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Winter Escapes for the Armchair Traveler

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Suffering from cabin fever? Losing your fight with this winter’s weary dismals? It’s a perfect time to dream of exotic destinations and distant adventures and to imagine the trip of a lifetime. Armchair travelers and bucket list makers are invited to plan their great winter getaways with travel books from Manhattan Public Library.
Readers can jumpstart their travel dreaming with super-sized, lavishly-illustrated overviews like “The World’s Best Travel Experiences: 400 Extraordinary Places” and “Journeys of a Lifetime: 500 of the World’s Greatest Trips” from the National Geographic Society, or with books like “Great Adventures” and “Great Escapes” by the publishers of the popular Lonely Planet guides. Travelers in search of cultural and world heritage destinations can explore “The World’s Must-See Places: A look Inside More Than 100 Magnificent Buildings and Monuments” from DK Publishing or “The World’s Heritage: A Guide to All 981 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.”

If you enjoy travel as a gateway to history, your choice of great reading is almost limitless. In “Paris to the Past: Traveling through French History by Train,” author Ina Caro guides readers on 25 day-trips out of Paris, exploring over 700 years of French history one locale at a time. In “Shadow of the Silk Road,” Colin Thubron recounts his voyage from the heart of China through Central Asia and the Middle East to Turkey, re-exploring an ancient world in modern times. “Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time” by Mark Adams is an entertaining travelogue that one reviewer called “serious (and seriously funny); a smart and tightly written history; and an investigative report into the greatest archaeological discovery of the last century.”

Reviewers called “Black Lamb and Grey Falcon: A Journey through Yugoslavia” by Rebecca West “a masterpiece,” and “one of the great books of our century.” First published in 1941, it is a travelogue and journal of West’s trips through the Balkan region during the turbulent 1930s. Passing years and subsequent events have only reinforced the reputation of West’s book as a brilliant study of the region’s ethnography, history, myth, and legend whose relevance persists in the present.
The Tao of Travel: Enlightenment from Lives on the Road,” edited by “the dean of travel writers” Paul Theroux, is a collection of great travel writing that is part philosophical guide, part miscellany, and part reminiscence. It includes selections from a surprisingly diverse group of authors – J. R. R. Tolkien, Eudora Welty, Charles Dickens, Freya Stark, Mark Twain, and Ernest Hemingway. In his own writing, Theroux assumes a very personal viewpoint and interprets travel as an exterior and interior experience. His many bestselling books include “The Old Patagonian Express: By Train through the Americas,” “The Pillars of Hercules: A Grand Tour of the Mediterranean,” “The Great Railway Bazaar: By Train through Asia,” and “Dark Star Safari: Overland from Cairo to Cape Town.”

Culinary travelers will savor “Food Journeys of a Lifetime: 500 Places to Eat Around the Globe” from National Geographic, or “A Fork in the Road: Tales of Food, Pleasure and Discovery,” an anthology by chefs, foodies, and travel writers. “The Perfect Meal: In Search of the Lost Tastes of France” by John Baxter is a charming memoir that is part tour of France and part history, and part culinary adventure. “On the Noodle Road: From Beijing to Rome with Love and Pasta,” is the recounting of author Jen Lin-Liu’s travels from Western China into Central Asia, Iran, Turkey, and across the Mediterranean to trace the historic migration of food and culture along the ancient Silk Road.

And if you haven’t yet read “A Year in Provence” by Peter Mayle, “Under the Tuscan Sun” by Frances Mayes, or “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert, all three bestselling travel memoirs of recent years, take the opportunity to go back and catch up with them now, and discover why millions of delighted readers loved these charming and inspiring books.

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Susan

Adult Services Manager at Manhattan Public Library

Posted in: Adult Services, For Adults, Mercury Column

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