Trail or Rail – New Travel Picks for July

Trail enthusiasts should check out Walking to Camelot and The 50 Greatest Walks in the World. Alternately, The Road I Ride and Ticket to Ride both explore the thrills and pleasures of experiencing the world at a faster pace.

Syndetics book coverThe 50 greatest walks of the world / Barry Stone.
“With walks that will appeal to everyone regardless of ability, The 50 Greatest Walks of the World includes American classics such as the Appalachian Trail, Buckskin Gulch, and the Bright Angel Trail to Phantom Ranch, as well as personal favourites such as Italy’s Cinque Terre Classic and the Isle of Skye’s Trotternish Ridge, one of Britain’s finest ridge traverses with almost 2,500m of ascents. Whether it’s a climb, a stroll, or a life-changing slog, this book has the walk for you.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA boy of China : in search of Mao’s lost son / Richard Loseby.
“The author’s search for a son of Chinese leader Chairman Mao, who was abandoned by Mao in 1934 during the famous Long March. The search takes the author all over China, from Shanghai west to Tibet and Sichuan then to Jiangxi in the southeast. He describes the places he visits, his discoveries and his meetings with fascinating characters along the way.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWalking to Camelot : a pilgrimage through the heart of rural England / John A. Cherrington.
“John Cherrington and his 74-year-old walking companion set out one fine morning in May to traverse the only English footpath that cuts south through the rural heart of the country, a formidable path called the Macmillan Way. […] The historical merges with the magic of the footpath, with Cherrington making astute, often humorous observations on the social, cultural, and culinary mores of the English, all from a very North American perspective.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPerforming indigenous culture on stage and screen : a harmony of frenzy / Marianne Schultz.
“Examining corporeal expressions of indigenousness from an historical perspective, this book highlights the development of cultural hybridity in New Zealand via the popular performing arts, contributing new understandings of racial, ethnic, and gender identities through performance. The author offers an insightful and welcome examination of New Zealand performing arts via case studies of drama, music, and dance, performed both domestically and internationally.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThis road I ride : my incredible journey from novice to fastest woman to cycle the globe / Juliana Buhring.
“18,000 miles, 152 days, 4 continents, 19 countries, 29 punctures, 6 big mountains, 1 desert and a cyclone later, Juliana Buhring came back just days before Christmas with a Guinness World Record. Empowering, inspiring, often humorous, This Road I Ride is testimony to the power of sheer will to overcome any obstacle. Discover a true story of adventure, blood, sweat and gears.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAccidentally Istanbul / Nancy Knudsen.
“Nancy Knudsen never meant to go to Istanbul. Maybe she might have included it as part of a holiday along with other dazzling European cities such as Venice, Paris or Salzburg. But the idea of actually living in a Muslim country as an ordinary citizen rather than tourist or expat corporate executive, would never have occurred to her. Knudsen’s story is vivid, lively and sometimes hilarious, full of insights into things she wished she’d known before she arrived with not a word of Turkish.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTicket to ride : around the world on 49 unusual train journeys / Tom Chesshyre.
“Experience the world by train. Why do people love trains so much? Tom Chesshyre is on a mission to find the answer by experiencing the world through train travel – on both epic and everyday rail routes, aboard every type of ride, from steam locomotives to bullet trains, meeting a cast of memorable characters who share a passion for train travel. Join him on the rails and off the beaten track as he embarks on an exhilarating whistle-stop tour around the globe.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverVoyager : travel writings / Russell Banks.
“The acclaimed, award-winning novelist takes us on some of his most memorable journeys in this revelatory collection of travel essays that spans the globe, from the Caribbean to Scotland to the Himalayas. Now in his mid-seventies, Russell Banks has indulged his wanderlust for more than half a century. […] Voyager brings together the social, the personal, and the historical, opening a path into the heart and soul of this revered writer.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLondon rising : illicit photos from the city’s heights / Bradley L. Garrett, Alexander Moss, Scott Cadman ; with illustrations by Lizzie Mary Cullen
“In this book, an intrepid crew of city explorers share dizzying photos and stories collected while journeying up, over, and into the London skyline. Over the course of seven years, a well-respected team of adventurers has embarked on scores of not-quite-legal investigations inside, below, and above the city’s hidden infrastructures. Readers will enjoy these indefatigable explorers’ quest to make their native city both known and accessible to anyone who shares their curiosity.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Curious – New Travel Picks for June

Curiosity is celebrated by a few of this month’s picks. As Quiet Los Angeles reveals, curiosity may not be satisfied by the spectacular, but in small meditative acts and perceptions. Curiosity may also lead to darker realities that are often erased from tourist culture, explored with intensity in titles as divergent as The Fires of Spring, Zoroaster’s Children and The Interior Circuit.

