are books focused on travel, all pretty and heavily illustrated
and those are what most people seem to opt for – nifty coffee
table decorations. That effort and choice has its place.
And then there are the unconventional and not
what one would label as travel books; however, in their own way
they fit the category. A trio that works is:
“Blue Water, Green Skipper” by Stuart Woods
(Putnam, $26.95, 282 pages)
“Walking the Amazon” by Ed Stafford (Plume,
$16.00, 319 pages, paper)
“Central Park” edited by Andrew Blauner
(Bloomsbury, $16.00, 224 pages, paper).
The Woods book was published 35 years ago. Now
re-issued, it is a compelling work by the New York Times
bestselling author of fifty novels. This is a thrilling,
chilling memoir of a man alone sailing across the Atlantic
Ocean. Tight, taut, almost noble, “Blue Water, Green Skipper” is
a tribute to true grit. MUST HAVE.
The Stafford effort is almost too moving, too
adventurous, too tautly told to be believable. Yet, like the
Woods opus, this is another testament to human will and grit.
The Blauner book relies on contributors who
range from Paul Auster to Marrie Winn – each providing
different and illuminating takes on one of the great treasures
of the Big Apple. In all, 843 acres, in all host to almost 40
millions annual vistors, Central Park is a wonder of the world.
My favorite take on the experience is the essay by Jonathan
Safran Foer – “the Sixth Borough.” The title tells it all.
“The Sartorialist Closer” by Scott Schuman
(Penguin, $30.00, 512 pages) is a collection of words and
pictures that showcases people on the streets of New York,
Copenhagen, Sydney, Essaouria and other diverse locales. Part
travel, part fashion, part people peeping – a wondrous work to
“The Aleppo Codex” by Matti Friedman
(Algonquin, $24.95, 320 pages) is a book as timely as the
headlines that poses a very important question – who truly owns
a people’s historical treasures? AP reporter Friedman is part
detective and part historian as he attempts to answer two
questions: How did the Aleppo Codex after being rescued from
rioters in 1947 from the Great Synagogue in Aleppo, Syria wind
up in Israel? What was the fate of its missing pages?