No-Man's Lands (Scott Huler, 2008) is a memoir of travel and coming to terms with middle age and mortality. After rediscovering the Odyssey, the 44-year-old Huler decides to spend the bulk of his wife's pregnancy (!) tracing the path of Odysseus, as best as we can determine it, around the Mediterranean. Along the way he muses about the lessons Odysseus learns about leadership and life (sometimes you have to run away, don't sneer at good advice whatever the source, etc.) and how they apply to him.
I haven't read the Odyssey since I was 23 or 24, and Huler's contention that it's a midlife book makes me want to attempt it again now that I'm into my late 30's, staring in wary disbelief at my 40th birthday, not too far away at all in January 2011.
He's also got me pondering the trip I'm already planning for when I'm 44 in 2015. Not long after I got interested in military history, it occurred to me that barring anything tragic I should be alive and healthy for the Waterloo bicentennial, and wouldn't it be cool to be there? I don't know if I'll be able to pull it off, but I dream of spending 6-8 weeks in Europe, visiting not just Waterloo but the Peninsular War battlefields of Portugal, Spain, and Southern France (and, you know, some of the other interesting sites that happen to be in that part of the world). Sort of a Wellington pilgrimage. Which doesn't have the inherent universal interest of an Odysseus pilgrimage, but is a lot more me. And, who knows, maybe there's a travelogue/memoir in figuring out and explaining just why it is that I, a politically liberal 21st-century American woman who takes pride in her blue-collar Appalachian Scots-Irish roots, am so fascinated by an Anglo-Irish Tory aristocrat born almost exactly 200 years before I was.