Category Archives: BOOKS

A Voyage in the Clouds: The (Mostly) True Story of the First International Flight by Balloon in 1785

Voyage in the cloudsA Voyage in the Clouds: The (Mostly) True Story of the First International Flight by Balloon in 1785

by Matthew Olshan, Sophie Blackall (Illustrator)

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In the year and a half since the flight of the first manned balloon in 1783, an Italian has flown, a Scot has flown, a woman has flown, even a sheep has flown. But no one has flown from one country to another. John Jeffries, an Englishman, and his pilot, Jean-Pierre Blanchard, a Frenchman, want to be the first. On January 7, 1785, they set out to cross the English Channel to France in a balloon. All seemed to be going fine, until Jeffries decides the balloon looks too fat and adjusts the air valve—how hard could it be? Too bad he drops the wrench over the side of the aerial car. With no way to adjust the valve, the balloon begins to sink. Jeffries and Blanchard throw as much as they can overboard—until there is nothing left, not even their clothes. Luckily, they come up with a clever (and surprising) solution that saves the day. A VOYAGE IN THE CLOUDS from Matthew Olshan and Sophie Blackall is a journey that will keep kids laughing the whole way.

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A Thousand Days in Venice: An Unexpected Romance

A Thousand Days in VeniceA Thousand Days in Venice: An Unexpected Romance

by Marlena de Blasi

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This deliciously satisfying memoir is filled with the foods and flavors of Italy and peppered with culinary observations and recipes. The enchanting true story follows a woman who falls in love with both a man and a city, and finally finds the home she didn’t even know she was missing.

Fernando first sees Marlena across the Piazza San Marco and falls in love from afar. When he sees her again in a Venice cafe a year later, he knows it is fate. He knows little English; she, a divorced American chef traveling through Italy, speaks only food-based Italian. Marlena thought she was done with romantic love, incapable of intimacy. Yet within months of their first meeting, she has quit her job, sold her house in St. Louis, kissed her two grown sons good-bye, and moved to Venice to marry “the stranger,” as she calls Fernando.

“An irresistible grown-up love story.” —USA Today

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The Bucket List: 1000 Adventures Big & Small by Kath Stathers (Editor)

The Bucket ListThe Bucket List: 1000 Adventures Big & Small

by Kath Stathers (Editor)

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With 1,000 adventures for all ages, it’s never too soon or too late to begin the things you’ve only dreamed of doing.

We all have things we’d like to do—one day—but work, family, school, money, and responsibilities get in the way. This invaluable guide to fun, fantastic, and life-affirming activities features an eclectic range of ideas such as self-improvement, sports-related endeavors, natural wonders, cultural experiences, culinary delights, and more. From glassblowing in the Czech Republic to swimming with dolphins in New Zealand, The Bucket List is the perfect gift for the passionate traveler—an around-the-world, continent-by-continent listing of beaches, museums, monuments, islands, inns, restaurants, mountains, and more.

Each activity is location-specific and as geographically unique as bird-watching in Kenya or driving through clouds in Sri Lanka, as well as other to-dos that can be done anywhere, such as sketching a sunset behind an architectural monument. In addition to classic outdoor pursuits, the book contains advice on how to achieve some of the most popular goals for people of all ages: direct a movie, learn to play an instrument, make pottery, protect an endangered species, name a star, try a new cuisine, or learn a new language. Whether you are more active or laid-back, serious-minded or lighthearted, you are bound to discover new, stimulating activities.

“Travel Around the World and Back with Spring’s New Coffee Table Books”
Fathom

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And the Monkey Learned Nothing: Dispatches from a Life in Transit

And the Monkey Learned NothingAnd the Monkey Learned Nothing: Dispatches from a Life in Transit

by Tom Lutz

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Tom Lutz is on a mission to visit every country on earth. And the Monkey Learned Nothingcontains reports from fifty of them, most describing personal encounters in rarely visited spots, anecdotes from way off the beaten path. Traveling without an itinerary and without a goal, Lutz explores the Iranian love of poetry, the occupying Chinese army in Tibet, the amputee beggars in Cambodia, the hill tribes on Vietnam s Chinese border, the sociopathic monkeys of Bali, the dangerous fishermen and conmen of southern India, the salt flats of Uyumi in Peru, and floating hotels in French Guiana, introduces you to an Uzbeki prodigy in the market of Samarkand, an Azeri rental car clerk in Baku, guestworkers in Dubai, a military contractor in Jordan, cucuruchos in Guatemala, a Pentecostal preacher in rural El Salvador, a playboy in Nicaragua, employment agents in Singapore specializing in Tamil workers, prostitutes in Colombia and the Dominican Republic, international bankers in Belarus, a teacher in Havana, border guards in Botswana, tango dancers in Argentina, a cook in Suriname, a juvenile thief in Uruguay, voters in Guyana, doctors in Tanzania and Lesotho, scary poker players in Moscow, reed dancers in Swaziland, young camel herders in Tunisia, Romanian missionaries in Macedonia, and musical groups in Mozambique. With an eye out for both the sublime and the ridiculous, Lutz falls, regularly, into the instant intimacy of the road with random strangers.

