DEBORAH CROMBIE: Okay, enough about Paris. (Well, really, there's no such thing as enough about Paris...) But I want to talk about the places you would NEVER actually go, the thing you would NEVER do, the adventure that weirdly and inexplicable fascinates you.
Mine is Everest.
I'm not even a hiker, much less a climber. And I'm not that crazy about mountains, as far as scenery goes. (Give me rolling English countryside, or Scottish moors, or beaches and tropical islands.) I can remember reading about Edmund Hillary's expedition when I was child and trying to imagine what it would have been like to climb the world's highest mountain. But the bug really bit me when I read Jon Krakauer's 1999 account of the 1996 ill-fated Everest expedition, INTO THIN AIR. It is still my favorite non-fiction book. (In 1999, Krakauer received an Academy Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, which honors writers of exceptional accomplishment.) Readers, if you haven't read this book, put it on your list!
I've since read other books about Everest (Will North's THE GHOSTS OF EVEREST, about Hillary's expedition, is waiting on my bedside table) and seen most of the movies about Everest climbs. I was disappointed with EVEREST (2015) the dramatized account of the 1996 expedition. I think they were trying to be more realistic, but there are a lot of climbers in climbing suits (I couldn't keep up with who was wearing which color) and goggles and face masks, which made them indistinguishable, and the only dialog (mumble mumble) I could understand was at base camp. It's hard to identify with the characters when you can't tell who they are! However, the scenery is spectacular, but I'd read Krakauer's book first.
How about you, REDS? What's your ultimate armchair adventure?
SUSAN ELIA MACNEAL: Oh my goodness! Miss Edna was obsessed, OBSESSED, with Everest. I watched so many documentaries and read so many books about it with her, it's not even funny. And, Debs, we both loved INTO THIN AIR, too.
I was disappointed with the movie, Everest, as well -- I wish they had picked one character and stuck with him or her — it felt a bit all over the place and I also had issues understanding the dialogue.
So basically for armchair travel, for me it's also mountains, plus anywhere in the jungle—too hot, too humid, too many bugs. And, really, anywhere without indoor plumbing I'd just as well rather read about than experience. Which includes much historical fiction. People are always saying, "Oh, it would be so romantic to live in fill-in-the-blank era," and I always think about the lack of sanitary facilities and modern medicine...
HALLIE EPHRON: I am so sad that it looks as if I won't get to Egypt or Turkey, not with so much unrest in the world. I'll have to travel by book. Like Susan, mountains and jungles will have to be via armchair. A magical place we were at a magical time was Prague just a few months before the Velvet Revolution. It was so beautiful and so alien at the same time. Restaurants where nothing on the menu was actually served; stores where all the merchandise was in locked cabinets; where buying anything (things like bananas from a street vendor, waffles from a window that mysteriously opened onto a sidewalk...) involved waiting in a long line.
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: I want to live in Oxford, and hang around with Morse. And Lord Wimsey. That would be an adventure, right? But I'd have loved to be on a glamorous first-class high-society cruise across the Atlantic, or the New York night club scene in the 20s or 30s. But--you know. Briefly.
Usually when I read about "adventures," I think, whew. SO glad I can read about this and not have to do it.
DEBS: Oh, Hallie, yes, Egypt. Me, too. My grandmother and I read everything about Egypt. She was fascinated by it, like Miss Edna with Everest. Then I discovered Elizabeth Peter's Amelia Peabody and I don't even want to admit how many times I've read all those books. My mom loved them, too. I always thought I'd go to Egypt, but now, not so much. So I guess that falls into the "under different circumstances" category, rather than in the "never in a million years" group. Kenya, too, was always a dream, but maybe someday...
READERS, what fascinates you that you would never in a million years actually do?
PS The winner of Mark Pryor's The Paris Librarian is Ann in Rochester! Ann, you do know the drill:-) And congrats!