Syndetics book coverWalking through spring : an English journey / Graham Hoyland.
Walking Through Spring follows Graham Hoylands journey as he creates a new national trail, walking with the Spring from the south coast in March up to the border with Scotland, which he reaches on the longest day: the twenty-first of June. He connects a labyrinth of ancient footpaths, marking each mile by planting an acorn and drawing a path of oak trees that stretch through the English countryside. Hoyland draws inspiration from the vast literary landscape as he watches the season unfold across the country. What does Spring mean? Is it really getting earlier every year?” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe travels / Marco Polo ; translated and with an introduction and notes by Nigel Cliff.
“Marco Polo’s voyages began in 1271 with a visit to China. Afterward, he served Kublai Khan on numerous diplomatic missions in the Far East. His subsequent account of his travels offers a fascinating glimpse of what he encountered abroad: unfamiliar religions; new customs and societies; the spices and silks of the East; the precious gems, exotic vegetation, and wild beasts of faraway lands. […] Marco Polo’s book revolutionized Western ideas about the then-unknown East and remains one of the greatest travel accounts of all time.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe curious map book / Ashley Baynton-Williams.
“Ashley Baynton-Williams has unearthed a wide array of the whimsical and fantastic, from maps of board games to political ones, maps of the Holy Land to maps of the human soul. In his illuminating introduction, the author also identifies and expounds upon key themes of map production, peculiar styles, and the commerce and collection of unique maps. This incredible volume offers a wealth of gorgeous illustrations for anyone who is cartographically curious.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPerth : a guide for the curious / edited by Terri-Ann White.
“Where do you find a city’s soul? Terri-Ann White draws together an eclectic group of Perth people in this collection to share their insights on a rapidly evolving city. From an architect’s perspective on heritage to a historian’s ruminations on Perth’s swampy origins; from a walk down streets that don’t exist to Noongar place names; from the union movement to public art to criminal Perth to conversational Perth, this book encourages new encounters with the city.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe fires of spring : a post-Arab Spring journey through the turbulent new Middle East / Shelly Culbertson.
“The ‘Arab Spring’ all started when a young Tunisian fruit-seller set himself on fire in protest of a government official confiscating his apples without cause and slapping his face. The aftermath of that one personal protest grew to become the Middle East movement known as the Arab Spring — a wave of disparate events that included revolutions, protests, government overthrows, hopeful reform movements, and bloody civil wars. This book will be the first to bring the post Arab Spring world to light in a holistic context (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverQuiet Los Angeles / Rebecca Razo ; photographs by Mark Mendez.
“Following from Quiet London, Paris and New York, comes Los Angeles, the next in the series discovering quiet places in the midst of some of the busiest cities in the world. These guides offer both visitors and locals a chance to enjoy the quiet side of these lively cities, to find places off the beaten track, explore enticing small museums or enjoy peaceful gardens. They offer the promise of somewhere to relax and recuperate, to have coffee and cake or a restful spot to unwind, away from the hustle and bustle.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe interior circuit : a Mexico City chronicle / Francisco Goldman.
“In the summer of 2013, when Mexican organized crime violence and death erupts in the city in an unprecedented way, Goldman sets out to try to understand the menacing challenges the city now faces. By turns exuberant, poetic, reportorial, philosophic, and urgent, The Interior Circuit fuses a personal journey to an account of one of the world’s most remarkable and often misunderstood cities.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverZoroaster’s children and other travels / Marius Kociejowski.
“Attracted to society’s outcasts–as it is these, he argues, which point towards an underground of conformity that will not contain them–Kociejowski offers ain these essays glimpses of locales as diverse and seemingly divergent as Prague, Tunisia, Moscow, Aleppo and Toronto, among others.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Santiago pilgrimage : walking the immortal way / Jean-Christophe Rufin ; translated from the French by Martina Dervis and Malcolm Imrie.
“Whenever I was asked: ‘Why did you go to Santiago?’, I had a hard time answering. How could I explain to those who had not done it that the way has the effect – if not the virtue – to make you forget all reasons that led you to become involved in it in the first place.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMother tongue : my family’s globe-trotting quest to dream in Mandarin, laugh in Arabic, and sing in Spanish / Christine Gilbert.
“Gilbert was a young mother when she boldly uprooted her family to move around the world, studying Mandarin in China, Arabic in Lebanon, and Spanish in Mexico, with her toddler son and all-American husband along for the ride. Their story takes us from Beijing to Beirut, from Cyprus to Chiang Mai, and explores recent breakthroughs in bilingual brain mapping and the controversial debates happening in linguistics right now.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

New Travel Picks for March

This month, take a breezy literary world tour in round 2 of Lonely Planet’s fictional travel series. Also take your pick from the various global pilgrimages below that range from the death-defying to the transcendent.

Syndetics book coverWild by nature : from Siberia to Australia, three years alone in the wilderness on foot / Sarah Marquis.
“Swiss explorer Marquis’s stunning memoir cannot be compared with similarly themed accounts such as Cheryl Strayed’s Wild. For one thing, Marquis is a professional explorer who prepares for walking expeditions and then completes them, no matter the level of difficulty or length of the journey. […] she encounters many dangers including dehydration, harassment, illness – and in one hair-raising sequence, machine gun-toting drug smugglers in Laos.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Silk Road : taking the bus to Pakistan / Bill Porter.
“In a mix of history, myth, and humorous observations, Porter relates tales of notable landmarks and figures from Chinese history, including emperors, concubines, poets, and peasants. Hopping from bus to van, hoofing it across towns, crashing in cheap motels, or enjoying whisky by starlight, Porter’s dispatches from central Asia read like erudite diary entries. Nearly 25 years in the making, Porter’s travel writing is sure to satisfy bibliophiles’ wanderlust.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBetter than fiction 2 / edited by Don George and Samantha Forge.
“Whether on a plane en route to your own travel adventure, or at home settling in for a vicarious experience of world adventures, embark on this literary journey around the world and explore your passion for travel now! Well-known authors include Dave Eggers, Alexander McCall Smith, Jane Smiley, David Shafer and Francine Prose.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverOcean notorious : journeys to lost and lonely places of the deep south / Matt Vance.
“Venture to the deep south and you will experience a world like no other – forbidding Subantarctic islands, astounding sea creatures, death-defying plants, the constant company of birds. As an expedition guide, Matt Vance has accompanied intrepid tourists and birders, artists and writers. He gives a first -person account of the lonely places where lives have been changed and history made.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFlavours of South Australia : favourite restaurants, wineries and producers with their signature recipes / edited by Penny Cordner.
“You’ve never seen South Australia like this before. From farm gates to cellar doors and hidden bars to extraordinary restaurants, prepare to immerse yourself in the best of South Australia’s culinary scene. Within these pages you can journey from the remarkable restaurants in Adelaide to the world-renowned wineries and producers of the Barossa.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Scottish islands : the bestselling guide to every Scottish island / Hamish Haswell-Smith.
“Packed with information on access, anchorages, points of historical or natural interest and things to do and see, this fascinating compendium provides indispensable information for touring, for browsing, for reference, and for all of those travellers who wish to experience some of the most beautiful and remote places in the world.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe way of St Francis : via Di Francesco : from Florence to Assisi and Rome / by Sandy Brown.
“This book is a trove of information that makes a perfect companion for anyone setting out to walk the Way of St Francis. The Way of St Francis is one of the most popular pilgrim routes in Italy, and it offers a great range of sights: olive groves, vineyards, Renaissance Florence, the Casentino National Forest, hilltop towns, ancient ruins, mountains, the Marmore Falls, the Vatican City and more.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverElephant complex : travels in Sri Lanka / John Gimlette.
“Everyone has wanted a piece of paradise. Sri Lanka is a small island with a long, violent and enthralling history. Home to thousands of wild elephants, this is a place where natural beauty has endured, indifferent to human tragedy. […] As he walks in the steps of old conquerors, follows the secret paths of elephants and marches alongside pilgrims, Gimlette seeks the soul of a country that is struggling to free itself from trauma and embody an identity to match its vitality, its power and its people.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

