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The pleasures of couch traveling

January 31, 2012

Ah, the pleasures of being a couch traveler. Who doesn’t love curling up with a great book, be it fiction or non-fiction … losing oneself amongst the pages, identifying more and more with the characters as you get deeper and deeper into the story, we’ve all felt that lump in our throat that comes up without warning, eyes that moisten against will … the giggle that catches us unawares. The anticipation of opening the book and letting the surroundings fade away, as imagination takes over and readjusts our senses to be able to feel and think like the character, to be able to see with our mind’s eye and paint vivid images which the black words printed on white paper conjure up.

I didn’t expect to be able to read as fast on the Kindle as I do with actual paper books, but my progress so far has been surprising! With just an hour or more every night to dedicate to reading (not counting the weekends), I’ve managed to finish reading two books in just the past week! I really hope to continue the momentum, but it all depends on what book I can get my hands on next on the Kindle … anyway, back to the books I’ve finished reading and would highly recommend –

The first book is named “AWOL on the Appalachian trail” by David Miller. Ever since I read Bill Bryson’s “A Walk in the Woods”, books on the Appalachian Trail (AT for short) are close to my heart. David Miller presents a refreshingly real take on his experience hiking the AT. Bill Bryson did not hike the entire trail, he took the easy way out by being a “section” hiker, meaning he did various sections of the trail at different times of the year and then wrote a book about his most interesting experiences on the trail, liberally peppered with funny anecdotes and stories about the eccentric characters he met on the trail and their adventures. David Miller is a thru-hiker, meaning he did the entire trail from start to finish in one go. His book is as raw and real as it gets. He talks about all the hardships that come with taking on a huge commitment such as the AT. His stories are overflowing with the generosity of strangers and people who do “trail magic”, like helping hikers along the way with accommodation and free lodging, food, and countless free rides to hitchhikers as they get on and off the trail to re-energize and rest during the course of several months. The book is a fascinating read, even when it gets monotonous at times. That is the reality of the AT. It’s putting one step after another after another after another, on rocky paths, on wet muddy paths, on thorny, weed covered paths, in the rain, in the sun, in the snow. It’s about setting up your tent wherever there’s a dry, flat spot, it’s about missing your family and kids for the several months when on the trail, it’s finding small pleasures which you never thought of when living the luxe life back home, it’s learning more about yourself and your true strengths and realizing what matters most to you, it’s about finding some sort of inner peace. That’s the truth and Miller’s book puts it all in perspective without taking away even an ounce of the magic and thrill that doing a hike as magnificent as the Appalachian Trail brings. It’s a book full of details on day to day adventure, peppered with a number of pithy summaries that will remain with you long after you’ve finished that last page.

The second book I initially gave a try was a sample of the chart-busting book in the trilogy series “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins. This book has remained #1 best selling on Kindle for over a year now! It used to show up top of the Top 10 list every time I browsed selections on the Kindle Store, I finally gave in and got the sample to see what the hullabulloo was all about. Turns out, this book is a real page turner! Or a “page clicker” since on Kindle you cannot really “turn” a page. But, I shouldn’t digress. Back to the book – within seconds of devouring the handful of pages in chapter 1 that the free sample afforded, I bought the book online on the Kindle Store and just couldn’t stop reading. The story is engrossing, entertaining and full of surprises. It is not exactly bad versus evil, but a lot of gray in between that makes it interesting and intriguing. The characters grab your attention from the word go, and within minutes you are rooting for them, feeling the tension as the plot thickens, hoping against hope for the main character’s safety, gasping with surprise and fear as unexpected events unfold, almost like it were happening to us. It’s so well written with a plot so well crafted and characters so well developed, that midway through reading it, I thought to myself that it was only a matter of time before Hollywood decided that this book would make a wonderful movie! I finished the book only to discover that there is actually a trailer out for the movie version of “The Hunger Games”, slated for release later this year! I dreaded seeing the movie trailer because once you get actual humans playing the characters in your head, it’s hard to shake them off. They pop up when you’re re-reading the book and take on the forms of the characters that you would most likely have imagined differently. So, if you have any intention of reading this book, DO NOT see the trailer until after you’ve finished reading it! As for myself, since I had finished reading the book, I was anxious to find out how the story had been adapted for the big screen, so I ended up watching the trailer anyway! It seems to be a well made movie, but does not even come close to the book! Transforming a book into a movie always takes away a lot from the story – the beautiful descriptions, the complexity and depth of the characters, their innermost thoughts that we are able to read more about – none of this translates to the big screen. It’s like being spoon-fed the director’s vision instead of giving your own imagination wings. Non-fiction lets us dream in an alternate reality and I’m glad I got to read the book before learning about the movie version.

Now, back to the Kindle to hunt for the next book that I can devour. Watch this space!


From → Book Reviews, General

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