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Blog posts of '2015' 'January'

The Romani Gypsies
The Romani, Roma, Roms or Gypsies (a misnomer which has survived since Europeans thought they were Egyptians) have intrigued many a European vacationer. In the absence of a consistent narrative about the itinerant people, many Westerners who encounter Roms in their travels rely on fictional depictions of the culture, leading them to consider Roms as merely exotic entertainment or even as a minor threat. In his new book The Romani Gypsies, Yaron Matras, professor of Linguistics and editor of the journal Romani Studies, challenges the stereotypes surrounding this ostracized community throughout Europe and America.
An Interview with Marie Mockett
Author Marie Mutsuki Mockett discusses her frequent travels to Japan in the wake of the 2011 tsunami, captured in her new travel memoir Where the Dead Pause, and the Japanese Say Goodbye. Her book is an unpretentious and engaging introduction to Japanese culture and Zen Buddhism as well as an exploration of how a particular culture accepts loss and alleviates suffering.
  Longitude. Rather than being the record of a straight chronological journey, your book gathers several different trips to Japan into one narrative. How would you describe the guiding force behind your journey as a whole? Mockett.
Sigiriya, Sri Lanka
Kindly contributed by Nayomi Munaweera, whose debut novel Island of a Thousand Mirrors alternates between the stories of two young women on either side of the Sri Lankan Civil War between the Tamil and Sinhala people, exploring human struggle through a re-imagining of Sri Lanka's 1983 revolution. When the brutal conflict erupts on the island paradise, the jasmine-scented air mixes with the smell of gasoline, wealthy families flee for California and youths stay and fight. Amidst all the turmoil and trouble, Munaweera delivers a passionate portrait of place. Winner of the Commonwealth Book Prize for Asia, Munaweera's work has been compared to that of her countryman
The Burma Spring
Award-winning journalist Rena Pederson delivers an inspiring biography of the charismatic Aung San Suu Kyi, whose life and work has served as inspiration for Burma's first steps toward democracy. Drawing on exclusive interviews with Suu Kyi since her release from her 15-year house arrest, Pederson sheds new light on the hardships Suu Kyi and her people endured in their on-going struggle for liberty. The insightful biography opens with Pederson's secret interview with "The Lady" in 2003, revealing an intimate side to Burma's pro-democracy leader.
Where to Go in 2015
Puzzling over where to go in 2015? We took ten of National Geographic’s Best Trips for 2015 and paired them with our favorite books to read while visiting each unique location. For more of National Geographic’s Best of the World, click here. For more ideas of what to read, revisit our Best Travel Books of 2014. When in The Presidio, San Francisco, read the chapter designated to the park in Gary Kamiya’s Cool Gray City of Love (SFO64, $16.00).
Where the Dead Pause, and the Japanese Say Goodbye
When her American father unexpectedly passes away, Marie Mutsuki Mockett seeks consolation in her mother’s home country of Japan. Her relatives own a Buddhist temple near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, where, after the 2011 tsunami, radiation levels prohibit the burial of her grandfather, who has also recently passed. Burdened with these personal sorrows, Mockett travels in the wake of the storm to explore the grief of others as she seeks her own path toward healing. In her new book Where the Dead Pause, and the Japanese Say Goodbye, Mockett records her travels across the island nation. She treks around the base of Mt.
The Qinling Mountains
Copyright: Thomas Marent
Kindly contributed by photographer and biologist Thomas Marent, whose new book Like Us presents 130 primate species, from the unmistakably large Congolese mountain gorilla to the tiniest primate, the mouse lemur. Marent captures the primates' personalities, drawing us closer to our nearest relatives.
The Earth Is My Witness
“The Earth is my witness,” Siddhartha said, and with that acceptance of the Earth and acknowledgement of what is owed to it, he became the Buddha. The phrase is a fitting title for Art Wolfe’s latest book, The Earth Is My Witness, an artful celebration of the planet's fast-disappearing landscapes, wildlife and cultures as captured by the lens of the veteran photographer. Having studied both art and anthropology, Wolfe’s work displays a diversity of animal life, natural landscapes untouched by modernity and intimate portraits of indigenous peoples.
Wild
Cheryl Strayed
Cheryl Strayed's memoir about her dramatic trek along the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), Wild, has been out for awhile now, but it's seeing a resurgence in readers with the release of the new film starring Reese Witherspoon as the inexperienced young hiker.