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Around the world through inspiring travel books

LYSA ALLMAN-BALDWIN | 1/18/2012, 5:17 p.m.
It's a New Year with 366 new days (due to the Leap Year) to ponder,...
Around the world through inspiring travel books

In "Toni Morrison at the Louvre" (this newsletter was originally published in 2007), they explain how the heralded, prize-winning author presided over a monthlong program at the Louvre, which in part led to a series of debates on whether or not museums should play a role in promoting cultural diversity and social integration.

"Paris-by-the-Beach" (published in 2002) details the transformation of almost two miles of riverfront highway in the heart of Paris "into a resort strand, complete with beach volleyball, palm trees and ice cream stands."

The black-and-white photography in the book also lends interesting flavors and contrasts to the authors' words, which truly offer readers an insider's desire to share a city they have come to adore.

"Paris Insights: An Anthology" is available at www.parisinsights.com/thebook.php. Learn more about Discover Paris! at www.discoverparis.net.

FROM PENNSYLVANIA

TO CHINA

According to Glenda Burkett, author of "No Blue Sky: An American Traveler's Glimpse of China," as one of eight children growing up in southwestern Pennsylvania in a rural farm area, she was not afforded many opportunities to travel. However, her wanderlust for the sights and sounds of far-off places was somewhat satisfied through radio, TV and books.

Eventually, being able to travel as an adult led her to China, where she intimately captured her experiences about this seemingly mysterious, distant and controversial country that is just now coming into view of the rest of the world, including America. But her accounts also go a step further from simply recounting all of the lovely aspects of the country to acknowledging some of its darker aspects that are very real for the Chinese people on a daily basis, such as political prisoners, communism, isolation, pollution, poverty and other issues.

What I really like about the book is that Burkett's real-life experiences are presented in a boutique, journal format-no doubt similar to what she used when capturing the experiences at the time. For example, one day she wrote, "As we near the Victoria Harbour Waterfront [in Hong Kong], we are in awe. With ferry docks dwarfed by high-rise towers, it is one of the world's most emblematic cityscapes."

"No Blue Sky" is also a helpful planning tool that provides some insights that one must-or it would be extremely helpful to-know. Take this as a heads-up: "While the 'Western toilet' is making inroads into China in big cities, hotels and airports, there are still mainly squatty potties in China. Today is the day I face my first 'squatty' toilet! Picture a tiled floor area with a hole in the middle...Many of the stalls did not have doors. If one could rate the experience, I guess I'd say the degree of difficulty was 'average to hard,' requiring far more agility that the potty experience back home."

The book is a fascinating read, and I have to say it has piqued my interest enough that I'm considering a visit China.

"No Blue Sky: An American Traveler's Glimpse of China" is available through www.authorhouse.com, www.amazon.com and www.barnesandnoble.com

Lysa Allman-Baldwin writes for numerous online and print publications, including as the cultural travel writer for www.Examiner.com and as a senior travel writer for SoulOfAmerica.com, an Afrocentric travel website. Lysa can be reached at lallmanbaldwin@kc.rr.com.