Good Friday on the Rez: A Pine Ridge Odyssey by David Hugh BunnellThough journalist David Hugh Bunnell died last year, his timely, magnificent memoir is a lasting tribute to the Native Americans he called friends, weaving together as it does his own life with that of recent Native American history (including the 1973 Siege at Wound Knee, which he witnessed). Using a one-day, 280-mile round trip from his childhood hometown of Alliance, Nebraska to South Dakota's Pine Ridge Reservation as a framework, Bunnell explored the troubles Native Americans have faced as well as the beginning resurrection of their pride and culture.
Walking to Listen: 4,000 Miles Across America, One Story at a Time by Andrew ForsthoefelAt a time when the United States feels pretty divided, Walking to Listen offers a bit of hope. A recent college grad in 2011, Andrew Forsthoefel set out with a full backpack, planning to walk from Pennsylvania to Georgia and across the country to the Pacific Ocean. Wearing a "walking to listen" sign and pondering the words of poets Walt Whitman, Rainer Maria Rilke, and Kahlil Gibran, Forsthoefel found "teachers" of all types along the way and learned about trust, fear, kindness, loneliness, and more along his thought-provoking, inspiring journey.
Duck Season: Eating, Drinking, and other Misadventures in Gascony, France's... by David McAninchHaving visited Gascony and fallen in love with it, Chicago-based journalist David McAninch moved there with his wife and six-year-old daughter for an eight-month stay. In this rural, nearly tourist-free region of Southwest France, they slowed down their meals, lives, and responsibilities, and McAninch was able to harvest grapes, herd sheep, take cooking lessons, and learn about the local food and culture. If you like envy-inducing travelogues mixed with mouth-watering foodie memoirs (with recipes!), have a seat at the table with this atmospheric tale.
Bleaker House: Chasing My Novel to the End of the World by Nell StevensAfter finishing up her MFA, British writer Nell Stevens won a fellowship that allowed her to go anywhere to write for several months. Eschewing well-known spots, she picked Bleaker Island. Part of the Falkland Islands located off the Patagonian coast of South America, the sparsely populated island features inhospitable wind, lots of snow, and not many people. Stevens thought this would keep writing distractions at bay, but what she discovered is that three months of solitude provided its own challenges.
Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets by Svetlana Aleksievich; translated by Bela ShayevichThough it's too late to travel to the Soviet Union, which broke up in 1991, you can still visit via this moving oral history collection that provides an eye-opening look at the (pre- and post-) Soviet soul. Sharing the stories of a wide variety of people from across the vast country -- ranging from before the end of communism to the beginnings of the new Russia and the rise of Putin -- 2015 Nobel Prize winner Svetlana Aleksievich provides a thorough, fascinating look at war, freedom, family, and more, giving voice to those who've seen so much upheaval. For further reading, pick up Anne Garrels' Putin Country.
Travels in Siberia by Ian FrazierDid you know that Siberia doesn't officially exist? Or that there's a city that was once known as the "Paris of Siberia"? Or that...well, we could go on and on. And you'll be able to, too, if you read author and humorist Ian Frazier's Travels in Siberia. Frazier's taken five trips to the region, and he describes his various travels across the vast, remote area (including long road trips in both winter and summer) and discusses Siberian geography, people, culture, and history. This "energetic, illuminating account" (Kirkus Reviews) is sure to satisfy anyone who enjoys well-written travelogues or is curious about this sparsely populated area.
Molotov's Magic Lantern: Travels in Russian History by Rachel PolonskyAfter moving into a Moscow apartment building, British journalist Rachel Polonsky discovered that Vyacheslav Molotov, Stalin's infamous henchman, once lived there...and that some of his belongings still did, including hundreds of books. Using Molotov's library to propel her exploration of the country, British journalist Rachel Polonsky visited Siberia, Rostov-on-Don, and more. For an intelligent, elegant look at Russia's past and present, pick up this combination literary travelogue, history, and biography.
Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible: The Surreal Heart of the New Russia by Peter PomerantsevThough born in the Soviet Union, Peter Pomerantsev was raised in England by his political exile parents. In 2001, not long after graduating from university, he headed to Russia to learn more about the place he'd heard so much about. He spent around ten years there, many working as a television producer. From this unique viewpoint, he shares what modern Russia is like, introduces readers to intriguing people (oligarchs, biker gang members, supermodels, politicians, and more), and explores Russia's relationship with the West. If you're interested in a different take on Russia, this riveting read should please.
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