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Blog posts of '2016' 'May'

An Interview with Ben Coates
BCoatesIn his new book Why the Dutch Are Different, English expat Ben Coates speaks to why the Netherlands is such a fascinating country, significant beyond its size. His probing narrative explains the importance of the color orange, the ongoing battle to keep water out, the Dutch love affairs with milk and beer, their attitudes toward nature and their world-famous culture of tolerance. We loved the book so much we just had to ask him more about just what makes the Dutch so different.
  Longitude.  As your title itself states, Dutch culture can be quite different from the rest of Europe.
Obock, Djibouti
house3Kindly contributed by travel writer Frank Bures, whose new book The Geography of Madness explores the phenomenon of culture-bound syndromes across the globe, from a community of men in Nigeria to believe their penises have been stolen to China, Singapore, Borneo and beyond. His quest: to understand "how our ideas can kill us, how our beliefs can save us and how these things quietly determine the course of our lives."
 
South of the Clouds
Book coverIn 1992, Bill Porter, a translator and interpreter of Chinese texts, produced a series of digestible, observant radio programs for a Hong Kong station about his travels through Yunnan in southwest China. Now, 14 years later, he has collected these pieces and reworked them for his latest travel narrative, South of the Clouds. Without a set itinerary, Porter has the luxury of developing spontaneous plans based on recommendations and is not shy about talking to the locals. Getting as close as he can via boat, train, or bus, Porter visits many isolated villages, tucked away in the mountains.
Obama Visits Hiroshima
JPN466On May 27 President Obama will become the first sitting U.S. president to visit Hiroshima, Japan since the U.S. first dropped an atomic bomb on the site at the end of World War II. In acknowledgement of the heavily symbolic act, we're recommending books to read about Hiroshima, including Odyssey's new guidebook, Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Hiroshima and Nagasaki, An Illustrated History, Anthology and Guide.
White Sands
GD“Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?” The first essay in Geoff Dyer’s new book White Sands asks these questions through Gauguin’s painting of the same title, which shows several Tahitian women in various poses of recline. Dyer travels to Tahiti in pursuit of the artist and the answers to the questions he scrawled in paint in the corner of his masterpiece. Dyer doesn’t find answers in Tahiti, any more than he finds that painting in Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts (it's on loan at the time of his visit). Rather, the questions follow him into each essay collected in
The Volcanoes of Guatemala
Kindly contributed by Longitude Assistant Editor Ashley Bergman Carlin, who recently traveled to Guatemala, drawn to the volcanoes always looming on the horizon. Here she shares a favorite spot of the best kind -- the kind that inspires the traveler to further explorations.
  While I found Antigua, the historic capital of Guatemala, charming, it wouldn’t be accurate to proclaim the city as a whole my favorite spot. No, only the western direction, where the active Volcan Fuego towers over the town, was my real favorite. The sight of the volcano is uplifting. There’s something about existing in the shadow of a marvel so grand, from manmade edifices like St.
An Interview with Olivia Laing
Olivia Laing’s books are not easily categorized. To the River is a survey not only of the Ouse River and the English countryside that spreads from its banks, but of the entire landscape of English literature, from Kenneth Grahame and Iris Murdoch to Virginia Woolf, whose complicated relationship to the river in which she drowned is delicately excavated and explored. In The Trip to Echo Spring she examines the link between creativity and alcohol through the work and lives of six American writers, traveling to the places that defined their lives. With 
The Geography of Madness
WLD299During high school, travel writer Frank Bures spent a year in Italy as an exchange student. When he returned, he writes in his new book The Geography of Madness, he was not the same person. But rather than accepting the simple adage that travel can be life-changing, Bures wants to know what happened. “How was that possible?” he asks. “How could moving from one place, from one language, from one culture to another…change who you are?” While the experience of culture shock and its aftermath is a familiar one, most travelers will not have encountered what Bures describes in subsequent travels that took him to Nigeria, Borneo, Singapore, China and elsewhere.