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Posts Tagged ‘World Hum’

Here it is, the monster World Hum project I’ve been working on in fits and starts for several months now: The 100 Most Celebrated Travel Books of All Time.

It’s a semi-scientific compilation of the most lauded, most popular, most read, most what-have-you travel books out there. We put it together by drawing on “best travel books” lists from around the web and traditional print media – our full methodology is outlined here, in The Fine Print.

Also included with the list? A Google map mash-up of the books by location (complete with a quotation for each entry) and this fun graphic breakdown, By the Numbers. We also put together a slideshow of a few favorite book covers.

Give the whole thing a browse if you can. And then hit the library!

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I’ve been back in Barbados, visiting my folks, for about a week and a half now. It’s been a restful time: I’ve been eating well, enjoying plenty of sunshine and fresh air, and getting caught up on sleep that I didn’t even realize I’d been missing. We spent the weekend on Bequia – one of my favourite places in the world – and have tickets for the ICC T20 cricket tournament on Friday. Life is good.

I’ve also been aiming to get caught up on email, editing, and other professional administration-type stuff – so if you’re waiting to hear from me, hang in there. And, of course, I’m way past due for an update on this site. So here goes:

The big news around World Hum this month was our inclusion as a Webby Award Honoree for Best Copy/Writing. The other honorees included NPR, BBC and Vanity Fair, and being listed was a huge thrill. Congrats and thanks to all our fine writers!

And speaking of fine writers, here are some highlights from the last month in World Hum features:

  • We published a couple of really powerful personal narratives in mid-April: In The Leap at Crater Lake, Amy Eward confronts her infertility and the strain it’s placing on her marriage, while in An Unexpected Trip, Katherine Lonsdorf shares the lessons she learned after an assault by a cab driver in Jordan.
  • We also ran a five-part series from Frank Bures, The Roads Between Us: A Journey Across Africa, along with a very cool Google map that includes some additional notes from Frank’s West African road trip.
  • It’s always a pleasure to have Pico Iyer’s byline on the site. His latest for us is an exploration of the lives and works of Jan Morris and V.S. Naipaul, two “master portraitists” of travel writing.
  • And finally, today we published a fine humor piece from columnist Tom Swick, imagining what might happen when a travel writer takes the podium.

I’ve got a few stories in the works, but nothing up on the site just yet. Stay tuned.

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I’ve got a new interview with the anthology’s editor, Stephanie Elizondo Griest, up on World Hum — we talk, among other things, about travel writing’s traditional gender imbalance and whether there’s a distinction to be made between “women’s travel writing” and “travel writing by a woman.” Check it out.

Also, if you’re in the New York area, World Hum’s hosting a launch party/reading for the book tonight at 7pm at Idlewild Books. It should be a great event — I’ll be there in spirit.

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And out like a dine-and-dasher; I have no idea where this past month went. I’ve been keeping busy — I spent the first week of March in the Pacific Northwest, five days mid-month road-tripping the Dempster Highway, and am just back from a weekend in Skagway, AK for a cross-country ski race. And of course I’ve been hard at work, too. Way back at the start of the month we published my annual Travel Movie Awards — the Oscars are long over, but if you haven’t yet checked this one out please do.

I also did an interview with the crew over at SoSauce earlier this month, and realized that, having done a handful of these things now, I should probably collect them in one place. So here goes: In addition to the SoSauce item, I’ve got an interview at Nileguide, and a video chat with Go Galavanting.

Some highlights from the month in World Hum features: We published Lover’s Moon, a Pico Iyer original that sheds some light on his inner soundtrack as he prepared to write “Video Night in Kathmandu” — that was a thrill. I also loved this excerpt we ran from Carl Hoffman’s new book, “The Lunatic Express” — The Mad Matatus of Kenya — and thoroughly enjoyed Tom Swick’s latest musings on the state of modern travel writing.

Up next? An Easter weekend cross-country ski trip, a flying weekend visit to Vegas, and a trip home to Ottawa before I head down to Barbados for some much-needed warmth and sun.

My first winter north of 60 is very nearly over. Maybe a commemorative plaque is in order?

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On the Road Again

Nothing much to report on the story front, though I’ve got some (hopefully) good ones in the works, but I do have a travel update: After lasting nearly three months (!) without straying more than 100 kms from Whitehorse, I’m packing up my suitcase again for a two-week spin around Vancouver and the Pacific Northwest. Looking forward to seeing some family and friends, filling my shopping and ethnic-eating quotas for awhile, researching a story – and maybe even catching an Olympic event or two.

Things are rolling along as usual at World Hum. If you haven’t already, I’d urge you to check out this hopeful essay about Haiti’s Hotel Oloffson, published a few days after the quake.

After this weekend’s Saints Superbowl victory, I also came across this fantastic video of a Magazine St. victory party – must-see TV for NOLA fans like myself.

