Dark Star Safari by Paul Theroux
Dark Star Safari is a rich and insightful book whose itinerary is Africa, from Cairo to Cape Town: down the Nile, through Sudan and Ethiopia, to Kenya, Uganda, and ultimately to the tip of South Africa. Going by train, dugout canoe, "chicken bus," and cattle truck, Theroux passes through some of the most beautiful -- and often life-threatening -- landscapes on earth. This is travel as discovery and also, in part, a sentimental journey. Almost forty years ago, Theroux first went to Africa as a teacher in the Malawi bush. Now he stops at his old school, sees former students, revisits his African friends. He finds astonishing, devastating changes wherever he goes.
Naked At Lunch: A Reluctant Nudist's Adventures in the Clothing-Optional World by Mark Haskell Smith
People have been getting naked in public for reasons other than sex for centuries. But as novelist and narrative journalist Mark Haskell Smith shows being a nudist is more complicated than simply dropping trou. Naked at Lunch is equal parts cultural history and gonzo participatory journalism. Coated in multiple layers of high SPF sunblock, Haskell Smith dives into the nudist world today.
A Mountain of Crumbs: A Memoir by Elena Gorokhova
Elena Gorokhova's "A Mountain of Crumbs "is the moving story of a Soviet girl who discovers the truths adults are hiding from her and the lies her homeland lives by. Elena's country is no longer the majestic Russia of literature or the tsars, but a nation struggling to retain its power and its pride. Born with a desire to explore the world beyond her borders, Elena finds her passion in the complexity of the English language--but in the Soviet Union of the 1960s such a passion verges on the subversive. Elena is controlled by the state the same way she is controlled by her mother, a mirror image of her motherland: overbearing, protective, difficult to leave. In the battle between a strong-willed daughter and her authoritarian mother, the daughter, in the end, must break free and leave in order to survive. Through Elena's captivating voice, we learn not only the stories of Russian family life in the second half of the twentieth century, but also the story of one rebellious citizen whose curiosity and determination finally transport her to a new world. It is an elegy to the lost country of childhood, where those who leave can never return.
Leisureville: Adventures in a World Without Children by Andrew D. Blechman
When his next-door neighbors in a quaint New England town suddenly pick up and move to a gated retired community in Florida called The Villages, Andrew Blechman is astonished by their stories, so he goes to investigate. Larger than Manhattan, with a golf course for every day of the month, two downtowns, its own newspaper, radio, and TV station, The Villages is a city of nearly one hundred thousand (and growing) missing only one thing: children. In the critically acclaimed Leisureville, Blechman delves into life in the senior utopia, offering a hilarious firsthand report on everything from ersatz nostalgia to the residents’ surprisingly active sex life. But this is more than just a romp through a retirement paradise; Blechman traces the history of the age-segregated retirement phenomenon, and travels to Arizona to show what has happened to the pioneering developments after decades of segregation. A fascinating blend of serious history, social commentary, and hilarious, engaging reportage,Leisureville is an important book on a major, underreported trend.
The Good Shufu: Finding Love, Self and Home on the Far Side of the World by Tracy Slater
The brave, wry, irresistible journey of a fiercely independent American woman who finds everything she ever wanted in the most unexpected place. Shufu : in Japanese it means "housewife," and it's the last thing Tracy Slater ever thought she'd call herself. A writer and academic, Tracy carefully constructed a life she loved in her hometown of Boston. But everything is upended when she falls head over heels for the most unlikely mate: a Japanese salary-man based in Osaka, who barely speaks her language. Deciding to give fate a chance, Tracy builds a life and marriage in Japan, a country both fascinating and profoundly alienating, where she can read neither the language nor the simplest social cues.
Where Am I Wearing: A Global Tour to the Countries, Factories, and People that Make Our Clothes by Kelsey Timmerman
When journalist and traveler Kelsey Timmerman wanted to know where his clothes came from and who made them, he began a journey that would take him from Honduras to Bangladesh to Cambodia to China and back again. Where Am I Wearing? intimately describes the connection between impoverished garment workers' standards of living and the all-American material lifestyle.
In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson
Every time Bill Bryson walks out the door memorable travel literature threatens to break out. Now he has traveled across the world and all the way Down Under to Australia, a shockingly under-discovered country with the friendliest inhabitants, the hottest, driest weather, and the most peculiar and lethal wildlife to be found on the planet. In a Sunburned Country is his report on what he found there--a deliciously funny, fact-filled, and adventurous performance by a writer who combines humor, wonder, and unflagging curiosity.
