My husband and I are planning major trips this spring. To get ready, I have been reading—it is so exciting to anticipate new sights and adventures.
Right now I am pouring over Eyewitness Travel guides for New Zealand and Australia. Although these series of travel books are really too heavy to carry around all day in your purse, they are delightful to study, featuring loads of illustrations and photographs. For example, the introductory “Portrait of New Zealand,” is fascinating. Along with basic information, there is a section on New Zealand architecture with drawings, and one on famous artists and writers. This whets my appetite! My main connection with New Zealand has been through drinking its fine wines and watching Lord of the Rings!
On his first voyage, Captain James Cook explored the coasts of Australia and New Zealand in 1769-70. My guidebook states that “the Endeavor was well equipped for its voyage, with botanists and artists aboard.” One of those botanists was twenty-six year old Joseph Banks whose vivid account of the plants he found and the sights he saw on an earlier landing in Tahiti comprises the first chapter in The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science by Richard Holmes (2008). I recommend this book–it captures the excitement of the scientific discoveries and inventions of the late eighteenth century.
There are several biographies of the remarkable Captain Cook. The standard biography is The Life of Captain James Cook by J.C. Beaglehole (1974); Richard Hough’s Captain James Cook (1984) is another notable title.
On a different tack, I’m dipping into a couple of classic mysteries by New Zealand author Ngaio Marsh, A Vintage Murder (1937), and Died in the Wool (1945) featuring famous detective Roderick Alleyn. Paul Cleaves is on my list to sample. He writes modern thrillers set in Christchurch.
Now, the next important consideration is—what shall I take along to read on the trip?
These books are available at your local library and at Parnassus Books, Nashville