Archive for the ‘book review’ tag
The first thing I did after booking my flight to Chicago (after researching the best place to get deep dish pizza) was to find a book about the literary places to visit in the Windy City. Chicago is, after all, a city that has nurtured writers for more than a century.
Some of those writers include:
- Ernest Hemingway
- Saul Bellow
- Carl Sandburg
- L. Frank Baum
- Edgar Rice Burroughs
The book I ended up buying was Greg Holden’s Literary Chicago: A Book Lover’s Tour of the Windy City.
The thing I really like about this book is that Greg Holden seems to understand that for those of us who love literature and writing, literary landmarks such as where a particular author was born or where a specific book was written are unbelievably inspiring. I’ve traveled far out of the way of the more popular tourist attractions to see a site that has inspired a writer whom I admire. If you can relate, and if you’re heading to Chicago, this is the perfect book for you.
My trip only lasted three days so I didn’t have time to see everything I would have liked. For example, I really wanted to see Oz Park, which was named to commemorate the work of L. Frank Baum who wrote The Wonderful Wizard of Oz while living in Chicago in 1900. I would’ve loved the statues of the characters, not to mention the yellow brick road.
I did manage to spend an afternoon surrounded by all things Ernest Hemingway, which I’ll write about in a separate post. But between visiting The Art Institute of Chicago, taking a Chicago River Architecture Tour, and going out to listen to some blues, I didn’t get to see all the spots on my list.
But all that means is that I need to go back, and there are worse things than having to pay another visit to Chicago.
“…the essence of Paris is lost if seen through the double glazing of a hotel room or from the top of a tour bus. You must be on foot, with chilled hands thrust into your pockets, scarf wrapped round your throat, and thoughts of a hot cafe creme in your imagination. It made the difference between simply being present and being there.”
I had high hopes for this book. I really did.
Unfortunately, The Most Beautiful Walk in the World by John Baxter did not live up to my expectations.
I thought this book would be a memoir and literary walking tour all in one. I thought it would detail inspiring walks I could take on my next visit to Paris, stopping at literary landmarks along the way. And while it did mention a few places the literary tourist in Paris should not miss, it wasn’t really a guide to the off-the-beaten-path heart of Paris as the blurb on the back suggests. It’s just a memoir of a man who lives in Paris with loosely connected chapters and random anecdotes, and a few literary references thrown in every now and again. For example, the author mentions the Brasserie Lipp, where Hemingway was a regular. He points out that Hemingway’s preferred meal was cervelas (a type of boiled sausage) with potato salad and a demi of the house beer. There are also mentions of Hemingway at La Coupole and The Ritz Paris. But the book didn’t have the Hemingway walking tour I had hoped to find. So in the end I decided I would’ve been better off re-reading A Moveable Feast while taking detailed notes and creating my own walking tour.
The Most Beautiful Walk in the World was a quick read and had some great descriptive passages of Paris and all its beauty. And if his collection of first editions as seen in the video below is any indication, John Baxter is probably one hell of a literary tour guide.