The San Francisco Travel Book Club
The San Francisco Travel Book Club
Meets the first Monday of Every Month at 7:00 PM
Books Inc. the Marina, 2251 Chestnut Street, San Francisco.
April 2015 Selection: Peter Mayle, francophile phenomenon and author of "A Year in Provence," brings another delightful (and delicious) account of the good life, this time exploring the gustatory pleasures to be found throughout France.
The French celebrate food and drink more than any other people, and Mayle shows us just how contagious their enthusiasm can be. We visit the Foire aux Escargots. We attend a truly French marathon, where the beverage of choice is Chteau Lafite-Rothschild rather than Gatorade. We search out the most pungent cheese in France, and eavesdrop on a heated debate on the perfect way to prepare an omelet. We even attend a Catholic mass in the village of Richerenches, a sacred event at which thanks are given for the aromatic, mysterious, and breathtakingly expensive black truffle. With Mayle as our inimitably charming guide, we come away with a satisfied smile (if a little hungry) and the compelling desire to book a flight to France at once.
March 2015 Selection: A SCOTSMAN NON-FICTION BOOK OF THE YEAR
Vanessa Able wanted a truly independent Indian adventure, but nothing prepared her for the noise, chaos and terror of driving 10,000 km around the subcontinent or for finding the love of her life.
Behind the wheel of a yellow Tata Nano (the world s cheapest car), Vanessa steers the reader through a hilarious, high-octane adventure. Taking any help she can get from loopy spiritual gurus to professional driving instructors, and even a divine insurance policy she drives her way around an alien road network through India s white-knuckle traffic where vehicle size, full-beam lights and roads that simply disappear seem to trump all common sense. Narrowly escaping death by truck, she learns the real rules of the road, the vehicle pecking order, what to do when the SH11T hits the fan and to appreciate the true kings of the dusty tarmac: the bullocks.
En route, she falls hopelessly in love with a mathematician named Thor who might be, ironically, the worst driver she s ever met. Their romance does not start promisingly the first rendezvous is interrupted by that universal passion-killer, Delhi belly but will they survive unexpected sheep-jams, a car full of elephant slime, and the endless cacophony of horns?
February 2015 Selection: More than 20 well-known writers and celebrities share the travel experiences that shaped their personalities and changed their lives. Contributors include Dave Eggers, Richard Ford, Pico Iyer, John Berendt, Alexander McCall Smith and Jane Smiley.
About Lonely Planet: Started in 1973, Lonely Planet has become the world's leading travel guide publisher with guidebooks to every destination on the planet, as well as an award-winning website, a suite of mobile and digital travel products, and a dedicated traveller community. Lonely Planet's mission is to enable curious travellers to experience the world and to truly get to the heart of the places they find themselves in.
November 2014 Selection: "Travel connoisseurs divide the world into those places they've been dying to visit or revisit and places they'd never set foot in but are glad someone else did. This year's volume of travel writing . . . focuses mostly on the latter with derring-do dispatches." -- "USA Today"
A far-ranging collection of the best travel writing pieces published in 2013, collected by guest editor Paul Theroux. "The Best American Travel Writing" consistently includes a wide variety of pieces, illuminating the wonder, humor, fear, and exhilaration that greets all of us when we embark on a journey to a new place. Readers know that there is simply no other option when they want great travel writing.
October 2014 Selection: A round-the-world bicycle tour with one of the most original artists of our day.
Urban bicycling has become more popular than ever as recession- strapped, climate-conscious city dwellers reinvent basic transportation. In this wide-ranging memoir, artist/musician David Byrne-who has relied on a bike to get around New York City since the early 1980s-relates his adventures as he pedals through an engages with some of the world's major cities. From Buenos Aires to Berlin, he meets a range of people both famous and ordinary, shares his thoughts on art, fashion, music, globalization, and the ways that many places are becoming more bike-friendly. "Bicycle Diaries" is an adventure on two wheels conveyed with humor, curiosity, and humanity.
September 2014 Selection: NO ONE TRAVELS QUITE LIKE RICHARD GRANT and, really, no one should. In his last book, the adventure classic "God's Middle Finger, "he narrowly escaped death in Mexico's lawless Sierra Madre. Now, Grant has plunged with his trademark recklessness, wit, and curiosity into East Africa. Setting out to make the first descent of an unexplored river in Tanzania, he gets waylaid in Zanzibar by thieves, whores, and a charismatic former golf pro before crossing the Indian Ocean in a rickety cargo boat. And then the real adventure begins. Known to local tribes as "the river of bad spirits," the Malagarasi River is a daunting adversary even with a heavily armed Tanzanian crew as travel companions. Dodging bullets, hippos, and crocodiles, Grant finally emerges in war-torn Burundi, where he befriends some ethnic street gangsters and trails a notorious man-eating crocodile known as Gustave. He concludes his journey by interviewing the dictatorial president of Rwanda and visiting the true source of the Nile. Gripping, illuminating, sometimes harrowing, often hilarious, "Crazy River "is a brilliantly rendered account of a modern-day exploration of Africa, and the unraveling of Grant's peeled, battered mind as he tries to take it all in.
