Grape, Olive, Pig: Deep Travels through Spain's Food Culture by Matt GouldingMarried to a Spanish woman, American foodie (and friend to Anthony Bourdain) Matt Goulding has lived in Spain for over six years and knows a lot about the country and its gastronomic offerings. In this excellent book, he serves up personal stories of his life and travels, short biographies of fascinating Spanish people, tips of what to eat and drink (hint: forget Sangria), lovingly describes sensuous meals (some at famed restaurants), and presents a celebration of the culture and cuisine of every region of Spain. With mouth-watering descriptions of tapas, acorn-fed pig, paella, and more, readers are advised to have a delicious snack available to go with this evocative travelogue. Interested in Japan? He gives it a similar (though less intimate) treatment in Rice, Noodle, Fish.
The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story by Douglas PrestonThough he's probably better known as the co-author of the suspenseful Pendergast novels, Douglas Preston also writes thrilling nonfiction. In his latest real-life adventure tale, he gives us a high-octane account of his travels in Honduras' Mosquitia area, where he's part of a team looking for evidence of the fabled Ciudad Blanca (The White City) aka The Lost City of the Monkey God -- but the group has to deal with unfriendly soldiers, parasites, jaguars, snakes, insects, and more. Fans of David Grann's Lost City of Z will surely want to check out Preston's compelling latest; those who'd like more on Mosquitia can pick up William Carlsen's fascinating Jungle of Stone, where he traces the footsteps of two 19th-century explorers, who were the first Euro-Americans to find evidence of the sophisticated Mayan civilization.
The Marches: A Borderland Journey between England and Scotland by Rory StewartInsightful, lyrical author Rory Stewart has written about Iraq (Prince of Marshes) and Afghanistan (The Places In Between), but his latest journey is more intimate: it's the landscape of his homeland, on the border between England and Scotland, along Hadrian's Wall, and he's walking it with his 89-year-old Scottish father. Touching on his own familial history as well as the plants, animals, conflicts, people (from Romans to modern-day locals), and more that have shaped this stunning area, Stewart, who's also a Member of Parliament, provides a thoughtful book. For another richly detailed (though more wide-ranging) walk about Great Britain that engagingly mixes history and travel, pick up Max Adams' recent In the Land of Giants.
A Space Traveler's Guide to the Solar System by Mark ThompsonIf you want to travel to a really out-of-this-world locale, why not go, well, out of this world? Though we can't hop on a rocket to Mars (yet), this inviting book by Mark Thompson, a celebrated astronomer and presenter of the BBC's Stargazing Live, lets readers imagine that they are taking a galactic tour. After flight planning, travelers will move through our solar system, exploring the sun, planets, moons and asteroid belts and learning how humans might survive, navigate, and get fuel on such a trip. Fans of The Martian (Andy Weir's novel and/or the movie version of it) who want a factual, more wide-ranging look at humans in space will find this fantastic journey entertaining and enlightening.
The World Is a Carpet: Four Seasons in an Afghan Village by Anna BadkhenEven in the midst of war and invasion, Turkoman weavers have created gorgeous carpets for centuries (Marco Polo loved them). In Oqa, Afghanistan, a tiny desert village so remote that it's not on the maps created by the regional government, award-winning journalist Anna Badkhen traces the path of one carpet, from beginning (the purchase of yarn) to its fruition (months of intricate weavings that reflect life and village events) to its journey to market. The resulting book provides a compelling portrait of a town where hunger is common, people believe the world is flat, and American fighter planes fly overhead. Like Katherine Boo's Behind the Beautiful Forevers, this elegantly written look at a group of neighbors in incredibly trying circumstances portrays fascinating people you won't soon forget.
Champagne Baby: How One Parisian Learned to Love Wine -- and Life -- the American Way by Laure DugasThere are plenty of stories about Americans in Paris, but here's a delightful tale of a Parisian in America! In this charming version of the fish-out-of-water memoir, Laure Dugas -- a young French woman who has little interest in wine even though she hails from a family of winemakers -- is offered the chance to move to New York City to represent her uncle's company. She immediately accepts...even though she knows little English and little about wine. Learning as she goes, intrepid Laure gets acclimated (even working as a waitress for a month), explores Manhattan, travels across the United States for her job, misses her quintessentially French boyfriend, learns about herself, and develops a passion for the intricacies of wine. Open and enjoy -- santé!
Call the Nurse: True Stories of a Country Nurse on a Scottish Isle by Mary J. MacLeodIn late 1969, Mary MacLeod and her family moved to a remote island in Scotland's Outer Hebrides in order to find a slower pace and a better life. Sharing her nostalgic, heartwarming memories of working as a district nurse and raising two children in a place where Gaelic was still the first language, peat fires warmed houses, and the sea was never out of sight, she transports readers to a different time and place and introduces them to people who feel like friends. Fans of James Herriot's memoirs or of the BBC's Call the Midwife series (which is itself based on nurse Jennifer Worth's London-based memoirs) should appreciate Call The Nurse (also known as The Island Nurse), MacLeod's first book, which was published when she was 80.
Stringer: A Reporter's Journey in the Congo by Anjan SundaramWould you rather put your Yale mathematics degree to use working for Goldman Sachs or by following a new dream of being a journalist in a country few are interested in? Anjan Sundaram, who was born in India, chooses to go to the war-torn Democratic Republic of the Congo with pen in hand, but with no real job waiting. There, he has a bit of a baptism by fire when his cell phone is stolen, he has a cultural misunderstanding with the family he's renting a room from, and he encounters dangerous, disturbing situations even as he finally gets paid for his stories. In Stringer, Sundaram offers a beautifully written account of his coming of age as a journalist in one of the most troubled places in the world: "readers may be tempted to compare him to Conrad and Naipaul, but he has a strong, unique style all his own" (Kirkus Reviews).
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