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Tourists with Typewriters – Critical reflections on contemporary travel writing

Originally published in December 2004, in 3 parts.
Book 44 in my first 52 books challen

Author: Patrick Holland & Graham Huggan
Year published: 1998
Pages: 261
Genre: Historiography, criticism and history
Sub-genre(s): Travel writing
Where got: National/University Library

Whenever I go browsing at the National/University Library I come across books on all sorts of interesting subjects. One of my haunts is the travel and geography section, where I have found many great reads about travel, which is without doubt my favourite genre. The last time I visited the library I ventured into the literary theory section, where I found this interesting book about travel writing and writers. The bibliography alone has given me a substantial number of books to add to my TBR list.

Part 2:
Tourists with Typewriters: Reading progress
Try as I may, I can’t get into this book. I read a few pages and find myself dozing off. In 5 days I have only got as far as finishing the introduction and chapter 1.
I may have to declare my first failure of this challenge – but first I’m going to browse a few pages of each chapter and see if it gets better.

It’s not that it isn’t interesting – it is – but it’s so dry, it’s like being in the desert with only salt water to drink: you desperately want it, but it isn’t good for you.

Part 3:
I’m giving up on Tourists with Typewriters...
I’ve decided to drop the book of the week because I just can’t concentrate on it.

It’s unfortunate when such an interesting subject gets written about in a less than interesting way. No subject needs to be boring if the writer knows her/his craft. Even economics can be made interesting to a layperson by a skilled writer, but if the writer is not able to write interestingly, the text can turn out dry as a mummy.

For some reason, academic writers seem to especially adept at writing boring texts. It’s almost as if in the land of Academia it is forbidden to write texts that can keep a person’s attention for more than five minutes at a time. In my opinion, academic writers should take lessons from writers of popular non-fiction, because it is definitely not serving Education when the text books are so boring that the students fall asleep reading them.

I plan to try again on my summer vacation when I have more time and fewer other things on my mind, and will review it if I get round to it.

Note: I never did get round to it.


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