It’s really no secret that I’m a library junkie.
Benefit: this addiction comes in handy when saving money for travel.
The internet teems with free blog posts and paid-for subscriptions that, at the end of the day, leave me wishing for more depth and/or less fees.
So I instead turn to my local library and its ridiculously vast collection of paper-in-the-hands resources with tables-of-contents, indexes and glossaries, coffee table books with rich photos, DVDs featuring footage and histories of far off lands, and, yes, user-friendly how-to guides to accompany me on my let’s-make-friends mission with the camera.
And let us not forget the other beautiful thing about the library: free wi-fi sans coffee purchase. I’ve found this perfect perch, next to the spinning globe at my little Belmont Branch of the Multnomah County Library. While Ted has been finishing up his last few weeks of work and we’ve been commuting back into Portland from my family’s home in the country, I’ve been carpooling with him and finding digital work spaces to use during the day.
Must remember this library hack when we’re abroad. (Also, it turns out the National Library in Buenos Aires provides guided tours in Spanish and English. Who knew? Maybe I can score a card and stash it alongside the one I received at the Library of Congress in D.C.?)
I think it started when I was about five. My mom said I’d earn my own library card as soon as I was able to sign my signature, and I practiced away until I could proudly march up to the counter and ask the librarian for my chance.
A few scrawled letters later and a beaming pigtailed girl launched her lifelong habit.
I’ve housed an extension of the library’s bookshelves under my own roof ever since.
(One friend told me not to worry – the Multnomah County Library network sells many, many books each year simply because they run out of shelf space when new titles are added; the more we collectively keep checked out, the more remain in the system. Sounds win/win to me!)
Now, with three weeks until departure, it’s time to return these babies to their rightful home.
I’ve been parting with stacks and stacks…and stacks. I should’ve put the bookbags (yes, plural) on the scale just to laugh at how much more they weighed than our backpacks.
For kicks I dug up my library reading (and watching) log. Handy to have a pre-typed list…
A smattering of titles that have made their way home to us since December of last year:
The lost girls : three friends, four continents, one unconventional detour around the world / Jennifer Baggett, Holly C. Corbett, Amanda Pressner.
What I eat : around the world in 80 diets / photographed by Peter Menzel ; written by Faith D’Aluisio ; foreword by Marion Nestle.
Street food of India : the 50 greatest Indian snacks : complete with recipes / Sephi Bergerson.
Nowhere is a place : travels in Patagonia / Bruce Chatwin and Paul Theroux ; photographs by Jeff Gnass ; introduction by Paul Theroux. (This apparently sells for $109.94 new on Amazon? Library: Free.)
Machu Picchu / photographs, Barry Brukoff ; poems, Pablo Neruda ; translation, Stephen Kessler ; prologue, Isabel Allende.
Vino Argentino : an insider’s guide to the wines and wine country of Argentina / by Laura Catena ; foreword by Jay Miller ; photographs by Sara Remington.
Seven wonders of ancient Central and South America / by Michael Woods and Mary B. Woods.
Moon handbooks. Patagonia.
Ghosts of Machu Picchu [videorecording] / a production of Nova and National Geographic Television ; produced by Owen Palmquist and Ricardo Preve.
Idle days in Patagonia / W.H. Hudson.
Sunrise earth. Sunrises of the ancient world [videorecording].
Argentina. Lonely Planet.
When worlds collide [videorecording] : the untold story of the Americas after Columbus / a co-production of Red Hill Productions & KCET ; written by Ruben Martinez & Carl Byker ; directed and produced by Carl Byker.
Art Wolfe’s Travels to the edge. Season 1 [videorecording] / series producer, Valerie Griffith ; co-series producer/field producer, Simon Griffith ; field producer, Karel Bauer ; produced in association with Oregon Public Broadcasting ; produced in association with Blue Moon Productions, Edge of the Earth Productions.
Enduring Patagonia / Gregory Crouch.
Natural Patagonia = Patagonia natural : Argentina & Chile / Marcelo D. Beccaceci.
Unforgettable journeys to take before you die / Steve Watkins and Clare Jones.
Fifty places to hike before you die : outdoor experts share the world’s greatest destinations / Chris Santella ; foreword by Bob Peixotto. (Hey, the list includes Oregon’s own Mt. Hood National Forest right alongside the High Atlas of Morocco, New Zealand’s Milford and Routeburn Tracks, and Southern Patagonia’s Argentinian National Parks!)
Patagonia : notes from the field / edited by Nora Gallagher ; introduction by Yvon Chouinard.
South America on a shoestring. Lonely Planet.
Remote exposure : a guide to hiking and climbing photography / Alexandre Buisse.
Photographer’s guide to the digital lifecycle : real-life workflow scenarios for managing still and motion photography assets / Ben Greisler.
Nikon D70 / Simon Stafford.
Capture : digital photography essentials / Glenn Rand, Christopher Broughton, Amanda Quintenz-Fiedler.
The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 book : the complete guide for photographers / Martin Evening.
Art Wolfe’s Travels to the edge. Season 2 [videorecording] / series producer, Valerie Griffith ; co-series producer/field producer, Simon Griffith ; field producer, Karel Bauer ; produced in association with Oregon Public Broadcasting ; produced in association with Blue Moon Productions, Edge of the Earth Productions.
Black and white : from snapshots to great shots / John Batdorff. The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 book for digital photographers / Scott Kelby.
Truthfully, I’ve not read every book. The appetite for information has its fluctuations after all, and I’ve both scoured and skimmed.
It was impractical to make it through the entirety of To the Edge of the World. But the first string of stories gave me a much deeper appreciation for the wild unknown of the tip of South America and the flavor of life aboard a ship during the time of Fitz Roy’s sailings to Tierra del Fuego.
I may not have flipped every page of the Tao of Travel, but I certainly chuckled at quotes and picked up a few new travel daydreams while navigating sections.
The National Geographic Society’s Extreme Landscape: the lure of mountain spaces gave glimpses into the world’s wilderness areas and the impacts of landscape on humanity and vice versa…
I’ve found great delight in following questions and curiosities.
As a home educated kid, the response I received to many a question was: “Look it up.”
Mom knew she could spoon feed us the right answers, but we’d learn better if we went through the challenge of seeking the information and absorbing it out of our own hunger for knowledge.
Turns out, she was right.
Thanks, mom, for my original library card at five and my first passport at seventeen.
Hold on to your hats, we’re about to leave the books and take “Look it up” to the next level!
Um, as soon as I get the library’s free eReader setup squared away so I can download on the road.
You didn’t think I’d give up my library books that easily, did you?