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The right book can instantly transport you to anywhere — and anytime — in the world. Every Thursday, we recommend one of our favorite books with a strong sense of place so you can see the sights, meet remarkable people, go on exciting adventures, and feel big feelings. Bonus: You don't even have to put on pants.
This post is part of our 'Weekend Getaway' series.
This weekend, embark on an around-the-world journey filled with slapstick adventures and heart-rending moments with the unforgettable Arthur Less, unassuming author and extraordinary human.
Arthur is a working writer who’s yet to pen a best-seller. He’s gay, almost 50, and his ex-lover is about to get married. There’s only one reasonable thing to do: take off on a trip around the world.
What Arthur doesn’t expect, however, is that his far-flung adventures will be the key to finding his way home.
Our hero’s escapist trip takes him to a series of increasingly dubious writing events around the globe: from San Francisco to Mexico, Italy, Germany, France, Morocco, India, Japan, and back to the city by the bay. He’s no smooth operator, and his escapades include falling in love and out of windows, weathering a desert sandstorm, and being judged by a group of precocious high school students.
Along the way, we meet his friends, acquaintances, and paramours, including his arch-nemesis, a series of acquaintances that change Arthur’s life, and his first love and lifelong friend Robert. Everywhere he goes, Arthur inadvertently charms the people he meets, and, eventually, he learns how to love himself.
While the prose of this sweet, wistful, funny, life-affirming novel is light and sparkly, it’s equally intelligent and is emotionally, unerringly true. The thoughtful characters live and breathe on the page, loving each other and making messy mistakes.
In 2018, Andrew Sean Greer and Less won the Pulitzer Prize: ‘It’s not that I’m not aware of the horrible way the world is, he said in an interview with The Guardian. ‘It’s that I can’t bear it. So I wrote a book that tackles that, but is about joy.’
This is one of those exceptional books that might inspire you to flip it over when you reach the last page, so you can start all over again at the beginning.
He kisses — how do I explain it? Like someone in love. Like he has nothing to lose. Like someone who has just learned a foreign language and can use only the present tense and only the second person. Only now, only you. There are some men who have never been kissed like that. There are some men who discover, after Arthur Less, that they never will be again. — Andrew Sean Greer
This humorous Pulitzer Prize winner (272 pages) was published in July of 2017 by Lee Boudreaux Books. The book takes you to Paris, Berlin, Morocco, and more. Melissa read Less and loved it; it wouldn't be on our site if she didn't recommend it.
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Top image courtesy of Matthias Mullie.
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Strong Sense of Place is a website and podcast dedicated to literary travel and books we love. Reading good books increases empathy. Empathy is good for all of us and the amazing world we inhabit.
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