"To wake in that desert dawn was like waking in the heart of an opal. The mists lifting their heads out of the hollows, the dews floating in ghostly wreaths from the black tents, were shot through first with the faint glories of the eastern sky and then with the strong yellow rays of the risen sun."
~ Gertrude Bell (1868-1926), English adventurer, author, archaeologist, and political officer
Walking with Abel: Journeys with the Nomads of the African Savannah by Anna BadkhenThe Fulani people of Mali, nomadic cattle herders, still journey across the African Savannah, following ancient trails that their ancestors have followed before them. Russian-born Anna Badkhen, an award-winning journalist, traveled the trails with the Fulani for a year. In lyrical language, she describes how she slept on the ground, ate food cooked over dung fires, and learned about their traditional lifestyle, which is under threat by climate change, urbanization, and Islamic militants. Kirkus Reviews says, "the poetry in Badkhen's prose demands that readers slow down and savor her gentle, elegant story."
Dancing with the Devil in the City of God: Rio de Janeiro on the Brink by Juliana BarbassaReturning to Brazil in 2010 after two decades away, journalist Juliana Barbassa observed her homeland's upheaval as it prepared to host two major world sporting events: the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. Focusing on Rio de Janeiro, Barbassa describes the city's history as well as the problems it continues to face (slums, drugs, corruption, pollution, etc.). Barbassa also shares stories about herself and her family as well as her fascinating conversations with everyone from taxi drivers to environmentalists, gang members, politicians, and police officers. If you want to know more about Brazilian society and culture, this in-depth look will give you plenty of insight.
A Woman in Arabia: The Writings of the Queen of the Desert by Gertrude Bell; Georgina Howell (editor)Born in 1868 England, Oxford-educated Gertrude Bell left her comfortable life (her family was one of the richest in the country) to travel the world. She climbed many mountains, took prized photographs, and learned several languages, but she is best known for her adventures and work in the Middle East. Known as the Queen of the Desert, she worked on archaeological digs, served in military intelligence during World War I, and along with T.E. Lawrence, helped to create and shape the country of Iraq. Using Bell's own words, taken from her letters, diaries, field books, etc., editor Georgina Howell shines a spotlight on the remarkable life of a brilliant woman. (Note: An upcoming movie based on Bell's life, Queen of the Desert, stars Nicole Kidman as Bell and Robert Pattison as Lawrence.)
Deep South: Four Seasons on Back Roads by Paul TherouxFor over 50 years, acclaimed novelist and travel writer Paul Theroux has traveled all over the world. But in his latest journey, he turned his eyes to a region of his home country he wanted to know better. Traveling to various Southern states (including Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, and South Carolina) on a variety of road trips, Theroux bypassed the big cities and gleaming towns. Instead, he focused his keen eye on smaller, rural towns, where he visited with people in churches, restaurants, corner stores, farms, and gun shows, and explored the culture and paradoxes of the region. Publishers Weekly calls The Deep South "Theroux's best outing in years."
Traveling with Famous Novelists
A Wedding in Haiti by Julia AlvarezYears ago, popular novelist Julia Alvarez, author of How the García Girls Lost Their Accents and owner of a coffee plantation in her native Dominican Republic, became close with a young Haitian boy working at a neighboring farm and promised to attend his wedding when he was grown. Years later, as the happy day approached, Alvarez, her American husband, and a few others took an eye-opening trip across Hispaniola to reach the young man's Haitian home. This "warm, funny, and compassionate" (Kirkus Reviews) book also documents Alvarez's return visit to Haiti after the country was hit by a devastating earthquake. Readers who'd appreciate an insider's look at Haiti can pick up Haitian-American novelist Edwidge Danticat's memoir, After the Dance.
Four Seasons in Rome: On Twins, Insomnia, and the Biggest Funeral in the... by Anthony DoerrImagine moving to a foreign country for a year...with six-month-old twin boys in tow! That's just what author Anthony Doerr and his wife did in 2004 after he won the prestigious Rome Prize, which offers an aspiring writer a stipend and a place to live in the Eternal City for a year. In this "delightful, funny" (Kirkus Reviews) memoir, first-time parent Doerr writes eloquently of children, sleepless nights, intriguing Romans, the funeral of Pope John Paul II, and the multitude of things to see and do in the centuries-old city. Though Doerr is better known now as the author of the mega-bestselling All the Light We Cannot See, this lovely travelogue is still worthy of attention.
Paris in Love: A Memoir by Eloisa JamesBestselling romance author Eloisa James (aka Mary Bly, Shakespearean scholar) does what so many dream of: she moves to Paris! But the big move comes after big changes: her beloved mother (award-winning author Carol Bly) dies of cancer and, less than a month later, James receives her own cancer diagnosis. After successful treatment, James' family of four spends an extraordinary year in the City of Light. James' familial anecdotes together with memories of her mother and worries about her aging father (poet Robert Bly) make this charming look at Paris also a loving look at family. Readers interested in a young male novelist's view of this famed city might want to check out Paris, I Love You but You're Bringing Me Down by Rosecrans Baldwin (author of the critically acclaimed novel You Lost Me There).
Dogtripping: 25 Rescues, 11 Volunteers, and 3 RVs on Our Canine Cross-Country... by David RosenfeltWoof! Traveling goes to the dogs in this funny, heartwarming book. As if moving from California to Maine wasn't ambitious enough, crime novelist David Rosenfelt and his wife also transported 25 dogs (it could have been more -- they once had over 40 rescue dogs!). With help from volunteers (including fans of the author's Andy Carpenter mysteries), the group set off in a convoy of three RVs to travel across the country in less than a week. Narrated in the author's amusing, self-deprecating style, this howlingly good memoir describes Rosenfelt's preparations for the trip, explains how he got involved with dog rescue, traces the trip itself, and showcases some of the wonderful canines that he has known and loved over the years.
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