Top of our picks this month is “The Fault Line”, written about the author’s 2008 journey from Finland along where the Iron Curtain divided Europe. Second is James A. Michener’s 1968 classic “Iberia”, recently reprinted, with an introduction by Steve Berry. And a couple of books for light reading are “What I was doing while you were breeding”, and “Vagabonding through Retirement”.
The fault line : traveling the other Europe, from Finland to Ukraine / Paolo Rumiz ; translated from the Italian by Gregory Conti.
“In his first book translated into English, “La Repubblica” correspondent Rumiz vents his anger at the European Union’s “rhetoric of globalization,” which homogenizes ethnic distinctions and threatens to obliterate traditional communities. His nostalgic, engaging search for the heart of European identity takes him from the Arctic to the Mediterranean, through present-day Finland, Latvia, Ukraine and Poland. In these regions, the author finds depopulated villages, survivors of mass deportations and exterminations that continued long after World War II. A richly detailed journey into Europe’s dark past and vulnerable present.” (Amazon.co.uk)”
Iberia : Spanish travels and reflections / James A. Michener ; photographs by Robert Vavra ; introduction by Steve Berry.
“Spain is an immemorial land like no other, one that James A. Michener, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author and celebrated citizen of the world, came to love as his own. Iberia is Michener’s enduring nonfiction tribute to his cherished second home. In the fresh and vivid prose that is his trademark, he not only reveals the celebrated history of bullfighters and warrior kings, painters and processions, cathedrals and olive orchards, he also shares the intimate, often hidden country he came to know, where the congeniality of living souls is thrust against the dark weight of history…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)
Findings / Kathleen Jamie.
“It’s surprising what you can find by simply stepping out to look. Award-winning poet Kathleen Jamie has an eye and an ease with the nature and landscapes of Scotland as well as an incisive sense of our domestic realities. In Findings she draws together these themes to describe travels like no other contemporary writer. Whether she is following the call of a peregrine in the hills above her home in Fife, sailing into a dark winter solstice on the Orkney islands, or pacing around the carcass of a whale on a rain-swept Hebridean beach, she creates a subtle and modern narrative, peculiarly alive to her connections and surroundings.” (Syndetics summary)
What I was doing while you were breeding : a memoir / Kristin Newman.
“A funny, sexy, and ultimately poignant memoir about mastering the art of the “vacationship.” Kristin Newman spent much of her twenties and thirties buying dresses to wear to her friends’ weddings and baby showers. Not ready to settle down and in need of an escape from her fast-paced job as a sitcom writer, Kristin instead traveled the world, often alone, for several weeks each year. In addition to falling madly in love with the planet, Kristin fell for many attractive locals, men who could provide the emotional connection she wanted without costing her the freedom she desperately needed. Kristin introduces readers to the Israeli bartenders, Finnish poker players, sexy Bedouins, and Argentinean priests who helped her transform into “Kristin-Adjacent” on the road-a slower, softer, and, yes, sluttier version of herself at home…” (Syndetics summary)
Landmarks / Robert Macfarlane.
“Haze-fire, smeuse, tarn, ghyll, hoarhusk, gruffy ground, af’rug… for years now, Robert Macfarlane has been collecting place-words: terms for aspects of landscape, nature and weather, drawn from dozens of languages and dialects of Britain and Ireland… In this, his fifth book, Macfarlane brilliantly explores the linguistic and literary terrain of our archipelago, from the Shetlands to Cornwall, and from Cumbria to Suffolk. Landmarks is a book about the power of language – ‘strong style, single words’ – to shape our sense of place…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)
Vagabonding through retirement : unusual wanders far from our Paris houseboat / by Bill Mahoney and Ina Garrison Mahoney.
“Bill Mahoney has been a vagabond since he began hitchhiking across the United States at thirteen, so finding a Dutch houseboat called Zwerver -Dutch for wanderer -is a perfect fit for him. Narrated by both Bill and Ina, Vagabonding through Retirement takes you on many entertaining travel adventures of a couple who love interacting with people and having unusual experiences. They spend five days on a leaky salt barge up the Mekong in Laos and travel for three days on a bamboo raft in Thailand. In Bolivia, they go down the world’s most dangerous roads and take the Trans-Siberian Railway from Beijing to Moscow. And they set out in their camping van for Prague and Bucharest before the fall of the Berlin Wall, and travel to the Ukraine just after the Soviet Union breaks apart…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)
Wrong way round / by Lorna Hendry.
“When Lorna Hendry, her husband James and young kids left Melbourne on a one-year trip around Australia in a 4WD with a camper trailer (having only been camping once before they left), they ignored all advice and drove across the Nullarbor and up the west coast of Australia. Wrong Way Round is a story about four people who had to get out of the city to become a family.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)
No room for watermelons : a man, his 1910 motorcycle and an epic journey across the world / Ron & Lynne Fellowes.
“In 2012, while others his age were enjoying quiet retirement, Ron Fellowes set off on the challenge of a lifetime. His dream to ride a 102 year-old FN motorcycle across the world – to the Belgian factory where the bike originated – had all the hallmarks of an epic adventure: one that was never going to be easy.” (Syndetics summary)
The great Central Canada bucket list : one-of-a-kind travel experiences / Robin Esrock.
“…The Great Central Canada Bucket List highlights the best travel experiences to be had in the heart of Canada. Renowned travel writer and TV host Robin Esrock explored every inch of central Canada to craft the definitive Bucket List for the region. Running the gamut of nature, food, culture, history, adrenaline rushes, and quirky Canadiana, Robin’s personal quest to tick off the very best of Ontario and Quebec packs in enough for a lifetime.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)
A spy’s London / Roy Berkeley ; foreword by Nigel West.
“In ‘this remarkable book’ (as intelligence historian Nigel West describes it in his Foreword), the reader will be struck by the vibrancy of history made real. Author Roy Berkeley has gone behind the facades of ordinary buildings, in the city that West calls ‘the espionage capital of the World’, to remind us that the history of intelligence has often been made in such mundane places. With his evocative photographs and compelling observations, Berkeley ensures that we will never see the streets of London – or these particular actors on the stage of history – in quite the same way again…” (Syndetics summary)