New Travel Picks for February

With this month comes a crop of new inside guides to Australia, just in time for the end of summer. Check out the clean design and broad scope of Friday Saturday Sunday or browse through the CITIx60 guide to Melbourne, along with the rest of this fresh yet modest global series which gives candid and practical advice on treasures easily missed from the street. Hobbyists, from the photographic to the infographic will not be disappointed by the impressive Destinations of a Lifetime by National Geographic and the new and improved classic, Transit Maps of the World.

Syndetics book coverFriday Saturday Sunday : 52 perfect weekends in Australia / editor, Brooke Clark.
Get ready for the weekend with Friday Saturday Sunday: 52 Perfect Weekends in Australia, a curated guide to the best weekend getaways you can have anywhere in Australia. Written by checked in and clued up travel writers, this brand new travel guide from Explore Australia will show you how to have the best time at the best destinations in Australia. (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMelbourne : 60 local creatives bring you the best of the city : art & design, architecture, food, entertainment, shopping.
“CITIX60 are guides to some of the world’s most renowned design hubs – cities that lead the world in all forms of visual culture and aesthetic innovation. Curated by a select group of local artists, designers, chefs, architects, musicians, photographers and filmmakers, CITIX60 guides provide an insiders’ view of what makes a trip to his or her town memorable.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSydney precincts : a curated guide to the city’s best shops, eateries, bars and other hangouts / Chris Carroll.
“Sydney is a tight-knit town, and locals often don’t want to share their secrets. Luckily Chris Carroll is here to help you get beyond the Opera House and the beaches and discover the best of Sydney: from the cafe hidden at the end of a wharf in Kirribilli to the gaudy and lauded restaurants of Sydney’s city centre, from the cute stationery shops of the Northern Beaches to the famous bakeries of the Inner West. You’ll never want to leave.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverNo baggage : a minimalist tale of love and wandering / Clara Bensen.
“Newly recovered from a quarter-life meltdown, Clara Bensen decided to test her comeback by signing up for an online dating account. She never expected to meet Jeff, a wildly energetic university professor with a reputation for bucking convention. They barely know each other’s last names when they agree to set out on a risky travel experiment spanning eight countries and three weeks. The catch? No hotel reservations, no plans, and best of all, no baggage.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCobra in the bath : adventures in less travelled lands / Miles Morland.
“Miles Morland is an adventurer. He was born in India to a naval father and a dangerously glamorous mother. When his parents divorced, Miles followed his mother to Tehran, which they had to leave in a hurry, and on to Baghdad, which they also had to leave in a hurry after the 1958 revolution. His early years were filled with desert journeys, riots, perilous near-misses, and adventures worthy of Kipling, after which he was sent to England for a ‘proper’ education. […] Brilliantly observed and told with unique humour, Cobra in the Bath will have you crying with laughter and scared out of your wits.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHow not to travel the world : adventures of a disaster-prone backpacker / Lauren Juliff.
“I had no life experience, zero common sense and had never eaten rice. I suffered from debilitating anxiety, was battling an eating disorder and had just had my heart broken. I hoped by leaving to travel the world I would be able to heal myself. Instead, Lauren’s travels were full of bad luck and near-death experiences. […] It was just as she was about to give up on travel when she stumbled across a handsome New Zealander with a love of challenges…” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book cover438 days : an extraordinary true story of survival at sea / Jonathan Franklin.
“On November 17, 2012, a pair of fishermen left the coast of Mexico for a weekend fishing trip in the open Pacific. That night, a violent storm ambushed them as they were fishing eighty miles offshore. […] Fourteen months later, on January 30, 2014, Alvarenga, now a hairy, wild-bearded and half-mad castaway, washed ashore on a nearly deserted island on the far side of the Pacific… 438 Days is the first-ever account of one of the most amazing survival stories in modern times.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe moor : a journey into the English wilderness / William Atkins.
“In this journey across England’s most forbidding and mysterious terrain, William Atkins takes the reader from south to north, exploring moorland’s uniquely captivating position in our history, literature and psyche. […] He shows us that, while the fierce terrains we associate with Wuthering Heights and The Hound of the Baskervilles are very human landscapes, the moors remain daunting and defiant, standing steadfast against the passage of time.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTransit maps of the world / Mark Ovenden.
“A completely updated and expanded edition of the cult bestseller, featuring subway, light rail, and streetcar maps from New York to Nizhny Novgorod. Transit Maps of the World is the first and only comprehensive collection of historical and current maps of every rapid-transit system on earth. In glorious, colorful graphics, Mark Ovenden traces the cartographic history of mass transit–including rare and historic maps, diagrams, and photographs, some available for the first time since their original publication.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDestinations of a lifetime : 225 of the world’s most amazing places / foreword by Dan Westergren, Director of Photography, National Geographic Traveler magazine.
“National Geographic takes you on a photographic tour of the world’s most spectacular destinations, inspiring tangible ideas for your next trip. Hundreds of the most breathtaking locales–both natural and man-made–are illustrated with vivid images taken by the organization’s world-class photographers. […] Loaded with hard service information for each location, Destinations of a Lifetime has it all: when to go, where to eat, where to stay, and what to do to ensure the most enriching and authentic experience.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Transformative Journeys – New Travel Titles for January

Take a look at the power of travel to enable personal transformation in titles such as Boots to Bliss by Claude Tranchant and Junkie Buddha by Diane Esguerra. Experience the often out-of-sight in Abandoned Places by Richard Happer and Hidden Treasures of London by Stephanie Wolff.

