Book Review – Tales from Nowhere

5 Comments 16 November 2009

Tales from Nowhere
Unexpected stories from unexpected places – A Lonely Planet Anthology
Edited by Don George
Authors – various

A fellow travel friend gave me this book a couple of years ago as he thought I’d enjoy it considering my fondness for travel writing and traveling to ‘out of the way’ places. I took it and promptly put it in my big pile of books that people tell me to read and I never get to. Somehow the book made it on my shortlist of packing items when I went to Vietnam and there is sat in Vietnam for a year barely touched. Miraculously it also made it on my short list of things I brought back with me from Vietnam as I thought I might need a good travel book as I trekked the Annapurna circuit for a month. A month in the mountains of Nepal would surely yield plenty of free time to read; something I rarely get. The Himalalayas finally made me slow down and get to Nowhere.

The book is a compilation of short stories written by well known travel writers from around the world. Lonely Planet decides upon an anthology topic and then puts the request out to writers to submit articles appropriate to the topic. The editor weeds through the thousands of submissions and compiles the book. There were two previous books to this one, The Kindness of Strangers, and By the Seat of My Pants. However Tales from Nowhere peaked my interest for two reasons; many times I’ve felt like I’ve been to nowhere; when you travel for 3 years, you are bound to come across nowhere (my most recent was the Gobi Desert). Second I like short stories as it’s similar to what I do in my blog posts, and they’re easy to pick up read a couple and put the book down again. As a writer myself, I read this book as a pupil of sorts. After all, I think one of the best ways to improve your writing is to read good examples from people who know way more than you; check. I read these eloquently written descriptions of far off places; all of my senses were transported to the author’s version of Nowhere. I can only hope that some of their descriptive skills can rub off on me as I often times look at a place I’m traveling in and think, ‘this is impossible to describe’.

The stories cover places from all over the globe:
Borneo, Thailand, Afghanistan, Equatorial Guinea, Vietnam, Kansas, Cambodia, Mexico, Easter Island, Pig Island, Malawi, Kenya, Israel, Death Valley California, Sri Lanka, Australia, Italy, Timbuktu, Antarctica, Yap, and various ocean crossings.

This was a diverse group of Nowhere places, and I had been to many of them leaving me fond memories. As I read through the stories one thought kept invading my head, Nowhere is somewhere to somebody. Nowhere can be anywhere; anywhere where the sense of familiar is gone. As the editor puts it, Nowhere is usually full of initial intimidations and later illuminations, which is the life cycle of travel. He goes on to say, “Everything is relative, and we’d all do well to heed this humble, humbling lesson.”

For travel lovers out there or other travel writers, this anthology is worth a look; it may even give you some new travel inspiration or you may in turn want to cross some places off your ‘must visit’ list! Hopefully it won’t take you two years to finally crack open the front cover as it did me!

A good thought to consider – for anywhere in the world – “When you open yourself up to the world, the world always responds with grace.” – Don George

Please leave a comment and let me know where your ‘Nowhere’ is!  We’ll probably compile quite a list!

If you decide to purchase the book new, please support me by purchasing on Amazon through this link – thanks!
Tales from Nowhere (Travel Literature)

Your Comments

5 Comments so far

  1. heidi says:

    Thank you for the book tip. I always look for something interesting to read.

  2. Welcome back! Can’t wait to read about your Nepal experience.

  3. Donna Hull says:

    Sherry, like Barbara, I can’t wait to read about your experience traveling the Annapurna circuit. And I agree with you, I read good travel writing to better my own writing. I have hopes that the excellent prose will somehow seep into my writing cells.

    The nowhere that’s on my list to visit? Antarctica. A favorite nowhere that I’ve already visited? Valley of the Gods, near Mexican Hat, Utah.

  4. Mark H says:

    Sounds an excellent read. I, too, look for books of short stories when I travel as you cna read an episode each time you settle to read. I recently read one unmasking China called “THe Beijing of Possibilities” which was similarly structured as a series of unrelated short stories.

  5. Rebekah says:

    Hi Sherry, Do my Nowhere’s count if I’m not on the ground? I actually have a few if you count experiences in the air. The first is on the border of China, Kyrgystan and Kazakhstan. From the air it looks similar to Mongolia- lots of sand and just a little bit of life. Whenever I fly over it I wonder what the people who live there must have done in their former lives to be born into this one, out there. I also wonder if they aren’t the lucky ones, I wonder if they’ve ever heard of Iraq or Afghanistan, or the Global Financial Crisis or Global Warming. Although there are a few lakes out there that are a funny fluorescent lime green colour and I think they know all about polluting the earth! The next is a stretch across Eastern Russia, where all the air traffic controllers sound like they’re sitting in a concrete cell with nothing but a bottle of home made vodka to keep them company. And finally the long stretch from Los Angeles to Hong Kong- there’s hours and hours of “middle of nowhere” right there. Take care!

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Sherry traveling the world

I'm Sherry, a corporate cube dweller turned nomadic traveler. I travel to off-the-beaten-path destinations to bring you unique travel experiences and photography. But it's not just about travel, it's also about life experiences of a middle age wanderer.
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