News & Opinion (updated April 18, 2014)
100 Places in the USA Every Woman Should Go
Just in time for making those summer plans, our latest book, Sophia Dembling's 100 Places in the USA Every Woman Should Go, shines a light on this country's top attractions, quirky sites, and lesser-known wonders. Pick up a copy today and start rediscovering the USA.
Saline solution pools on my palm, magnifying the dust and specks of camel hair in my contacts, and cleaning them is now an almost futile gesture. But this was the least of my worries as I sit in my ger in the middle of the Gobi Desert, where our driver had pulled over to seek refuge from the sandstorm even now buffeting the walls of the glorified tent. Its top flaps sporadically, first idly, now furiously, letting both dust and flashes of light in, offering glimpsing of the room and its resting occupants, faces lightly covered with sand.Read on...
He was tall and good looking and had attended an expensive prep school where he learned to talk pretty. He liked dancing to pop music and drinking beer and traveling. His father wanted him to be a real estate agent; he was not interested in a desk job. He was sarcastic and smart, a reader. I sometimes imagine going back in time to talk to my former self. “He’s attractive, but he’s bad news. Run for it.”
I did not run for it. I was so young, unconstrained by gravity or common sense. I went to London, his home, and together we went to Paris, Tel Aviv, Karachi, and finally New Delhi, where wasted with giardia and salmonella, I blew what was left of my money on a plane ticket back to the US.
I returned to the US a different person. After my travels in India, I would encounter other people who had done the same and we would have a moment. We had seen things, we had taken very long walks, we had earned the same badges. It was not country counting snobbery, or a competition, it was a nod, an acknowledgement that we had shifted. Nothing bad happened to me in India beyond a difficult to treat but typical case of traveler’s gut. But I had walked the markets of Old Delhi without a guide and stumbled over the rocky high passes of the Himalayas and I was changed for the experience.Read on...
The citywide siren filled every corner of the house—a house in Tel Aviv without a bomb shelter. During one of the siren’s low levels, I heard Tsach’s voice from the garden, “Anna, come and see.”
Barefoot, I ran down the aloe-lined brick walk and came to stand next to him. In the bluest sky above the lemon tree, two contrails met in a calligraphy of white. He pointed, “The antimissile hit it.”
Missile sirens hadn’t sounded in the city since the Gulf War, and this was the third one I’d heard since arriving in Israel a few days before: just in time for an eight-day “war,” euphemistically called Operation Pillar of Cloud. In the Holy Land, it was no coincidence that the name conjured Biblical references to the cloud that had guided and protected the Israelites by day during their exodus.
The wailing ended, and we watched the curling script start to spread and lose its shape. As blue sky absorbed the condensation, my first thought was: It’s beautiful.Read on...
As we walked into the room, I first noticed the bed—broad, slightly concave, uncomfortable-looking—covered with a thin, antique quilt. But it was the west-facing windows, unusually close to the floor, that caught my attention and brought back the words.
I chose the bed downstairs by the sea-window for a good death-bed
When we built the house; it is ready waiting,
Unused unless by some guest in a twelvemonth, who hardly suspects
Its latter purpose....
The smoke of wood fires dulls the sunrise, silhouetting the spires of Angkor Wat as hazy apparitions.
The incomparable beauty of these temples, the soul of the Khmer nation, are a surreal backdrop for the tale of horror I have come to record.
I see Pan approaching, fingering his prayer beads, his saffron robes seemingly ablaze in the yellow mist. He walks as though he is not really there, feet barely touching the ground, a saint incarnate to the world at large but in his own eyes, a simple, humble, monk. He carries a quality I cannot assign to words but people sense this as I notice heads turn with slight bows as he glides past.
He is bent from time and suffering, having lived through and seen more than anyone should, and I know through mutual friends he wishes nothing more than to spend his remaining time in secluded meditation, but upon hearing of my book project he readily agreed to speak with me in the hopes that no one should have to relive it.
Pan is a Theravada monk, one of about 350,000 throughout Cambodia prior to the Khmer Rouge, and now one of but 30 to have outlived their regime. Besides surviving personal atrocities, he bears the weight of trying to re-establish a religious order dragged to the brink of extinction under a barbaric reign.Read on...
