07/10/2013 04:38 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Creating a Great Summer Read

The rest of the year may be filled with serious book club choices and the necessary readings of the workplace. But for me, summer reading is for pleasure, guilty or not.

Through the warmest months of my life I remember curling up in a chair on my sun-porch and devouring among many, many things: Woody Allen short stories, Nora Ephron essays, all books in the series A Dance to the Music of Time, Barbara Pym novels, Ian McEwan novellas, Billy Collins poetry, graphic novels, bios of Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley. And way, way back, Peyton Place.

The connection of these writings is that I wanted to read them for pure enjoyment, and I didn't want them to end.

With these reading choices in mind, I had a plan: to write a great beach read, true tales of faraway places, sweet-tart as lemonade and breezy as a ferry ride on a sunny day.


Travel Tales I Couldn't Put in the Guidebooks offers the unexpected, the offbeat, "aha moments," and memorable characters I've met in traveling to over 100 countries -- things for one reason or another I couldn't put in the six other books and dozens of guidebooks I've previously written. This honest book is a travel-essay memoir of a life fully lived, with laughs and tears, surprises and delights.

And here are are some of the guidelines I kept in mind, aware that a good summer read is:

  • engaging. You've got lots of competing summer pleasures, so a book better hold your interest. A bit funny, a bit serious, a bit of a memoir, a bit raunchy -- I wrote my book to keep you guessing and engaged -- and wanting more.
  • flexible. A good beach read takes into account that sometimes you just have a a few minutes between a dip in the pool, and a dip into a book.

    So I divided the book into six sections. Travel Tales I Couldn't Put in the Guidebooks contains 31 tales of memorable people places and things, which you can read individually, section by section, or all the way through.

  • portable. No one enjoys lugging a five-pound book in a beach bag or carry-on. So I kept the book short, in paperback (or on Kindle).
  • transporting. Your summer may be a staycation in your favorite chair, but a book can open up the world. In TTICPITG you can read about adventures from Antarctica to Zanzibar without moving more than your eyes.
  • illustrated. The charming color illustrations are sprinkled throughout the book like summer fireworks, by the talented artist Sheila Reep.


  • quotable. It's fun to share moments of meaningful chat over dinner by a marina or driving along a country road. And my book has some outrageous characters to talk about like the Nevada hooker with a surprising philosophy about love, and the unforgettable words of a Panamanian lady who slept with "Rohairmoo."
  • easy to finish. I once lugged Remembrance of Things Past with me to Paris, thinking I could soak up Proust's era in The City of Light. I got into a few chapters and gave up. It was too heavy in all ways.

Travel Tales I Couldn't Put in the Guidebooks is a book you can start and stop on line for ice cream, or by a lake, or in a hammock. But you probably won't want to stop. And for me, that's a great summer read!

You can purchase Travel Tales I Couldn't Put in the Guidebooks, here

And on Kindle, here