Monday, 22 July 2013

Read in 2013 - 25: Travel: Out of the Workspace and Off the Clock

A long title for a not-so-long book. "Out of the Workspace" is a collection of travel reports by Oliver Gunther, to places as distant and different from each other as Dusseldorf (Germany), Ghana, Borneo, the Yellow Sea, the Himalaya and more. Each chapter is accompanied by photographs, which on my Kindle (the basic model, i.e. no colours) still come out as beautiful and unique as I imagine they must look "for real".

Most appropriately, I read this book while travelling. Getting to where my family live takes the best part of a day, which means you can get a lot of reading done, especially while waiting at the airport and on the plane (not so much on the train, because I love looking out at the beautiful scenery of the Pennines and the small towns and villages out there).

I could not find any information about Oliver Gunther online with a superficial research, and sadly, Amazon does not seem to offer anything, either; I guess I was lucky to have found the book for free in the Kindle store a year or so ago, since it is apparently not available right now.

In the book itself, the author mentions that he is from Toronto and his wife, Maria, is curator at the Toronto Zoo. Together, they make an interesting travel team; through Maria's connections, they are allowed into an orang-utan sanctuary in Borneo and other places where possibly the average tourist would not have access.

The couple seem well organized and equipped for their travels, but every now and then, a situation arises that is potentially dangerous; I certainly do not envy them their chances to get to such exotic destinations, Yorkshire will do for me anytime :-)

You can tell Oliver Gunther is not a professional author. He writes like most people keeping a travel log will do, but his style comes natural and is therefore enjoyable enough.

Some parts of the book are rather touching and give the reader a lot of food for thought, such as the visit to Elmina, a castle in Ghana that was used for the "storage" of African slaves before they would be shipped across the ocean to the Americas.  

A useful feature of the book is a list of further reading and links after each chapter, so that you could plan your own trip to the same places if you wanted to, or simply to learn more.

The last chapter describes Oliver and Maria's encounter with the oldest known living being on Earth - a bristlecone pine named Methuselah (following the link will lead you to the wikipedia page about this particular tree) in the Inyo National Forest, on the White Mountains of California. Had anyone asked me what I think is the oldest known being on our planet, I wouldn't have known the answer - and I must admit I have never thought about it before. But reading of Methuselah here, and the thoughts passing through the author's head during this encounter, make for a fitting last chapter to this allover fascinating little book.


  1. It sounds just like the kind of travel book I like, unpretentious and personal. I'm going to take a look for it, and thank you for the heads up Meike. Hope you have been enjoying your English trip!

    1. Very much so, Jenny, thank you! Of course there will be several posts about my Yorkshire holiday.

  2. I probably would not have commented but for the reference to the bristlecone pine names Methuselah. I can't recall whether I saw it but I know that I came across references to it when I was in California. Fascinating it is.

    1. Yes, it was fascinating to learn about it, Graham. I love learning new things, which is the main reason why I so enjoy reading non-fiction.

  3. Dear Librarian,

    Thank you for your kind words about OWOC. I very much appreciate you talking the time to read the piece and provide your valuable feedback.

    Just so you know, I have reposted the little book on Kindle and iBook.

    Thanks again and all the best,

    Oliver Gunther

    1. Dear Oliver,
      thank you very much for replying to my message and leaving your own comment here - and especially for letting us know that your book is available once more!