I picked up this book in a used bookstore in Black Mountain, North Carolina. The hardback, cloth edition is beautiful and I couldn’t wait to read it. I saved it for “book #80” to close out the “Around The World In 80 Books” reading challenge I had been participating in. This book fit perfectly because it was set in the Middle East in several countries, such as: Persia (modern day Iran), Afghanistan, Italy and India.
What I didn’t know before reading, was that the book was written as a journal the author “wrote” during his travels in the Middle East in the 1930’s. Byron had become fascinated by Muslim architecture and mosaics and traveled to photograph, sketch and study them. These are his adventures and how he lived during his travels. As an Englishman, he had a bit of dry humor, but honestly, most was written very well. I’ve read several of the classics and can name a lot more well known authors whose works are more difficult to read. Several times, I even laughed out loud at some of the puns and jokes woven into the daily entries.
Another thing that I really liked was how the author depicted the people of the lands he traveled too. Though their appearances in the work are brief – because of the journal style – they felt very real. Many times I turned a page and thought, “That’s exactly what I expected someone from the Middle East to say and/or do!”
Conclusion: Though the beauty of the book’s binding caught my eye, there are several things from the inside that gave me a glimpse into the beauty of places I’ll probably never visit. Byron was great at describing places, and for that reason, I loved this book. Every time I picked it up, I felt like it jumped through a portal to the 1930’s. The mode of travel, communication and adventures felt authentic and lifelike. Pieces of this book will probably stay with me forever. I don’t consider this book either a hard or easy read, but in the middle. I’d recommend to readers interested in the culture of Afghanistan and Iran before the world got crazy. lol!