Syndetics book coverAbandoned places : 60 stories of places where time has stopped / Richard Happer.
“Ghost towns, empty streets, crumbling ruins and lost empires this book reveals these and other deserted places. Many places featured were once populated and now sit unoccupied, modern day ruins, sitting in decay. Stories, facts and photographs of 60 beautiful and eerie abandoned places from throughout the world. Time has stopped and nature is taking resident in these places mainly due to natural disasters, war or economic reasons.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSouth of the Clouds : travels in southwest China / Bill Porter.
“While flipping through the atlas of Chang Ch’i-yun, one of China’s most famous geographers, distinguished translator Bill Porter (Red Pine) developed a curiosity about the southwestern province of China. Dubbed Yun-nan, “South of the Clouds,” this was the last area modern China to come under Chinese control. Originally conquered by the Mongols and eventually introduced to foreigners as a vibrant setting for trade, Yun-nan became a critical crossroad connecting East and West.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBoots to bliss : the intriguing story of a 21st century pilgrim who walked The way of Saint James / Claude Tranchant.
“Follow the incredible journey and transformation of a 64 year old woman who walked nearly 2500 kilometres alone for 100 days through France and Spain along The Way of Saint James. You will learn about her inner thoughts, her self-discovery, her internal growth and how she was empowered. This is a story of immense courage and resilience.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPlanes, canes, and automobiles : connecting with your aging parents through travel / Valerie M. Grubb.
“If the thought of vacationing with your parents makes you cringe, fear no more! Help is here! Planes, Canes, and Automobiles: Connecting with Your Aging Parents through Travel is a gold mine of practical advice, funny anecdotes, and tales of triumphs and travails from Val Grubb, who has traveled more than 300,000 miles (and counting!) with her 84-year old mother over the past twenty years.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverParisian chic city guide / Ines de la Fressange with Sophie Gachet.
“Ines de la Fressange embodies the iconic Parisienne , combining elegance and chic, effortlessly. With her fashion savvy and her inspired home interiors, Ines demonstrates an eye for the details that characterize the best in Gallic style, from wardrobe accessories to home furnishings. In this exquisite new pocket volume―the perfect accompaniment to her best-selling book Parisian Chic ―Ines divulges her new favorite locations for shopping, dining, and hanging out in Paris with style.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverGreat walks of New Zealand / Craig Potton ; with Shaun Barnett.
Great Walks of New Zealand is a tribute to New Zealand’s eight finest walking tracks, by renowned wilderness photographer Craig Potton.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWine trails : plan 52 perfect weekends in wine country.
“Detailed itineraries recommending the most interesting wineries and the best places to stay and eat in 52 wine regions near major cities make this perfect for travel enthusiasts who enjoy wine. Winemakers offer personal insights into what wines to taste and why they’re special and help you to understand a place, its people and their traditions through the wine that is made there. Gorgeous photography, maps and in-the-know authors complete the package.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHidden treasures of London / Michael McNay with photographs by Stephanie Wolff.
“A beautifully illustrated guide to over 400 of London’s lesser-known cultural gems. Nobody could deny that London is one of the most culturally and architecturally rich places in the world. But such glories can make us overlook some of the other, less obvious wonders that the city has to offer.  However well you may think you know the capital, Hidden Treasures of London is certain to unlock more of its secrets to you, leading you away from well-trodden tourist destinations to explore the amazing secret history of this great city.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverJunkie Buddha : a journey of discovery in Peru / Diane Esguerra.
“This is the story of one woman’s journey from her son’s revelation that he had been sexually abused in childhood through to the scattering of his ashes at Machu Picchu in Peru. Sacha had died of a heroin overdose. A journal Diane kept while traveling around Peru and her experiences, encounters and reflections form the basis of her gut-wrenching and gripping book that reconnected her to life. Diane once asked “Why me?” and now asks “Why not me?”–a shift that now underlines her healing.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverGus & Wallsy’s French revelation : a dog’s point of view / Gus & Robert Walls.
“Following the sad passing of his first wife, Robert had met someone new. Her name was Julie and for his birthday she had bought him a boxer puppy named Gus. Sensing a need to shake life up a bit, Robert and Julie decided they would leave Australia behind and fulfil a dream of spending a year living in southern France in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. And they would be taking Gus with them. Gus & Wallsy’s French Revelation is the story of that French experience, and it’s all told from Gus’ point of view.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

In Search of Connection – New Travel Picks for December

This month’s travel stories, whether documenting a family canoe trip across North America, the hazy boundaries of unrecognised nations, or the trek of a lifetime with a beloved dog or donkey, are all epic and life-affirming portraits of living beings and their connection to place.

