Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Destination: Love

There are many reasons to travel, not the least of which is love. While many of us travel to uproot, others go in search of connection. "I've traveled for love, and loved to travel, making it hard to disentangle cause from effect," writes Elizabeth Eaves in her prologue to Wanderlust, a travel narrative of her love affairs both on and with five continents. This Valentines Day, I've scoured the shelves of Destination Literature to bring you love stories--from the passionate to the platonic--set around the world.

Learning a foreign language in order to travel can often mean learning the language of love. This was true for Kirstin Espinasse, who fell in love with a Frenchman and moved to France to marry him, build a family, and learn the language. Words in a French Life tells her story of love and family life through heartwarming vignettes, each headed by a new French vocabulary word.

Deborah Fallows' Dreaming in Chinese begins with the Chinese symbol for Wo ai ni! (I love you!) and a chapter entitled "The Grammar of Romance," in which Fallows explores the complexities of both language and love.  Ai, the Chinese word for love, she discovers, has no tense. "'Love is existence,'" reads the definition for ai in the Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers, "'holding past and future.'"

Jennifer Steil's The Woman Who Fell From the Sky begins in a bridal chamber in Yemen, where Steil, a New York City journalist, is helping her friend prepare for a Yemeni wedding ceremony. By the end of the book, Steil has fallen in love herself. In between, Steil teaches a journalism class to the staff of the Yemen Observer, becoming its editor-in-chief as she attempts to instigate a free-speech model of journalism in a culture whose traditions and beliefs often come in direct conflict with her own.

All of these books have the potential to be great companions for a lonely Valentines Day, or inspiring adventures to share with the one you love.

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