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Around the World in 80 Days
My Rating: 5 out of 5  

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I loved Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne. Halfway through I concluded that it's easily one of my top 10 favorites and by the end I was thinking it might be on my top 5 faves list. You can't go wrong with classics. There's a reason that these stories are beloved for centuries! This book was completely engrossing and I was swept up in the adventure from the very beginning. For those who don't know the plot, Phileas Fogg is an eccentric English gentleman who bets his colleagues £20,000 (a fortune in the 1870s) that he can travel around the world in 80 days. The stoical Fogg is joined by his spirited French valet, Passepartout, on a journey wrought with delays, danger and detours, all while a bounty hunter chases them around the globe.

The book offers the reader a fascinating glimpse at the world in the late 19th century as we follow Fogg and Passepartout to Egypt, India, China, Japan and then across the United States of America. The descriptions of the people and cultures are occasionally overshadowed with dated, Euro-centric prejudices but nevertheless, the book was highly imaginative for its day and one that modern readers can easily enjoy. It's strange to think that when it was first published, this book would have been what we consider science fiction. To travel the world in 80 days seems impossibly long by today's standards but back then it just seemed impossible. It makes you wonder how silly our modern day limitations will seem in a hundred years or so.

While there are plenty of version of this book out there, I decided to read the Penguin Classics edition translated by Michael Glencross. I had skimmed a few other translations, including the free versions floating around in public domain, but the language used in those put me off a bit. I really liked the translation that I read and I think that the ease of the read allowed me to enjoy this great story even more. As I have mentioned before in other reviews, whenever I read a book by a non-American author I try to listen to an audiobook version as well since I have trouble imagining accents that are foreign (to me). The audiobook that I listened to featured English actor and voice artist Jim Dale, who did a fabulous job performing the various accents for all the characters. Seriously, his vocal performance and characterization are really great and definitely added to my enjoyment of this book. This audiobook recording also included some lovely music from around the world, an element which gives the reader an even greater sense of the various cultures and countries throughout the trip. It's that little something extra that I think makes this great story even better.

The next book I'll be reading is the children's classic, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. I feel like reading something fantastical and fun following 80 Days and I never read this book as a kid so I think it will be a nice little read before I plunge into some of the more serious novels that I've been eyeing on the library's bookshelves.

#1 - The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
#2 - Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne

NEXT BOOK: #3 - Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll