Travel stories from the past and the present

This month: journey from a remote Italian mountain village, to a canal boat in World War II England; from the rich farming land of Southern France and Northern Spain, to the banks of the Tigris River. Experience all this and more in our new travel book picks – have a browse!

Syndetics book coverViolin lessons / Arnold Zable.
“From the songs of Arab diva Umm Khultum on the banks of the Tigris to The strains of a young boy playing the violin for his mother in Melbourne, to the swing jazz of the nightclubs and cabarets of 1940s Baghdad, a fisherman playing a flute on the banks of the Mekong, and Paganini in the borderlands of eastern Poland… Music weaves its way through each of these spellbinding stories… Arnold Zable takes the reader on an intimate journey into the lives of people he met on travels over the last forty years…” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThin paths : journeys in and around an Italian mountain village / Julia Blackburn.
“You come across the shell of a ruined house. It could be anywhere in southern Europe where people once lived and then moved away because there was no work to hold them there… The house is remote, but it is surrounded by a tracery of thin paths… Julia Blackburn and her husband moved to a little house in the mountains of northern Italy in 1999. She arrived as a stranger speaking no Italian, but a series of events brought her close to the old people of the village. They began to tell her stories that made the landscape come alive, repopulating it with their vivid memories…” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMaidens’ trip : a wartime adventure on the Grand Union Canal / Emma Smith.
“In 1943 Emma Smith joined the Grand Union Canal Carrying Company under their wartime scheme of employing women to replace the boaters. She set out with two friends on a big adventure: three eighteen-year-olds, freed from a middle-class background, precipitated into the boating fraternity. They learn how to handle a pair of seventy-two foot-long canal boats, how to carry a cargo of steel north from London to Birmingham and coal from Coventry; how to splice ropes, bail out bilge water, keep the engine ticking over and steer through tunnels. They live off kedgeree and fried bread and jam, adopt a kitten, lose their bicycles, laugh and quarrel and get progressively dirtier and tougher as the weeks go by.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLast train to paradise : journeys from the golden age of New Zealand railways / Graham Hutchins.
“‘Last Train to Paradise’ describes the halcyon days of New Zealand rail, some of which the author was fortunate enough to experience personally. The ‘name’ trains and journeys cover a considerable period of New Zealand’s history, from the late 1800s, through the ‘golden’ era of train travel (the first four decades of the 20th century). Among the special journeys covered are the Prince of Wales’ royal progress through New Zealand in 1920, and travelling the ‘Test Match Special’ to enjoy the rugby in 1956. The book also includes a wide variety of fascinating and unfamiliar photographs, not just of the trains themselves but also of the characters who travelled in them.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverInflight science : a guide to the world from your airplane window / Brian Clegg.
“…Beginning at the airport, he (Clegg) takes the reader through the trip chronologically, explaining how security scans your luggage, explicating the magnetic field of a body scan… He then identifies the plane’s parts and expounds on the physics of flying. Once in the air, Clegg explains the landscape out the window (even the Nazca Lines, in case you’re flying over Peru), covering the fractals of streams and why rivers meander, among other subjects. With time devoted to clouds, time zones, jet lag, technology, eclipses, and outer space, Clegg also includes more esoteric details, such as why you can’t get a good cup of tea on board…” – (adapted from Publisher Weekly)

Syndetics book coverA food lover’s pilgrimage to Santiago : walking and eating along the camino through the south of France and northern Spain / Dee Nolan.
“A thousand-year-old pilgrimage route and food traditions stretching back de toda la vida – since forever. These are what Dee Nolan set out to experience on her pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela – through the rich farming lands of southern France and northern Spain, green Spain. The monks who came here in the Middle Ages to look after the first pilgrims planted grapevines from their homelands far away. Now food lovers come seeking the magnificent wines made using grapes grown in those same ancient vineyards, along with sublime cooking and fresh, luscious produce…” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)