Kirkus Reviews

2016-07-19
Postcards from around the globe, far from the beaten path of tourism.Los Angeles Review of Books founder and editor-in-chief Lutz (Doing Nothing: A History of Loafers, Loungers, Slackers, and Bums in America, 2006) writes that he originally intended to subtitle this book “Around the World in Eighty Anecdotes.” “I thought it was an honest disclosure,” he writes. “What follows is an anecdotal rendering of eighty moments in my traveling life, with no attempt to use them to trace any world picture or any narrative arc.” Or to teach any moral lesson, though there is plenty to be learned here, for the writer and readers alike. Often in a state between dislocation and disorientation, he found himself grappling with the culture, politics, and religions of places where he could barely read the signposts. He writes of beggars who were more like demanders and of borders where he was often unclear whether the papers he brought with him to cross would allow him to cross back and, if so, who needed to be bribed how much. Lutz disdains the surface pleasures of tourism, but at a Zimbabwe National Park, he recognized that he “couldn’t shake the sense that I was not in the wild at all, but in a New Jersey safari park….I am a tourist. I love elephants.” He does, however, hate monkeys with a passion that puts a different slant on the title. He usually traveled alone, typically where other travelers don’t, but he often encountered kindred spirits who aided his understanding or shared his confusion. A musician himself, he responded to a variety of extraordinary music, which required no translation. When the book arrives at its final section on Europe, it is no surprise to readers that there is no visit to London, Paris, or Venice, or even to the countries where those much-visited cities are located. A travel memoir with short, provocative, occasionally inscrutable entries that will eventually tire even armchair travelers.

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A Florence Diary

Florence DiaryA Florence Diary

by Diana Athill

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In August 1947, Diana Athill travelled to Florence by the Golden Arrow train for a two-week holiday with her good friend Pen. In this playful diary of that trip, delightfully illustrated with photographs of the period, Athill recorded her observations and adventures — eating with (and paid for by) the hopeful men they meet on their travels, admiring architectural sights, sampling delicious pastries, eking out their budget, and getting into scrapes.
Written with an arresting immediacy and infused with an exhilarating joie de vivre, A Florence Diary is a bright, colourful evocation of a time long lost and a vibrant portrait of a city that will be deliciously familiar to any contemporary traveller.

Its vivid intensity and Athill’s joy at being young and alive and abroad make it perfect for travellers of any age.

The Daily Mail

What could be a casual tour of Italy describing its spoils is actually a meditation on female friendship, war, and the rebuilding of the self. It’s the ideal book for this moment in time, and she’s the ideal writer to show us what survival looks like.

Lena Dunham

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Novel Destinations, Second Edition

Novel DestinationsNovel Destinations, Second Edition

The Masked Rider: Cycling in West Africa

 

The Masked RiderThe Masked Rider: Cycling in West Africa

by Neil Peart

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By November 1988, when Neil Peart arrived in Cameroon, he’d been expanding his own life and art through almost twenty years of travel and adventure. Concert tours of North America and Europe with his Rush bandmates, and the shared creative odyssey of lyric-writing and drumming, had only fed his insatiable curiosity and creative ambition. Through solo travels in Europe and North America, then to China and East Africa, he continued challenging himself to do more, learn more, achieve more. Adventure travels moved from inspiration to perspiration and back again, as that irresistible quest for new horizons and new adventures inspired the wish to shape those horizons and share those adventures in words. Like a story, each journey took on a shape and structure from beginning to end, through daily challenges of problem-solving and adaptation, and resonated in his life forever after. Experiences, hardships, and exultant survival enriched his worldview twice over — once in the living, and again in the challenge of capturing them in words. Now 36, Peart was ready to attempt two of the greatest challenges of his life. The month-long bicycle tour through Cameroon would be his first trip through West Africa. Covering more than a thousand miles of primitive roads, trails, and goat paths, it was considered “the most difficult bike tour on the market.”

