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Kern County Library Staff Suggests...: The Traveler's Shelf

Monday, June 30, 2008

The Traveler's Shelf

Getting Stoned with Savages: A Trip Through the Islands of Fiji and Vanuatu by J. Maartin Troost - The author of The Sex Lives of Cannibals, continues his search for paradise in the South Pacific Islands. Close encounters with kava, typhoons, volcanoes, and giant insects, provide fodder for his witty commentary.

God's Middle Finger: Into the Lawless Heart of the Sierra Madre by Richard Grant - In the endearing tradition of "mad dog Englishmen," Grant journeys into the beautiful and dangerous mountain range and Mexico's largest drug producing region. Although some adventures are to be expected, such as being pursued by drug lords intent on his demise, he describes the mountains with an artist's eye for detail and his various encounters with dark humor.

Gullible's Travels: The Adventures of a Bad Taste Tourist by Cash Peters - Famous for his BBC radio series Bad Taste Tours, this collection features some of the more zany and infamous essays on kitschy places you never wanted to visit in the first place. The best kind of armchair travel for those on a frayed shoestring budget.

Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster by Jon Krakauer - The debate between Krakauer and Anatoli Boukreev, the Everest guide, over the decisions that lead to the disaster was public and acrimonious. The postscript in this reissue chronicles that debate until Boukreev's 1997 death in an avalanche on Annapurna.

A Journey into Steinbeck's California by Susan Shillinglaw - This part art book, part biography, and part travel guide offers insight into how landscapes and townscapes influenced John Steinbeck's creative process and how, in turn, his legacy has influenced modern California. Literary pilgrims will learn more about the state featured so prominently in Steinbeck's work, tourists can visit the same buildings that he lived in and wrote about, and historians will appreciate the engrossing perspective on daily life in early 20th-century California.

Kinky Gazpacho: Life, Love & Spain by
Lori L. Tharps - Raised in mostly white middle class Milwaukee, Tharps opts for a year abroad to study Spanish in Salamanca and finds the racial remarks and stereotypes puzzling and unsettling. When she marries a Spaniard, her true Spanish adventure begins. Part travel essay, love story and memoir, Tharps discovers the untold history of Spain's connection to West Africa.

A Nuclear Family Vacation: Travels in the World of Atomic Weaponry by Nathan Hodge - Defense journalists Hodge and his wife Sharon Weinberger have created a new travel writers niche: nuclear tourism. They visit atomic-themed locations from deserted test sites to active uranium processing factories. They ask the important questions any tourist would want to know traveling in a world rife with nuclear weapons: Is there really such a thing as a suitcase nuke? Are there any weapons still on hair-trigger alert?

That Summer in Sicily: A Love Story by Marlena de Blasi - At Villa Donnafugata, bestselling author Marlena de Blasi meets Tosca, widow of the last prince of Sicily. During that summer Tosca tells de Blasi the story of their life together and the prince's tragic attempt to break the control of the Mafia. The ruined castle is now home to many of the women-now widowed-who once worked the prince's land alongside their husbands. How the Sicilian widows go about their tasks, care for one another, and celebrate the rituals of a humble, well-lived life is the heart of this book.

A Voyage Long and Strange: Rediscovering the New World by Tony Horwitz - "With the same sly humor and neighborly curiosity he brought to Confederates in the Attic and Blue Latitudes, Horwitz roams the New World, surveying the destinations of history's foremost explorers: Leif Eiriksson (Newfoundland), Columbus (the Dominican Republic), Coronado (the Great Plains of America), and De Soto (Florida), to name just a few. What do North Americans think of those explorers now, anyway? Ride along with Horwitz and discover for yourself..." –review by Dave at

Way Off the Road: Discovering the Charms of Small-Town America by Bill Geist - Emmy award winning correspondent and CBS News commentator Geist writes in his endearing deadpan style about eccentric individuals and shows firsthand how life in fly-over America can be odd, strangely fascinating, hysterical, and anything but boring.


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