Blog posts tagged with 'BOOK OF THE WEEK'

The Return
hishammatar windowWriter Hisham Matar gained international recognition with his debut novel, In the Country of Men, which uses the perspective of a nine-year-old boy to show life in Libya following the 1969 revolution. Under dictator Muammar Gaddafi, Libya entered an oppressive, terrifying regime, which banished and murdered critics and committed brutal war crimes, leaving the country in a quiet state of terror. Matar has first-hand knowledge of these troubled times as a native Libyan who spent the first six years of his life in Tripoli. During these years, his father Jaballa bravely carried on illegal activities as a political dissident against the Gaddafi regime.
The Naturalist
There are myriad ways that a president can leave a legacy. Darrin Lunde’s new biography The Naturalist: Theodore Roosevelt and the Rise of American Natural History examines the life, legacy and political career of Theodore Roosevelt through the prism of his fascination with nature and valiant efforts to preserve wildlife for future generations. As Supervisory Museum Specialist at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, Lunde is especially interested in Roosevelt’s study of the natural world, which began at a surprisingly young age.
The Hour of Land
USA592America’s national parks—celebrating a centennial anniversary this August—draw over 300 million visitors a year. “What are we searching for,” Terry Tempest Williams wonders at the beginning of her new collection of essays The Hour of Land, “and what do we find?” Williams counts herself among those millions of travelers as she explores her relationship to twelve national parks and monuments across the United States, from Effigy Mounds in Iowa to Gates of the Arctic.
Sixty Degrees North
Shetland IslandsThe Shetland Islands are a Scottish archipelago located to the northwest of Great Britain. Visitors to Shetland are told that the island lies upon the 60th parallel, as though this means something. And to many locals, it does. For them, the 60th parallel signifies that the archipelago is more than just isolated islands—it is connected to the larger world in a meaningful way. When Shetland native Malachy Tallack was 16, his father died. “It was the kind of quiet, ordinary day on which nothing extraordinary ought to happen. But it did,” he writes. Shortly after the funeral, he found himself staring out the window of his house in Lerwick, Shetland, imagining the 60th parallel unfolding before him into the distance.
Greek Mythology: A Traveler's Guide
author photoGreek myths are more than just important stories; the epic tales are rooted in the Mediterranean itself. That's the philosophy of author David Stuttard whose new book Greek Mythology: A Traveler's Guide from Mount Olympus to Troy explores Greece through myth. From 'must see' cities like Athens and Ephesus to less-explored places like Ithaca, Argos and Mount Pelion, he encourages readers to bring the Greek landscape to life through story. Myths were common currency in the ancient Greek empire, Stuttard explains. They pervaded nearly all aspects of everyday life.
CAS248“Can any other place on earth provide such a feast for the senses?” Caroline Eden wonders in the introduction to her new book Samarkand: Recipes and Stories from Central Asia and the Caucasus. She describes her first visit to the fabled city of the Silk Road as time travel to a place that has been at the crossroads of culture for centuries. Along with her co-author Eleanor Ford, Eden captures the sensual experience of Samarkand through sumptuous recipes, gorgeous color photographs and personal reminiscences and historical anecdotes that fill out the textures and flavors of the place.
Mother Tongue
Mothertongue coverA writer, blogger, photographer, documentarian and adventurer, Christine Gilbert is also a wife and mother—but she hasn’t let her multiple roles slow her down. If anything, her familial responsibilities compelled her to embark on more adventures, which she has compiled in her memoir Mother Tongue. When she was pregnant with her first child, Gilbert began researching the benefits of multilingualism and was impressed by her findings. Most remarkably, she learned that those who spoke two or more languages could delay the advent of dementia by as many as five years.
The Voyage of the Beagle
darwincoverCharles Darwin's book The Voyage of the Beagle remains a singular achievement, not just in the travel literature canon, but in modern science. Yet few are aware how unique the Beagle's voyage was, who brought Darwin on board and how the Beagle shaped Darwin's career. This gorgeously produced book by maritime historian James Taylor brings all the strands of the Beagle's story into a single volume (of the same name). It pairs the firsthand commentary of letters, diary entries, official narratives and shipboard charts with over 200 full-color photographs, drawings and paintings for an engrossing read.
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.
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