“Sitten ze down!” The German’s livid face was as red as an equatorial sun setting through the pollution haze of a Third World metropolis.
Flora and I looked at each other. She winked and we wobbled the canoe back and forth with our newly acquired hip-shaking samba dance moves. Again. It was too delicious to be exacting revenge on the pissy photographer, who was tightly gripping both sides of the pencil-thin canoe. Murky, chocolate-brown river water splashed into the hull. This sent him into full-throttle hysteria.
Should we tip him overboard? I could tell Flora was thinking the same thing. No one would know. We were in the heart of the Upper Amazon Basin on a remote, flooded tributary.
He had shown up the day before. Ray had sent him. A photographer on assignment for a travel magazine. He had a lot of expensive camera gear with him.
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Seeking an unusual place to escape with friends? Want to indulge in a perfect hot spring or mountain retreat? Hoping to gain perspective by exploring women's history or touring a quirky museum? 100 Places in the USA Every Woman Should Go will both inspire and compel you to hit the road—in a group, with a friend, or solo. Divided into sections such as "Get to Know America," "Americans’ History," "Participate," and "X (Chromosome) Rated," this guidebook unveils places you've never heard of and gives you a new outlook on places you think you know. It illuminates attractions close to home and reminds you why it's time to plan that special trip far away. The book is packed with breezy reviews, insightful advice, and engaging anecdotes sure to set you on your way. Read Sophia Dembling's Introduction.
Deer Hunting in Paris is an unexpectedly funny exploration of a vanishing way of life in a complex, cosmopolitan world. Sneezing madly from hay fever, a Korean-American preacher’s daughter refuses to get married, travels the world, and ends up learning how to hunt from her boyfriend’s conservative family. As she navigates the perils of an unlikely romantic relationship from Paris, France, to Paris, Maine, Paula Young Lee skewers human foibles while she celebrates hunting, DIY food culture, and what it means to be a carnivore. She finds herself trying to keep from being “mistaken” for a deer and getting shot at the clothesline, while also avoiding becoming dinner for bears. Along the way, this former vegetarian finds lessons about life, love, and loss in a hacksaw and a haunch of venison. Read the Prologue or a sample chapter.
The Best Women's Travel Writing, Volume 9 invites readers to ride shotgun alongside intrepid female nomads as they travel the globe to discover new places, people, and facets of themselves. The stories in this edition are as diverse as the destinations, the common thread being fresh, compelling storytelling that will make you laugh, weep, wish you were there, or be glad you weren’t. You'll tangle with snakes and alligators in Bangladesh, experience life under niqab in Egypt, find love in a tree house in Laos, and much more. Read Lavinia Spalding's Introduction or a sample chapter.
Ghost Dance in Berlin is an unlikely declaration of love by the American-born son of German-speaking Jewish refugees. From a temporary perch in a villa on Berlin’s biggest lake, Wortsman imagines the parallel celebratory haunting of two sets of ghosts, those of the exiled erstwhile owners, a Jewish banker and his family, and those of the Führer’s Minister of Finance and his entourage, who took over title, while in another villa across the lake another gaggle of ghosts is busy planning the Final Solution.
Where the Wall once stood dividing East and West the city remains bisected by invisible borderlines, across which the author hops with an eye for telling detail and an ear for memorable conversations with street musicians, winos, lawyers, bankers, politicians, a taxi driver, a hooker, and a Michelin star chef, with cameo appearances by Henry Kissinger and the shade of Marlene Dietrich. Read the Foreword or a sample chapter.
Leave the Lipstick, Take the Iguana is the 9th book in the best-selling Travelers' Tales humor series, which began with There's No Toilet Paper on the Road Less Traveled and blossomed into a classic "underwear" women's humor series, including Sand in My Bra and The Thong Also Rises. This laugh-out-loud collection will resonate with experienced travelers and novices alike and includes hilarious misadventures with packing, border crossings, travel fashion, language faux pas, weird food encounters, and romantic overtures abroad. Read Marcy Gordon's Introduction or a sample chapter.
