Genius loci

[Genius Loci] July 2022

1 July 2022

During the month of August, I’ll be traveling through Bolivia and Peru. Each day I’ll send a brief, photo-centric email to subscribers of my “pop-up” newsletter 30 Days in the Andes. Learn more about it here, or sign up to the newsletter below. Let’s explore the Andes together!


Generally speaking, I’m having a bout of creative energy. I just got back from a week in South Dakota doing some research int he mountains (I’ve been posting some photos from the trip on my Instagram). And I’ve been ramping up my own writing practice. It feels good to get a new project off the ground.

I almost forgot what working on my own projects feels like. Over the past few years, a lot of my free time was consumed by reading other people’s work for my podcast. To be sure, I classify the podcast as one of “my own projects,” but it requires a different kind (and a lot) of creative energy. It is like teaching a class; rule out any productive use of your grey matter afterward. The very thought of pressing pause on the podcast (and teaching) for a few months, and pressing play on my other work, spirits me.

Part of my creative ramping-up process is to improve the signal-to-noise ratio in my life. Instead of listening to current affairs and news podcasts on my morning runs, I’ve been listening to more audio books (allow me to recommend Orwell’s Roses) or not listening to anything at all. I’ve been taking more personal notes, reading more random and unrelated work, and trying to stay away from social media. I’ve been reading new, unrelated books and leaning on ones I love for inspiration. And, the best antidepressant of them all, I’ve been ignoring toxic colleagues and the “let’s create more busy work for ourselves” mentality that plague my day job.

I’m curious to know how you make space for your work, how you cut through the noise, and how you get shit done. What motivates you? What energizes you?

Now, onto what you came for:

Last month we published

A podcast with David Eimer about Burma on Travel Writing World
A podcast with Benedict Allen about Explorer on Travel Writing World
A transcript of my Stanfords interview with Colin Thubron, Monisha Rajesh, and Tharik Hussain on Travel Writing World
An author profile of Jamie McDonald on Travel Writing World
※ A “postcard” from Custer, South Dakota on my website

🗺 Stanford’s book of the month is Atlas of Vanishing Places: The Lost Worlds as They Were and as They Are Today. The bookstore also has a few in-person author talks scheduled for this month.

🚨 Live on Zoom: Join Nick Hunt, Caroline Eden, Taran Khan, and William Atkins as they chat about the three new reissues on John Murray’s “Journeys” imprint.

↪️ Rolf Potts speaks with Marcia DeSanctis about revisiting places and with Matt Bell about writing novels on his podcast Deviate.

👂 Jo Frances Penn speaks with Nick Jubber on her Books and Travel Podcast.

📚 Michelle Jana Chan speaks with Kathryn D. Sullivan on her podcast The Wandering Book Collector.

✍️ Lavinia Spalding gives good advice on travel journaling.

🗣 Travel Writer Stuart McDonald is profiled on Rolf Potts’ blog.

🗺 Stanfords posted a few extracts of new travel books on their blog.

✏️ Shafik Meghji wrote about diversification in travel writing for The Author.

❤️‍🔥 Barry Lopez urged us to pay attention to a burning world.

📱 Meet Autio, a new storytelling app that’ll enhance your next vacation.

🚴‍♀️ Paul Cheney reviews The Great North Road by Steve Silk.

🎶 Book review: In Search of One Last Song by Patrick Galbraith.

🚪 Review: An Open Door: New Travel Writing for a Precarious Century edited by Steven Lovatt

🍀 Paul Theroux reviews Norman Sherry’s biography of Graham Greene.

¿ Hilary Mantel reviews Bruce Chatwin’s What am I Doing Here.

⛰ Jeff VanderMeer reviews Kim Stanley Robinson’s The High Sierra.

🌳 Words of Hope, and a Defense of John Muir.

🪵 Bill Bryson’s A Walk In The Woods, The Folio Society Edition.

👩‍🍳 Why is every cookbook a memoir now?

🇪🇺 Wild Author Cheryl Strayed Rediscovers the Joys of Risk-Taking in Europe.

⛺️ Literary festivals: sheer hell in a tent.

📚 Getting Book Endorsements (Blurbs): What to Remember, Do, Avoid, and Expect

📓 University Presses Debunk Myths, Reframe Academic Publishing and Bookselling.

📖 On book reviewing.

🖋 Attention, academics: Studies in Travel Writing is seeking a new editor.

🎧 Spotify is Entering the Audio Book Game.

⚠️ 3 Common Pitfalls in Memoir Queries.

📸 The NYT published a few photo essays last month: Capturing the Joyful Spirit of a Montana General Store, A Herd in Exile: Riding Horses on Mozambique’s Bazaruto Archipelago, and Documenting India’s Distinctive Birdhouses.

📸 On Steve McCurry’s blog: Chasing India’s Monsoon and On the Brink.

🌄 Giulia Degasperi talks about her photobook These Dark Mountains.

1️⃣ Listicle: Best Travel Books of All Time.

2️⃣ Listicle: 12 Books to Make You Rethink The Way You Explore the World.

3️⃣ Listicle: Summer Vacation Reading.

4️⃣ Listicle: Best Summer Books of 2022: Travel.

Books received

🏝 Pico Iyer, The Half Known Life: In Search of Paradise
🚶Anthony Sattin, Nomads: The Wanderers who Shaped Our World
🛩 Mark Chestnut, Prepare for Departure
😊 Emily Costa, Until It Feels Right
🇬🇷 Jennifer Barclay, Taverna By the Sea
🇭🇷 Maria Novakovich, My Family and Other Enemies
🏆 Bill Arnott, Gone Viking III

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