Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
Month 2: Travel
Read a travel memoir or a book (fiction or non-fiction) featuring a setting you would like to visit someday.
In a Sunburned Country by
Every time Bill Bryson walks out the door, memorable travel literature threatens to break out. His previous excursion along the Appalachian Trail resulted in the sublime national bestseller A Walk in the Woods. In A Sunburned Country is his report on what he found in an entirely different place: Australia, the country that doubles as a continent, and a place with the friendliest inhabitants, the hottest, driest weather, and the most peculiar and lethal wildlife to be found on the planet. The result is a deliciously funny, fact-filled, and adventurous performance by a writer who combines humor, wonder, and unflagging curiousity. Despite the fact that Australia harbors more things that can kill you in extremely nasty ways than anywhere else, including sharks, crocodiles, snakes, even riptides and deserts, Bill Bryson adores the place, and he takes his readers on a rollicking ride far beyond that beaten tourist path. Wherever he goes he finds Australians who are cheerful, extroverted, and unfailingly obliging, and these beaming products of land with clean, safe cities, cold beer, and constant sunshine fill the pages of this wonderful book. Australia is an immense and fortunate land, and it has found in Bill Bryson its perfect guide.
Turn Right at Machu Picchu by
Mark Adams has spent his career editing adventure and travel magazines, polishing hair-raising tales about the exploits of famous explorers. So his plan to investigate the allegations against Bingham by retracing the explorer's perilous path to Machu Picchu isn't completely far-fetched, even if it does require him to sleep in a tent for the first time. Along the way he finds a still-undiscovered country populated with brilliant and eccentric characters, as well as an answer to the question that has nagged scientists for generations: just what was Machu Picchu?
A powerful, blazingly honest memoir: the story of an eleven-hundred-mile solo hike that broke down a young woman reeling from catastrophe--and built her back up again. nbsp; At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother's death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life: to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State--and to do it alone. She had no experience as a long-distance hiker, and the trail was little more than "an idea, vague and outlandish and full of promise." But it was a promise of piecing back together a life that had come undone. nbsp; Strayed faces down rattlesnakes and black bears, intense heat and record snowfalls, and both the beauty and loneliness of the trail. Told with great suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild vividly captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.
A Walk in the Woods by
The Appalachian Trail trail stretches from Georgia to Maine and covers some of the most breathtaking terrain in America-majestic mountains, silent forests, sparking lakes. If you're going to take a hike, it's probably the place to go. And Bill Bryson is surely the most entertaining guide you'll find. He introduces us to the history and ecology of the trail and to some of the other hardy (or just foolhardy) folks he meets along the way-and a couple of bears. Already a classic, A Walk in the Woods will make you long for the great outdoors (or at least a comfortable chair to sit and read in).
Eat, Pray, Love by
By the time she turned thirty, Elizabeth Gilbert had everything a modern, educated, ambitious American woman was supposed to want - a husband, a house in the country, a successful career. But instead of feeling happy and fulfilled, she was consumed with panic, grief and confusion. She went through a divorce, a crushing depression, another failed love and the complete eradication of everything she ever thought she was supposed to be.
To recover from all of this, Gilbert took a radical step. In order to give herself the time and space to find out who she really was and what she really wanted, she got rid of her belongings, quit her job, left her loved ones behind and undertook a year-long journey around the world, all alone. Eat, Pray, Love is the chronicle of that year. Gilbert's aim was to visit three places where she could examine one aspect of her own nature, set against the backdrop of a culture that has traditionally done that one thing very well. In Italy, she studied the art of pleasure, learning to speak Italian and gaining the twenty-three happiest pounds of her life. India was for the art of devotion, where, with the help of a native guru and a surprisingly wise Texan, she embarked on four months of austere spiritual exploration. Finally, in Indonesia, she sought her ultimate goal: balance - namely, how to somehow build a life of equilibrium between worldly enjoyment and divine transcendence. Looking for these answers on the island of Bali, she became the pupil of an elderly, ninth-generation medicine man and also fell in love in the very best way - unexpectedly.