The Best Travel Writing, Volume 9 is the latest book in the annual Travelers’ Tales series launched in 2004 to celebrate the world’s best travel writing—from Nobel Prize winners to emerging new writers. These 27 stories cover the globe, from finding peace with a father's spirit in Mexico to getting caught off guard by a mad dog in Bhutan to crossing the Sahara in a convoy. The points of view and perspectives are global, and themes encompass high adventure, spiritual growth, romance, hilarity and misadventure, service to humanity, and encounters with exotic cuisine. Read the Introduction by Tim Cahill and a sample chapter, "The Offer that Refused Me" by Marcia DeSanctis.
“Makes me want to pack my bag and follow Van Allen’s alluring suggestions for traveling in Italy. Her knowledge reveals an intimacy with the country and a honed sense of adventure. Andiamo!”
—Frances Mayes, author of Under the Tuscan Sun
Imagine creating your Italian dream vacation with a fun-loving savvy traveler girlfriend whispering in your ear. Go along with writer Susan Van Allen on a femme-friendly ride up and down the boot, to explore this extraordinarily enchanting country where Venus (Vixen Goddess of Love and Beauty) and The Madonna (Nurturing Mother of Compassion) reign side-by-side. With humor, passion, and practical details, this uniquely anecdotal guidebook will enrich your Italian days. Read the Introduction, and also this superb review.
“A most diverting and picaresque tale, one that reads like a sentimental journey of a hundred years ago.”
—the late Norman Cousins
In the early 1960s, a young, self-taught musician set out to travel the world with no money, equipped only with his guitar, his voice, and his belief in the goodness of people. Along the way, blown by the winds of fortune, guided by instinct, he played for kings and paupers, soldiers and servants, artists and terrorists. His name is Moro Buddy Bohn, and his unlikely and powerful story will uplift you and inspire you to live the life you want.
His audiences have included Queen Elizabeth II of England, King Frederick IX of Denmark, Pablo Picasso, Rita Hayworth, Patty Duke, Lee Marvin, Howard Hughes, King Bhumibol and Queen Sirikit of Thailand, and he was the first musician to entertain U.S. troops in Vietnam. Read the Preface or a sample chapter.
“This book is very sick. Highly recommended.”
—J. Maarten Troost, author of The Sex Lives of Cannibals
Travelers' Tales/Solas House proudly presents its first work of fiction, Gary Buslik's wacky satire on power-mongers of all stripes. In this rollicking story, Iranian president Akhmed teams up with the leaders of Venezuela and Cuba and their American intelligence agents to smuggle radioactive matzo balls into Miami Beach. But intelligence being as slippery a concept to these nincompoops as chicken fat on linoleum, when each member of the gang decides to ladle out his own personal nuke soup, holy terror Akhmed is left steaming. Will his plan to destroy America float like a fly or sink like a lead dumpling?
Star-crossed lovers, conniving academics, and blustery social climbers collide with ravenous termites, international do-badders, and multi-level marketing in a plot as fast-paced and hilarious as a runaway mountain bus. Radioactivity has never been so much fun.
“Lavinia Spalding has given travelers a witty, profound, and accessible exploration of the hows and whys of keeping a journal. Novices and veterans alike will find inspiration and fresh ideas on every page, along with practical suggestions to bring out the best writer in anyone.” —Anthony Weller, author of Days and Nights on the Grand Trunk Road
Writing Away: A Creative Guide to Awakening the Journal-Writing Traveler, inspires budding memoirists and jetsetting scribes alike. But Writing Away doesn’t stop there—author Lavinia Spalding spins the romantic tradition of keeping a travelogue into a modern, witty adventure in awareness, introducing the traditional handwritten journal as a profoundly valuable tool for self-discovery, artistic expression, and spiritual growth. Read the Introduction.
Cruise Confidential: a hit below the waterline
“Part Love Boat, part Mutiny on the Bounty, Cruise Confidential does for cruising what Animal House did for higher education.” —J. Maarten Troost, author of The Sex Lives of Cannibals
Cruise Confidential is a delightfully funny, wild, and romantic adventure that reveals what it's really like working on a cruise ship. Brian David Bruns worked for a year in the ships' restaurants and his account will astonish you as you are assaulted with circumstances ranging from the absurd to the bizarre. Did you know that waiters are required to steal cutlery and even food from each other for their own guests? Can you imagine what the crew thinks of the passengers? And sex, don't forget the sex. Read Chapter 1 here.