Tag Archives: Travel Literature

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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Pagan Spain by Richard Wright

Pagan SpainPagan Spain by Richard Wright

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A master chronicler of the African-American experience, Richard Wright brilliantly expanded his literary horizons with Pagan Spain, originally published in 1957. The Spain he visited in the mid-twentieth century was not the romantic locale of song and story, but a place of tragic beauty and dangerous contradictions. The portrait he offers is a blistering, powerful, yet scrupulously honest depiction of a land and people in turmoil, caught in the strangling dual grip of cruel dictatorship and what Wright saw as an undercurrent of primitive faith. An amalgam of expert travel reportage, dramatic monologue, and arresting sociological critique, Pagan Spain serves as a pointed and still-relevant commentary on the grave human dangers of oppression and governmental corruption.

Richard Wright won international renown for his powerful and visceral depiction of the black experience. He stands today alongside such African-American luminaries as Zora Neale Hurston, James Baldwin, and Toni Morrison, and two of his novels, Native Son and Black Boy, are required reading in high schools and colleges across the nation. He died in 1960.

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The New York Times: Footsteps: From Ferrante’s Naples to Hammett’s San Francisco, Literary Pilgrimages Around the World

FootstepsThe New York Times: Footsteps: From Ferrante’s Naples to Hammett’s San Francisco, Literary Pilgrimages Around the World

by New York Times

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A curated collection of the New York Times‘ travel column, “Footsteps,” exploring iconic authors’ relationships to landmarks and cities around the world
 
Before Nick Carraway was drawn into Daisy and Gatsby’s sparkling, champagne-fueled world in The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald vacationed in the French Riviera, where a small green lighthouse winked at ships on the horizon. Before the nameless lovers began their illicit affair in The Lover, Marguerite Duras embarked upon her own scandalous relationship amidst the urban streets of Saigon. And before readers were terrified by a tentacled dragon-man called Cthulhu, H.P. Lovecraft was enthralled by the Industrial Trust tower– the 26-story skyscraper that makes up the skyline of Providence, Rhode Island.

Based on the popular New York Times travel column, Footsteps is an anthology of literary pilgrimages, exploring the geographic muses behind some of history’s greatest writers. From the “dangerous, dirty and seductive” streets of Naples, the setting for Elena Ferrante’s famous Neapolitan novels, to the “stone arches, creaky oaken doors, and riverside paths” of Oxford, the backdrop for Alice’s adventures in Wonderland, Footsteps takes a fresh approach to literary tourism, appealing to readers and travel enthusiasts alike.

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A Paris Year: My Day-to-Day Adventures in the Most Romantic City in the World

A Paris YearA Paris Year: My Day-to-Day Adventures in the Most Romantic City in the World

by Janice MacLeod

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Part memoir and part visual journey through the streets of modern-day Paris, France, A Paris Year chronicles, day by day, one woman’s French sojourn in the world’s most beautiful city. Beginning on her first day in Paris, Janice MacLeod, the author of the best-selling book, Paris Letters, began a journal recording in illustrations and words, nearly every sight, smell, taste, and thought she experienced in the City of Light. The end result is more than a diary: it’s a detailed and colorful love letter to one of the most romantic and historically rich cities on earth. Combining personal observations and anecdotes with stories and facts about famous figures in Parisian history, this visual tale of discovery, through the eyes of an artist, is sure to delight, inspire, and charm.

JANICE MACLEOD, the illustrator and author of the New York Times best-selling book Paris Letters, was born in Canada and worked in advertising for many years until she decided to slip away from corporate drudgery and spend time abroad. During her time in Paris, she painted letters about her travels and mailed them to friends, who encouraged her to sell the personalized illustrated letters on Etsy. Since then, MacLeod has sent out thousands of letters to fans worldwide.

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Tough Rides: Brazil: In To the Depths of the Amazon

Tough Rides BrazilTough Rides: Brazil: In To the Depths of the Amazon

by Ryan Pyle

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Join adventurer motorcyclist Ryan Pyle as he spends months exploring the most exciting and remote locations in Brazil. In his book Tough Rides: Brazil he takes us on the most incredible journey in an effort to better understand the stunning and complex country of Brazil. In the end, Ryan completed his circumnavigation of Brazil in sixty days, pushing himself beyond limits while also learning the helplessness of being trapped in the remote Amazon, hundreds of miles away from any help or assistance.

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