People & Places newsletter – April 2015
Welcome to the latest People & Places newsletter. This month we have featured a new Gallipoli travel book in light of ANZAC Day on April 25th. Our biographies section takes on a royal theme, contrasted with the memoir of David Lodge’s lower-middle-class London family. We also have some great new history picks that will transport you as a reader. We hope you find something new to enjoy!
Many of of our picks are memoirs this month, and most of the authors would agree with David Lodge that the year of their birth was quite a good time to be born. Lodge, celebrated for his humorous novels about English academic life, has written of the life that inspired them – his own. We also feature some royal romance stories as well as exploring the life of heiress Sophia Duleep Singh. Happy reading!
|Quite a good time to be born : a memoir : 1935-1975 / David Lodge.
“The only child in a lower-middle-class London family, who got his artistic genes from his musician father and his Catholic faith from his Irish-Belgian mother, David Lodge was four when World War II began and grew to maturity through decades of great social and cultural change, giving him plenty to write about in his distinguished career. In this memoir of his life up to the publication of his breakthrough book, ‘Changing Places’, David looks back over his childhood and youth.” (Global Books summary)
|Royal love stories : the tales behind the real-life romances of Europe’s Kings & Queens / Gill Paul ; introduction by Camilla Tominey.
“Historically, many royal marriages have represented the unions of dynasties, with true engagements of the heart notable for their rarity. Yet royal couples could fall in love, and this book is full of surprises, from the undying love that the last Tsar of Russia, Nicholas II, felt for his Tsarina, to the unlikely love that flourished between Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.” (Global Books summary)
|Sophia : princess, suffragette, revolutionary / Anita Anand.
“BBC radio and television journalist Anand tells the story of Sophia Duleep Singh (1876-1948), born in exile in England but the rightful heiress to a rich and mighty Indian empire-the Kingdom of the Sikhs. Raised as a privileged Englishwoman with Queen Victoria for a godmother, Sophia’s life took an unexpected turn when she dared to travel to her ancestral home in India. While there, she found herself moved by the plight of her kinsmen who languished under British rule.” (Library Journal)
|The truant from medicine : how a decent young doctor was seduced to the dark side / Ivan M. Donaldson.
“This engaging memoir tells how the author has integrated the two great loves of his life. It’s the story of one of this country’s wine pioneers but also the fascinating account of a life in medicine, spent plumbing the deep mysteries of the human brain.” (Wellington City Libraries catalogue note).
Travel stories & guides
There are books of many different travel experiences this month, and with the 25th April coming up, our first choice is a study and guide to visiting Gallipoli.
There is also one about the High Line in New York City, the best women’s travel writing in one volume and tips for travelling on a budget. Go forth and see the world!
|Gallipoli – 100 years : a comprehensive study and guide to visiting / Michael John Mathews.
“The comprehensive ‘one-stop shop’ to Gallipoli covering all aspects of the campaign and a guide to getting around. Low level aerial colour photographs, detailed colour maps and diagrams. Profile of military leaders, events leading to, submarines, aircraft, conditions, casualties, the three battlefield theatres and engagements in detail-Anzac, Helles, Suvla. Time line, VCs, six walks or challenges, measured guide covering all points of interest, how to get there, where to stay, being there.” (Syndetics summary)
|On the high line : exploring America’s most original urban park / by Annik La Farge ; preface, additional text, and photographs, Rick Darke ; principal photography, Scott Mlyn, Juan Valentin ; art direction and design, Lorraine Ferguson.
“…When the High Line opened in 2009 it was expected to attract around 300,000 visitors a year. In 2013, more than four million came. A survey by Travel & Leisure ranked it #10 on a list of the world’s most popular landmarks. On the High Line, first published in 2012, is an engaging guide to everything a visitor sees when strolling through the park: the innovative gardens and their thousands of native and exotic plant species; the architecture, both old and new, industrial and residential; and a neighborhood whose colorful history includes the birth of the railroad, the Manhattan Project, S&M clubs, and the legendary Tenth Avenue Cowboy.” (adapted from Amazon.com)
|The best women’s travel writing. Volume 10 : true stories from around the world / edited by Lavinia Spalding.
