In My Hands Today…

By the Seat of My Pants – Don George

Lonely Planet knows that some of life’s funniest experiences happen on the road. Whether they take the form of unexpected detours, unintended adventures, unidentifiable dinners or unforgettable encounters, they can give birth to our most found travel lessons, and our most memorable – and hilarious – travel stories.

These 31 globegirdling tales that run the gamut from close-encounter safaris to loss-of-face follies, hair-raising rides to culture-leaping brides, eccentric expats to mind-boggling repasts, wrong roads taken to agreements mistaken. The collection brings together some of the world’s most renowned travellers and storytellers with previously unpublished writers.

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In My Hands Today…

Meet Me in Venice: A Chinese Immigrant’s Journey from the Far East to the Faraway West – Suzanne Ma

When Ye Pei dreamed of Venice as a girl, she imagined a magical floating city of canals and gondola rides. And she imagined her mother, successful in her new life and eager to embrace the daughter she had never forgotten.

But when Ye Pei arrives in Italy, she learns her mother works on a farm far from the city. Her only connection, a mean-spirited Chinese auntie, puts Ye Pei to work in a small-town cafe. Rather than giving up and returning to China, a determined Ye Pei takes on a grueling schedule, resolving to save enough money to provide her family with a better future.

A groundbreaking work of journalism, Meet Me in Venice provides a personal, intimate account of Chinese individuals in the very act of migration. Suzanne Ma spent years in China and Europe to understand why Chinese people choose to immigrate to nations where they endure hardship, suspicion, manual labor and separation from their loved ones.

Today all eyes are on China and its explosive economic growth. With the rise of the Chinese middle class, Chinese communities around the world are growing in size and prosperity, a development many westerners find unsettling, and even threatening. Following Ye Pei s undaunted path, this inspiring book is an engrossing read for those eager to understand contemporary China and the enormous impact of Chinese emigrants around the world.

In My Hands Today…

The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot – Robert Macfarlane

In this exquisitely written book, Robert Macfarlane sets off from his Cambridge, England, home to follow the ancient tracks, holloways, drove roads, and sea paths that crisscross both the British landscape and its waters and territories beyond. The result is an immersive, enthralling exploration of the ghosts and voices that haunt old paths, of the stories our tracks keep and tell, and of pilgrimage and ritual.

Told in Macfarlane’s distinctive voice, The Old Ways folds together natural history, cartography, geology, archaeology and literature. His walks take him from the chalk downs of England to the bird islands of the Scottish northwest, from Palestine to the sacred landscapes of Spain and the Himalayas. Along the way he crosses paths with walkers of many kinds—wanderers, pilgrims, guides, and artists. Above all this is a book about walking as a journey inward and the subtle ways we are shaped by the landscapes through which we move. Macfarlane discovers that paths offer not just a means of traversing space, but of feeling, knowing, and thinking.

In My Hands Today…

The River at the Center of the World: A Journey Up the Yangtze & Back in Chinese Time – Simon Winchester

25015Rising in the mountains of the Tibetan border, the Yangtze River, the symbolic heart of China pierces 3,900 miles of rugged country before debouching into the oily swells of the East China Sea. Connecting China’s heartland cities with the volatile coastal giant, Shanghai, it has also historically connected China to the outside world through its nearly one thousand miles of navigable waters. To travel those waters is to travel back in history, to sense the soul of China, and Simon Winchester takes us along with him as he encounters the essence of China–its history and politics, its geography and climate as well as engage in its culture, and its people in remote and almost inaccessible places.

In My Hands Today…

Neither East Nor West: One Woman’s Journey Through the Islamic Republic of Iran
 – Christiane Bird

161533Fusing travelogue, historical inquiry, and interviews with Iranians from all walks of life, Neither East Nor West is a landmark contribution to travel writing and to cultural studies, as well as a timely illumination of a nation deeply misunderstood by most Westerners.

In describing life in Iran today, Christiane Bird, an American who spent part of her childhood there, breaks the silence that has surrounded Iran’s culture — unlike its politics — for nearly twenty years.

Travelling alone and largely by bus, Bird journeys from the modern, bustling capital of Tehran to the medieval holy city of Qom, from the sacred pilgrimage site of Mashhad — visited by more than twelve million Shi’ites annually — to the isolated valley of Alamut, once home to the legendary cult of the Assassins.

She visits mosques, public baths, Khomeini’s former home, and a Caspian Sea resort, and attends prayer meetings and a horse racing meet. Along the way, she talks to muleteers and ayatollahs, Kurds and Turkomans, Westernized and traditional Iranians — many of whom invited her home for a cup of tea.

The result is an astounding, insightful journey into the Islamic Republic of Iran — in all its beauty, ferocity, and contradiction.

In My Hands Today…

Floating on a Malayan Breeze: Travels in Malaysia and Singapore – Sudhir Thomas Vadaketh

16041097What happens when a country splits apart? Forty-five years ago, Singapore separated from Malaysia. Since then, the two countries have developed along their own paths. Malaysia has given preference to the majority of Malay Muslims – the Bumiputera, or sons of the soil. Singapore, meanwhile, has tried to build a meritocracy – ostensibly color-blind, yet more encouraging perhaps to some Singaporeans than to others. How have these policies affected ordinary people? How do these two divergent nations and their peoples now see each other and the world around them?

In My Hands Today…

Notes from a Small Island – Bill Bryson

28After nearly two decades spent on British soil, Bill Bryson – bestselling author of The Mother Tongue and Made in America-decided to return to the United States. (“I had recently read,” Bryson writes, “that 3.7 million Americans believed that they had been abducted by aliens at one time or another, so it was clear that my people needed me.”) But before departing, he set out on a grand farewell tour of the green and kindly island that had so long been his home.

Veering from the ludicrous to the endearing and back again, Notes from a Small Island is a delightfully irreverent jaunt around the unparalleled floating nation that has produced zebra crossings, Shakespeare, Twiggie Winkie’s Farm, and places with names like Farleigh Wallop and Titsey. The result is an uproarious social commentary that conveys the true glory of Britain, from the satiric pen of an unapologetic Anglophile.