Syndetics book coverPortage : a family, a canoe, and the search for the good life / Sue Leaf.
“When as a child she first saw a canoe gliding on Lake Alexander in central Minnesota, Sue Leaf was mesmerized. The enchantment stayed with her and shimmers throughout this book as we join Leaf and her family in canoeing the waterways of North America, always on the lookout for the good life amid the splendors and surprises of the natural world. […] exploring the river means encountering life–good decisions and missed chances, risks and surprises, and the inevitable changes that occur as a family canoes through time and learns what it means to be human in this natural world.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAn atlas of countries that don’t exist : a compendium of fifty unrecognized and largely unnoticed states / Nick Middleton.
“Acclaimed travel writer and Oxford geography don Nick Middleton takes us on a magical tour of countries that, lacking diplomatic recognition or UN membership, inhabit a world of shifting borders, visionary leaders and forgotten peoples. […] Alongside stories, facts and figures, this Atlas brings to life a dreamlike world of nations that exist only in the minds of the people who live there.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCrossing the plains with Bruno / Annick Smith.
“Dogs, like humans, have memories, instincts, fears, and loyalties. But, as far as we know, dogs do not get swept up in nostalgia, speculation, or self-analysis. Although they have hopes, they are not driven by regrets. Annick Smith weaves together a memoir of travel and relationship, western history and family history, human love and animal love centering around a two week road trip across the Great Plains she and her 95 pound chocolate lab, Bruno, took in the summer of 2003.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMoment & memory / Craig Potton.
“Craig Potton rose to prominence as a photographer in the late 1980s, with a distinct and original view of the landscape of New Zealand. He has become one of New Zealand’s most distinguished landscape photographers, famous for his moody, often dramatic images that signal a deeply felt connection with the wild places of New Zealand. This revised edition of Moment and Memory contains a collection of Craig’s finest photographs, personally selected to give a unique view of the New Zealand wilderness.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMountains and a shore : a journey through southern Turkey / Michael Pereira ; foreword by David Mason.
“As David Mason writes in his new foreword, “The Turkish word for the Mediterranean is Akdeniz , the White Sea, but the land between the Black and White Seas is polychromatic, swirlingly complex, contradictory, challenging, and often heart-stoppingly beautiful. Getting to know Turkey is not always easy, even now. Time travel with Michael Pereira is an excellent way to begin.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWalking the Kiso Road : a modern-day exploration of old Japan / William Scott Wilson.
“Take a trip to old Japan with William Scott Wilson as he travels the ancient Kiso Road, a legendary route that remains much the same today as it was hundreds of years ago. […] Wilson, esteemed translator of samurai philosophy, has walked the road several times and is a delightful and expert guide to this popular tourist destination; he shares its rich history and lore, literary and artistic significance, cuisine and architecture, as well as his own experiences.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverZen and the art of donkey maintenance / Robert Crisp.
“Through twenty columns filed from abroad over years of rustic living and travel, Crisp, as Peter White, shared his experiences of hitch-hiking through Yugoslavia, settling in a beach shack in Greece where he attempted to cultivate the stubborn land, and a nearly fatal solo boat trip around Corfu. As the first year of his dream life came to a close, he found out that the stomach pain he had been suffering was not a side effect of too much Greek wine, but cancer. With a prediction of only one year to live, he set off on a trek around Crete, his only companion a donkey with plenty of personality.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMail obsession : a journey round Britain by postcode / Mark Mason.
“Mark Mason has embarked on a tour of the country, immersing himself in Britain’s history on a roundabout journey from AB to ZE. […] his travels offer the perfect opportunity to delve into the history of the Royal Mail, complete with pillar boxes, posties and Penny Reds – plus Oscar Wilde’s unconventional method of posting a letter. A charming mix of fact, anecdote and overheard conversation, Mail Obsession pays homage to Britain’s wonderful past and its curious present.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverNew York : an inspired wander through Manhattan and the Brooklyn boroughs / Alexandra Carroll.
“New York is an extraordinary city. A place of pilgrimage for world travelers, it’s a dream destination for the serious culture buff, style hunter and aesthetically minded wanderer. In this inspiring guide, Alexandra Carroll takes you beyond the well-known facades and into the depths of Manhattan and Brooklyn, seeking out the very best the city has to offer. […] Stunningly photographed and designed, New York will help you to navigate the grid and discover the aesthetic pleasures that make this city endlessly enticing and fascinating.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMadrid.
“Monocle knows about the hidden gems in all the great cities. The series launched in spring 2015 with editions for London, New York, Tokyo, and Hong Kong. This autumn they will be joined by Singapore, Istanbul Madrid, and Portland, Oregon. Each book also contains a series of city essays and perspectives. Created by the Monocle design team, these authoritative guides are trim enough to drop into your pocket and wise enough to stay by your side throughout your travels” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

To Row, Hike, Cycle, Glide or Teleport? New Travel Picks for October

However you prefer to travel there is a new book here to satisfy. From tramping in Maine, cycling in London, strutting through Paris, gliding with albatrosses, or rowing across the Indian Ocean, this month is a reminder that traveling is a diverse and complicated act, beckoning us to imagine and challenge the possibilities of our next escape.

