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Book/DVD/CD Reviews

7/8/2009
Armchair Traveler: The South Via Books

Books Showcase Southern Trips

Photo of book cover goes here.

By Susan J. Young

With the holidays fast approaching, it’s a great time to settle down with a good book and plan next year’s vacation or just an armchair adventure. Travel books also make good gifts for friends, family and travel buddies.

This year, a range of new or tried-and-true travel books have crossed our desk. Some are all-encompassing volumes that showcase a large chunk of geography, such as state travel guides. Others are topical niche guides.

A Brief Guide to Florida’s Monuments and Memorials

Most of us have traveled to a new locale, noticed a plaque or monument by the roadside, but just kept on driving. So, we never learned what these monuments are, who or what they commemorate, or why they’re even there?

Travel writer Roberta Sandler (who coincidentally has written several stories on this site including a profile of Tallahassee, FL) is the author of a new book that answers all those questions: “A Brief Guide to Florida’s Monuments and Memorials.”

Photo of guidebook goes here.Published by University Press of Florida, this guidebook tells you the real stories behind more than 80 monuments you might see along the state’s roadsides during your travels within the Sunshine State.

This handy book profiles monuments that herald famous visitors, residents and native Americans. It also gives a sense of the major events – and monuments to those -- that have shaped the state’s history including Spanish colonization, the Civil War, and even those pesky hurricanes.

From Ponce de Leon to John Ringling, from Ernest Hemingway to Jackie Robinson, this book delves into the nooks and crannies of Florida’s history.

You might peruse a monument to the Cedar Key Fisherman’s Association, stroll through Brian Piccolo Park (named for an inspirational Chicago Bears player who died very young) in the Greater Fort Lauderdale area or view Sponge Diver statues at Tarpon Springs.

And if you think a monument is simply a plaque, think again. Yes, there are plenty of those in Florida, but this book also profiles a few on a much larger scale – such as the Castillo de San Marco, the massive Spanish fortress in St. Augustine that’s a huge tourism attraction today.

Illustrated throughout with black and white photos, this book is an easy read at 260 pages. It won’t take you weeks to plow through it. And you likely won’t go to every monument or go out of your way to drive to these.

But if you’re a Florida vacationer, if you enjoy getting out and seeing new sights and learning about the state’s history, this book delivers.

ISBN 978-0-8130-3258-0

Published by University Press of Florida

Published Price: $21.95

Literary Trails of the North Carolina Mountains

For literary buffs, the "Literary Trails of the North Carolina Mountains" is a treasure trove of information related to sites within the Tarheel State’s hills and mountains that ooze literary affiliation.

In some cases, authors lived in this region for awhile, with influences that shaped their works. In others, the setting for a novel or short story was the region.

Cover of Guidebook goes here.Thomas Wolfe, for example, called Asheville home, and on one occasion took time to visit his friend F. Scott Fitzgerald at the Grove Park Inn.

Written by Georgann Eubanks, this topical guide is a project of the North Carolina Arts Council, an agency of the state’s Department of Cultural Resources. This is a formidable guide, with its 426 pages packed with detail.

Not a quick read nor a typical guidebook, this is a resource that will simmer on the minds of literary enthusiasts. It doesn’t just tell you what’s there to see. It outlines the perspective of the writer, often giving his or her own written words to tell the tale.

Many color photographs help illustrate the landscapes or hideaways that so drew writers to the region.

To help you explore, the book outlines suggested road routes for “literary exploration” in a particular geographic area. For example, you might take the “Cold Mountain” tour, or alternatively, an exploratory visit to Asheville and the Biltmore.

Hundreds of opportunities await for travelers with a passion for literature and this guide in hand. More than 170 writers from past and present are featured within the volume, including such notables as O. Henry, Robert Morgan, Elizabeth Spencer, Gail Godwin, Lilian Jackson Braun, Romulus Linnery, Sequoyah, and Nina Simone.

You might visit Celo, the childhood home of Anne Tyler; view the spot where Georgia poet Sydney Lanier succumbed to tuberculosis in 1881; or journey to the Moses H. Cone Manor House, called Korban Manor in novelist Scott Nicholson’s 2004 thriller “The Manor.”

Or, you might sit on a bench along the back side of the Lees-McRae College Campus and admire the monument to Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, who drafted The Yearling in this area in the fall of 1936.

Each tour section provides details about local libraries, museums, colleges, bookstores and other venues open to the public where writers presents their works.

A teacher, writer and consultant to nonprofit organizations, Eubanks knows the subject matter well; she’s directed the Duke University Writers Workshop since 1989. She’s also a founder of the North Carolina Writers’ Network, and a past chair of the North Carolina Humanities Council.

ISBN 978-0-8078-5833-2

Published by The University of North Carolina Press

101 Accessible Vacations

Travel Ideas for Wheelers and Slow Walkers

When it comes to accessible travel ideas and reviews of accommodations, cruise ships and other travel products, author Candy Harrington excels. She has a passion for opening the world of travel to all those with the desire to travel, irregardless of physical capabilities. She authors the Emerging Horizons newsletter and has written multiple books.

Photo of book cover goes here.This 350-page book, "101 Accessible Vacations: Travel Ideas for Wheelers and Slow Walkers," is a snapshot of options within America and across the globe. Most are within the U.S., and a fair number within the U.S. South. 

Many travel books are organized geographically. In contrast, this softcover book has activity sections -- giving those using wheelchairs and scooters or those who simply are slow walkers -- you a sense of vacation options based on your interests.

Sections include: Bright Lights, Big City; Active Holidays; The Great Outdoors; A Place to Rest Your Head; Cruisin'; Haunted History, Family Friendly Fun; and others provide a breezy, light and targeted approach to navigating the possibilities. Each sub-topic within these sections has phone numbers and Web sites of travel resources.

For example, you'll learn how to museum hop in St. Petersburg, FL, home to the Florida International Museum, the Florida Holocaust Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts and, of course, the famed Salvador Dali Museum. You might also explore the Fun Side of the Potomac in Alexandria, VA, or enjoy a family style spring break in Daytona Beach, FL.

Many wheelers and slow walkers think their vacation choices are limited but this books proves otherwise -- showcasing accessible options from beaches to safaris.

ISBN 978-1-932603-43-9

Published by Demos Medical Publishing

$24.


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