READING LIST. In preparation for holiday travel, many of us are packing our carry-ons with one or two trusty paperback novels. More than 50 new books have been added to the shelves of Jetsetter’s miniature library nook called the Hemingway Room. Here are a few first-class titles from the new collection.
Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight | Alexandra Fuller
From Amazon.com: Alexandra Fuller remembers her African childhood with candor and sensitivity. Although it is a diary of an unruly life in an often inhospitable place, the book is suffused with Fuller’s endearing ability to find laughter, even when there is little to celebrate. Fuller’s debut is unsentimental and unflinching but always captivating. In wry and sometimes hilarious prose, she stares down disaster and looks back with rage and love at the life of an extraordinary family in an extraordinary time.
My Life in France | Julia Child
From Amazon.com: Julia Child single handedly awakened America to the pleasures of good cooking with her cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking and her television show The French Chef, but as she reveals in this bestselling memoir, she didn’t know the first thing about cooking when she landed in France. Indeed, when she first arrived in 1948 with her husband, Paul, she spoke no French and knew nothing about the country itself. But as she dove into French culture, buying food at local markets and taking classes at the Cordon Bleu, her life changed forever. Julia’s unforgettable story unfolds with the spirit so key to her success as a cook and teacher and writer, brilliantly capturing one of the most endearing American personalities of the last fifty years.
Wild | Cheryl Strayed
From Amazon.com: 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. At 22, 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. 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.
West With the Night | Beryl Markham
From Amazon.com: A page-turning 1942 memoir by bush pilot Beryl Markham, chronicling her experiences living in Kenya (then British East Africa) in the early 1900s. Ernest Hemingway said of it, “She has written so well, and marvelously well that I was completely ashamed of myself as a writer. I felt that I was simply a carpenter with words, picking up whatever was furnished on the job and nailing them together and sometimes making an okay pig pen. But [she] can write rings around all of us who consider ourselves as writers … it really is a bloody wonderful book.”
Travel and Food Writing
Chasing the Monsoon | Alexander Frater
From Amazon.com: On 20th May, the Indian summer monsoon will begin to envelop the country in two great wet arms, one coming from the East, the other from the West. They are united over central India around 10th July, a date that can be calculated within seven or eight days. Alexander Frater aims to follow the monsoon, staying sometimes behind it, sometimes in front of it, and everywhere watching the impact of this extraordinary phenomenon. During the anxious period of waiting, the weather forecaster is king, consulted by pie-crested cockatoos, and a joyful period ensues: there is a period of promiscuity, and scandals proliferate. Frater’s journey takes him to Bangkok and the cowboy town on the Thai-Malaysian border to Rangoon and Akyab in Burma (where the front funnels up between the mountains and the sea). His fascinating narrative reveals the exotic, often startling, discoveries of an ambitious and irresistibly romantic adventurer.
Yoga for People Who Can’t Be Bothered to Do It | Geoff Dyer
From Amazon.com: This isn’t a self-help book; It’s a book about how Geoff Dyer could do with a little help. In mordantly funny and thought-provoking prose, the author of Out of Sheer Rage describes a life most of us would love to live—and how that life frustrates and aggravates him. As he travels from Amsterdam to Cambodia, Rome to Indonesia, Libya to Burning Man in the Black Rock Desert, Dyer flounders about in a sea of grievances, with fleeting moments of transcendental calm his only reward for living in a perpetual state of motion. But even as he recounts his side-splitting misadventures in each of these locales, Dyer is always able to sneak up and surprise you with insight into much more serious matters. Brilliantly riffing off our expectations of external and internal journeys, Dyer welcomes the reader as a companion, a fellow perambulator in search of something and nothing at the same time.
The Sex Lives of Cannibals | J. Maarten Troost
From Amazon.com: At the age of 26, Maarten Troost, who had been pushing the snooze button on the alarm clock of life by racking up useless graduate degrees and muddling through a series of temp jobs, decided to pack up his flip-flops and move to Tarawa, a remote South Pacific island in the Republic of Kiribati. He was restless and lacked direction, and the idea of dropping everything and moving to the ends of the earth was irresistibly romantic. He should have known better. The Sex Lives of Cannibals tells the hilarious story of what happens when Troost discovers that Tarawa is not the island paradise he dreamed of. Falling into one amusing misadventure after another, Troost struggles through relentless, stifling heat, a variety of deadly bacteria, polluted seas, toxic fish—all in a country where the only music to be heard for miles around is “La Macarena.” He and his stalwart girlfriend Sylvia spend the next two years battling incompetent government officials, alarmingly large critters, erratic electricity, and a paucity of food options (including the Great Beer Crisis); and contending with a bizarre cast of local characters, including “Half-Dead Fred” and the self-proclaimed Poet Laureate of Tarawa (a British drunkard who’s never written a poem in his life).
No Reservations: Around the World on an Empty Stomach | Anthony Bourdain
From Amazon.com: More than just a companion to the hugely popular show, No Reservations is Bourdain’s fully illustrated journal of his far-flung travels. The book traces his trips from New Zealand to New Jersey and everywhere in between, mixing beautiful, never-before-seen photos and mementos with Bourdain’s outrageous commentary on what really happens when you give a bad-boy chef an open ticket to the world. Want to know where to get good fatty crab in Rangoon? How to order your reindeer medium rare? How to tell a Frenchman that his baguette is invading your personal space? This is your book. For any Bourdain fan, this is an indispensable opportunity to hit the road with the man himself.
NW | Zadie Smith
From Amazon.com: This is the story of a city. Zadie Smith’s brilliant tragi-comic new novel follows four Londoners—Leah, Natalie, Felix and Nathan—as they try to make adult lives outside of Caldwell, the council estate of their childhood. From private houses to public parks, at work and at play, their London is a complicated place, as beautiful as it is brutal, where the thoroughfares hide the back alleys and taking the high road can sometimes lead you to a dead end. Depicting the modern urban zone—familiar to town-dwellers everywhere—Zadie Smith’s NW is a quietly devastating novel of encounters, mercurial and vital, like the city itself.
Tess of the D’Urbervilles | Thomas Hardy
From Amazon.com: Hardy’s penultimate work, Tess of the D’Urbervilles, is arguably the greatest tragedy of all Victorian literature. It tells the story of Tess, an impoverished woman whose past relations and miscarriage cause her to be rejected by her husband on their wedding night. Touching upon the themes of class, religion, gender and sexuality, the novel was highly controversial for its time and is held in high esteem by literary scholars to this day.
A Passage to India | E.M. Forster
From Amazon.com: Britain’s 300-year relationship with the Indian subcontinent produced much fiction of interest, but only one indisputable masterpiece: E. M. Forster’s A Passage to India, published in 1924 at the height of the Indian independence movement. Centering on an ambiguous incident between a young Englishwoman of uncertain stability and an Indian doctor eager to know his conquerors better, Forster’s book explores, with unexampled profundity, both the historical chasm between races and the eternal one between individuals struggling to ease their isolation and make sense of their humanity.
What do you think? Do you have a favorite travel book you’re currently reading or think we should add to our collection? We want to hear your suggestions.