Ruthless River: Love and Survival by Raft on the Amazon's Relentless Madre de Dios by Holly FitzGeraldAn extended honeymoon traveling around the world is a dream that turns into a nightmare for Holly FitzGerald and her new husband when their plane crashes in a South American jungle in 1973. They survive, but are stuck in a remote town near a penal colony with no way out for months. Told they can easily float down the Madre de Dios river to civilization, they retrofit a raft and set out. All goes well...until a storm puts them off course, stalling the couple in swampy, piranha-infested waters. Peppered with hard-won insights about life and love, this harrowing survival tale is unputdownable.
Love, Africa: A Memoir of Romance, Love, and Survival by Jeffrey GettlemanBefore he was a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Jeffrey Gettleman was a 19-year-old who fell in love with Africa. In his adventure-laden (hanging out in war zones, being kidnapped, etc.) memoir, he explores his undying affection for this complex continent, documents his career (including local reporting in Florida and war reporting in various countries), and traces his relationship with a fellow student who becomes his coworker and wife (though there were most definitely bumps along the way). If you want to understand either Africa or journalism better, this engrossing book is a must-read.
A Paris Year: My Day-to-Day Adventures in the Most Romantic City in the World by Janice MacLeodBeautifully illustrated with paintings, drawings, and photos, this jewel box of a travel journal by Canadian artist and author Janice MacLeod traces a year in Paris. Sharing her experiences getting to know and make a home in the City of Light via diary entries (starting with January 1st), MacLeod combines artwork with a newcomer's observation of sights, sounds, smells, and tastes as well as liberal splashes of anecdotes, quotes, and history. Those who appreciate Paris and beautiful things will find this memoir a sensory delight.
Shark Drunk: The Art of Catching a Large Shark from a Tiny Rubber Dinghy in a Big Ocean by Morten Strøksnes; translated by Tina NunnallyTopically wide-ranging, Shark Drunk documents the quest of award-winning journalist Morten Strøksnes and artist Hugo Aasjord to catch a massive Greenland Shark in the frigid waters near Norway's Lofoten islands. In a rubber dinghy over the course of four seasons, the two friends baited hooks in order to entice the massive shark while they sat, occasionally got wet, reeled in cod, ruminated, and talked. Covering ocean life, poetry, mythology, science, history, and more, this lyrical book reads like a novel and will hook fans of philosophical stories.
Living in Another Language
Home is a Roof Over a Pig: An American Family's Journey in China by Aminta ArringtonAminta Arrington married an Army linguist and lived all over the world. Eventually, she, her retired husband, and their three children under the age of five (including an adopted Chinese daughter) moved to China...and experienced culture shock when they arrived. Recounting their experiences in a small university town, Arrington explains how they dealt with day-to-day activities, how the children adapted to school, and how she fell in love with their new language. Readers who want another travelogue focused on the Mandarin language should try Deborah Fallow's Dreaming in Chinese.
When in French: Love in a Second Language by Lauren CollinsAn American in London fell in love with a Frenchman and moved to Geneva, Switzerland. Once there, she decided to learn French; not only did she want to be able to buy things on her own, but she wanted to become closer to her new husband and, when the time came, 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).
La Bella Lingua: My Love Affair With Italian, the World's Most Enchanting Language by Dianne HalesAfter traveling in Italy, journalist Dianne Hales became "madly, gladly, giddily besotted" with the Italian language and used all sorts of language-learning methods, including visiting Italy for large chunks of time, to master la bella lingua. Visiting various places and interviewing locals and language experts, Hales learned as much as she could about the language (including some profanity!) and the culture that gave rise to it. For a more introspective, literary take on this topic, pick up Pulitzer Prize-winning Jhumpa Lahiri's concise In Other Words, which offers a look at her own love affair with Italian and includes a short story she first wrote in that language.
All Strangers Are Kin: Adventures in Arabic and the Arab World by Zora O'NeillHaving studied Arabic as a college student, personable travel and food writer Zora O'Neill decided at age 39 to revisit the language, but this time, to focus on the colloquial instead of the formal version. Visiting Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, and Morocco, she studied and tested out her skills, but was hindered by different areas having different dialects. Nevertheless, she engaged with people she met -- eating, visiting, and sometimes staying with them -- as she pondered the complex language and the relationship between culture and communication.
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