Archive for the ‘books’ Category

The Best in Travel 2012

Travel Junkies Take Flight in 2012!

Right in time for those planning their next year of travel, Lonely Planet announces… the release of Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2012!

We’re a big fan of LP since our good friend contributes to some of their South American editions and he really knows his stuff.

So, a bit about the guide: Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2012 is an annual volume of the best travel experiences and destinations for the year ahead. It includes a diverse range of ideas appealing to all kinds of travelers and draws upon the expertise of Lonely Planet’s staff, authors and, get this, the online community!

It starts with hundreds of ideas from everyone at Lonely Planet, including their extended family of travelers, bloggers, and tweeters. Once they’re confident that they have the best of 2012’s travel choices, the final selection is made by a panel of in-house travel experts, based on topicality, excitement, value, and that special “X-factor”. Everywhere they’ve chosen has something special that stands out for 2012. Perhaps it’s something specific to this year, such as London celebrating the Olympics or Mexico’s La Ruta Maya‘s calendar at the center of 2012’s end-of-the-world prophecies. Other destinations may have a buzz about them that they picked up on the road and couldn’t keep to themselves, like Croatia’s Hvar Island and Santiago de Chile. And some places are worth visiting before the crowds set in – for example, Darwin and Bhutan.

The book also includes “17 Top Travel Lists” — a topical run-down of the best experiences for 2012 including their ever-popular “Best Value Destinations for 2012” and “The 10 Best Things to do in 2012” along with “Best Places for Intrepid Romantics”, “Top Spots to Glamp” (glamorous camping), and “Slurping Soup Across the Globe”.

So what are you waiting for? The end of the world as we know it?

Get Glamping!

The Best in Travel 2012

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BookSwim

BookSwim

Happy holidays, hooligans!

As we head into the season to be merry, we often find ourselves holed up at home with a good book and, if you’re anything like us, you’re still reading the old fashioned paper kind. You know, the kind where you can actually flip the pages!

To that end, we came across the Netflix of books called, BookSwim, which offers unlimited book rentals for one flat monthly price. A member simply clicks a title on our website to add it to her list, and his or her top books automatically ship out with no need for a complicated checkout process. Returning books is as simple as enclosing them within an included prepaid, self-sealing return mailer and dropping the package in the mail. When the return package reaches their warehouse, the member’s next selections ship immediately. With the supply of new books forever replenishing itself, members can read 3, 5, 10 books in a single month – for the same flat monthly membership fee.

We think, for those still reading the old fashioned way, this is the next logical step and a great idea for a holiday gift. So, get your mom, dad, brother, or boyfriend a subscription and let us know what you think! PS. I tried mine out and loved it. I also wanted to buy a book and discovered that that’s an option too!

www.bookswim.com

Seven Days From Darwin

Seven Days From Darwin by John Buckland

From fishing in the highlands of northern Mongolia and island hopping in Thailand to 4-wheeling in the Australian outback, John Buckland draws upon his extensive travel experience to weave a tale of mystery and intrigue with Seven Days from Darwin, hot off the press.

An avid, expert deep-sea SCUBA diver and knowledgeable historian, it’s from these experiences that he draws his creativity and character development.

“Traveling creates a restless kind of energy in me and writing helps me understand and express my experiences,” states Buckland.

As he tells us, Seven Days from Darwin explores several themes, including: hope and the compelling reasons to believe in it, Evolution Theory and reasons to reflect on its validity, The Great Depression, along with greed, lust and “survival of the fittest.”  Sounds pretty good to us. The story is a work of fiction, but is based on a multiplicity of real life travel adventures.  Set in the 1930’s Dutch East Indies, Buckland captures a time before the arrival of rampant development and the advent of the “exclusive resort”.

A time well worth jumping into.

To purchase: $19.95 with free shipping on www.amazon.com or visit www.7daysfromdarwin.com where the book is $12.95 + $4.00 shipping.

Anna Getty’s Dreaming of a Green Christmas

Anna GettyWe’ve known about Anna Getty’s work for quite some time. We’re proud to say that we interviewed her in Los Angeles Confidential Magazine when she first launched PAM (Pregnancy Awareness Month), a holistic and informative approach to pregnancy and birth. A leading green living expert, she works with Organic Center, Global Green, NRDC, and Seventh Generation (among others) and is the author of the upcoming, Easy Green Organic. In light of the approaching holidays, she decided to share with Eco-Adventurer her favorite eco-vacation spot and her new book, I’m Dreaming of a Green Christmas.

My favorite eco-vacation spot would have to be San Francisco. I used to live in San Francisco and indeed left my heart there.  From LA, where I currently reside, I can get there on one tank of gas and the rest of the time I’m there I can walk or use public transportation. The air is cleaner than in LA and it’s California’s greenest city.  In fact, the mayor, Gavin Newsom, is so green that he recently made composting a law for all of the city’s residents. I spend time at Chrissy Field, The Japanese Tea Garden, Muir Woods, and the Ferry Building’s Farmer’s Market. One of my favorite restaurants is the raw and uber-green Cafe Gratitude (there are few of them in the city).  www.cafegratitude.com

I also love The California Academy of Science in Goldengate Park where there’s a living rooftop.