August 2014 Selection: First published more than thirty years ago, Paul Theroux's strange, unique, and hugely entertaining railway odyssey has become a modern classic of travel literature. Here Theroux recounts his early adventures on an unusual grand continental tour. Asia's fabled trains -- the Orient Express, the Khyber Pass Local, the Frontier Mail, the Golden Arrow to Kuala Lumpur, the Mandalay Express, the Trans-Siberian Express -- are the stars of a journey that takes him on a loop eastbound from London's Victoria Station to Tokyo Central, then back from Japan on the Trans-Siberian. Brimming with Theroux's signature humor and wry observations, this engrossing chronicle is essential reading for both the ardent adventurer and the armchair traveler.
July 2014 Selection: Part of the annual Travelers' Tales series that was launched in 2004 to celebrate the world's best travel writing, this title offers perspectives that are global, and themes that encompass high adventure, spiritual growth, romance, hilarity and misadventure, service to humanity, and encounters with exotic cuisines and cultures.
June 2014 Selection: With the high-octane humor, infallible radar for the absurd, and post-punk sensibility that have made him the premier adventure writer of our time, Cahill reports on the road trip to end all road trips: a journey from Tierra del Fuego to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska--accomplished in a record-breaking 23 1/2 days.
May 2014 Selection: With plenty of sunscreen and a cold beer swaddled in his sleeping bag, writer and botanist Jim Malusa bicycled alone to the lowest point on each of six continents, a six-year series of "anti-expeditions" to the "anti-summits." His journeys took him to Lake Eyre in the arid heart of Australia, along Moses' route to the Dead Sea, and from Moscow to the Caspian Sea. He pedaled across the Andes to Patagonia, around tiny Djibouti in the Horn of Africa, and from Tucson to Death Valley. With a scientist's eye, he vividly observes local landscapes and creatures. As a lone man, he is overfed by grandmothers, courted by ladies of the night in Volgograd, invited into a mosque by Africa's most feared tribe, chased by sandstorms and hurricanes -- yet Malusa keeps riding. His reward: the deep silence of the world's great depressions. A large-hearted narrative of what happens when a friendly, perceptive American puts himself at the mercy of strange landscapes and their denizens, "Into Thick Air" presents one of the most talented new voices in contemporary travel writing.
April 2014 Selection: The only thing "gonzo gastronome" and internationally bestselling author Anthony Bourdain loves as much as cooking is traveling. Inspired by the question, "What would be the perfect meal?," Tony sets out on a quest for his culinary holy grail, and in the process turns the notion of "perfection" inside out. From California to Cambodia, A Cooks' Tour chronicles the unpredictable adventures of America's boldest and bravest chef.
March 2014 Selection: This mesmerizing portrait of a proud man who, through three decades and successive repressive regimes, heroically braved persecution to bring books to the people of Kabul has elicited extraordinary praise throughout the world and become a phenomenal international bestseller. "The Bookseller of Kabul" is startling in its intimacy and its details - a revelation of the plight of Afghan women and a window into the surprising realities of daily life in today's Afghanistan.
February 2014 Selection: A Best Book of the Year: NPR, "The Boston Globe," "Entertainment Weekly, " "Vogue, "St. Louis Dispatch ""
At twenty-two, 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. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State--and she would do it alone. Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, "Wild" powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.
November 2013 Selection: In January 2002 Rory Stewart walked across Afghanistan-surviving by his wits, his knowledge of Persian dialects and Muslim customs, and the kindness of strangers. By day he passed through mountains covered in nine feet of snow, hamlets burned and emptied by the Taliban, and communities thriving amid the remains of medieval civilizations. By night he slept on villagers' floors, shared their meals, and listened to their stories of the recent and ancient past. Along the way Stewart met heroes and rogues, tribal elders and teenage soldiers, Taliban commanders and foreign-aid workers. He was also adopted by an unexpected companion-a retired fighting mastiff he named Babur in honor of Afghanistan's first Mughal emperor, in whose footsteps the pair was following.
Through these encounters-by turns touching, con-founding, surprising, and funny-Stewart makes tangible the forces of tradition, ideology, and allegiance that shape life in the map's countless places in between.
