Our picks of the new travel books this month are an eccentric bunch, filled with hairy hikers and unusual approaches to travel. Like Europe On 5 Wrong Turns a Day by Doug Mack — who decided to get lost on the beaten track (for a change), following a 1963 guide to Europe. Or Sinning Across Spain, the story of Ailsa Piper’s 1300 kilometre walk from the southern city of Granada to Galicia carrying sins donated by her friends and colleagues — in the tradition of medieval believers, or scammers, who paid others to carry their sins to holy places, and so buy forgiveness. Plus, tales of bad behavior at 35,000 feet in Heather Poole’s memoir of 15 years as a flight attendant — a slightly different experience of travel. Enjoy!
Antonia and her daughters / Marlena de Blasi.
“Lured by the offer of a simple stone cottage in the remote, mountainous region of western Tuscany, distant from the distractions of her everyday life with Fernando in Orvieto, she (Marlena de Blasi) sets off for some much-needed solitude. But her plans to live simply, in peace and quiet, are overturned when she meets the imperious, tempestuous Antonia, the still-stunning, elderly matriarch of a large, complicated family of four generations of beautiful blue-eyed Italian women, all with stories and ideas of their own.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)
The hairy hikers : a coast-to-coast trek along the French Pyrenees / David Le Vay.
“Fuelled by a degree of mid-life crisis and the need to escape, albeit temporarily, the dull routine of modern life, David and Rob set out to walk from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean, taking in French villages, beautiful scenery and one of the most spectacular mountain ranges in Europe. Just about perfect — if you can put aside the inevitable conflict, drama and unexpected tedium that results from two men spending over seven solid weeks in each other’s company!” (adapted from Syndetics summary)
Le road trip : a traveler’s journal of love and France / Vivian Swift.
“Le Road Trip combines the appeal of the iconic American quest with France’s irresistible allure, offering readers a totally new perspective of life on the road. Le Road Trip tells the story of one idyllic French honeymoon trip, but it is also a witty handbook of tips and advice on how to thrive as a traveler, a captivating visual record with hundreds of watercolor illustrations, and a chronicle depicting the incomparable charms of being footloose in France. Armchair travelers, die-hard vagabonds, art journalists, and red wine drinkers will all find something to savor in this story.” (Syndetics summary)
Cruising attitude : tales of crashpads, crew drama, and crazy passengers at 35,000 feet / Heather Poole.
“Flying the not-so-friendly skies… In her more than fifteen years as an airline flight attendant, Heather Poole has seen it all. She’s witnessed all manner of bad behavior at 35,000 feet and knows what it takes for a traveler to become the most hated passenger onboard… Heather’s true stories in Cruising Attitude are surprising, hilarious, sometimes outrageously incredible the very juiciest of “galley gossip” delightfully intermingled with the eye-opening, unforgettable chronicle of her fascinating life in the sky.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)
Trans-Siberian Railway / Anthony Haywood … [et al.].
“”The Trans-Siberian routes are some of the greatest rail journeys of the world. Whichever one you choose, it’s a rewarding experience of changing landscapes and culture, people and of life on the rails.” – Anthony Haywood, Lonely Planet Writer. Inside This Book… 8 authors 7 time zones 15,000+ km of railway track. Countless breathtaking vistas. Inspirational photos. Clear, easy-to-use maps. Comprehensive planning tools. Life on the Rails feature. In-depth background. Easy-to-read layout” (adapted from Syndetics summary)
Paris, I love you but you’re bringing me down / Rosecrans Baldwin.
“An offbeat, up-to-date, surprising entry in the expat canon, this is a book about a young man who witnesses his Paris preconceptions replaced by the oddities of a vigorous, nervy city–exactly what he needs to uncover a Paris of his own, and fall in love with the city all over again.” (Syndetics summary)
Sinning across Spain : a walker’s journey from Granada to Galicia / Ailsa Piper.
“SINNING ACROSS SPAIN is the story of Ailsa Piper’s 1300 kilometre walk from the southern city of Granada to Galicia, “the bathtub of Spain”, in the far northwest, carrying an unusual cargo. Aside from 10 kilograms of practicalities, she also lugged a load of sins in her swag. In the tradition of medieval believers, or scammers, who paid others to carry their sins to holy places, and so buy forgiveness, Ailsa asked her colleagues and friends to donate a sin. She then shouldered them across country, being taunted and tempted by them along the way, and trying to discover the mysteries of faith.” (Syndetics summary)
Europe on 5 wrong turns a day : one man, eight countries, one vintage travel guide / Doug Mack.
“Prepare to Get Lost on the Beaten Path… When Doug Mack picked up a 1963 edition of Europe on Five Dollars a Day, he stumbled on an inspired idea: to boldly go where millions have gone before, relying only on the advice of a travel guide that’s nearly a half century out-of-date. Add to the mix his mother’s much- documented grand tour through Europe in the late 1960s, and the result is a funny and fascinating journey into a new (old) world, and a disarming look at the ways the classic tourist experience has changed- and has not-in the last generation.” (Syndetics summary)
Back roads : Northern and Central Italy / contributors, Gillian Arthur … [et al.]
“DK Eyewitness Back Roads Italy takes you away from the main roads to beautiful villages and picturesque landscapes. It uses in-depth local knowledge to create driving tours full of original ideas for activities, off-the-beaten-track stops, and authentic places to eat and to stay. The itineraries include guided walks through historic towns or unspoiled countryside, the rules of the road, detailed maps, clear driving instructions, road conditions and the length of the drive to parking information and opening hours of restaurants and attractions plus a range of activities and tips on buying local crafts and produce.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)
New Zealand / [contributors, Helen Corrigan … [et al.]
“Packed with photographs, illustrations and detailed maps, Eyewitness Travel Guide: New Zealand will lead you straight to the best attractions this exciting country has to offer. Discover New Zealand region by region; from the glistening glaciers on the West Coast to the surfers’ paradise Central North Island. The guide provides insider tips every visitor needs from the country’s best deep-sea fishing spots to the best bridges for bungee jumping, with comprehensive listings of the best hotels, resorts, restaurants and nightlife in each region for all budgets. There are 3D cutaways and floor-plans of all the must-see sites plus street-by-street maps of all the fascinating cities and towns of New Zealand.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)