Book Review: “Destination Truth” by Joshua Gates
by Jessica Barton on November 10, 2011
I was going to write a review for our Nerdist Overlord’s new book, The Nerdist Way, but something occurred to me: you’re reading this post on this site because, presumably, you’re a fan of the great Nerdist and the Industries’ doings. More specifically, if you’re reading my little ol’ posts, then you’re a fan of books and you’ve likely already picked up your copy. Hooray! My reviewing it probably wouldn’t make much of a difference then, but if you haven’t gotten it yet I’ll give you my review in two words: IT’S FANTASTIC! Pick it up, you won’t regret it and you’ll learn something! Win/win, guys!
That said, I’m presenting another book to munch on after you’ve devoured Sir Hardwick’s, and it’s by one of my favorite humans, Joshua Gates. It’s called Destination Truth: Memoirs of a Monster Hunter.All right, so I don’t actually know Josh Gates. That doesn’t mean I can’t claim him to be one of my favorite humans, does it? Maybe it does. Whatever, I don’t know how it works, but I’ve watched Destination Truth since day one and that basically makes us best friends now, right? Right?! Ahem. Point being, I’m a fan of the show and, maybe more importantly, of Gates’s sense of humor as host. His commentary during situations he and the crew get themselves into are snarky, generally hilarious, and, often times e,xactly what I’m thinking from my comfortable armchair.
That light tone and snark lilt throughout this book, and you can almost hear Gates narrating these situations as you read. It’s like a behind the scenes episode that you’re watching in the private, cozy confines of your brain. Gates shares tales of his travels and the exploits of his crew in both enlightening and hilarious ways. He peppers his hilariously-themed chapters with a segment called Case Files, which is basically a monster guide that includes things like Alien Big Cats and explains that, contrary to the name, they are not felines from outerspace. (Damn.)
Chapter 19 is called Travel Will Save You. I can’t expound its virtues enough. While it’s perhaps not the most thrilling chapter, and some people may argue that it’s not the most interesting, I assure that it’s the best. In it, Gates notes that only 25% of Americans have passports and that the 75% who don’t offer any number of reasons about why they don’t want or need to travel. Not enough time, not enough money, too much hassle — these are all things that have irritated the ever-loving shit out of me for a very long time. Gates seems to agree.
“It’s all too common to overhear someone complaining about how ‘long’ the flight is from New York to Los Angeles. Had any of us been born just a few hundred years earlier, a trip to California would have consisted of a six-month ride in a bumpyass covered wagon. Business class could be defined as not being scalped by Indians or dying from dysentery.”
My favorite line from the book, aside from the above mentioned, is a tossup between “Luckily, Buddhist monks throw like little girls, and I’m able to dodge the projectile,” or “With our gear and crew atop our stupid camels, we make our way through the relentless afternoon heat and into the Valley of the Kings.” I don’t know why those two stuck out when there are literally dozens of hilarious one-liners to choose from — the latter is particularly hilarious after the camel-hating rant a paragraph before — but I think it’s because they give a broad perspective on just how many places to which you’re going to armchair-adventure in this book. From annoyed monks to annoying camels to the roofs flying off of airplanes, you never know where he’s headed next. The fact that Gates thanks Steven Spielberg for “every movie you made before 1994 and for four of the movies you’ve made since then” and Diet Coke in his acknowledgments just makes me love this even more.
Destination Truth: Memoirs of a Monster Hunter is a relatively short and definitely easy read thanks in large part to Gates’s writing style and, most importantly, it’s just plain fun. Pick it up, preferably while you’re on a flight to some far-flung country, ready to embark on a brand new adventure. That’s what the spirit of this book is about, and it’ll be the only thing on your mind for weeks afterward, if you’re lucky.
Travel, people. Do it often and do it fearlessly. To quote another of my favorite phrases mentioned in the book, “Please go away. Often.”