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The Global Soul:
Jet Lag, Shopping Malls, and the Search for Home

by Pico Iyer

ISBN 0679454330 / 9780679454335 / 0-679-45433-0
Publisher Knopf
Language English
Edition Hardcover
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Book summary

Pico Iyer's book of essays about international locales contends that the modern world-scurrying citizen, pushed by business demands or political migrations, can easily lose both roots and sense of home. Airports have morphed into cities where scores of languages are spoken, thousands work, and millions travel through mazed villages of McDonalds, massage parlors, and self-help groups that twist along for miles; the Dallas-Fort Worth airport alone grabs more space than Manhattan. And city life is no different: Iyer's apartment building also houses an immigration office, banks, four cinemas, dozens of restaurants and nearly 100 boutiques; the technologically plugged-in businessman with whom he stays has five phones across the world, a dozen international bank accounts, and travels more than a pilot.

Whether in Toronto--where in larger schools nearly 80 languages may be heard--London, or at the Olympics in Atlanta, Iyer witnesses the overlapping of hundreds of heterogeneous cultures, often pushed by corporate concerns toward commercial homogeneity and powered by technology that offers an office in the sky. The picture painted by Iyer--himself a confused and well-traveled multicultural citizen--is extreme, sci-fi, and futuristic even though set in the present: a global village turned spinning metropolis, with so many fragments set loose in its gyrations that it threatens to explode the minds of its residents. But even this shell-shocked world traveler finds peace, concluding that a simpler life may be a richer one and that home is simply where the frazzled mind decides it will be. In an era when new frontiers open monthly, when frequent flyer miles serve as currency, and constant change may be a lifestyle demand, Iyer's frantic words and dizzying images may prove as prophetic as Alvin Toffler's Future Shock. --Melissa Rossi [via]