Reviewed by: BigAl
Genre: Travel Guidebook/Travel Narrative
Approximate word count: 20-25,000 words
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A graduate of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, Cameron Gidari has worked and written for several organizations. He has one other book in the Before8 series, Seattle Before8.
For more, visit his website.
“They say that New York City is the city that never sleeps, but the reality is that New York City is the city that stays up late and then likes to sleep in a little bit in the morning.
Manhattan is a ghost town before 8 AM, and belongs exclusively to the joggers, the dog walkers, and the people looking for a little peace and quiet in a city of perpetual noise. Before 8 AM is also when some of the most incredible experiences in Manhattan can be found, if you know where to look.
Manhattan Before8 is the first guide to New York City's morning culture. Author Cameron Gidari takes readers on an adventure through the city, highlighting his favorite places to go and things to do before 8 AM. Visit a purist coffee shop with only four menu items, catch sunrise from the Brooklyn Bridge, get front row seats to a professional bike race, and discover a park frozen in time, just to name a few.
Whether you're a native New Yorker or one of the millions who visit the city every year, Manhattan Before8 is a different type of guide than you're used to, at an hour when Manhattan belongs to you.
Welcome to Manhattan like you've never seen it before.
Welcome to Manhattan Before8.”
The majority of travel books fall clearly into one of two categories. One of
these is the guidebook, which describes places to visit (the “nuts and bolts” of a trip.) The other category is the travel narrative or memoir. These focus more on the experiences of a specific traveler. The guidebook is a reference for trip planning and not something I’d typically read from cover to cover whereas a narrative is often entertaining or thought provoking - any trip planning help is incidental. The author’s experience in a narrative tends to be highly personal, certainly not a trip a reader could expect to duplicate and have the experience resemble what the book chronicles.
Manhattan Before8 is unique in that it has elements of both categories of travel book, done in a way that enhances its functionality as a guidebook, but entertaining like a narrative, even if the reader has no plans to visit the sites it covers. It also focuses on activities and places to visit in the early morning. Kind of like the guidebooks that are “off the beaten path,” in this case they’re on well trod ground geographically, but not chronologically.
Each section contains the details you’d need to visit the site yourself, but also pictures and the story of the author’s visit. But unlike a typical travel narrative, the story focuses on the parts of his experience that would help enhance your own, for example in one section where he watches the sunrise from the Brooklyn Bridge he explores the history of the bridge. In another, a bird watching expedition in Central Park, he not only talks about the group he went with and how that enhanced the experience, but gives the details needed for you to hook up with a similar group for your own visit.
Even though I’m not likely to be visiting New York anytime soon and the odds of me getting up early enough to repeat any of these visits is even less likely, I still enjoyed experiencing these sites vicariously, through the author’s eyes, as a travel narrative. For early risers who live in or will be visiting New York, I’ve got your guidebook here.
There are numerous color photos which display fine in black and white on an E-ink Kindle, but are even better if you have a Kindle Fire or use an app on your computer.
No significant issues
Rating: **** Four stars