09 July 2009
The shelves in my house contain several books that inspire me to learn more about the world before a journey. Here are some examples:
Art & Civilization by Edward Lucie-Smith
Published in 1992 by Prentice Hall, it is mainly about what has come to be termed "Western civilization", from the "uncivilized" societies of prehistory, to the formation of cities in the Near East and Egypt, and right up to the late 20th century. The book explores the development of ideas, beliefs, architecture, painting, sculpture, literature, drama and music.
The World Atlas of Food edited by Glorya Hale
Published in 1974 by Mitchell Beazley, this is more than just an excellent global guide to cooking, it also explores the origins of the foods we enjoy today. The book invites you to discover more about the development of food plants and cooking styles, how and where food plants are grown and how they can be prepared in a variety of ways. It is a book that never goes out of date, even though it is out of print.
From the Good Earth by Michael Ableman
Published in 1993 by Thames and Hudson, it is a beautiful photographic journey through the traditional organic agricultures of the world. The book also describes the histories, cultures and the individuals who today maintain those productive and healthy traditions.
Retreat by Roger Housden
Published in 1995 by HarperSanFrancisco, its subtitle is "Time Apart for Silence & Solitude". The book looks at how the tradition of temporary withdrawal from our usual social environment can provide a deeper sense of spiritual fulfillment, whatever style of retreat we choose to encounter.
Contemporary Cultural Anthropology by Michael C. Howard
My copy is the third edition, published by HarperCollins in 1989, though I often update my knowledge of the topic through the Internet. The book is intended for university students and explores the interrelationships within and between a wide range of societies, including how they communicate, meet their needs, produce goods, form families, develop traditions, form hierarchies, use power, enforce order, use religion, approach illness and health care, and deal with social problems.
Your local library or second-hand book shop might have copies of the above titles, or some like them. Do you have favourite books that have inspired your journeys?