I feel like I haven’t done an Inspiring Travel Book post in a while. Part of that has to do with my busy schedule (though the end of working and studying, both full-time, is in sight!), and part of that has to do with standing in the library, looking through books, and feeling like none of them really capture what I want to be reading about. Another book about a middle-aged woman experiencing a midlife crisis and running away to Italy? A story about two cool bros who adventure down some obscure river in a boat made out of recycled kombucha bottles?
However, the other day I was in the library and noticed a new book in their travel section: Where Bears Roam the Streets by Jeff Parker. Described as “a Russian journal”, this book documents Parker’s many trips to Russia and the relationships he developed over his years of travel. The book captures what it’s really like to be middle class in Russia… not to starve, but not to have all of the material comforts, or feeling of security, that are enjoyed by the middle class in other parts of the world. The action begins, and often returns, to Saint Petersburg, but Parker and his Russian friends often travel around the country (and Parker occasionally returns to the USA… home of his Russian wife).
The economic situation in Russia is precarious, and the low value of the ruble is attracting many foreign visitors. If you’ve been thinking of visiting Russia and want to know what to expect, reading Where Bears Roam the Streets is a great first step! (The second step is probably reading Lonely Planet Russia…)