Oh, and for anyone keeping score? I just did some housekeeping on my blogroll. As always, it’s a work in progress – travel writing friends, let me know if I’ve missed you.

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Just a quick story update. The King would have hit the three-quarter century mark last Friday, so Eli Ellison and I celebrated with – what else? – a list: King of the Road: Five Great Elvis Travel Movies. It was a lot of fun to put together.

I followed that one up on Monday with an interview with Susan Van Allen, the author of “100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go.”

Check ’em out!

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It’s been a busy holiday season – in addition to eating all the chocolate, cheese and clementines I could get my paws on, I’ve been neck-deep in the hallowed media tradition of the year-end list(s). We had a raft of 2009 send-off content on World Hum:

The Best Travel Books of 2009
World Hum’s 2009 Travelers of the Year: Travel Bloggers
World Hum’s 21 Most Read Features of 2009 (Check me out at #19 and #20)
R.I.P. 2009: From Mercedes Sosa to Frank McCourt
The Best Travel Videos of 2009 (Some really great stuff in this one!)

I also pulled together this selection of TSA-related tweets in the wake of the attempted Christmas undie-bombing:

Seven Great Tweets About the New TSA Regulations

And on a non-travel related note, I’ve tried and (so far) failed to pull together some thoughts on movies in the 2000s. As a stand-in, here are some of the “Best of the Decade/Year” movie lists I’ve enjoyed:

The Big Picture’s Top Ten Films of 2009
Dana Stevens: The Best Movies of the Year and the Decade
It Takes a Hero: The 20 Best Films of the Decade

Maybe I’ll get around to posting something about my favourite flicks of the year/decade later this weekend. Maybe I’ll even find time to make some New Year’s resolutions… (Resolution #1: Procrastinate less.)

In the meantime, Happy New Year! Here’s to 2010.

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A couple of quick notes: First, this past Friday at World Hum was devoted to “Up in the Air,” the travel-themed movie that looks set to tear up the awards circuit this year. It was adapted from a Walter Kirn novel of the same name, which Jim and Mike have been keeping tabs on since World Hum was brand new. (Among other things, the novel is the source of one of our main themes – “Airworld.”)

Here’s our coverage:

Beyond Airworld – A look at “the bittersweet challenge of the traveler’s life”

A video interview with director Jason Reitman and author Walter Kirn

A whole whack of links related to the movie, the book and Airworld in general

I haven’t seen the movie yet, but here’s hoping it makes it this far north.

Second, I’m thrilled to see that a travel book has FINALLY made its way into the What is Stephen Harper Reading? project. If you’re not familiar, WISHR is author Yann Martel’s one-man effort to make our illustrious Prime Minister more appreciative of the arts – or, in his own words, “to make suggestions to his stillness” – by sending him a series of carefully chosen books. The latest? “Tropic of Hockey” by former Rheostatics frontman Dave Bidini. Here’s what Martel had to say in his accompanying letter to the PM:

Tropic of Hockey is about one man’s love for the game and his quest for its soul. This quest leads him to places where you wouldn’t expect to see ice hockey. And as different as those places are, the spirit of the game, by Bidini’s reckoning, burns with the same intensity as it does in his rec league in Toronto. He finds in Harbin, northern China, in Dubai, in Miercurea Ciuc, Transylvania, the refreshing purity of a game that is not mere entertainment but a way of meeting and being, hockey as culture rather than business, “the spirituality of sports, sports as life,” as he puts it at one point.

I’ve been meaning to read this book for a couple of years now, so thanks, Yann Martel, for the reminder. (And for the effort to expand Prime Minister Harper’s stillness, too.)

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I attended the launch party for this year’s anthology at Idlewild Books this week in New York, and – as I noted in this brief recap of the night – the packed event was tangible proof that there’s still an audience out there for literary travel essays. Considering this week’s news about Gourmet getting the axe, it was a much-needed reminder.

I’ve been focused on the World Hum blog lately, so nothing new in the full-length story department – but if you’re interested, here are some of the short items that have been keeping me busy and entertained:

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It’s been four years today since Hurricane Katrina had her way with New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. We’ve got a raft of anniversary-related content over at World Hum, and though I didn’t write any of it myself I thought it was worth highlighting here.

First up, Yeah You Right, a wonderful essay by Adam Karlin that seems to take a number of never-quite-articulated thoughts right out of my head. (See especially the last couple paragraphs about the visitors who feel compelled to make a home for themselves in NOLA.)

There’s also Kevin Fay’s essay about a voluntourism stint in St. Bernard Parish — Do Not Demolish — and a slideshow and interview from photographer Allison Chipak.

As you might already know, I spent a good chunk of last summer in New Orleans. I’d been intending to cover the third anniversary of Katrina when Hurricane Gustav broke up the party and forced the evacuation of the city. The blog post I wrote about it is here: Remembering Katrina, Waiting for Gustav.

New Orleans: Soul is Waterproof

New Orleans: Soul is Waterproof

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