Saturday, June 30, 2018

Review: Alone Time: Four Seasons, Four Cities, and the Pleasures of Solitude

Alone Time: Four Seasons, Four Cities, and the Pleasures of Solitude Alone Time: Four Seasons, Four Cities, and the Pleasures of Solitude by Stephanie Rosenbloom
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Although I did read this in egalley form, I verified quotations with the final version.)

"Alone, there's no need for an itinerary. Walk, and the day arranges itself."

Stephanie Rosenbloom takes on four cities to try to (re)discover the pleasure of solo travel - Paris, Istanbul, Florence, and New York City (where she lives.) I truly loved her ruminations and observations along the way, and feel like buying this for every friend who travels solo, whether that is a luxury of retirement or a necessity they have carved out for themselves.

Rosenbloom combines traveling alone with copious amounts of research ahead of time, and I couldn't help but think that this method might be the best for any traveler - prime the brain with history, stories, and art, and let those pieces of information form the baseline for what can be seen. Then without the interruptions of other people or technology, see what people you meet, what is unexpected, or how those pieces of knowledge come together.
"When preparing for a trip, we can read about architecture and restaurants. But what ultimately breathes life into the daydreams of anticipation are the people we encounter when we're actually there."
The Paris section seemed to be about the little secrets hidden everywhere if you notice them, while the Istanbul section seemed to be more about the people, whether or not she interacted them. Sometimes their mere presence (and noticing them) would alter her experience.

She also talks about anticipation, which I've discovered is sometimes my favorite part of a trip (she also balances this by frequently reminding the reader not to be wedded to an itinerary; to allow for discovery).
"To anticipate is to court joy, to fall in love with a place the way it is in a book or a movie or an Eartha Kitt song. But to stay open to the unexpected is to embrace anticipation - to know that it serves its purpose before the journey begins and must then be set aside for reality, for whatever beautiful, strange, unpredictable thing awaits when we step off the ferry."
Occasionally, Rosenbloom highlights terms that other cultures use to describe travel, from the Japanese wabi-sabi (seeing beauty in imperfection/impermanence) and the Turkish huzun (communal melancholy) - one more way of noticing, by putting on new eyes.

At the end, Rosenbloom includes suggestions for how to learn to be more comfortable talking with strangers, tips for safety while traveling, and other resources.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a copy through Edelweiss.. I first discussed the book after a round of book speed dating on Reading Envy Podcast Episode 120, and knew I'd want to finish it. It came out June 5, 2018.

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