All Over the Place

Several weeks ago, I was boarding a flight to San Francisco. Actually, my boyfriend and I were waiting to board. To be more specific, we were hunkered in an un-air conditioned corner of Sea-Tac airport with about a hundred other people after our plane was delayed due to the smog from wildfires burning in British Columbia. Children squirmed furiously. Their parents repeatedly volunteered toys as peace offerings. Vacationers complained loudly. Others compulsively checked their phones. The sound of weeping and gnashing teeth rose throughout the terminal.

The delay jeopardized the dinner reservation we made at Bouche for our anniversary and, worst-case scenario, threatened to tank our entire getaway. Like a balm in Gilead, however, Geraldine DeRuiter's travel memoir All Over the Place (PublicAffairs, $26) held my anxiety at bay. Or at the very least, it offered enough schadenfreude to prevent me from turning into one of those furious toddlers. Instead of worrying about my travel problems, I had DeRuiter's to enjoy: the time she and her husband faced off with Air France after missing a flight to Paris, or when she hiked for hours through an Italian wilderness with a fever, or how she severely clogged an eco-friendly hotel toilet.

All Over the Place: Adventures in Travel, True Love, and Petty Theft isn't exactly travel advice. "This book isn't going to teach anyone how to travel," DeRuiter explains. "The only thing this book can do, if you read very closely and critically, is teach someone how not to travel." When you're neurotic and lack spatial reasoning (like me!), hopping on a plane can be a recipe for disaster. Thankfully, someone with more neuroses and fewer directional instincts has gone there before us, and had the good sense and snappy humor to write about it.

The upshot here is that my boyfriend and I made it to San Francisco and our anniversary was saved. Dinner was delicious. I had the steak. --Dave Wheeler, associate editor, Shelf Awareness

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