In the Land of Giants: A Journey Through the Dark Ages by Max AdamsCombining travelogue and history with his thoughts on the way the past and present connect, archaeologist Max Adams shines a bright light on both the British dark ages and current times. In In the Land of Giants , which is based on ten walks Adams took over 18 months, he explores Britain's (and, to a lesser extent, Ireland's) early medieval past, providing narratives about his adventures as he camped, visited with locals, explored paths through hills and fields, and saw the remnants of forts, crypts, churches, causeways, memorials, and more. If you enjoy this fascinating book and want another amble in Britain, pick up Simon Armitage's Walking Home: A Poet's Journey.
My (Part-Time) Paris Life: How Running Away Brought Me Home by Lisa AnselmoManhattan creative director Lisa Anselmo was very close to her strong-willed mother -- like, codependent-close. So when her mother passed away, Anselmo was devastated and adrift. Searching for a reason to get out of bed in the morning, she started researching Paris homes for sale, just for fun. Before too many months had passed, and despite being someone who plays it safe, she had bought a Paris apartment, where she planned to live for part of each year. Describing her new life in Paris (and all the joys and troubles of home ownership in an unfamiliar place) as well as her search for a happy life, this memoir offers readers who enjoy soul-searching books an engaging Parisian get-away.
Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places by Colin DickeyColin Dickey, who grew up in California near the infamous Winchester Mystery House, isn't afraid to take on America's ghosts. In this spellbinding, intelligent examination, he takes readers on an offbeat road trip through some of the continental United States' most haunted places. Dickey, who believes that "if you want to understand a place, ignore the boasting monuments and landmarks, and go straight to the haunted houses," visited hotels, houses, prisons, plantations, bars, brothels, and more, and interviewed psychics, ghost hunters, and historians to better understand what our haunted places say about us. Thoughtfully digging into a little-understood area, Dickey compares ghost tales with the known facts and examines what the differences between the two means. "A lively assemblage and smart analysis," says The New York Times.
In Wartime: Stories from Ukraine by Tim JudahThough you might not want to travel to Ukraine right now, you can discover Europe's second largest country via British journalist Tim Judah's excellent new book. Traveling across the divided country, including the war-torn eastern part, he interviews Ukrainian people on both sides of the current conflict with Russia-supported separatists, talking with teachers, government officials, poets, historians, retirees, grieving mothers of fallen soldiers, and others. Combining travelogue and interviews with history, reportage, and an astute analysis of recent political events, he provides a well-rounded book that's a must read for anyone interested in Ukraine or Russia.
Focus on: The Middle East
Down the Nile: Alone in a Fisherman's Skiff by Rosemary MahoneyIf you're a woman who wants to row down the Egyptian Nile alone, you might want to bring your own boat. That's what author Rosemary Mahoney found out in 1998 when, due to her sex and lack of a husband, she had trouble buying one. Thankfully, she finally obtained a fisherman's skiff and was soon on her way down the famous river, stopping at various points along the way and dealing with the heat, worries about crocodiles, and cultural differences. Excerpts from the 1849 Egyptian Nile travel diaries of Florence Nightingale and Gustave Flaubert add a historical touch to Mahoney's beautifully written, eye-opening modern adventure.
The Ministry of Guidance Invites You To Not Stay: An American Family in Iran by Hooman MajdAfter 50-year-old Iranian-American journalist Hooman Majd married and had a son with his American wife, Karri, the family moved to Tehran for a year...at a time when relations between the U.S. and Iran were tense, to say the least. But the couple wanted Majd -- who'd left the country of his birth as a child -- to get reacquainted with his homeland, and they wanted to introduce their son to the Iranian part of his heritage. Though they dealt with the unfamiliar (Iranian security, fasting during Ramadan, and Karri wearing a headscarf), they also found some things were familiar (parties, Facebook, and organic food). Offering an intimate insight into a country and its people, Majd's third book is also his most personal.
Heirs to Forgotten Kingdoms: Journeys into the Disappearing Religions of the Middle East by Gerard RussellThough Islam is the most common religion practiced in the Middle East, there are dozens of others that most Westerners know very little about. In this enlightening book, a curious former British diplomat who lived in the area for over a decade provides an accessible introduction to many of the minor religions that have survived for hundreds of years but are now in danger of becoming extinct. Traveling around the Middle East, Gerard Russell learns about and meets Yazidis, Zoroastrians, Copts, Druze, Samaritans, Kalasha, Mandaeans, Manicheans, and others, and engagingly shares what he learns with readers. "Fascinating and gracefully written," says Library Journal.
House of Stone: A Memoir of Home, Family, and a Lost Middle East by Anthony ShadidWhen two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning American journalist Anthony Shadid visited the abandoned house his great-grandfather had built in southern Lebanon, he decided to restore the nearly 100-year-old two-story abode. In his great-grandfather's day, Christians (like his relatives) and Muslims resided peacefully together -- but for years, the town had been affected by often-violent conflicts, including 18 years of Israeli occupation. In this thoughtful, evocative memoir, he explores renovation projects, identity, family, war, change, and the meaning of home. Just before the 2012 publication of this National Book Award finalist, the amazingly talented Shadid died from an asthma attack while reporting in Syria.
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