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I don’t care where you’re headed, at its deepest core, all travel is a spiritual exercise. There’s something about packing your bags and stepping into the vastness that begs for a soul transformation, and that is what editors Lynn Cecil and Catherine Bancroft attempt to capture in Outside of Ordinary, an anthology that documents 32 womens’ travel stories. Yes, there are other travel books written from womens’ point of view, and the stories are a great read, but rarely do these books delve deeply into how womens’ lives are changed by travel, how “breaking away from confining roles or situations, several women also discover a sense of inner strength.” While some of the essays in Outside of Ordinary seem a little raw and unfocused, others, such as Sharon Butala’s “Bocca Della Verità” in which she ponders a lightning-charged connection to a younger man she once met in Rome, deftly weighs a good travel story with her inner journey. Carole TenBrink’s “Gift of Whimsy” examines whether our heart’s desire-in this case purchasing a small piece of land overlooking the ocean-is the right choice. It’s difficult to avoid navel gazing when writing about the internal voyage of the spirit, but many of the essays in Outside of Ordinary straddle the chasm with sensitivity and style. (Kira Vermond)

edited by Lynn Cecil and Catherine Bancroft, $19.95, 268 pgs, Second Story Press, 20 Maud St., Suite 401, Toronto, ON, M5V 2M5,

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