Dec 21, 2011 – Guide-Picking

To be replaced by a picture of the stack of books I'm taking with me

I am admittedly going overboard. By the time I leave for my trip, I will be in the possession of many books to read for and on the trip. Some might even say they’re too many. I might be one of them.

I’m a reader. I love to read. The written word makes a greater impression on me than the spoken word. Greater even than a movie. I have read horror novels which have creeped me out to the point of leaving me scared and sleepleess and I have watched horror movies which have lingered in the mind for at most a few hours after watching. There are books I have read which have haunted me for months, which have changed my way of thinking, which have made me laugh uncontrollably (not so great when you’re reading in a public place), which have made my heart skip a beat, which have moved me to tears. There are few movie I can say the same about. Avid movie-goers could argue that I have not watched the right movies. They may be right. I just think books allow you to use your imagination so much more, you paint your own vivid pictures and perhaps that’s why the images and feelings evoked stay with me so much longer and make a real impact.

That, fellow reader, is my justification for carrying all these books, which are doubtlessly heavy, across the ocean to the Eternal City. If you’re interested in knowing which ones I’m taking, a list follows. (It isn’t a numbered list so that I don’t know how many there are. Large numbers can be scary. Just ask weighing scales: They’ve heard many blood-curdling screams.)

– Rick Steves’ Rome 2012
– DK Eyewitness Guide to Rome
–These two because I used them on my last trip to Rome and Paris and found them to be useful to me then. Resorting to familiar ground, what?
– Rome from the Ground Up  by James H. S. McGregor
–I read about this one (as about many of the others) on SlowTrav.com and it – was praised highly. Reviews of this book in other corners of the Internet revealed its popularity and, well, I have two weeks in Rome.
– Rome is Love Spelled Backwards by Judith Testa
–A book, and a guide of sorts, on the art and architecture of Rome which I’d really like to explore in depth and need something to serve as a starting point to help an art-illiterate person like me. Again, mention of SlowTrav.com must be made. Its usefulness will be commented upon once proved during the trip.
– A Traveller in Rome by H. V. Morton
— The book’s description on Amazon.com goes, “H.V. Morton’s evocative account of his days in 1950s Rome—the fabled era of La Dolce Vita—remains an indispensable guide to what makes the Eternal City eternal. In his characteristic anecdotal style, Morton leads the reader on a well-informed and delightful journey around the city…”
– Time Out Rome
–This series had some particularly good reviews and I thought it might be good to have in one’s arsenal. Albeit, I’m sure one or two good guides would do…okay, as I said before, I went overboard. The reviews were just really good for this one!

Oh, also, I have Fodor’s 25 Best from my last trip there in Dec 2009, so I’ll be taking that with me too. Probably.

And to help with the language there: Rick Steves’ Italian Phrase Book and Dictionary.

Since many of these have not been updated in the last few years (let’s get real: There’s a reason it’s called the Eternal City, yea?), I kept looking up reviews to make sure the books have been useful to others in 2011 too. There were some book, such as Cafe Life Rome, which, according to recent reviews, are outdated or have resulted in the places listed, which once provided an authentic taste of Rome, becoming tourist traps due to the popularity of probably the same, or least similar, guides and books. You see? Those, although interesting, wouldn’t be useful anymore.

I hope to be able to update you on the usefulness of all these books once I get a chance to use them and make the most of them.

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