Why we travel: latest additions in travel writing

This month’s latest travel titles ask: Why do we travel? What are we searching for? From pilgrimages to culinary explorations, from adrenaline seeking to peaceful wanderings, these books tell the stories of people who have sought something from their travels, and were quite often surprised at the results.

Overdrive cover Through the Embers of Chaos, Dervla Murphy (ebook)
As Dervla Murphy crisscrossed the Balkans in a series of bicycle journeys, she recorded the griefs and confusions of the ordinary people, many of whom had showed extraordinary courage and resilience during that terrible ‘decade of decay’ and whose voices were so little heard during the conflict.   (Adapted from Overdrive description)

 

Overdrive cover Stranger Country, Monica Tan (ebook)
What happens when a 32-year-old first-generation Australian woman decides to chuck in a dream job, pack a sleeping bag and tent, and hit the long, dusty road for six months? In mid-2016, Monica left Sydney, unsure of her place in Australia. Stranger Country is the riveting account of the six months Monica drove and camped her way through some of Australia’s most beautiful and remote landscapes. ( Adapted from Overdrive description)

 

Overdrive cover Alice to Prague, Tanya Heaslip (ebook)
In 1994, Tanya Heaslip left her safe life as a lawyer in outback Australia and travelled to the post-communist Czech Republic. Dismissing concerns from family and friends that her safety and career were at risk, she arrived with no teaching experience whatsoever, to work at a high school in a town she’d never heard of, where the winters are frigid and plunge to sub-zero temperatures. (Overdrive description)

 

Overdrive cover Fiva, Gordon Stainforth (ebook)
In 1969, teenage twin brothers Gordon and John Stainforth set out… to climb the highest rock face in Europe — Norway’s Troll Wall. Poor judges of their own abilities, experience, and gear, they began the climb convinced they would return to their tent in time for afternoon tea. Within hours of starting the route, things went terribly wrong. Fiva is the story that Gordon Stainforth lived to tell, 40 years later. (Adapted from Overdrive description)

 

Walking to Jerusalem : blisters, hope and other facts on the ground : sacred and profane reflections on the Just Walk to Jerusalem 10 June – 2 November 2017 / Butcher, Justin
2017 marked three anniversaries for the Palestinian people: 100 years since the Balfour Declaration; 50 years since the Six-day War; and ten years since the Blockade of Gaza. As an act of penance, solidarity and hope, actor and musician Justin Butcher – along with ten other companions for the full route – walked from London to Jerusalem. (Adapted from Catalogue)

Overdrive cover The Cafe de Move-on Blues, Christopher Hope (ebook)
In White Boy Running, Christopher Hope explored how it felt and looked to grow up in a country gripped by an ‘absurd, racist insanity’. On a road trip thirty years later, Christopher goes in search of today’s South Africa; post-apartheid… of a future when race and colour would not count. Framed as a travelogue, this is a darkly comic, powerful and moving portrait of South Africa – an elegy to a living nation. (Adapted from Overdrive description)

 

Overdrive cover One More Croissant for the Road, Felicity Cloake (ebook)
The nation’s ‘taster in chief’ cycles across France in search of the definitive versions of classic French dishes. A land of glorious landscapes – a country large enough to give any journey an epic quality, but with a bakery on every corner. Each of the 21 ‘stages’ concludes with Felicity putting this new found knowledge to good use in a fresh and definitive recipe for each dish. (Adapted from Overdrive description)

 

Overdrive cover Outpost, Dan Richards (ebook)
There are still wild places out there on our crowded planet. Through a series of personal journeys, Dan Richards explores the appeal of far-flung outposts. Their untamed nature is part of their beauty and such places have long drawn the adventurous, the spiritual and the artistic. Richards explores landscapes which have inspired writers, artists and musicians, and asks: why are we drawn to wilderness? (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Interesting new travel books in June

This month features two books about walking journeys; one is Down the Nile, and the other is Walking New Orleans. Other books describe the delights of escaping to the ‘Med.’, how to have an entertaining family trip to London, and a delightful book about the weekly dinner shared between four Italian women… with author Marlena de Blasi.