The Armchair Travel Book Club presents this film based on a book read last year, Round Ireland with a Fridge by Tony Hawkes. The group enjoyed the book so much that when we realized the author also wrote and stars in a film of the same name, we wanted to watch it together. All are invited to join us. Reading of the book is not necessary. 90 minutes.
Better Than Fiction 2: True Adventures from 30 Great Fiction Writers
From Lonely Planet, the world's leading travel guide publisher, Better Than Fiction 2, the follow-up to 2012's Better Than Fiction, is a second serving of true travel stories told by some of the world's best fiction writers.
Authors include Lonely Planet, Don George, Dave Eggers, Jane Smiley, Karen Joy Fowler, Stefan Merrill Block, Francine Prose, DBC Pierre, Fiona Kidman, Alexander McCall Smith, Keija Parssinen, MJ Hyland, Catherine Lacey, Rebecca Dinerstein, Lloyd Jones, Porochista Khakpour, Jack Livings, Marina Lewycka, Lydia Millet, Suzanne Joinson, Sophie Cunningham, Christina Nichol, Mandy Sayer, Steven Amsterdam, Marie-Helene Bortino, Shirley Streshinsky, Steven Hall, David Shafer, Avi Duckor-Jones, Lily King, Aliya Whitely, and Natalie Baszile
Turn Right at Machu Piccu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time by Mark Adams
In 1911, Hiram Bingham III climbed into the Andes Mountains of Peru and “discovered” Machu Picchu. While history has recast Bingham as a villain who stole both priceless artifacts and credit for finding the great archeological site, Mark Adams set out to retrace the explorer’s perilous path in search of the truth—except he’d written about adventure far more than he’d actually lived it. In fact, he’d never even slept in a tent. This is the author's fascinating and funny account of his journey through some of the world’s most majestic, historic, and remote landscapes guided only by a hard-as-nails Australian survivalist and one nagging question: Just what was Machu Picchu?
Treasure Palaces: Great Writers Visit Great Museums
Revered writers tell us about their favorite museums and reveal the special hold that some museums have over us all. This book is a is a treasure trove of wonders, a tribute to the diversity and power of the museums, the safe-keepers of our world's most extraordinary artifacts, and an intimate look into the deeply personal reveries we fall into when before great art.
Mountain to Mountain: A Journey of Adventure and Activism for the Women of Afghanistan by Shannon Galpin
Being inspired to act can take many forms. For some it's taking a weekend to volunteer, but for Shannon Galpin, it meant leaving her career, selling her house, launching a nonprofit and committing her life to advancing education and opportunity for women and girls. Focusing on the war-torn country of Afghanistan, Galpin and her organization, Mountain2Mountain, have touched the lives of hundreds of men, women and children. As if launching a nonprofit wasn't enough, in 2009 Galpin became the first woman to ride a mountain bike in Afghanistan. Now she's using that initial bike ride to gain awareness around the country, encouraging people to use their bikes "as a vehicle for social change and justice to support a country where women don't have the right to ride a bike."
The Good Girl's Guide to Getting Lost by Rachel Friedman
The author, a good girl, surprises no one more than herself when, on a whim, she buys a ticket to Ireland, a place she has never visited where she forms an unlikely bond with a free-spirited Australian girl, who spurs Rachel on to a yearlong odyssey.
The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equitorial Pacific by J. Maarten Troost
The author’s memoir of moving to a remote south pacific island.
I'm a Stranger Here Myself by Bill Bryson
Delivering the brilliant comic musings that are a Bryson hallmark, I'm a Stranger Here Myself recounts his sometimes disconcerting reunion with the land of his birth. The result is a book filled with hysterical scenes of one man's attempt to reacquaint himself with his own country, but is also a love letter to the homeland he has returned to after twenty years away.
My Holiday in North Korea: The Funniest/Worst Place on Earth by Wendy Simmons
The author chronicles one of the strangest vacations ever. Along the way, she bares all while undergoing an inner journey as convoluted as the country itself.
Blue Highways: A Journey Into America by William Least Heat-Moon
A travelogue classic about a road trip across the US.
Havana: A Subtropical Delirium by Mark Kulansky
The author presents an insider's view of Havana: the elegant, tattered city he has come to know over more than thirty years. Part cultural history, part travelogue, with recipes, historic engravings, photographs, and his own pen-and-ink drawings throughout, Havana celebrates the city's music, literature, baseball, food, architecture and its extraordinary blend of cultures.