Syndetics book coverDeep South : four seasons on back roads / Paul Theroux ; photographs by Steve McCurry.
“For the past fifty years, Paul Theroux has travelled to the far corners of the earth – to China, India, Africa, the Pacific Islands, South America, Russia, and elsewhere – and brought them to life in his cool, exacting prose. In Deep South he turns his gaze to a region much closer to his home. Travelling through North and South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas, Paul Theroux writes of the stunning landscapes he discovers – the deserts, the mountains, the Mississippi – and above all, the lives of the people he meets.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLondon on two wheels : 25 handpicked rides to make the most of the city / project editor: Victoria Marshallsay.
“This charming yet practical pocket guide to cycling in London will treat you to 25 leisure routes across the city, allowing you to get the most out of London and the TFL ‘Bike for Hire’ scheme […] With a range of rides taking cyclists through London’s parks, along the River Thames and through much-loved cultural highlights, this book is packed with suggestions to discover the hidden gems of the city from the comfort of your bike.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Silk Roads : a new history of the world / Peter Frankopan.
“The sun is setting on the Western world. Slowly but surely, the direction in which the world spins has reversed: where for the last five centuries the globe turned westwards on its axis, it now turns to the east. For centuries, fame and fortune was to be found in the west – in the New World of the Americas. […] As a new era emerges, the patterns of exchange are mirroring those that have criss-crossed Asia for millennia. The Silk Roads are rising again.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe London Thames Path : a guide to the Thames Path from Putney Bridge to the Barrier / written & illustrated by David Fathers.
“David Fathers presents a unique and richly illustrated guide to the London section of the Thames Path, which runs along both banks of the river from Putney Bridge to the Thames Barrier.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe 500 hidden secrets of Amsterdam / Saskia Naafs & Guido van Eijck ; photography, Joram Van Holen and Tino van den Berg.
“Written by born and bred Amsterdammers, the book includes lists such as the 5 best vintage markets, the 5 best small museums and the 5 best concert venues, with a total 500 addresses and facts that few people know. Includes extensive maps and a comprehensive index.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRowing after the white whale : a crossing of the Indian Ocean by hand / James Adair.
“Over a boozy Sunday lunch, flatmates James Adair and Ben Stenning made a promise to row across the ocean. At first they considered the Pacific, then the Atlantic, but once James Cracknell and Ben Fogle completed the high-profile Atlantic Rowing Race, their thoughts turned to the Indian Ocean, longer and tougher than the Atlantic and having seen fewer people row across its waters than have walked on the Moon. […] This was a challenge that neither man should have ever considered.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverParis in style : a guide to the city’s fashion, style and design destinations / written and photographed by Janelle McCulloch.
“Janelle McCulloch thought she knew most of the best places in which to stay, wander and explore. But the more time she spent in Paris, the more she realised how much there was still to discover. Paris in Style reveals this city’s most surprising and fascinating fashion, design and style destinations. It is the ultimate insider’s guide for travellers seeking style, creative inspiration and unforgettable experiences.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe shark and the albatross : travels with a camera to the ends of the earth / John Aitchison.
“For twenty years John Aitchison has been travelling the world to film wildlife for the BBC and other broadcasters, taking him to far-away places on every continent. The Shark and the Albatross is the story of these journeys of discovery, of his encounters with animals and occasional enterprising individuals in remote and sometimes dangerous places. He reveals what happens behind the scenes and beyond the camera.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverGap year girl : a baby boomer adventure across 21 countries / Marianne C. Bohr.
“In the 1960s and ’70s, thousands of baby boomers strapped packs to their backs and flocked to Europe, wandering the continent on missions of self-discovery. Many of these boomers still dream of “going back” – of once again cutting themselves free and revisiting the places they encountered in their youth, recapturing what was, and creating fresh memories along the way. Marianne Bohr and her husband, Joe, did just that. Touching on universal themes of escape, adventure, freedom, discovery, and life reimagined, Gap Year Girl is an exciting account of a couple’s experiences on an unconventional, past the-blush-of-youth journey.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMaine outdoor adventure guide / John Christie and Josh Christie.
“With nearly fifty recommended trips, this guide presents a broad-based discovery of the entire state of Maine. Trip Suggestions include: Biking the Acadia Carriage Roads, Hiking Bigelow Mountain, Canoeing the Magalloway River, Exploring Maine waterfalls, Sea kayaking in Penobscot bay.” (Syndetics summary)

List-Writing Time – New Travel Picks for September

Check out lushly illustrated Hemingway’s Paris and Safari for vivid escapes into the wild ecosystems of both city and savannah. Also keep an eye out for the slick debut of Monocle travel guides, starting here with Hong Kong and London, perfect for the discerning traveller with an eye for design.

Syndetics book coverHemingway’s Paris : a writer’s city in words and images / Robert Wheeler.
“Walk through the streets of Paris with Ernest Hemingway. In gorgeous black and white images, Hemingway’s Paris depicts a story of remarkable passion–for a city, a woman, and a time. […] Through his journal and photographs, Wheeler portrays the intimate connection Hemingway had with the woman he never stopped loving, Hadley, and with the city he loved most, Paris.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSafari : a memoir of a worldwide travel pioneer / Geoffrey Kent with Kristine Gasbarre.
“It’s here, in nature, that we are completely unified with all of life.” Geoffrey Kent had nothing but an East African shilling and an old Land Rover when he launched a safari business in 1962 with his parents in Nairobi. Today he is the chairman and CEO of Abercrombie & Kent, a pioneering internationally renowned luxury travel company that takes thousands of trekkers to the planet’s wildest frontiers. […] Packed with gorgeous photographs and unbelievable memories from the larger-than-life explorer, Safari lets readers indulge their spirit of adventure.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLondon : a travel guide through time / Matthew Green.
“The year is 1603, early May. . . Step back in time and discover the sights, sounds and smells of London through the ages in this enthralling journey into the capital’s rich, teeming and occasionally hazardous past. Let time traveler Dr Matthew Green be your guide to six extraordinary periods in London’s history – the age of Shakespeare, medieval city life, the plague, coffee houses, the reign of Victoria and the post-Blitz recovery.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverGreat escapes : enjoy the world at your leisure / written by Ann Abel [and 43 others].
“Beach paradises. Luxury hideaways. Cultural thrills. The perfect getaway. Great Escapes showcases the world’s most enjoyable escapes celebrates the sheer pleasure of travel. Take time out to indulge in romantic getaways, culinary adventures, musical journeys and family holidays. Or simply revel in pure relaxation. You deserve it!” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverUltimate travelist : the 500 best places on the planet… ranked / editors: Karyn Noble, Ross Taylor, Nick Mee.
“This compilation of the 500 most unmissable sights and attractions in the world has been ranked by Lonely Planet’s global community of travel experts, so big name mega-sights such as the Eiffel Tower and the Taj Mahal battle it out with lesser-known hidden gems for a prized place in the top 10, making this the only bucket list you’ll ever need.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWhich way is starboard again? : overcoming fears & facing challenges sailing the South Pacific / Anna Kirtlan.
“Many New Zealanders sail the South Pacific but not many do it with as little boating experience as ‘uncoordinated, impractical, directionally challenged, desk-bound type’ Anna Kirtlan, who says that until she met Captain Paddy and Wildflower II, her idea of rough sailing was ‘taking the Cook Strait ferry with a hangover’. Not only does she have to learn to sail, and navigate, from scratch, she also has to overcome recurrences of the anxiety and panic attacks that plagued her teen and early adult years…” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFamous graves to visit before you die / SK Cooper.
“There are some living legends that are so big, that even dead, they’re larger than life. […] Compiled by former history teacher and author Steve Cooper, this eclectic list features potted biographies of each subject, the stories behind their often fascinating lives and spectacular deaths, and maps and images of their gravesites around the world. Covering the varying forms of the famous, whether a political powerhouse, an infamous troublemaker, or a film and TV legend, details of their famous lives, demise and final resting place is laid out for the reader to explore.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHong Kong.
“The definitive travel guides that make you feel like a local wherever you go. […] Aimed at people who do not want to be tourists but rather feel like locals when they travel, these are books for those who want to mix the classic with the contemporary, want to get beyond the cliches, and know they can get a feel for a city even if they only have a few days…” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLondon.
“Launching this spring with editions for London and Tokyo, followed by New York and Hong Kong, these beautiful books reveal the Monocle team’s favourite places, from the ideal route for an early morning run to the best spots for independent retail […] And they are full of surprises and quirks: the books will guide you to a grand hotel but also to a cozy two-star, and will leave you drinking in a local corner bar or being served by a great waiter who knows his craft-while being wary of pushing you into the newest, hippest, soulless bar […]” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Nooks and crannies – New Travel Picks for August