October 2013 Selection: "If you look at a map, you will see that the island chain known as the Caribbean, or, to confuse you, the West Indies, lies between Florida and South America and resembles a string of gems or possibly drool." And so begins author Gary Buslik's tale of tropical adventure. Each chapter of this often hilarious and sometimes poignant travelogue recounts another island-hopping, culture-clashing crisis that pits the homesick author against falling coconuts, hospitals that remove wrong organs, insects as big and dangerous as stealth bombers, ticket agents that put him on hold for hours, mysteriously calculated currency exchanges, over-proofed rum, livestock, singing Rastafarians, garbage-bin sex, peanut-crazed children, Idi Amin, flesh-eating monkeys, dentists, cricket, steel drum bands, and the French. Fortunately, even when making fun of his West Indian hosts, the curmudgeonly author's essential good nature and devotion to his wife twinkle through, and in the end his stubborn geocentricity gives way to a heartfelt appreciation of his island hosts.
August 2013 Selection: In Cruise Confidential, Brian David Burns spills the dirt - or in this case, the dirty water - on those romantic, fun-filled vacations at sea. His hilarious chronicle of the year he spent working for Carnival Cruise Lines takes readers down into the areas where the crew works and lives, leaving readers gasping with laughter as they're assaulted nonstop with events that range from the absurd to the utterly bizarre. Stewards fighting over food. Cutlery allowances and other nonsensical rules. What the crew calls those onboard (no, it's not "passengers"). And of course, the sex. An abundance of ready, willing, and able bodies eager for action on a vessel replete with nooks and crannies leads to love in some mighty strange, and seemingly impossible, places. Breezy, entertaining, and informative, Cruise Confidential is essential reading for those planning a cruise or for anyone who just needs a good laugh.
July 2013 Selection: One of the most famous travel books ever written by an American, here is an irreverent and incisive commentary on the "New Barbarians'" encounter with the Old World. Twain's hilarious satire impales with sharp wit both the chauvinist and the cosmopolitan.
May 2013 Selection:
Often seen as a magical paradise at the end of the world, Bhutan is inaccessible to most travellers. Set against the dramatic scenery of the Himalaya, this beguiling memoir recalls hardships and happiness in a land almost untouched by the West.
When Britta Das goes to work as a physiotherapist in a remote village hospital, her good intentions are put to the test amid monsoons, fleas, and startling conditions. But as she visits homes in the mountains and learns the mysteries of Tantric Buddhism, the country captivates her very soul. Gaining insights into the traditions of the mystical kingdom, Britta makes friends, falls in love, and battles illness.
Throughout it all, as she writes, she worries about the "destructive nearness of technology" and fears that Bhutan's charm and innocence may soon be lost. Still, Bhutan has endured for centuries, and there is no denying that the country has transformed her life forever.
April 2013 Selection: A classic of northern exploration and adventure, LAST PLACES is Lawrence Millman's marvelously told account of his journey along the ancient Viking sea routes that extend from Norway to Newfoundland. Traveling through landscapes of transcendent desolation, Millman wandered by way of the Shetland Islands, the Faeroes, Iceland, Greenland, and Labrador. His way was marked by surprising human encounters--with a convicted murderer in Reykjavik, an Inuit hermit in Greenland, an Icelandic guide who leads him to a place called Hell, and a Newfoundlander who warns him about the local variant of the Abominable Snowman. By turns earthy and lyrical, LAST PLACES is an ebullient celebration of the exotic North.
February 2013 Selection: An unforgettable spiritual journey through the Himalayas? now celebrating its thirtieth anniversary
IN 1973, Peter Matthiessen and field biologist George Schaller traveled high into the remote mountains of Nepal to study the Himalayan blue sheep and possibly glimpse the rare and beautiful snow leopard. Matthiessen, a student of Z en Buddhism, was also on a spiritual quest?to find the Lama of Shey at the ancient shrine on Crystal Mountain. As the climb proceeds, Matthiessen charts his inner path as well as his outer one, with a deepening Buddhist understanding of reality, suffering, impermanence, and beauty.
January 2013 Selection: A collection of original travel stories told by some of the world's best novelists, including: Isabel Allende, Peter Matthiessen, Alexander McCall Smith, Joyce Carol Oates, Tea Obreht, DBC Pierre.
We're very excited to have Don George, the book's editor and a Lonely Planet traveler, join us for our January meeting!
