocean using nothing but camels and her beloved dog, Tracks is an amazing look at the power of solitude and the lengths we will go to accomplish our dreams. This isn’t a story about someone who went out and became lost in the wilderness and found their way back; Davidson set out on her own accord on her journey that would take nine months from start to finish. The film version, starring Australian actor Mia Wasikowska was released last year.
The Tremor of Forgery – Patricia Highsmith