Book Review: “I’m Mostly Here to Enjoy Myself”

You’re ready to go. You were ready months ago, when you set the dates. So where will you spend your precious vacation? Before you decide for sure, check out these great books on travel…

If you’ve got your bags packed for an overseas journey, take “I’m Mostly Here to Enjoy Myself,” by Glynnis MacNicol (Penguin Life / Viking, $30.00) with you. In the months following the COVID-19 lockdown, MacNicol decided that she was done being lonely so she accepted an offer to stay at a friend’s flat in Paris for a short time. This book — rowdy and indulgent, a little on the ooh-la-la side — is a tribute to traveling by one’s self and having a wonderful, intimate, relaxing, revealing, soul-soothing time doing it.

Then again, if being by yourself is what you want in your vacation, and water must be involved, look for “Sailing Alone” by Richard J. King (Viking, $35.00). Taking to the ocean by yourself is challenging, exhilarating, exciting and it can sometimes make you ask yourself what you were thinking when you launched. This book is a story-collection of people who set out to explore, learn and seize some adventure along the way — including the author, who recounts a hair-raising trip across the Atlantic.

Going somewhere you’ve never been before can be fun but exhausting. Where do you go, and what do you say without insulting the locals? In “Just Go.” by Drew Binsky (BenBella, $21.95), you’ll get advice from an expert you can also follow on YouTube, if you wish.

This is a handy book to have with you because you’ll receive the encouragement you need to branch away from the touristy areas to find those things that make an otherwise routine journey memorable. Learn how to get a visa for that hard-toreach spot. Find out how to endear yourself to the people in the area, before you get there and after you’ve arrived. Know how to ask for and communicate the basics with handy pages of common phrases in other languages. Find out how to be prepared for the good stuff and the “crazy” stuff – because, says Binsky, there’s always “crazy” stuff.

Even if you’re planning a staycation, this is a fun book to have.

And finally, since you’ll want something to read while you’re vacationing, grab “The Cautious Traveller’s Guide to the Wastelands” by Sarah Brooks (Flatiron Books, $28.99). This book tells the story of the passengers of the Trans-Siberian Express, a train that takes sojourners on a trip through the Wastelands. It’s the only way to get there and it’s usually an interesting ride — although the last time, something went terribly wrong. But this is a brand-new trip with new passengers, even though the past may linger on the train …

This novel of travel and mystery is just what you want to pack.

And if it’s not, be sure to ask your favorite bookseller or librarian for more ideas. They’ve got them, plus tips for packing, history for your destination, and ideas for fun. Bon voyage!

— The Bookworm Sez