When Wanderers Cease to Roam. . .

by Vivian Swift

I cannot adequately convey how much I ABSOLUTELY loved Vivian Swift’s When Wanderers Cease to Roam: A Traveler’s Journal of Staying Put (Bloomsbury, 2008).  For over two decades, Swift traveled the world, for work and fun, and then settled down with five cats in a house in a small village on the Long Island Sound. This is a diary (highly illustrated with her watercolor drawings) of those years, as well as the events of the past.  It’s charming, delightful, and captivating.  I loved the pictures of the single mittens that she’s found over the years, but I could have equally chosen any of hundreds of other examples of what made this book so much fun to read.  Here are others: it’s through this book that I learned about the mid-18th century French soldier, Xavier de Maistre, who was confined to prison for 42 years (for dueling), and decided to write about each of the items in his room as though it were an important tourist attraction.  Swift says that he “invented a new mode of travel.”  And Alexander von Humbolt, who was an explorer and naturalist, and almost an exact contemporary of de Maistre (although they probably never met).  He spent five years exploring Latin America and then, according to Swift, lived in Paris for 20 years and wrote 30 books about his Latin American adventures.  This is a perfect gift for travelers, those with artistic souls, those with a sense of wonder, those who are hug-the-hearths — in short, nearly everyone on your gift list.



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6 responses to “When Wanderers Cease to Roam. . .

  1. Liz L.

    I so agree; WHEN WANDERERS is such a charmer. We almost moved to Pelham as a result, but decided the author’s experience probably had more to do with her personality than Pelham itself.

    • Nancy Pearl

      but wouldn’t that be so cool to move to a place just because you read about it? such fun. (Although I’m sure you’re right about its being a case of her personality – and probably you’d need to be really good at watercolors!

  2. Kim

    I agree – what a fun, interesting book to pick up and read at random.

  3. Jeff McKenzie

    Dear Nancy Pearl,
    My re-read is Drums for Rancas by Manuel Scorza. It is written from the voice of Peruvian native peoples, and explains their view of us. A difficult book to find in the USA. I find myself lurking in it’s shadows as I turn each page.

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