The Socrates Express: In Search of Life Lessons from Dead Philosophers by Eric WeinerWhat happened: Popular author Eric Weiner (The Geography of Bliss) traveled by train all over the world to explore philosophy in the places associated with 14 of history’s great thinkers, including Epicurus, Socrates, Confucius, Shōnagon, Thoreau, Nietzsche, and Gandhi.
Why you might like it: Weiner engagingly shows how each philosopher's work provides advice for today via sections like "How to Walk Like Rousseau" and "How to Grow Old Like Beauvoir."
Two Trees Make a Forest : In Search of My Family's Past Among Taiwan's Mountains and Coasts
by Jessica J. Lee
Lee hikes mountains home to Formosan flamecrests, birds found nowhere else on earth, and swims in a lake of drowned cedars. She bikes flatlands where spoonbills alight by fish farms, and learns about a tree whose fruit can float in the ocean for years, awaiting landfall. Throughout, Lee unearths surprising parallels between the natural and human stories that have shaped her family and their beloved island. Joyously attentive to the natural world, Lee also turns a critical gaze upon colonialist explorers who mapped the land and named plants, relying on and often effacing the labor and knowledge of local communities.
Alone: Lost Overboard in the Indian Ocean by Brett ArchibaldApril 2013: On a charter boat off the coast of Indonesia with a group of old surfer friends, 50-year-old South African Brett Archibald got sick in the middle of the night and fell overboard -- and no one noticed for hours.
What happened: Archibald dealt with rough weather, sharks, jellyfish, and his own thoughts and fears for over 28 hours. Meanwhile, his friends and others frantically tried to find him in the vast, remote region.
Reviewers say: "Solitude is terrifying and awe-inspiring in Alone" (The Wall Street Journal).
Traveling With Ghosts by Shannon Leone FowlerThe accident: Shannon Leone Fowler was swimming with her fiancé off the coast of Thailand when a poisonous box jellyfish wrapped around him, killing him in minutes.
What happened: Grief-stricken and unable to face the ocean and return to her marine biology studies, she traveled solo.
What sets it apart: In addition to describing trips taken by Fowler and her beloved, this engrossing, thoughtful travelogue details her travels after his death to places like Auschwitz, Bosnia, and Romania.
Alone Time: Four Seasons, Four Cities, and the Pleasures of Solitude by Stephanie RosenbloomWhat it is: New York Times travel writer Stephanie Rosenbloom's evocative travelogue describing solo trips to four cities in four seasons.
The pairings: spring in Paris, summer in Istanbul, fall in Florence, winter in New York.
Why you might like it: In addition to travel tips, including ones addressing safety, the book examines the pleasures of solo travel and new adventures, underpinning points with scientific studies.
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl StrayedStarring: Cheryl Strayed, a 26-year-old novice hiker whose troubles -- her mother's death, the end of her marriage, her own reckless behaviors -- send her solo hiking 1,100-miles of the Pacific Coast Trail (PCT), from California to Washington State.
Is it for you? Though the warm, witty book is centered around her time on the trail (snakes, bears, blisters), it also covers her emotional journey.
Media buzz: The bestselling Wild was the basis for the 2014 film starring Reese Witherspoon with a screenplay written by novelist Nick Hornby.
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