Syndetics book coverBetween East and West : across the borderlands of Europe / Anne Applebaum.
“A vivid and human glimpse into Europe’s borderlands as they emerged from Soviet rule – back in print after nearly 20 years.
As Europe’s borderlands emerged from Soviet rule, Anne Applebaum travelled from the Baltic to the Black Sea, through Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine and the Carpathian mountains. Rich in vivid characters and stories of tragedy and survival, Between East and West illuminates the soul of a place, and the secret history of its people. Anne Applebaum is a historian and journalist, a regular columnist for the Washington Post and Slate, and the author of several books… She is the Director of Political Studies at the Legatum Institute in London, and she divides her time between Britain and Poland, where her husband, Radek Sikorski, serves as Foreign Minister.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWalking New Orleans : 30 tours exploring historic neighborhoods, waterfront districts, culinary and music corridors, and recreational wonderlands / Barri Bronston.
“From neighborhoods such as Lakeview and Mid-City to landmarks including the Saenger Theater and Mercedes Benz Superdome, from its restaurants and music clubs to its parks and museums, the Big Easy has regained the title of one of the world’s most fascinating cities. In Walking New Orleans , lifelong resident and writer Barri Bronston shares the love of her hometown through 30 self-guided tours that range from majestic St. Charles Avenue and funky Magazine Street to Bywater and Faubourg Marigny, two of the city’s “it” neighborhoods. Within each tour, she offers tips on where to eat, drink, dance, and play, for in addition to all the history, culture, and charm that New Orleans has to offer…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLet’s take the kids to London / David Stewart White and Deb Hosey White.
“…Not everyone travels the same way, and traveling with children entails a unique set of priorities. The culture and colorful history of London come to life in this guide to enjoying an exceptionally entertaining family vacation. Written specifically for families, this book is the antidote to the inevitable tribulations faced by traveling parents and children. With a focus on family-friendly adventures, it describes such classic destinations as the Tower of London and Buckingham Palace, lesserknown attractions such as the Florence Nightingale Museum and the Churchill War Rooms. Key information about each attraction-such as locations, hours, and prices-is included, allowing families to plan itineraries with confidence.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverGreat escapes : Mediterranean / compiled and edited by Angelika Taschen ; texts by Christiane Reiter.
“…Flanked by three continents and offering coastline to 21 countries, the Mediterranean is a mythical place, blessed with its fine climate, luxuriant fauna and flora, and the intense blues of its sea. In this revised edition, Angelika Taschen catalogs the best of this legendary region, scouring the most beautiful gardens, the most enchanting beaches, the little-known islands, the finest architecture, and the most gorgeous rooms, with the most breathtaking, and soul-soothing views. From the glamorous Eden-Roc on the Côte d’Azur to the tiny hotel on the small Croatian island of Lopud, this is the ultimate reference for any discerning traveller of the Med. Text in English, French, and German” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Umbrian Thursday night supper club / Marlena de Blasi.
“Every week on a Thursday evening, a group of four Italian rural women gather in a derelict stone house in the hills above Italy’s Orvieto. There—along with their friend, Marlena—they cook together, sit down to a beautiful supper, drink their beloved local wines, and talk. Here, surrounded by candle light, good food and friendship, Miranda, Ninucia, Paolina, and Gilda tell their life stories of loves lost and found, of ageing and abandonment, of mafia grudges and family feuds, and of cherished ingredients and recipes whose secrets have been passed down through the generations. Around this table, these five friends share their food and all that life has offered them—the good and the bad.” (adapted from Amazon.com)

