Tales of the Modern Nomad
Early Byrd Productions / 7 July 2017

Tales of the Modern Nomad: Monks, Mushrooms & Other Misadventures by John Early Published by Early Byrd Productions Review by Shelley A. Leedahl $26.99 ISBN 978-0-9952666-0-5 Rarely do I read a book that takes the top of my head off (in the best way), but Tales of the Modern Nomad-a candid travelogue and first book by Saskatoon backpacker John Early-did just that. Well-written, entertaining, illuminating, original, cheeky, and real-in that it features both positive and negative experiences-I read chapters of this book aloud to two visiting backpackers in their twenties and thirties, and they were relating and laughing right along. To quote the author’s father: “You couldn’t make this shit up if you tried.” Early’s young, and many of the experiences described in this hefty, full-colour hardcover-with maps, photographs, anecdotes, trivia, poems, art, doodles, and quotes ranging from Eckhart Tolle to Charles Bukowski-may have special appeal for those who possess the desire to surf in Sayulita; zip-line between Laos’ tropical rain forest treehouses; or, as Early recounts in the section titled “Down The Rabbit Hole,” eat “Mystery Mushrooms from an Indonesian Road Stand,” but as one who’s backpacked and been to many of the locales he writes about (ie: Bali,…

Re-Orienting China: Travel Writing and Cross-Cultural Understanding
University of Regina Press / 25 January 2017

Re-Orienting China: Travel Writing and Cross-Cultural Understanding By Leilei Chen Published by University of Regina Press Review by Shelley A. Leedahl $80.00 ISBN 9-780889-774407 University of Alberta professor and writer Leilei Chen was born and raised in China, but admits she’d always held an idealized vision of Canada. When a doctoral scholarship brought her to Edmonton, that vision was shattered by Canada’s social problems and historical racism – even the weather didn’t measure up to her red-leafed dreams. Canadian realities made her consider her homeland and how the “seemingly antithetical” countries actually shared many similarities. She credits her travels for her “more nuanced and critical vision” of both countries. In Re-Orienting China, Chen examines books by six contemporary travel writers on post-1949 China, weighing in on their work and ways of understanding “otherness” with a critical eye, particularly when she senses an us vs. them divide. Chen states a lack of scholarship re: travel literature about China, and she addresses the issue of subjectivity in the genre, concluding that travel writing is “ideologically loaded.” In her exhaustive reading she found that “women writers who travelled in Communist China” were more inclined to “sensitivity, self-reflection, and comparative visions of home and…

Canoeing the Churchill
University of Regina Press / 18 February 2016

Canoeing the Churchill: A Practical Guide to the Historic Voyageur Highway by Greg Marchildon and Sid Robinson Published by University of Regina Press Review by Shelley A. Leedahl $34.95 ISBN 9-780889-771482 Call me unusual, but activities that require great strength and endurance, are potentially fatal, and involve the outdoors are my idea of a glorious time. Thus it’s not inconceivable that at some point in my life I may participate in an extensive canoe trip, ie: the Churchill River. Now that I’ve read Canoeing the Churchill: A Practical Guide to the Historic Voyageur Highway, I couldn’t imagine that undertaking without packing along this book, though at a hefty 476 pages, I might be cursing that decision during the many portages on the 1000 km route between Methy Portage and Cumberland House. In this tour de force the authors merge historical fact, journal entries, maps (with all-important entry and exit points), photographs, paintings, legends, a packing list, safety tips, camping suggestions, and so much more while also delivering a veritable stroke-by-stroke (or at least section-to-section) account of what one can expect on this epic journey, including what current services one might find in the various small communities along the route. (If…

Lake Diefenbaker: Yours to Discover
Canadian Plains Research Center / 14 September 2011

Lake Diefenbaker: Yours to Discover by Michael and Anna Clancy Published by Canadian Plains Research Center Review by Keith Foster $19.95 ISBN 978-0-88977-229-8 Looking for the ultimate guide to the many enjoyable features of the Lake Diefenbaker area? Then Lake Diefenbaker: Yours to Discover is just the ticket. As the name suggests, this book revolves around what the authors call “Saskatchewan’s Great Lake” – Lake Diefenbaker, located in the heart of southern Saskatchewan. If stretched end to end, the lake’s shoreline would reach from Regina to Calgary. Authors Michael and Anna Clancy visited more than thirty communities, plus seven regional and four provincial parks, as they researched this extensive resource. They obviously enjoyed their travels, and their positive attitude is reflected in their descriptions. They talk affectionately about the Eye Candy Shop in Eyebrow and the Sweet Treats Ice Cream Shop and The Jelly Bean candy store in Elbow. From fishing, camping, swimming, boating, hiking, or bird watching, to rodeos, golf, tennis, auctions, craft and garage sales, dances, and the Tugaske Turkey Shoot, the area has something for everyone. Winter enthusiasts can enjoy curling, skating, sleigh rides, and tobogganing. For a slower pace, there are museums, art galleries, and historic…