Five Books for the Perceptive Traveler

A unique view of a working river, a practical business book, short stories from the days when Ohio and Indiana were frontier country, a biography, a novel — no guidebooks on the list this time. Each of these books holds ideas of interest to the perceptive traveler, though.

Jessica DuLong is a journalist. She’s also the daughter of a man who works with his hands. Those two perspectives help inform the stories she tells in My River Chronicles.It’s memoir mixed with history, as duLong is drawn to volunteer on the fireboat John J. Harvey, a historic craft which sails the Hudson River in New York. What was going to be a short stint becomes a deep interest, leading her to reflect on this history of the mouth of the Hudson, and the changes that landscape, and the people who work on the river, have seen. Into this she weaves her own experiences learning to work on the boat, including quiet sailings up the river and the boat’s lillte known help during 9/11.

Michael Hyatt’s work is rather different: he’s had experience as an author, a literary agent, and a publisher. He’s the former CEO of Thomas Nelson, a large faith based publisher located in Nashville. He was able to step away from that work and focus full time on writing and speaking by building his platform of relationships, strategies, social media connections, and ideas. He has distilled ideas of how he did that and how you can do the same in his book Platform. Distill is a key word here:the chapters are short, and Hyatt is in love with presenting his ideas through lists and steps. This makes it handy reading for those brief spaces of time that often crop up as you travel. Though it’s likely you won’t agree with all strategies he outlines and points he suggests, it’s also likely that you will find ideas you’ll use, whether you work in the hospitality industry, in business, education, or as a writer or artist, or some other field. Platform is full of lists and bullet points, to be sure. It also contains a number of strategies and ideas that just may have you thinking about your work differently.

Wilderness Plots is made up of short chapters as well, but of a different sort.: they are stories. On his way to researching his works of fiction and non fiction, Scott Russell Sanders at times found stories that intrigued him but just didn’t fit in what he was working on. He put these tales from the history of Ohio and Indiana into small book: stories of a man pursued by a swarm of bees, a woman disconcerted by the effects of progress, a couple heading to a town that turns out not to be a town, yet, and many others. The stories are so vivid that a chance encounter with the book inspired five songwriters to to create music based on the them, too, which became the recording also called Wilderness Plots.

There are stories in Bright Star of the West: Joe Heaney too, but the writing here has a long narrative arc, interweaving the life of musician Joe Heaney with life in the west of Ireland and in Irish music in America during the middle of the twentieth century. Though he’s less well known than the Clancy Brothers, heaney had an equally strong influence on Irish American music. The writing can be a bit dry at times (authors Sean Williams and Lillis O’ Laoire are both academics as well a musicians), the story of Heaney’s life and times is filled with thought provoking ideas about how music and life may intertwine.

All sorts of things intertwine in the novel Interred with Their Bones. As an American director is staging Hamlet at the restored Globe in London, she receives a mysterious visit from a former mentor, a fire breaks out, the mentor lies murdered in the theater, and things pick up the pace from there. The plot tuns on a high stakes search for a lost play by Shakespeare: does it exist? did it ever? and if it does exist, where’s the manuscript? A spooky chase through Harvard’s Widener Library, travels to Spain, Stratford upon Avon, and the American southwest, and a few flashbacks to Shakespeare’s time keep things lively. Author Jennifer Carrell has academic degrees in English lit, so she knows her stuff. She also knows how to keep that pace of her plot gong while he characters unravel the history involved.

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