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Welcome to This Awful/Awesome Life! My name is Frances Joyce. I am the publisher and editor of this magazine. We'll be exploring different topics each month to inform, entertain and inspire you. Meet new authors, sharpen your brain and pick up a few tips on life, love, entertaining and business. Enjoy and please share!

The World is Closer than you Think by Jackie Zataweski


Summer’s here, and for many, that means it’s the traditional time for a getaway.   Vacations aren’t for everyone, though…they require the time and money to travel, and the ability to take time away from work and other commitments.  If you find yourself unable to take an actual vacation this year, it’s still possible to enjoy a virtual one – you need only pick up a book to enjoy the great outdoors vicariously.

Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods is twenty years old, but this tale of a middle-aged man determined to walk the Appalachian Trail maintains its appeal.  The 2015 movie adaptation featured Robert Redford and Nick Nolte, and – in my opinion – it’s worth a couple hours of your time, too.  Like Bryson, Cheryl Strayed wrote a memoir detailing a long walk of her own.  Wild tells her story, that of a young woman with no training or experience who decided to walk the Pacific Crest Trail alone. This work, too, has been adapted for the big screen, and the movie was an Oscar nominee.

Activist Rob Greenfield made of journey of his own, and he shared it in Dude Making a Difference.  This story differs from the previous two in a couple of ways – Greenfield crossed the country on a bamboo bicycle, and he did quite a bit of dumpster diving along the way.  Dumpster diving probably isn’t on your vacation bucket list, but for me, reading about someone else doing it to draw attention to the huge amounts of food being thrown out each year was both enjoyable and eye-opening.

I admit that although we’re told not to judge a book by its cover, sometimes a glimpsed title will cry, “Me! Pick me!”  That was the case for me with the previous book, and with a memoir titled Trespassing across America: One Man’s Epic, Never-Done-Before (and Sort of Illegal) Hike across the Heartland. This 2017 release was entertaining and thought provoking, and author Ken Ilgunas has done well with this award-winning book.

Non-fiction and memoir genres aren’t for everyone, but fear not, it is possible to travel the world through fiction, too. If you’d like to do that, simply contact your nearest library and tell the staff where you’d like to go! Perhaps you will go on an adventure with Michael Crichton (Congo), an Irish bus tour with Jean Grainger (Safe at the Edge of the World) or travel across Japan in a silver van with Nana the cat and his owner Satoru seeing the world through Nana’s eyes in Hiro Arikawa’s The Traveling Cat Chronicles. Remember, the world is waiting for you at your local library! Enjoy!

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Jackie Zataweski is the director of the Nottoway County Library in Crewe, Virginia. She is a frequent contributor to This Awful-Awesome Life.

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