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The Best Book I Ever Read on a Holiday

  • Aug 5, 2013
We're going to take  a little vacation, and along with getting house-sitters lined up, I've been thinking about what to take to read.  Don't know yet, but I keep coming back to the best book I ever read while on a trip.

It's Darwin's The Voyage of the Beagle.  Now available as a free pdf, 35 years ago the edition I took along was a quality paperback that still is in one piece despite being consulted many times.  It was just the right size to tuck in a backpack or to pull out at night in the twilight as we canped our way the US headed for California.

We hadn't been in Montreal very long, and this was our first trip back to visit family.  We  hiked quite a bit, and thought about what we were seeing.  For example, I couldn't figure out the geography of the Colorado Plateau:  how did all those layers of sedimentary rocks exposed by the Colorado river at the Grand Canyon come into being?  I'd done some reading about the Sierra Nevada before we left California a few years befoe, so I had some idea about uplift and mountain building.  The theory of plate tectonics was just being elaborated too, so there was much uncertainty about how things all happened.  A couple of text books picked up once back in Montreal helped me make sense of things.

But Darwin had no textbooks to explain the many things he saw in the five year voyage around the world. His observations were his own, rendered with the enthusiasm of a young man (he was only 22 when he started out) and were pertinent enough to guide his thinking until the end of his life. 

Definitely worth reading!

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August 05, 2013
Very detailed review!
More The Voyage of the Beagle: Char... reviews
review by . December 09, 2009
Charles Darwin was a young naturalist who was traveling on the HMS Beagle for several years, and he kept this journal of his researches and developing ideas.     The excitement of Darwin, the young naturalist, is conveyed in passages such as, "This was the first of many delightful days never to be forgotten," and "What incalculable numbers of these microscopial animals!"    One can see the development of his ideas, in passages such as, "Certainly, no fact …
review by . October 31, 2002
One of the best "travel" books of all times. A must read for any student of Darwin and a must read for anyone interested in detailed writing, travel and preceptions from another age.
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Ranked #92
Mary Soderstrom is a Montreal-based writer of fiction and non-fiction. Her new collection of short stories, Desire Lines: Stories of Love and Geography, will be published by Oberon Press in November, … more
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About this book


This richly readable book is the product of Charles Darwin's amazing journey aboard the Beagle where he made observations that led to his revolutionary theory of natural selection.
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ISBN-10: 014043268X
ISBN-13: 978-0140432688
Author: Charles Darwin
Genre: Travel, Reference, Science
Publisher: Penguin Classics
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