I’m a crappy traveler. You know this already if you read about how I went camping in Bodega Bay and to Montreal on my honeymoon. I love the idea of traveling. It’s just the getting there that brings me down. Planes. No thanks. Boats. I’d rather swim. Yet trains and cars…I’m there. Like many Americans I have a highly romanticized view of road trips. Thank you Jack Kerouac, Henry Miller, Hunter S. Thompson, Denis Johnson, John Steinbeck and countless others. Their memoirs of weeks, months or even years on the road, spent getting to know back roads and genuine people by name while escaping the banality of suburban life sucked me in at an early age. In high school I spent long afternoons in my parent’s backyard reading these tales and imagining where I would go, who I would meet and what I would do when I finally got my drivers license.
My first road trip was certainly not how I imagined it. there I was in the backseat of my mom’s minivan traveling with her and her best friend, Grace. Grace’s parents owned a house in San Felipe, Mexico. Their house was literally on the beach. We were headed there for a few days of digging fresh clams from the sand, eating Grace’s father’s Lebanese food and sitting on their private solitary stretch on sea and sand. Unlike the writers whose tales I was obsessed with, we didn’t pick up any hitchhikers. No one took uppers to keep them awake when the lines in the road began to blur. There was no Rock & Roll music blasting from the stereo with the windows rolled all the way down. And we definitely didn’t stop in any honky tonk bars.
I was not quite 16 and despite my fascination with the seedy underbelly of American literature through the eyes of drunk and damaged writers, I was reading a novel about a young girl named Felice who was sent to live in a convent after her parents died. I identified with Felice’s journey of self-discovery and couldn’t put the book down as I traveled with her on the road to possible sainthood.
I spent pretty much the whole trip reading the backseat. When it got dark, I rigged up a flashlight with my scrunchie on the handle above the door. Every fifteen minutes or so I’d catch sight of a roadside shrine and beg my mom and grace to pull over so I could take a closer look and document some strangers beautiful display of their sorrow with the 35mm camera my dad passed down to me. Mostly, mom and Grace obliged and I’d try to capture the plastic flower petals caked in highway dust and hand-painted signs of longing. Then I’d dive right back into Felice’s adventures with the nuns at the convent.
My love of the written word began way before that trip to Mexico. Yet somehow that trip is the one that my mom always brings up when she tells people about how much of a bookworm I was from the get go. I have never lost my love for reading, for entering the lives of real and fictional people and holding their hands as I travel with them through their twisted and lovely lives. The past few years my reading choices have leaned towards memoirs, biography and business advice books. I long for those days of reading solely for pleasure but I know I’ll make time for those novels soon. In the meantime welcome to the Dear Handmade Life DIY + Business Book Club. The first Friday of every month we’ll share the our picks for the coming weeks. Feel free to join in and read along with us as well as comment below about your favorite picks for the month or your responses to our picks. *Usually we’ll highlight four books but this month we couldn’t help but pick five!
Here’s what we’re reading in September:
What are your favorite DIY or business books? What are you reading this month?