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LET'S DISCUSS two
These books have the same publisher but represent entirely different approaches to seeing, learning about and being amazed by our small (shrinking all the while) planet Earth.
There is one other commonality. Neither is a traditional single tale you follow from beginning to end. Pick them up, open and read starting anyplace. They are no better or worse for doing so. Great for a nation with a short attention span.
Let's begin with Dunn's book, which gathers at least 75 essays on various well-known figures' favorite haunts on the planet.
What makes this readable is that the perfect place is so different for so many people. It isn't actually a place, for some, but an activity--sailing, for instance, in
I could tell you that the Dalai Lama's favorite place was The Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet. But that wouldn't mean much to most of us as this is a place we are unlikely to see.
Or that Buzz Aldrin preferred Tranquility Base on the Moon. But we won't likely have a chance to go there until the price drops--and drops and drops.
My favorite essays were by writers who found the extraordinary in the ordinary. Alice Waters, for instance--the celebrity chef and owner of Chez Panisse in Berkeley who is widely credited with creating a revolution in America's eating habits.
And her favorite place in the world? Her mother's victory garden at her childhood home in Chatham, N.J.
Her earliest memories are watching apple blossoms fall on her baby carriage as her mother worked the quarter-acre garden with a stream at one end.
She grew up working in that garden, acquiring a love for what happened there, including the natural cycles of weather and the things that grew there.
It is a beautiful story and made me wonder what is on that land today.