Monday, August 1, 2011

1000 Places To See Before You Die -- Really?

So, like everyone else in the world, I've taken a look at the book 1000 Places to See Before You Die.  And the other night I REALLY took a look at it, only to be totally bummed out by what I found.  In this book, I counted forty-eight different entries just for France, but only two for Tunisia.  There were forty-one for England, twenty-one for Scotland, and eleven for Wales (giving my fair island seventy-three entries total), but only one for Mauritius.  Utah got six all by itself, while the entire country of Uruguay received two.  Cambodia received two -- one of them the very predictable Angkor Wat.

I was really annoyed -- so many of the entries in this book skew towards western countries!  Now, other countries had a good number of entries written about them, such as the "biggies" China, Japan, and India.  But the sheer volume of entries for western destinations was staggering...

What do you think this means for the travel writing industry?  This book has sold more copies than I care to think about, but it leaves out so many truly fascinating places and cultures.  Meanwhile, I was in a bookshop today (can't remember its name at the moment), and on the "Adventure Travel" table was a selection of books almost entirely devoted to the middle east and north Africa.  Are we drawing unnecessary distinctions about what travel is considered worthwhile, and what is potentially dangerous or, worse, just "irrelevant"?

I'd really love some other thoughts on this one!

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