Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sunday Salon: Reading up on exotic places

I know I am not alone in wanting to compile a list of books to read about the places to which I travel. The month before we went to India (on the company's nickel), I had a stack of to be read books about 30 deep. I didn't get to them all then but I read quite a few. And now books set there remind me of that wonderful trip. A month before we went to Egypt (also on the company's nickel), I pulled a stack of about 10 books to read. And like the Indian books, books set in Egypt now have the lovely result of putting me back there (without having to brave the current strife). I don't just do this with international trips, having collected many a domestically-set book specifically for trips. It just seems like a fun and entertaining way to learn a little about the place you'll be, adding to the excitement before you leave, and helping to retain the good memories once you get home.

Now we're about to leave on a trip to Panama and even though we have far less than a month to go to it, I only just hopped onto my library collection on LibraryThing and confidently typed in the word Panama. Not one book matched up. I have not one book on Panama or set in Panama in my entire collection. Now if you know me in real life, you know that this is a feat almost as impressive as the building of the Panama Canal. The breadth and depth of my collection has never been in question before (mostly because I am book-greedy and have no self-restraint). But now it is. It is clearly suffering from a large and gaping hole made even more shameful because I am about to head there without having done any background reading fictional or true. I am so disappointed in myself! So, my question for you this gorgeous Sunday is what books you might suggest for me before I go? Typing Panama into amazon nets me a lot of travel guides and only a tiny handful of other books (several of which actually deal with Florida). The other books all seem to be thrillers or mysteries except for David McCullough's book The Path Between the Seas which I might just find a copy of and buy for my husband the McCullough fan and then steal back to read it myself. I'm just that kind of generous girl. Surely there are other good choices though. So hit me with them please!


  1. I found Panama by Shelby Hiatt on Goodreads. A cross cultural love affair between a girl from Ohio who travels to Panama for the building of the Panama Canal. There is Banana Bay, a steamy tropical mystery set in Panama. Sounds promising! Happy reading for your trip.

  2. I have no suggestions for Panama but I also love to read books whose setting I've actually visited. I especially enjoy those books about places I know just brings the stories more alive, don't you think?

  3. I don't know any books set in Panama, but I hope you have a great trip!

  4. I too like to read books set in the places I travel - I had a similar experience with Thailand earlier this year - it was hard to find books set there. Have you tried They list books by country - might be able to help!


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