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Blog posts tagged with 'BOOK OF THE WEEK'

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.
Migrations: Wildlife in Motion
wildebeest and zebrasBehind every photograph in Art Wolfe's now-classic collection Migrations: Wildlife in Motion are the primordial stirrings that prompt animals to travel incredible distances. Revised, updated and back in print, the coffee table book portrays large animal populations in motion around the globe. Wolfe catches gaggles of geese, herds of cattle, parcels of penguins and flamboyances of flamingos in M.C. Escher-inspired patterns, the masterful photographs a reminder that cyclical migrations are some of the world's most awe-inspiring phenomena.
Why the Dutch are Different
What makes one culture stand out from another can be as deeply rooted as a tulip bulb and as subtle as that flower’s scent. To discover just what makes the Dutch different from their fellow Europeans, Ben Coates—a British transplant who found himself stranded on a layover in Amsterdam, and stayed—traveled the Netherlands, participating in festivals, viewing art, observing religion and studying the country’s landscape and history. He recorded his findings in his delightful book Why the Dutch are Different. The water, is one answer.
The Silk Roads
Finding Western history rigidly focused on the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, in his new book The Silk Roads: A New History of the World Oxford historian Peter Frankopan reorients readers towards Asia. The result is a tour-de-force that is well over 600 pages and spans from Israel to China, from the Agricultural Revolution to the second term of President Obama. Far from being mere trade routes, the Silk Roads were an essential first step to today's complex and interconnected world.
The Medici
It would be difficult to write a boring book about the Medici, but it takes a thoughtful writer to weave the many complex storylines of Italy’s most infamous ruling family into an accessible narrative that is both entertaining and informing. Paul Strathern has done exactly this in his latest release The Medici: Power, Money and Ambition in the Italian Renaissance. In his straightforward history, Strathern chronicles the rise of the Medici, briefly covering the earliest descendants before launching into the origins of the Medici Bank. This well-oiled banking system was extremely profitable and far-reaching, eventually obtaining the papal account and establishing branches across Europe.
Elephant Complex
The island nation of Sri Lanka is home to around 5,800 elephants. The lumbering creatures traverse the teardrop island on alimankadas, or elephant paths, their entire lives, circling back to the same well-trodden routes again and again. In his latest book Elephant Complex, journalist John Gimlette employs the metaphor to explore Sri Lankan history, which, he writes, “never feels quite circular. Rather, there are recurring series of points of arrival and departure …No one is quite back where they started, and yet the same story will begin again, perhaps somewhere else.
The Lonely City
Independent travelers understand that exploring the world alone can be an enriching experience, leading to unique encounters and new perspectives. Alone, the traveler is free to reflect on what they see and more likely to engage with the strangers around them. But while solitary travel can be enriching, it can often be lonely, wrought with feelings of discomfort and isolation. For anyone who has experienced the alienation of being alone in a new place, Olivia Laing’s new book The Lonely City will be a welcome companion.
In Europe's Shadow
Like many travelers, journalist Robert Kaplan was first inspired to journey to Romania because of a book. In 1981, he served a year in the Israel Defense Forces and as his commitment drew to an end, he wondered what to do next. Serendipity intervened when he grabbed a copy of The Governments of Communist East Europe by H. Gordon Skilling off a dusty bookshelf. After absorbing the book, he decided to fly to Romania as soon as possible. “That book made me a foreign correspondent,” he reflects, “even though no one had hired me.” Kaplan credits that first trip with giving his life a direction that never altered.
This Divided Island
In the aftermath of the three-decade long Sri Lankan Civil War, journalists, governments and everyday Sri Lankan citizens continue to piece together an identity for the divided island. The long years of conflict between the majority Sinhalese government and the militant Tamil Tigers seeking an independent state ended in 2009 with the government-led annihilation of the Tigers. Travelers to the country today may not always see the remnants of the war, but they would be remiss not to join the conversation about it. New Delhi-based journalist Samanth Subramanian’s new book This Divided Island is an invitation to take part.
In Other Words
Language can be seen as a barrier to travel, or it can be part of the adventure. For Jhumpa Lahiri, author of bestselling short story collections and novels like Interpreter of Maladies and The Namesake, it is the latter. In her latest book Lahiri abandons not only her preferred genre of fiction but even the comfort of the English language and embarks on a new journey to document, in Italian, the process of learning a language.