Look out this month for new instalments of the 111 Places In … That You Must Not Miss series, fill in the blank for hidden gems that would surprise even locals. For more contemplative armchair travel follow two very different trails through past and present in Iain Sinclair’s London Overground and Mallachy Tallack’s Sixty Degrees North.

Syndetics book cover111 places in San Francisco that you must not miss / Floriana Petersen.
“Discover a stairway that transports you from the depths of the ocean to the heights of outer space; take a spin class amidst the grand elegance of a repurposed 1920s movie palace; or slide down a century-old sundial that sits at the center of what was once California’s first racetrack for cars. This is the real San Francisco. Strung together, the 111 experiences gathered here tell the B-side story of the city once romantically known as the Paris of the West.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBulls before breakfast : running with the bulls and celebrating Fiesta de San Fermín in Pamplona, Spain / Peter N. Milligan ; foreword by John Hemingway.
“[…] For millions, running with the bulls remains on their bucket list, and for Hemingway fans it is a lifelong dream. For Peter N. Milligan, it is a way of life […] Milligan has slowly pried open this trove of secrets over the past twelve years, all while refining the art of getting between the horns of a massive, perfect Spanish killing machine, el toro bravo, and running for his life.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverStrolling through Rome : the definitive walking guide to the Eternal City / Mario Erasmo.
“How can one visit the monuments and sites of Rome and not feel overwhelmed? Strolling Through Rome guides visitors, first-time or returning, through the streets, museums, piazze, and parks of the Eternal City. […] This informative and lively book incorporates the latest archaeological and architectural research and is essential for anyone intending to explore the extraordinary sights and fascinating secrets of one of Europe’s most beguiling cities.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe trivia lover’s guide to even more of the world : geography for the global generation / Gary Fuller.
“Gary Fuller’s entertaining and informative guide uses geographic trivia questions as a springboard to learning about non-trivial aspects of our globe. […] An inveterate traveler and geographer extraordinaire, Fuller provides extensive background, engaging maps and photos, and thorough explanations for each intriguing trivia question. Challenging today’s global generation to truly get to know their world, his book is a delight to read and an essential antidote to our lack of geographical knowledge.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe family of Richard III / Michael Hicks.
“The Wars of the Roses were quarrels within the Plantagenet family. They were about family trees – the capacity of family relationships both to unite and to divide […] The house of York, the dynasty of Richard, Duke of York (the future Richard III), won the first war. […] Many thousands of descendants of Richard, Duke of York, survive, some more interested in their lineage than others, and this book concludes with an analysis of Richard’s DNA and his ‘family’ as it exists today.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book cover111 places in New York that you must not miss / Jo-Anne Elikann ; edited by Susan Lusk.
“New York City’s history and grand ambitions live in every street, park, and hidden alleyway. This unusual guidebook invites the adventurous and curious to explore a wildly diverse selection of little-known places […] Unexpected and quirky, most of these destinations are so under-the-radar they will astound even longtime New Yorkers who thought they knew it all.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLondon overground : a day’s walk around the Ginger Line / Iain Sinclair.
“The completion of the full circle of London Overground in December 2012 provides Iain Sinclair with a new path to walk the shifting territory of the capital. […] Here he encounters traces of writers gone or nearly forgotten, uncovers evidence of careless erasures and incongruous overlappings, follows signs of decay hijacked by official rejuvenation and generally slips between the cracks of the approved and over-capitalized.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSixty degrees north : around the world in search of home / Malachy Tallack.
“The sixtieth parallel marks a kind of borderland. […] Malachy Tallack explores the places that share this latitude, beginning and ending in Shetland, where he has spent most of his life. The book focuses on the landscapes and natural environments of the parallel, and the way that people have interacted with those landscapes. It explores themes of wildness and community, of isolation and engagement, of exile and memory.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTravel with children : family-friendly travel without the fuss.
“This updated version of Travel With Children offers you the most comprehensive advice for taking your family on the road, and now adds hundreds of destination ideas backed up by great photography and practical itineraries. Assembled by Lonely Planet’s team of travel-savvy parent experts, family travellers can rely on insights and advice on choosing the right trip, healthy travel, travelling with teens and much more.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverIn the kingdom of ice : the grand and terrible polar voyage of the USS Jeannette / Hampton Sides.
“On July 8, 1879, Captain George Washington De Long and his team of thirty-two men set sail from San Francisco on the USS Jeanette. Heading deep into uncharted Arctic waters, they carried the aspirations of a young country burning to be the first nation to reach the North Pole. […] With thrilling twists and turns, In The Kingdom of Ice is a spellbinding tale of heroism and determination in the most brutal place on Earth.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Our pick of new Travel books in July

Travel books this month take us from New Zealand in Wildboy, to Patagonia, Chicago, Denmark, Sweden then back via Florence, Haiti, the U.S. and Sydney. Happy armchair travelling!