A memoir of self-discovery, Eat, Pray, Love is about what can happen when you claim responsibility for your own contentment. It is also about the adventures that can transpire when a woman stops trying to live in imitation of society's ideals. This is a story certain to touch anyone who has ever woken up to the unrelenting need for change.
Sideways on a Scooter by
When twentysomething reporter Miranda Kennedy leaves her job in New York City and travels to India with no employment prospects, she longs to immerse herself in the turmoil and excitement of a rapidly developing country. What she quickly learns in Delhi about renting an apartment as a single woman--it's next to impossible--and the proper way for women in India to ride scooters--perched sideways--are early signs that life here is less Westernized than she'd counted on. Living in Delhi for more than five years, and finding a city pulsing with possibility and hope, Kennedy experiences friendships, love affairs, and losses that open a window onto the opaque world of Indian politics and culture--and alter her own attitudes about everything from food and clothes to marriage and family. Along the way, Kennedy is drawn into the lives of several Indian women, including her charismatic friend Geeta--a self-described "modern girl" who attempts to squeeze herself into the traditional role of wife and mother; Radha, a proud Brahmin widow who denies herself simple pleasures in order to live by high-caste Hindu principles; and Parvati, who defiantly chain-smokes and drinks whiskey, yet feels compelled to keep her boyfriend a secret from her family. In her effort to understand the hopes and dreams that motivate her new friends, Kennedy peels back India's globalized image as a land of call centers and fast-food chains and finds an ancient place where, in many ways, women's lives have scarcely changed for centuries. Incisive, witty, and written with a keen eye for the lush vibrancy of the country that Kennedy comes to love, Sideways on a Scooter is both a remarkable memoir and a cultural revelation.
Cathedral of the Wild by
Boyd Varty had an unconventional upbringing. He grew up on Londolozi Game Reserve in South Africa, a place where man and nature strive for balance, where perils exist alongside wonders. Founded more than eighty years ago as a hunting ground, Londolozi was transformed into a nature reserve beginning in 1973 by Varty's father and uncle, visionaries of the restoration movement. But it wasn't just a sanctuary for the animals; it was also a place for ravaged land to flourish again and for the human spirit to be restored. When Nelson Mandela was released after twenty-seven years of imprisonment, he came to the reserve to recover. Cathedral of the Wild is Varty's memoir of his life in this exquisite and vast refuge. At Londolozi, Varty gained the confidence that emerges from living in Africa. "We came out strong and largely unafraid of life," he writes, "with the full knowledge of its dangers." It was there that young Boyd and his equally adventurous sister learned to track animals, raised leopard and lion cubs, followed their larger-than-life uncle on his many adventures filming wildlife, and became one with the land. Varty survived a harrowing black mamba encounter, a debilitating bout with malaria, even a vicious crocodile attack, but his biggest challenge was a personal crisis of purpose. An intense spiritual quest takes him across the globe and back again--to reconnect with nature and "rediscover the track." Cathedral of the Wild is a story of transformation that inspires a great appreciation for the beauty and order of the natural world. With conviction, hope, and humor, Varty makes a passionate claim for the power of the wild to restore the human spirit.
My Life in France by
Here is the captivating story of Julia Child's years in France, where she fell in love with French food and found "her true calling." From the moment she and her husband Paul, who worked for the USIS, arrived in the fall of 1948, Julia had an awakening that changed her life. Soon this tall, outspoken gal from Pasadena, California, who didn't speak a word of French and knew nothing about the country, was steeped in the language, chatting with purveyors in the local markets, and enrolled in the Cordon Bleu. She teamed up with two fellow gourmettes, Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle, to help them with a book on French cooking for Americans. Filled with her husband's beautiful black-and-white photographs as well as family snapshots, this memoir is laced with wonderful stories about the French character, particularly in the world of food, and the way of life that Julia embraced so wholeheartedly. Bon appétit!