Syndetics book coverPostcards from the Middle East / Chris Naylor.
“An easy, engaging, and often funny introduction to Arab culture–its richness, humanity, and challenges–through the experiences of an English family. The Middle East features regularly on our television screens, in ways that often lead to a simplistic and stereotyped view of the land and the people that live there. Having moved to the Middle East, Chris Naylor and his wife set up a pioneering branch of the environmental agency A Rocha in Lebanon. Over the years they found their prejudices and assumptions utterly overthrown. Their story is an insightful and informed introduction to Arab culture through the experience of an English family. Engaging and often funny, it explores themes of cross-cultural communication and environmental vision.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSaturnalia : traveling from Cape Town to Kampala in search of an African utopia / Justin Chapman.
“In the Spring of 2012, reporter and travel junkie Justin Chapman threw his cares to the wind and, by himself, set off on an epic journey across eight countries in Africa — from Cape Town, South Africa, to Mityana, Uganda — by bus, train, and boat. Along the way, he narrowly escaped being locked away in a mental institution, visited an impoverished township that is changing its future with the help of an art-based nonprofit, got into a life-threatening car crash, dropped acid on the mystical island of Zanzibar, lived with a group of Catholic priests, witnessed a witchcraft healing ceremony, discovered a pygmy opium den, and chased down riveting stories with a local journalist…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe story of the Jews : finding the words : 1000 BCE – 1492 CE / Simon Schama.
“A history of the Jews is possibly the greatest story that can be told. It is the story of mankind – at its most noble and at its most barbaric. From the invention of a single deity and the killing of his embodied Son through to the production of urban modernity, so much of supreme importance for humanity bears the imprint of Jewish thinking and culture.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWalking the Nile / Levison Wood.
“His journey is 4,250 miles long. He is walking every step of the way, camping in the wild, foraging for food, fending for himself against multiple dangers. He is passing through rainforest, savannah, swamp, desert and lush delta oasis. He will cross seven, very different countries. No one has ever made this journey on foot. In this detailed, thoughtful, inspiring and dramatic book, recounting Levison Wood’s walk the length of the Nile, he will come face to face with the great story of a modern Africa emerging out of the past. Exploration and Africa are two of his great passions – they drive him on and motivate his inquisitiveness and resolution not to fail, yet the challenges of the terrain, the climate, the animals, the people and his own psychological resolution will throw at him are immense. The dangers are very real, but so is the motivation for this ex-army officer.” (adapted from Amazon.co.uk)

Much ado about Melbourne : from maps to movies — the creativity that makes a city / Jenny Sinclair.
“What shapes the character of Melbourne, and from where does it get its x-factor? Jenny Sinclair goes in search of the answers and discovers that it’s all in our head – or at least our collective imagination. Much Ado About Melbourne is a whimsical and absorbing survey of the city’s creativity, from Hoddle’s Grid to the cultural achievements that help put us on the world map. Celebrating the tales, spirit and sensibilities that make this metropolis, it charts the evolution of Melbourne through its music, art, literature, film, stories, transport, maps and people.”

New Travel books in March

New travel books in March include a journey across the legendary Northwest Passage, a family who volunteered in Costa Rica, Thailand and India, and 20 things to do in Dublin… before you hit the Pubs!

cover imageTroubled pilgrimage : passage to Pakistan / Balwant Bhaneja.
Troubled Pilgrimage: A Passage to Pakistan is about a journey by the author, a retired Canadian diplomat, who is visiting his ancestral land of Sindh and Punjab in Pakistan, the first visit since he was five. Bhaneja’s Hindu family had to leave their homeland following the Partition of the Indian subcontinent in August 1947. …After revelations about his past, his nation and his people he returns to Delhi for an audience with the “Refugee” Prime Minister I.K. Gujral. The trans-cultural narrative deals with the universal theme of displacement and how it impacts mind and psyche of those involved. It is a thoughtful work about how our multiple identities shape and get played out in a globalized world.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTravels in Zanskar : a journey to a closed kingdom / Mark Boyden ; forward by Dervla Murphy.
“An exploration of the two western-most provinces in Tibet, Ladakh and Zanskar, which records the old traditions of these places before they were inexorably eroded by modernity.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWide-open world : how volunteering around the globe changed one family’s lives forever / John Marshall.
Wide-Open World is the inspiring true story of the six months that changed the Marshall family forever. Once they’d made the pivotal decision to go, John and his wife, Traca, quit their jobs, pulled their kids out of school, and embarked on a journey that would take them far off the beaten path, and far out of their comfort zones. Here is the totally engaging, bluntly honest chronicle of the Marshalls’ life-altering adventure from Central America to East Asia. It was no fairy tale. The trip offered little rest, even less relaxation, and virtually no certainty of what was to come. But it did give the Marshalls something far more valuable: a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to conquer personal fears, strengthen family bonds, and find their true selves by helping those in need.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe 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)

