I never knew there could be a book so thoughtful and inspiring for women as this one. Stephanie Elizondo Griest’s second travel book, which lists far more than just 100 Places Every Woman Should Go, is truly an encyclopedia for women travelers. It’s the kind of book that could never have existed fifty years ago, but is so refreshing that free-spirited, female travelers should feel grateful that it exists now, and fully prepared for that next trip into the wide, wonderful world.
Griest’s great book is packed with helpful historical information, inspiring stories, and travel tips. It’s broken up into nine sections — my favorite being the first: “Powerful Women and Their Places in History.” There’s so much worth digesting in each locale described. For instance, I had no idea that the word “lesbian” came from the birthplace of Sappho (Lesbos, Greece). Griest fills each description with great travel tips that often include specific street addresses for particularly noteworthy sights.What I like most about the 100 places she chooses is that she shies away from identifying places that every woman obviously dreams of traveling to, like Venice, Rome, and Paris. Instead, she paves a new path for women, encouraging us to visit Japan’s 88 sacred temples or stroll through the public squares of Samarkand, one of the world’s oldest cities in Uzbekistan.
Griest does not limit her list to concrete or singular places. Sometimes, she finds a way to take us to virtual spots like the Museum of Menstruation or creates lists like “Best Bungee Jumping Locales,” “Sexiest Lingerie Shops,” or “Places to Pet Fuzzy Animals.” These 100 “places” are really all-encompassing, and Griest manages to take us on an imaginative journey around the world, packing all her feminine know-how into each description.
I did find, occasionally, that there were some places missing from some of the identified places in her list. For instance, I was baffled as to why two Russian writers were on Griest’s list of “Famous Women Writers and Their Creative Nooks,” but Emily Dickinson, Virginia Woolf, and Jane Austen were absent. I was additionally confused that cooking classes in India and Thailand were not on the list of “Culinary Class Destinations.”
Griest’s opinions of places are somewhat biased, too. While she does a fairly good job covering the globe, a single locale in French Polynesia or the South Pacific is missing, and some places like Oaxaca, Angkor Wat, and New York are mentioned several times. Her college town of Austin landed on the list, but places like Budapest and Cairo are never acknowledged.
With every list, however, there is bound to be some bias and some personal flair and choice involved, and Griest’s original and creative sensibilities are still well-worth reading about. The great thing about this book is that you can flip to a place description, be perfectly entertained and inspired, and then tuck the book away until the next time you feel compelled to read about the places you can go. Or, you can read it in one sitting like I did and be completely blown away by the amazing places in this one world that it’s hard to imagine why we live in one city for so long and not just pack our bags and get out there and see some if not all of it.
Click here to read my review of Griest’s first travel book, “Around the Bloc: My Life in Moscow, Beijing, and Havana.” My review of Griest’s third travel book, “Mexican Enough: My Life Between the Borderlines” is forthcoming, along with my interview with the author in early January. Feel free to jot me an email (Brenda DOT Yun AT weblogsinc DOT com) if you have a question for Stephanie.