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‘Fat Gay Vegan’ author and blogger Sean O’Callaghan hopes to spread the truth about what it means to be a vegan. Courtesy photo
ColumnsHit the Road

Taking trips by turning pages in last days of summer

Even if long, lazy days of summer are a thing of the past, we don’t have to give up that good summer read or perusing through the guides that help in planning the next real vacation. The following books are worth the look.

We’re Doing What for Summer Vacation?

One critic called it the “Eat, Pray, Love” for ‘tweens, but adults, too, may find the story of traveling to Borneo as told by a 10 year old captivating.

The self-published “We’re Doing What for Summer Vacation?” is the well-paced tale of a trip to Borneo related by Ali Rollason whose “former backpacking hippie” parents thought that she and her older brother “need(ed) to see the world and experience unknown adventures.”

With help from her professor/author mother Cindy Davis, Ali relates in kid-style prose the family’s monthlong journey to the world’s third-largest island, which even the school librarian can’t identify. There’s no sugar-coated feelings and observations about this third-world country. She shared space with creepy, crawly things; got locked in a stairwell; and saw desperate poverty up close. But traveling to the other side of the world also gives birth to a greater appreciation for the beauties of nature, human diversity and good fortunes. (Paperback)

Fat Gay Vegan: Eat, Drink & Live Like You Give a S***

Fat. Gay. Vegan.

Each one of those is a loaded word, but Sean O’Callaghan embraces them and lobs them right back with glee. The longtime blogger, author and vegan-world celebrity explains it all in “Fat Gay Vegan: Eat, Drink and Live Like you Give a Sh!t.”

“Those labels were often used to ridicule me …and I was keen to find a way to reclaim and re-appropriate them,” writes the 43-year-old native Australian who splits his year between London and Mexico City. “When the idea of a blog started to develop (in 2010), my online personality started to take on a life of its own as the fun-loving, potato-obsessed, good-time chubby guy with a heart of gold.”

He hopes his book helps vegan travelers and spreads the word that “veganism is about living a life as free from cruelty as possible.”  (Paperback)

Food: A Love Story

You’ll find “Food: A Love Story” on the opposite end of the food and mood spectrum from that of vegan king Sean O’Callaghan. Comedian Jim “Hot Pockets” Gaffigan takes readers on an indelicate, riotous gastronomic adventure to the world’s best-tasting/worst-for-your-health eateries. The standup comic, a self-appointed fat person (maybe not “that fat, but the point is, I’m not thin”) has made food the focus of his life.

“I can’t stop eating,” he writes. “I haven’t been hungry in twelve years.”

Gaffigan travels many miles annually to perform in various cities and has created his version of the U.S. map. The Southwest is Mexican Foodland; the Midwest and South are Eating BBQland, and the Midwest is Super Bowl Sunday Foodland. Each chapter reads like a stand-up act; every sentence is loaded for an out-loud laugh. And there are plenty of photos giving witness to Gaffigan’s blasphemous dietary habits. “I’m an eatie,” he declares, “not a foodie.” (Hardback)

Not for Tourists Guides

They are little but pack a wallop — these little black books known as the “Not for Tourist Guides” series. As the title denotes, they are meant to give travelers the inside/local the world’s metropolises: Chicago, L.A., Boston, London, Madrid and more. The NFT guides contain maps, neighborhood designations, transit information, attractions, landmarks, restaurants, activities and more. (Paperback)

Insight Guides

Graphically and photographically gorgeous, the collection of titles offered by well-known Insight Guides has recently expanded to include Poland, Ireland, Germany, Southwest USA, New England, Japan, Western Europe, Taiwan, Greece and more.

Every guide includes a free eBook (via an app) that you can download to a mobile device.

The Yellow Envelope

On New Year’s Day 2013, Kim Dinan found herself at the start of a 1,500-mile rickshaw race in northwest India with two women she had never met. It was just one segment of a worldwide journey that took the former Portland, Oregon, resident and husband Brian around the world while learning about themselves, relationships, values and their place in the world. Both quit their jobs and sold their home, car and most all possessions, then received a yellow envelope filled with $1,000 from friends who instructed them to give away the money along the way.  What they learned, endured and discovered is told in “The Yellow Envelope: One Gift, Three Rules, and a Life-Changing Journey Around the World,” a page-turner that will make you forget that cramped airline seat. (Paperback)