Syndetics book coverAll the buildings in Sydney : that I’ve drawn so far / by James Gulliver Hancock.
All the Buildings in Sydney is a love letter to author James Gulliver Hancock’s home town of Sydney, told through his unique and charming drawings of the city’s diverse architectural styles and cityscape. His buildings are colourful and full of fun and off-beat details, yet he successfully captures the technical elements and the essence of Sydney architecture that makes it such a unique and beautiful city.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDiscovering vintage Chicago : a guide to the city’s timeless shops, bars, delis & more / Amy Bizzarri.
“The Discovering Vintage series takes you back in time to all of the timeless classic spots each city has to offer. The books spotlight the charming stories that tell you what each place is like now and how it got that way from classic restaurants to shops to other establishments that still thrive today and evoke the unique character of the city. They’re all still around–but they won’t be around forever. Start reading, and start your discovering now!” (

Syndetics book coverUltimate record breaking destinations : the world’s largest, highest and most extreme places / Samantha Wilson.
“In a world bursting with incredible and alluring destinations, visiting the largest, oldest, highest or most extreme places provides us with a wonderful sense of achievement and helps us make sense of our place in this big old world. Take a unique journey of discovery to 100 of Earth’s record breaking places, from swimming in the deepest lake to stepping foot on the largest sand island or spending a night in the largest ice hotel. With a combination of easy-to-visit and off-the-beaten-track destinations it combines geographical intrigue and astonishing trivia to bring you the travel world’s answer to the Guinness Book of World Records.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverChasing rumor : a season fly fishing in Patagonia / Cameron Chambers.
“A blip of prosperity at the turn of the 20th century brought American trout to Patagonia, then for a half-century they were forgotten to fight wars and build a nation. Rediscovered by fishermen a half-century later, the fish had grown to epic proportions. In Chasing Rumor, Cameron Chambers chronicles his modern-day pilgrimage to the rivers of Patagonia in pursuit of these legendary 20-pound trout. What started as a trip focused on catching fish became a love affair with the Patagonian landscape, environment and mostly, the people. From a business mogul turned B&B owner to a kid determined to save a local trout population, Chasing Rumor is at times the story of a handful of fishermen, and at other times a tale of enormous trout.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWildboy : an epic trek around the coast of New Zealand / Brando Yelavich with Nicola McCloy.
“Fast going off the rails and hanging out with the wrong crowd, Brando Yelavich, a plucky 20-year-old from Auckland’s North Shore, decided he needed to change his life. He needed a mission. He was going to walk around New Zealand. Brando reached Cape Reinga on 23 August 2014 after a gruelling journey of over 8000 kilometres, traversed almost completely on foot over 600 days – the first time it had ever been done. It was an outlandish odyssey of physical and mental fortitude. He slept under the stars and lived off the land. He almost drowned on several occasions and experienced near-hypothermia. He gained 20 kilograms. But the transformation ran much deeper. As much for fans of Bear Grylls or Cheryl Strayed’s Wild as it is for those of the off-the-grid outdoors Kiwi experience, Wildboy is a ripping adventure story with an inspiring life change at its heart.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHow to be Danish : a journey to the cultural heart of Denmark / Patrick Kingsley.
“Denmark is the country of the moment. Recently named the happiest nation in the world, it’s the home of The Killing and Noma, the world’s best (and most eccentric) restaurant. We wear their sweaters, watch their thrillers, and covet their cool modern design, but how much do we really know about the Danes themselves? Part reportage, part travelogue, How to Be Danish fills in the gaps — an introduction to contemporary Danish culture that spans politics, television, food, architecture, and design.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSmile of a midsummer night : a picture of Sweden / by Lars Gustafsson and Agneta Blomqvist ; translated from the Swedish by Deborah Bragen-Turner.
“In Smile of the Midsummer Night , best-selling author Lars Gustafsson and Agneta Blomqvist present a very personal guide to their Swedish homeland. Setting off from the far South, their journey takes them up to Norrland, from the farms of Scania to Laponian, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. But it is the idyllic fjord in Bohulän, located in the Västmanland region, as well as Mälar Lake and Stockholm that they call home. The first work of contemporary travel writing about Sweden by Swedish writers to have been translated into English, Smile of the Midsummer Night is a loving and poetic ode to this beautiful nation and a must-have for anyone interested in Scandinavia.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book cover111 places in Florence and Northern Tuscany that you must not miss / Beate C. Kirchner ; photographs by Francesco P. Carbone ; English translation, Alan Gentile.
“Michelangelo’s David, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the smooth cypress hills – these are among the celebrated must-see sights of Tuscany. Yet the cultural landscape of Florence and the surrounding countryside is an inexhaustible trove of visual and historical gems if you know where to look, that is. Where, for instance, can you find 1,000 Masonic objects and symbols? Where does the official championship in cheese-throwing take place? Where was a memorial dedicated to a king’s assassin, and where can you see a double-dawn? This book will lead you right inside the turbulent history, exciting stories, and unexpected sites and pleasures of Tuscany.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDispatches from dystopia : histories of places not yet forgotten / Kate Brown.
“The author wanders the Chernobyl Zone of Alienation, first on the Internet and then in person, to figure out which version — the real or the virtual — is the actual forgery. She also takes us to the basement of a hotel in Seattle to examine the personal possessions left in storage by Japanese Americans on their way to internment camps in 1942. In Uman, Ukraine, we hide with Brown in a tree in order to witness the male-only Rosh Hashanah celebration of Hasidic Jews. In the Russian southern Urals, she speaks with the citizens of the small city of Kyshtym, where invisible radioactive pollutants have mysteriously blighted lives. Finally, Brown returns home to Elgin, Illinois, in the industrial rust belt, to investigate the rise of “rustalgia” and the ways her formative experiences have inspired her obsession with modernist wastelands.” (Jacket flap)

Syndetics book coverAfter the dance : a walk through carnival in Jacmel, Haiti / Edwidge Danticat.
“Here she chronicles her journey to the coastal town of Jacmel, where she meets with the performers, artists, and organizers who re-create the myths and legends that bring the festival to life. In the process, Danticat traces the heroic and tragic history of their home island, from French plantation colony to the Haitian revolution, American invasions to homegrown dictatorships. Part travelogue, part memoir, part historical analysis, this is the deeply personal story of a writer rediscovering her country – along with a part of herself – and a wonderful introduction to Haiti’s southern coast and to the beauty and passions of Carnival.” (Back cover)