About Scott: Reading

This photo was not staged

A two year-old in sunglasses reading a French picture book

Dijon, France, November 2018.

Reading time: 2 minutes

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I try to read twice as much as I write.

That doesn't always work out.

Serious Literature™

I spent six years in a PhD program for French literature. Some of what I read was strange and some was dreadful. A lot was challenging. Most of it was interesting. Here are some of my favorite books from those years.

  • Perceval, ChrĂ©tien de Troyes. Note to self: if a guy walks through the house with a bleeding lance, ask someone what's going on.
  • Le quart livre, François Rabelais. Among other things, a fat flying pig shits mustard over an army of sausages. Love it or leave it, I guess...?
  • La princesse de Clèves, Madame de La Fayette. One of the first modern novels in the West, published in 1678. It's difficult for us to understand how revolutionary it was.
  • La vie de Marianne, Pierre Marivaux. Style so perfect - or precious - that le marivaudage was coined to mean "light, seductive, gallant language."
  • Les liaisons dangereuses, Pierre Choderlos de Laclos. An astonshing novel to which the splendid films don't do justice.
  • Splendeurs et misères des courtisans, HonorĂ© de Balzac. Nothing short of a masterpiece. So often, I shook my head: Oh Lucien! Lucien! What are you doing?!?
  • SalammbĂ´, Gustave Flaubert. Taking the city via the aqueduct - and the battles! They didn't make a graphic novel out of L'Ă©ducation sentimentale, I can tell you that.
  • Le balcon, Jean Genet. This play is like Jaws: it's most spellbinding when we don't see the shark.

There are many English language books - classics and contemporaries - that I "should have read" but haven't. My knowledge of Shakespeare is meager. I've read no Whitman, Keats, or Yeats, Tom Wolfe is a void, nothing by Toni Morrison. Etc, etc.

I will never get around to them, and every once in a while that embarrasses me.

Travel Writing

Travel writing is easily my favorite genre.

There are many English language books - classics and contemporaries - that I "should have read" but haven't. I will never get around to them... Sometimes it embarrasses me.

In grade school, Miroslav Šašek's "This Is" series enthralled me, in particular, This is New York and This is London.

Later, I read Kon-Tiki, which I found captivating. Scary, too: it was all the sharks they pulled onto the deck of the raft. And the whale shark, of course.

As an adult, the first travel book I remember picking up for pleasure was in late 1991, Keath Fraser's anthology Bad Trips.

A child sitting on a couch with a huge book

Francis loves "the big blue book": Some Birds and Mammals of North America, illustrated by Axel Amuchástegui. Feb 2019

Since then, I've read hundreds more. I started working my way through the travel section of the Westerville Public Library, an award-winning institution in my hometown, but then I decided to focus on my own curated list.

I'm also writing my own travel book, Backseat Cities.

Other genres

I also read historical novels, spy novels, and some police procedurals (mostly Wetering and Simenon) as well as history, biographies, and intelligence community memoirs.

Recent non-travel literature I have enjoyed:

  • Grant, Ron Chernow. Definitive. Grant was almost certainly not drunk all the time.
  • Waterloo, Bernard Cornwell. At the very end, Napoleon still could have won the battle, but a final unclear message sealed his fate.
  • A Hologram for the King, Dave Eggers. Content was good, form was perfect. Every single sentence was butter.
  • A Woman of No Importance, Sonia Purcell. Virginia Hall was a fascinating woman and tremendous spy.
  • The Big Burn, Timothy Egan. Some horrifying scenes about a wildfire. Starts enthralling, then peters out a little. Still worth it.
  • Good Kids, Bad City, Kyle Swenson. A crazy story. This is exactly why we should abolish the death penalty.

Note to self: if a guy walks through the house with a bleeding lance, ask why.

Newspapers and Magazines

My subscriptions, FWIW:

Recent Posts

Afropean  8/6/2021

Roadrunner  7/22/2021

Red Dust  6/30/2021

Eat Pray Love  6/10/2021

Voyage au BrĂ©sil  5/16/2021

Postcard: Lake Tahoe  4/30/2021

Baedeker's United States  4/5/2021

To Shake the Sleeping Self  3/7/2021

Adrift  2/25/2021

The Sex Lives of Cannibals  2/17/2021



A smiling Francis and me, sitting outside in front of some shrubs

Some basics

A brief biographical sketch

Me on top of a sunny Mt Pilatus in Switzerland, with mountains in the background


Pardon the saccharine and the obvious, but travel is everything

A couple standing in front of a large Gothic church, on a bridge over the Seine


France deserves its own section

Francis, as a two year-old in a car seat, in sunglasses reading a French picture book


The bullshit of daily life? I'd rather read.

Stage with musicians going at it - they're Gogol Bordello, and they're crazy


Let me take you back

Little boy sitting on a big white bed, looking at a tablet


I watch a lot more television than movies

Live action from a soccer game at Crew Stadium - yellow versus blue


The only sport that matters

Ugly photo of a pig knuckle after it's been eaten - really, it looks horrible


As a travel writer, I have to talk about food

Me in an outdoor restaurant drinking from a green coconut with a long straw

Dumb stuff

You will not feel smarter after reading this

Dumpster full of garbage


Trying to live simply

Me getting out of a red Ferrari F430 with a guy clapping for me

Other Interests

I've only driven a Ferrari once

Dude wearing orange pants and orange and green shoes walking on wet grass

Get off my lawn

A few brief rants

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