Reading List: Pipe Dream Edition

One of my pipe dreams is to get to travel to all of the continents. And not just the easy ones, either. Nope, I want to make it to Antarctica. I often get asked why. Why wouldn’t you want to go to Antarctica? Penguins! Icebergs! Whales! Unspoiled nature! Etc.!

Since it’s somewhat unlikely I’ll actually make it down there (it’s really, REALLY expensive), I read about it instead. My favorite is The Last Place on Earth (Amazon, Barnes and Noble) by Roland Huntford, though it is very hard to read in places (spoiler alert: people die). Next up on my to-be-read list is The Worst Journey in the World by Apsley Cherry-Gerrard, which I’ve heard is very good, and is a nice balance to The Last Place on Earth.

I just read Blue Latitudes (Amazon, Barnes and Noble) by Tony Horwitz. The tagline is boldly going where Captain Cook has gone before. Captain Cook never actually made it to Antarctica, but he was one of the first to cross the Arctic Circle, and his exploration and charting made possible much of what was to come later. The basic premise of the book is that Horwitz chronicles Captain Cook’s life and voyages, and then visits the same places he did to get an idea of Cook’s lasting legacy.

I had a hard time getting into the book, since the beginning jumps around a lot and was very difficult to follow where in time and place you are. Once he hits his stride though, it was very interesting. It’s almost impossible to imagine how vast the scope of Cook’s charting and discoveries are, especially when you consider the equipment and navigational tools of the day (mid 1700s). I thought Horwitz painted Cook in a very fair light, paying homage to the monumental tasks the man achieved, while also examining the legacy the Cook and the other European discoverers/colonialists/conquerors left for the native peoples (spoiler: it generally hasn’t worked out very well for them). I was less interested in hearing about the author smoking pot and drinking himself silly in every stop (including some implied drunk driving), but I guess that’s just me being an old stick in the mud.

Overall, I found it very readable, and loved learning more about Cook, who seems to be far less well known than Shackleton, Scott, Amundsen, and many others. I might have to tackle Shackleton next in my explorer’s reading.

What’s your pipe dream? Would you go to Antarctica?

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4 thoughts on “Reading List: Pipe Dream Edition

  1. Beth Hennings says:

    I have many travel pipe dreams, none of which include Antarctica! I don’t like to be cold and miserable! (However we’ve recently decided to rewatch “The Last Place on Earth.” That’s as close as I’ll ever get to the Arctic Circle.) I’d love to the lavendar fields in Provence, the vinyards in Tuscany, tour Cinque Terre with my husband. A not-so-secret longing is to meander through the United Kingdom on a literary tour!

  2. Annette Z says:

    Mine for the longest time was Japan. Then I got placed there in a hotel for all but 3 days out of my 3 weeks I was there. Only places I went outside of a Buddhist temple in Narita was to Ginza and Shibuya in Tokyo. I saw the Japanese Imperial Palace from across the moat. I figured out how to get to Tokyo via the more expensive pre-reservation train and the least expensive longer commuter train.

    Think my next dream will be Paris and Provence in France (I too love lavender fields), Bangkok, and Italy (I’d like to do a vineyard tour). More locally within the US I think Las Vegas, never really been to see the sites and it would be fun! I was supposed to go with Josh when we both turned 30, but it didn’t happen.

    • lectorsbooks says:

      Oh, sorry you missed out on a great Japanese experience! I’ve never been to Vegas either, but maybe you’ll make it for your 40th! :)

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