The Nearest Way Home: Literature and the Travel-book is a collection of tales of life at sea in the age of sail: real-life voyages, fictional narratives of voyages, and novels and poetry that responded to these texts.

At Harvard, Diener is working on a dissertation project that considers just the sort of books that he collects.

He explains, "I write about tales of voyages both fictional and real, from sixteenth century Portugal to early nineteenth-century America. In particular, I want to know what it was that readers learned, or hoped to learn, from travel-books. I consider literary texts that use these books as sources, and I also look for clues in the books themselves (like indexes and illustrations) to what kind of knowledge readers hoped to obtain."

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