December 2012 Selction:Ever since the time of Captain Cook, Antarctica has captured the imagination of countless explorers who set off against great odds in search of riches and honor, for science or a better world. Sara Wheeler weaves together her own experiences on the ice with the grueling adventures of Antarctica's most mythic figures - the Norwegian Roald Amundsen, who beat his rival to the Pole by twenty-nine days; Ernest Shackleton, whose men lived on seal and penguin blubber for three months when their ship was pierced by an iceberg; Apsley Cherry-Garrard, who famously braved the polar winter to hunt down rare penguin eggs that were ignored and eventually lost back home; Robert Falcon Scott, whose heroic example inspired countless young men to sacrifice themselves in the First World War. Accounts of these epic expeditions alternate with Sara Wheeler's own adventures in Antarctica, where a motley crew of scientists, drifters and dreamers search for bacterial traces that might hold the key to life on Mars, harass penguins and seek to measure this still largely impenetrable land.
October 2012 Selection: Adams gives a fascinating and funny account of his journey through some of the world's most majestic, historic, and remote landscapes guided only by a hard-as-nails Australian survivalist and one nagging question: Just what was Machu Picchu?
September 2012 Selection: The Lunatic Express is the story of traveling with seatmates and deckmates who have left home without American Express cards on conveyances that don't take Visa, and seldom take you anywhere you'd want to go. But it's also the story of traveling as it used to be -- a sometimes harrowing trial, of finding adventure in a modern, rapidly urbanizing world and the generosity of poor strangers, from ear cleaners to urban bus drivers to itinerant roughnecks, who make up most of the world's population. More than just an adventure story, The Lunatic Express is a funny, harrowing and insightful look at the world as it is, a planet full of hundreds of millions of people, mostly poor, on the move and seeking their fortunes.
August 2012 pick: A guide to show how cultural travel will change how you see the world.
July 2012 Book Club: Few novels have had as profound an impact as On the Road, and Kerouac's vision continues to inspire: three generations of writers, musicians, artists, and poets cite their discovery of On the Road as the event that "set them free." This hardcover edition commemorates the fortieth anniversary of the original publication of an American classic. On the Road chronicles Kerouac's years traveling the North American continent, from East Coast to West Coast to Mexico, with his friend Neal Cassady, "a sideburned hero of the snowy West." As "Sal Paradise" and "Dean Moriarty, " the two roam the country in a quest for self-knowledge and experience. Kerouac's love of America, his compassion for humanity, and his sense of language as jazz combine to make On the Road an inspirational work of lasting importance.
June 2012 Pick: In this astonishing new work from one of our greatest and most entertaining storytellers, Ian Frazier trains his perceptive, generous eye on Siberia. With great passion and enthusiasm, he reveals Siberia's role in history--its science, economics, and politics--and tells the stories of its most famous exiles, such as Dostoyevsky, Lenin, and Stalin. At the same time, Frazier draws a unique portrait of Russia since the end of the Soviet Union, and gives a personal account of adventure among Russian friends and acquaintances. A unique, captivating, totally Frazierian take on what he calls the "amazingness" of Russia.
May 2012 Pick: With these beautifully evocative and brilliantly irreverent memoirs of a shipwreck on an island in the Red Sea, and the quest ten years later for the travel journals buried there, Hansen introduces a forgotten corner of the Middle East. "Mr. Hansen is a first-rate writer".--The New Yorker.
April 2012 Pick: Mahoney was determined to take a solo trip down the Egyptian Nile, even though civil unrest and vexing local traditions conspired to create obstacles every step of the way. Despite the extreme conditions, her informed curiosity about the world, her glorious prose, and her wit never fail to captivate.
March 2012 Pick: A brilliant memoir about a son's return to Africa to uncover the secrets of his family and his home. Bearing witness to Zimbabwe's dramatic spiral downwards, Godwin discovers why Africa was his father's sanctuary from another identity and why his family chose to stay amidst the chaos.
June 2013 Selection: This refreshing compilation of 32 travel essays by some of the world's best-known fiction writers offers intimate and offbeat impressions of places near and far. Included in this gem of a book are works by many familiar stylists, including Peter Matthiessen, Joyce Carol Oates, Frances Mayes, Pico Iyer, Jan Morris, and Kurt Anderson; others such as Saudi-born Keija Parssinen, 2005 Orange Prize for Fiction winner Marina Lewycka, and Booker- and Whitbread-prize winner DBC Pierre are less well-known but hardly less accomplished. Snaking around the globe via multiple modes of transport, the storytellers explore the Solomon Islands, the American highway, central Mexico, San Quentin prison, Antarctica, the Watts Towers, Malawi, the Sudan, and Bear Trap Canyon near Bozeman, Mont. (Nov.) Copyright 2012 Reed Business Information. -Publishers Weekly Review