Syndetics book coverThe long hitch home / Jamie Maslin.
“Tasmania to London. One end of the globe to the other. 800 hitchhiking rides. 18 thousand miles. Four seasons. Three continents. 19 countries. How many rides does it take to hitch from Tasmania to London? Rogue wanderer Jamie Maslin decides to find out, propelling him into a high stakes adventure of a lifetime that sees him tackle searing desert, freezing mountains, tropical jungle and barren steppes on little more than a thumb and a prayer.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBoundless : tracing land and dream in a new Northwest Passage / Kathleen Winter.
“In 2010, bestselling author Kathleen Winter took a journey across the legendary Northwest Passage – connecting the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans – alongside marine scientists, historians, archaeologists, anthropologists, and curious passengers. From Greenland to Baffin Island and all along this arctic passage, Winter witnesses the new mathematics of the melting North – where polar bears mate with grizzlies, creating a new hybrid species; where the earth is on the cusp of yielding so much buried treasure that five nations stand poised to claim sovereignty of the land; and where the local Inuit population struggles to navigate the tension between taking their part in the new global economy and defending their traditional way of life…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book cover20 things to do in Dublin before you go for a feckin’ pint / Colin Murphy, Donal O’Dea.
“Got some time on your hands before you hit Dublin’s famous pubs? Then you need this book, an invaluable guide to twenty of Dublin’s highlights for visitors and native alike. History, culture, strangeness and beauty are all here — along with a list of the local hostelries to visit and let the experience soak in. Sprinkled with the wit of Murphy and O’Dea, best known for the Feckin’ Collection. Key attractions include: Christ Church Cathedral; Dublin Castle; The Chester Beatty Library; The Guinness Storehouse; Trinity College; Temple Bar Royal Hospital, Kilmainham; IMMA; Old Jameson Distillery; O’Connell Street & The GPO And many more!” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverGoing gypsy : one couple’s adventure from empty nest to no nest at all / David and Veronica James.
“Almost every couple faces a “now what?” moment as their last kid moves out of the house. There’s a big empty nest looming over this new and uncertain stage in their lives. David and Veronica James chose to look at this next phase of life as a beginning instead of an ending. Rather than staying put and facing the constant reminders of empty bedrooms and backseats, a plan began to develop to sell the nest and hit the highway. But could a homebody helicopter mom learn to let go of her heartstrings and house keys all at once? Filled with a sense of adventure and humor, Going Gypsy is the story of a life after raising kids that is a celebration of new experiences. …Most importantly, they rediscover in themselves the fun-loving youngsters who fell in love three decades prior.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHow 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)

An evening with travel writer Tomislav Perko

100 days of spring cover It is with great pleasure that Wellington City Libraries will be hosting an evening with travel writer Tomislav Perko on Thursday 12th February 2015 at 6.00pm on the ground floor at the Central Library.

Originally from Croatia, Tomislav Perko left a career as a stockbroker in the aftermath of the financial crisis, and decided to follow his dream to travel the world.

He hitchhiked, slept in parks, volunteered, played the guitar on the street, worked odd jobs, sailed across the Indian ocean on a 13-meter boat, hung out with Maasai warriors in Kenya and shamans in the Amazon jungle. Five years later, he published a book “1000 Days of Spring” and continues travelling to talk about his adventures. Having recently arrived in New Zealand, we are happy to welcome Tomislav to the Central Library where he will share his amazing experience with a captive audience.

Tomislav will be in conversation about his book and will be available for questions.
This is a free event, and his book will be available for purchase and signing.

Whether you are thinking of setting off on an adventure of your own or just enjoy listening and reading about other people’s, this is an evening sure to inspire.

Tomislav Perko