Tag Archives: Travel Literature

Not Afraid of the Fall: 114 Days Through 38 Cities in 15 Countries

Not Afraid of the FALLNot Afraid of the Fall: 114 Days Through 38 Cities in 15 Countries by Kyle James

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After purchasing one-way flights from New York City to Paris, Kyle James and his girlfriend Ashley quit their day jobs, planned futures, and daily paradigms to see as much of the world as they could. In 114 days, they trekked across 15 countries and 38 cities with nothing but their backpacks, their smartphones, and each other. Not Afraid of the Fall is the unvarnished story of their off-the-cuff journey: from cliff-jumping off Croatia’s untouched coasts, to bathing with rescued elephants in Thailand; from crashing mopeds on gravelly mountain roads in Santorini, to hitchhiking with strangers in rental cars in Hungary.

Part travel memoir, part love letter to those staring at the walls of a corporate cubicle, Not Afraid of the Fall is an inspiring book that captures the sweet mysteries of life on the road and an empowering narrative for anyone who has ever uttered the words “maybe next year.”

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By the Smoke and the Smell: My Search for the Rare and Sublime on the Spirits Trail

By the Smoke & the SmellBy the Smoke and the Smell: My Search for the Rare and Sublime on the Spirits Trail by Thad Volger

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In By the Smoke & the Smell, spirits expert Thad Vogler takes readers around the world, celebrating the vivid characters who produce hand-made spirits like rum, scotch, cognac, and mezcal.  From the mountains of Mexico and the forbidden distilleries of Havana, to the wilds of Scotland and the pastoral corners of France and beyond, this adventure will change how you think about your drink.

Thad Vogler, owner of San Francisco’s acclaimed Bar Agricole and Trou Normand, is one of the most important people in the beverage industry today. He’s a man on a mission to bring “grower spirits”—spirits with provenance, made in the traditional way by individuals rather than by mass conglomerates—to the public eye, before they disappear completely.

We care so much about the food we eat: how it is made, by whom, and where. Yet we are far less careful about the spirits we drink, often allowing the biggest brands with the most marketing dollars to control the narrative. In By the Smoke and the Smell, Vogler is here to set the record straight. This remarkable memoir is the first book to ask the tough questions about the booze industry: where our spirits come from, who makes them, and at what cost.

By the Smoke and the Smell is also a celebration of the people and places behind the most singular, life-changing spirits on earth. Vogler takes us to Normandy, where we drink calvados with lovable Vikings; to Cuba, a country where Vogler lived for a time, and that has so much more to offer than cigars, classic cars, and mojitos; to the jagged cliffs and crystal-clear lochs of Scotland; to Northern Ireland, Oaxaca, Armagnac, Cognac, Kentucky, and California. Alternately hilarious and heartfelt, Vogler’s memoir will open your eyes to the rich world of traditional, small-scale distilling—and in the process, it will completely change the way you think about and buy spirits.

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White Sands: Experiences from the Outside World

White SandsWhite Sands: Experiences from the Outside World by Geoff Dyer

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SHORTLISTED FOR STANFORD DOLMAN TRAVEL BOOK OF THE YEAR

From a trip to The Lightning Field in New Mexico, to chasing Gauguin’s ghost in French Polynesia, White Sands is a creative exploration of why we travel.

Episodic, wide-ranging and funny, Geoff Dyer blends travel writing, essay, criticism and fiction with a smart and cantankerous wit that is unmatched. From one of the most original writers in Britain, this is a book for armchair travellers and procrastinating philosophers everywhere.

Surpassingly eloquent . . . there’s no other writer quite like Dyer

Time

The Worrier’s Guide to the End of the World: Love, Loss, and Other Catastrophes–Through Italy, India, and Beyond

Worriers guide to the end of the WorldThe Worrier’s Guide to the End of the World: Love, Loss, and Other Catastrophes–Through Italy, India, and Beyond by Torre DeRoche

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A funny and heartwarming story of one woman’s attempt to walk off a lifetime of fear–with a soulmate, bad shoes, and lots of wine.
Torre DeRoche is at rock bottom following a breakup and her father’s death when she crosses paths with the goofy and spirited Masha, who is pusuing her dream of walking the world. When Masha invites Torre to join her pilgrimage through Tuscany–drinking wine, foraging wild berries, and twirling on hillsides–Torre straps on a pair of flimsy street shoes and gets rambling. But the magical hills of Italy are nothing like the dusty and merciless roads of India where the pair wind up, provising a pilgrimage in the footsteps of Gandhi along his march to the seaside. Hoping to catch the nobleman’s fearlessless by osmosis and end the journey as wise, svelte, and kick-ass warriors, they are instead unravelled by worry that this might be one adventure too far. Coming face-to-face with their worst fears, they discover the power of friendship to save us from our darkest moments.

“Like so many of us, Torre DeRoche is wracked with fear, doubt, uncertainty, anxiety; unlike so many of us DeRoche figured she might as well walk 250 miles through India. Which she does, with humor, grace, insight and a fair amount of grit, too, in this lovely and wholly uplifting account of confronting our fears… Luckily (and always enviously) in The Worrier’s Guide to the End of the World we get to tag along.”

— Carl Hoffman, bestselling author of Savage Harvest

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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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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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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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