Blog posts of '2015' 'August'

The World on a Plate
“When we eat, we travel.” That’s the mindset of British writer, intrepid eater and Guardian Food editor Mina Holland, and it’s the motive behind her debut book The World on a Plate: 40 Cuisines, 100 Recipes and the Stories Behind Them. To Holland, the taste of authentic, local cuisine is the best way to experience a place. The geography, history and spirit of a locale are often contained in its iconic food, with ingredients that typify the land and preparation that’s been shaped by historical necessity (like the pasty or the French baguette). Very often, she explains, the meals we eat abroad stick in our memories just as well (or better) than the places we browse. Those priceless paintings at the Louvre? Mostly forgotten.
An Interview with Paula McLain
Best-selling author Paula McLain agreed to answer our questions about 1920s Kenya, the extraordinary life of record-setting aviatrix Beryl Markham and what it means to write historical fiction. In her new book Circling the Sun, McLain re-imagines 1920s Kenya and the extraordinary life of record-setting aviator Beryl Markham. Abandoned by her mother and raised on a failing farm among the native Kipsigis tribe, Markham eventually enters the bohemian Happy Valley set and becomes entangled in a love triangle with safari hunter Denys Finch Hatton and author Karen Blixen. Markham's passion and fate, however, would converge in the golden-age world of aviation.
Top Ten Fall Travel Titles
Autumn is the perfect time for reflection, as we return from our summer travels and begin to dream up new destinations. To help inspire you, we've culled a list of the top ten new travel books we're excited to see published this fall. It's your season, armchair travelers, so curl up with some hot cider and prepare to be taken to new places. For more forthcoming travel books, click here. Plotted, A Literary Atlas.
A Woman in Arabia
“I summoned my sheiks,” Sheikh Fahd Beg ibn Hadhdhal told Gertrude Bell upon reading one of her letters, “I read them your letter and I said to them, Oh Sheikhs…This is a woman—what must the men be like!” A similar sense of awe at Bell’s sheer bravado, intelligence and wide-ranging accomplishments grip the reader of her letters, journals, military dispatches and travel writing newly collected in the Penguin edition of A Woman in Arabia: The Writings of the Queen of the Desert. The anthology, edited by Georgina Howell, author of
The Yucatan
Kindly contributed by writer and photographer MacDuff Everton, who spent more than four decades living among the Maya. In his book, The Modern Maya, Everton updates our perception of Maya culture by revealing how individuals and families live, work and preserve their rich culture today. Everton is a contributing editor at National Geographic Traveler and author of the book Patagonia: La Ultima Esperanza.
  The Maya and the conquering Spanish looked at the land and saw two completely different realities—the difference between Spain and Yucatán could hardly be greater.
Lost Among the Baining
Gail Pool looks back with humor and insight on the year she and her husband conducted anthropological research among the Baining -- a remote tribe located in the New Britain province of Papua New Guinea. Fresh out of Harvard, the ambitious youths pursue their fieldwork among a people even the renowned anthropologist Gregory Bateson warns them against. The Baining, according to Bateson and other experts in the field, are a “very shy and frightened” people who speak an “abominable” language and, at bottom, are “monstrously difficult to work with.” Undaunted, the couple ignores precautions to maintain their sense of identity and goes native, forging a life in the wilderness of Papua New Guinea.
Stanford Dolman Award Shortlist
It's that time of year again, when an esteemed group of travel writers -- this year Jeremy Seal, Sara Wheeler, Robert Macfarlane, Katie Hickman, Jason Goodwin and Oliver Bullough, headed up by chairman Barnaby Rogerson (proprietor of Eland Books) -- gather to judge the year's best travel writing. On September 28 the newly named Stanford Dolman Travel Book Award of 5,000 pounds will be awarded to one of the following titles selected for the 2015 shortlist. You can view previous winners of the Dolman Travel Book Award here.
Circling the Sun
On the heels of her internationally acclaimed The Paris Wife, Paula McLain has written a second historical novel based on the life of another overlooked woman from the early 1900s. While her previous book was about Ernest Hemingway’s first wife, Hadley Richardson, Circling the Sun follows Beryl Markham, a woman Hemingway deeply admired and, as rumor has it, propositioned unsuccessfully on safari. In fact, Hemingway so esteemed Markham’s memoir West with the Night that he was “completely ashamed of [himself] as a writer.
Varanasi, India
Kindly contributed by Piers Moore Ede, author of the new book Kaleidoscope City. Whether he is attending Ramalila -- the city's annual performance of the Ramayana, talking those who work the cremation ghats along the Ganges or simply searching for the best mithai, or sweet, in town, Ede presents a vibrant, kaleidoscopic portrait of contemporary Varanasi.
  There are certain cities which offer up their charms immediately: navigation is easy, comfortable accommodation abounds, the right views materialise before one’s camera. Other cities are far less easy. First time visitors find themselves lost in the backstreets, ripped off by touts, unable to reach the city of their expectation.
In the tradition of the great literary pilots like Antoine de Saint-Exupery and Beryl Markham, Mark Vanhoenacker's new book Skyfaring provides a meditation on modern-day flight. A commercial airline pilot, Vanhoenacker speaks from the cockpit to the questions of the everyday traveler. What was his first flight experience like? How does he manage the jet lag? Has he ever seen anything “up there” he can’t explain? Vanhoenacker explains a lot, from the working life of a commercial flight crew to the physics of flight.