Thoughts on giving to travellers
My sister is travelling to Peru next summer, and for Christmas I want to get her something that will help her prepare for the journey. Books are always a go-to gift for me, but when I browsed the travel section of my local bookstore all I saw were travel guides, and that’s not really what I want. Of course there’s nothing wrong with a travel guide—there’s a lot good about them, in fact. But when someone is travelling to a part of the world they’ve never been to before, I feel that it’s important for them to have a greater sense of the culture they’re going to experience. And that goes beyond lists of the best restaurants and directions for how to get to famous attractions.
Of course I emailed Nicole Benson and asked her for some suggestions, and she gave me a couple of great ideas: One River by Wade Davis, which outlines an epic exploration of the Amazon Rainforest, or a novel by Mario Vargas Llosa, one of Peru’s most famous novelists. I loved these ideas: a book about the larger geographical context of the country or a book that reflects a literary tradition. Either of these would provide a view of the country that a guide book simply can’t.
I especially love the idea of gifting the literature of a country, because it highlights the difference between reading something about a place and reading something from a place. As important as it is to know the about of somewhere, it’s usually the from that we want to connect with when we travel.