“…thirty celebrated and emerging writers invite you to ride shotgun as they travel the globe to discover new places, people, and facets of themselves. The essays are as diverse as the destinations, the common thread being fresh, compelling storytelling that will make you laugh, weep, wish you were there, or thank your lucky stars you weren’t. The Best Women’s Travel Writing speaks to the reasons why we travel-and how travel changes our lives.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)
|How to travel the world on $50 a day : travel cheaper, longer, smarter / Matt Kepnes.
“…No money? No problem. You can start packing your bags for that trip you’ve been dreaming a lifetime about. For more than half a decade, Matt Kepnes (aka Nomadic Matt) has been showing readers of his enormously popular travel blog that traveling isn’t expensive and that it’s affordable to all. He proves that as long as you think out of the box and travel like locals, your trip doesn’t have to break your bank, nor do you need to give up luxury. …Offering a blend of advice ranging from travel hacking to smart banking, you’ll learn how to: * Avoid paying bank fees anywhere in the world * Earn thousands of free frequent flyer points * Find discount travel cards that can save on hostels, tours, and transportation * Get cheap (or free) plane tickets. Whether it’s a two-week, two-month, or two-year trip, Nomadic Matt shows you how to stretch your money further so you can travel cheaper, smarter, and longer.” (Syndetics summary)
This month’s recent history picks are big on mood and journey. Atmospheres take on an interiorized and reflective tone in Adam Thorpe’s On Silbury Hill. Jason Ng’s exploration of Hong Kong is both breath-taking and intimate. These are picks for readers that want to feel transported.
|Paper love : searching for the girl my grandfather left behind / Sarah Wildman.
“Wildman takes an unexpected journey through her family’s past to piece together her grandfather’s history and uncover the fate of a young woman bound in unforeseen ways to her own life. Always believing that her grandfather had been incredibly blessed and extremely lucky to escape from Vienna and Nazi persecution on the eve of WWII, the author was surprised to discover, after her grandfather’s death, a cache of passionate letters from Valy, her grandfather’s first love. Determined to track the tragic trajectory of her grandfather’s early life a bitter chapter he repressed and glossed over for years and to retrace the harrowing odyssey of the woman he left behind, she traveled the globe in search of evidence and answers.” (Booklist)
|On Silbury Hill / Adam Thorpe.
“Silbury Hill in Wiltshire, England, has inspired and perplexed people for generations. Artists and poets have fathomed their deepest thoughts searching for the hill’s hidden meanings, archaeologists have tunneled through earth for fragments that prove its purpose. But for all this endeavor, Silbury Hill remains a mystery. On Silbury Hill is Adam Thorpe’s own projection onto Silbury’s grassy slopes. Twenty years after the publication of his classic novel Ulverton, the acclaimed poet and novelist revisits the landscape that inspired him. It is a chalkland memoir, told in fragments and family snapshots, skillfully built, layer on layer, from Britain’s ancient and modern past.” (Amazon.com summary)
|Hong Kong state of mind : 37 views of a city that doesn’t blink / Jason Y. Ng.
“Hong Kong is a mixed bag of a city. It is where Mercedes outnumber taxi cabs, partygoers count down to Christmas every December 24, and larger-than-life billboards of fortune tellers and cram school tutors compete with breathtaking skylines. Hong Kong State of Mind is a collection of essays by a popular blogger who zeroes in on the city’s idiosyncrasies with deadpan precision. At once an outsider looking in and an insider looking out, Ng has created something for everyone: a travel journal for the passing visitor, a user’s manual for the wide-eyed expat, and an open diary for the native Hong Konger looking for moments of reflection.” (Syndetics sumary)