He had chosen to travel by bicycle, at “people speed,” because his other great challenge was creative. With notebook, tape recorder, camera, and an author’s transformative perspective and awareness, Peart’s goal was to inspire, “inhale,” his experiences of the sub-Saharan country, its cultures and art, religions, languages, multiple ethnic and colonial histories, and especially, its people — chiefs and villagers, soldiers and schoolchildren, missionaries and prostitutes — so comprehensively and imaginatively, that in “exhaling,” he could write with sufficient insight, accuracy of understanding, and vividness of memory, that his story would reveal and illuminate for the Western world something of the “face” behind the mask of Africa. Peart’s creative achievement as author became his first published book, and in the eight years since its original publication in 1996, The Masked Rider has become appreciated by readers worldwide as a rare, special, and unforgettable travel memoir and portrait of West Africa, as seen through the mask of the visiting “white man,” and through the equalyl complex masks of the Africans themselves.

Neil Peart is the drummer and lyricist for the rock band Rush and the author of “Ghost Rider.” He lives in Santa Monica, California.

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Street Food: Everything You Need to Know About Open-Air Stands, Carts, and Food Trucks Across the Globe

Street FoodStreet Food: Everything You Need to Know About Open-Air Stands, Carts, and Food Trucks Across the Globe

by Colleen Taylor Sen (Editor), Bruce Kraig (Editor)

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This redesigned, repackaged, and updated edition of Street Food surveys common street foods from more than 75 countries and regions across the globe.

An estimated 2.6 billion people worldwide eat street food every day. Once associated with developing countries, street food has spread around the globe, particularly in the United States, where a variety of food trucks, top chefs, and trendy pop-up restaurants specialize in grab-and-go fare. Now more than ever, readers are interested in finding and tasting the different street foods prepared and consumed around the world.

Globe-trotters in search of the street-food experience will find information about street-food superpowers—such as China, India, and Mexico—and countries where street food plays a less important role, such as those in northern Europe. Contributed by the world’s leading food historians, the book’s entries provide a detailed look at vendor culture, fun facts, and illuminating statistics, as well as some historical and environmental background on specific foods.

First published in 2013, this reconceived version of Street Food is a comprehensive look at the world’s best street food, a must-have for travelers and foodies alike.

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Love, Africa: A Memoir of Romance, War, and Survival

Love AfricaLove, Africa: A Memoir of Romance, War, and Survival

by Jeffrey Gettleman

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A seasoned war correspondent, Jeffrey Gettleman has covered every major conflict over the past twenty years, from Afghanistan to Iraq to the Congo. For the past decade, he has served as the East Africa bureau chief for the New York Times, fulfilling a teenage dream.

At nineteen, Gettleman fell in love for the first time–twice. On a do-it-yourself community-service trip in college, he went to East Africa–a terrifying, exciting, dreamlike part of the world in the throes of change that imprinted itself on his imagination and on his heart. But at around the same time he also fell in love with a fellow Cornell student–the brightest, classiest, most principled woman he’d ever met. To say they were opposites was an understatement. She became a criminal lawyer in America; he hungered to be in Africa. For the next decade he would be torn by two dueling obsessions.

A sensually rendered coming-of-age story, Love, Africa is a tale of passion, violence, far-flung adventure, tortuous long-distance relationships, screwups, forgiveness, parenthood, and happiness that explores the power of self-discovery in the most unexpected of places.

Jeffrey Gettleman’s memoir is truly, in all its complicated tragic beauty, a love story made up itself of inextricably intertwined love stories. I was mesmerized.—Alexandra Fuller

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It’s On the Meter: Traveling the World by London Taxi

It's On the MeterIt’s On the Meter: Traveling the World by London Taxi

by Paul Archer, Johno Ellison, Leigh Purnell

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When three friends, fueled by an alcohol-induced dream to travel the world, clicked “buy” on an iconic London cab they name Hannah, little did they know what they were getting themselves into. Leaving the Big Smoke in their vintage taxi, Paul, Johno, and Leigh began a 43,000-mile trip that would take them off the beaten track to some of the most dangerous and deadly places on earth. By the time they arrived home, they would manage, against all the odds, to circumnavigate the globe, and in doing so, break two World Records.
It’s On the Meter is an honest account of what it’s like to drive a Black Cab around the world. From altercations with the Iranian Secret Police to narrowly escaping the Taliban, the trio’s adventure is filled with hair-raising escapades. The traveling trio will give an impression of each country the taxi passed through and its people and will help readers understand how to survive fifteen months on the road. Feel the fear, frolic in the fun, and meet the hundred passengers the taxi picked up along the way, as the authors take you on their action-packed journey.

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