Best. State. Ever. A Florida Man Defends His Homeland by Dave BarryWe've all seen the headlines: Florida Man [Does Something Bizarre]. Of late, the state has become a bit of a joke according to Dave Barry, the Pulitzer Prize-winning humorist who's lived in Florida for decades, so he feels he needs to defend his adopted home. In this lighthearted examination of the Sunshine State, he travels to an assortment of typically Florida places that aren't as well known as Disney World, including Gatorland (reptiles!), Cassadaga (psychics!), and Weeki Wachee Springs (mermaids!), offering informative yet funny insights into Florida as a place of history and fun. Our headline? Proud Florida Man Writes Hilarious Book.
When in French: Love in a Second Language by Lauren CollinsAn Anglophone American in London falls in love with a Frenchman and moves to Francophone Geneva, Switzerland. Once there, she decides to learn French; not only does she want to be able to buy things, but she wants to become closer to her new husband and, when the time comes, not be "a Borat of a mother." Chronicling her amusing adventures overseas and her attempts to communicate in a new tongue, talented New Yorker writer Lauren Collins serves up a funny, romantic, intelligent memoir, which provides "a thoughtful, beautifully written meditation on the art of language and intimacy" (The New York Times).
Atlas Obscura: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders by Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras, and Ella MortonThe world is full of the strange and curious that few know about. Well, until now. The co-founders of the collaborative website Atlas Obscura (plus one of its editors) offer a tour of 700 of the world's most unique and amazing places and things (including glowworm caves in New Zealand and a baby-jumping festival in Spain). Using short entries highlighting natural wonders, weird and magical structures, and mind-boggling events from around the globe (even Antarctica!), Atlas Obscura looks like a guide book -- but because many of the wonders aren't open to the public or are difficult to get to, and interesting bits of history and facts are included, armchair travelers should enjoy dipping into these wonder-full pages.
Utopia Drive: A Road Trip Through America's Most Radical Idea by Erik ReeceIn the years between 1820 and 1850, around 200 utopian communities began in the United States. Long fascinated by these wannabe paradises and believing that the country currently faces social, economic, environmental, and political crises, writer Erik Reece set out in his truck to travel to several utopias -- both historic and modern-day -- looking for answers. Visiting Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Virginia, Massachusetts, and New York during his epic road trip, he found a wide variety of people and beliefs. "Compelling narratives with a personal voice, with some utopian political bite," says Kirkus Reviews.
Quit Your Job! Travel Instead!
The Lost Girls: Three Friends, Four Continents, One Unconventional Detour Around the World by Jennifer Baggett, Holly C. Corbett, and Amanda PressnerIf you're a 20-something working and living in New York City, you're living the dream -- right? Not if you're Jennifer Baggett, Holly Corbett, or Amanda Pressner. The trio of friends -- wondering if the paths they were on were the right ones -- left their apartments, jobs, and boyfriends to embark on a year-long adventure around the world, visiting more than ten countries on four continents, including Peru, Vietnam, India, and Australia. Though there are difficulties (could you hang out with your two besties for a year without getting on each other's nerves?), there are also a lot of amazing experiences, such as traveling down the Amazon and volunteering at a girls' orphanage in Kenya.
Until I Say Good-Bye: My Year of Living with Joy by Susan Spencer-Wendel with Bret WitterThis isn't your typical travelogue. Until I Say Good-Bye unsentimentally chronicles the final year of a 45-year-old journalist and mother with ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease, an irreversible condition that progressively destroys nerves that control muscles. Once she was diagnosed, it wasn't long before Spencer-Wendel decided to quit her job (though she loved it) and use some of her remaining days traveling to such places as the Yukon, Hungary, the Bahamas, and Cyprus with friends and family, including individual trips with each of her three children. Readers joining her on her poignant, powerful journey will be inspired to find joy in their own situations.
Educating Alice: Adventures Of A Curious Woman by Alice SteinbachIn Without Reservations, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Alice Steinbach chronicled taking a leave of absence from the Baltimore Sun to travel and learn about herself. Several years later, she completely quit her job and set off again. In Educating Alice, she enrolls in a French cooking class in Paris, attends border collie training in Scotland, learns traditional Japanese arts in Kyoto, studies art and architecture in Havana, and more, while meeting a wide range of interesting people along the way. With vividly depicted settings and keen observations and insights, this memoir is a charming delight.
Walk in Their Shoes: Can One Person Change the World? by Jim ZiolkowskiJim Ziolkowski had a fast-track corporate finance job at the age of 24 -- but, moved by the extreme poverty he'd seen while traveling in India, Thailand, and Nepal, he quit in order to start a non-profit service-oriented program, buildOn, addressing global illiteracy and the problems of inner-city American youth. Even though Ziolkowski had no professional experience in education or fundraising, he had faith, and buildOn became a life-changing success, with over 550 schools built 20 years later. But it wasn't easy: Ziolkowski has had guns pointed at him in South Africa and Harlem, been bitten by poisonous snakes in Africa and South America, and suffered from malaria and dysentery (on four different continents!).
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