Golden Gate Park - California Academy of Science Living RoofAs the website explains, “Assembling a 197,000-square-foot rooftop to accommodate a living tapestry of native plant species is challenging enough. Add to that the technical problems posed by the roof’s extreme slopes. Rana Creek, who worked with Renzo Piano to design the roof, developed and patented a solution called the BioTray®, so that plants and soil wouldn’t fall off. They used 50,000 porous, biodegradable trays made from tree sap and coconut husks as containers for the vegetation. These trays line the rooftop like tile, yet enable the roots to grow and interlock, binding the trays together like patchwork. To give you an idea:  a standard black tar-and-asphalt building rooftop leads to a phenomenon called the “Urban Heat Island” effect. The endless swath of black rooftops and pavement trap heat, causing cities to be 6 to 10 degrees warmer than outlying greenbelt areas. One-sixth of all electricity consumed in the U.S. goes to cool buildings. The Academy’s green rooftop keeps the building’s interior an average of 10 degrees cooler than a standard roof would! The plants also transform carbon dioxide into oxygen, capture rainwater, and reduce energy needs for heating and cooling.”

The result?  A fascinating and beautiful array of perennial plants and wildflowers… and one of my favorite spots to spend a relaxing afternoon.

www.calacademy.org

Anna Getty - Dreaming of a Green ChristmasThis holiday season, pick up her new book, I’m Dreaming of a Green Christmas, where Getty, organic living expert extraordinaire, helps families reduce their carbon footprint and save money without sacrificing style or tradition. In her book, Anna advises how to best choose a tree (real or fake?), mitigate the negative effects of necessary travel, recycle post-holiday, and more. She shares favorite holiday recipes for organic appetizers and homemade craft ideas such as pinecone wreaths and recycled sweater pillows. With inspiring photographs, extensive resources, and advice from the ‘Lazy Environmentalist’ Josh Dorfman, Seventh Generation’s Jeffrey Hollender, and other leading eco-experts, families might just find that these tips help them stay green all year long – the perfect New Year’s resolution!

Retails for $16.47

http://www.amazon.com

The Lost City of Z by David Grann

Red hairy chiggers that consume human flesh, cyanide-squirting millipedes, and the candiru, a translucent toothpick-like creature that burrows into the gills of a fish or human orifices like the vagina or penis, latches it’s spines and sucks out the blood of the victim until they perish…

This is the Amazon of the 1920’s and the Amazon you’ll find in David Grann’s new book, The Lost City of Z, chronicling the infamous tough-as-nails British explorer, Percy Fawcett, as he ventures with his son, Jack, and Jack’s best friend, Raleigh, to discover the famous (gold laden and lost) city of El Dorado. Grann’s well-documented tale takes you deep inside the jungle for a peek into the mind of this sometimes ruthless, always brave, explorer. The trio, in so many respects, takes you back to a bygone era when well-heeled gents at supper clubs thirsted for the high stakes of an Amazonian adventure. Not only do the characters look straight out of the movies, but the cinematic story reads like one as well (likely why Brad Pitt and Paramount have optioned the film rights). Just as his piercing blue eyes make their way into your own, so will Fawcett’s adventurous tale. It is one man’s ultimate quest to find, with tragic consequences… a fantasy.

Grann deftly tells a real-life story from both a historical context and a personal one. The author himself ventured to the very place where many believe this fantastic civilization once existed. As I read his story, I found myself being bitten by vicious gnats and fearing the wrath of parasitic worms as the three men journeyed into the heart of one of the world’s most inhospitable regions.

Grann writes, “The cramped, dirty hold of the SS Panama was filled with ‘toughs, would be toughs, and leather faced old scoundrels,’ as Fawcett put it.” Flesh and carrion eating bees, an area so hot that fish were cooked alive in the waters… the countless explorers that died along the way. Whether Percy, Jack, and Raleigh became victims of the elements or the native Indians, one thing is certain: they never made it out alive.

I was so enamored with this impossible, painstaking journey that, instead of reading it quickly as I do with most tales, I found myself intentionally re-reading passages and flipping through the photos. Like my own travels to South America, El Dorado, as well as this tale, is like the love you can never have. It will keep you constantly wanting more.

Kudos to Grann for all of his own painstaking research and bravery. After reading about the candiru, I’m not sure I’d be heading into that part of the jungle anytime soon. I will, however, recommend, for those who love a good jungle jaunt, ordering a copy of his obsessive and mysterious story.

David Grann is a staff writer at The New Yorker and has covered everything from an Aryan Brotherhood prison gang to the hunt for giant squid. His work has been featured in the New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. His collected writings will be published by Doubleday in 2010.

http://www.amazon.com

Carry It On: The Physician


Believe it or not, sometimes the best part of traveling is staying in one place. Whether you’re parked by the sea reading a good book or waiting to board the plane, it is often the solitude of the journey and those periods ‘in between’ that teach us more about ourselves and world around us.

To that end, part of that glorious discovery is what we read along the way. I’d love to say that I remember where – and what – I was doing in the Czech Republic when I encountered a book that carried me to an ancient world and exposed me to an author that continues to excite me, but alas… it was many years ago. The most I can recall is a summer spent in Prague, gargoyles atop a Medieval castle, and the stark Polish countryside roll past as I flipped the page.

And yet, rainy days spent traveling throughout Eastern Europe are also tinted with a hint of gold for when I rested my head at the end of a long day in Krakow, the sweeping historical tales of Noah Gordon came alive to accompany me. So much so, in fact, that last week I picked up another book by Mr. Gordon and was thrilled to discover that he’s still got ‘it.’

So what’s my vote for adventurers, readers, lovers, and traveller’s worldwide?

The Physician by Noah Gordon.

If you’ve been stuck in the city for months on end and haven’t had the chance to hitch a plane to Mozambique or Montreal, here’s what you do. Pick up a copy of any of his books. In 1999, The Physician was voted by the Madrid Book Fair as one of the ten most beloved books of all time. You’ll be starting with his first book in the Robert Jeremy Cole trilogy. A fast, historically rich, yet easy read, it takes place in the 11th century so your imagination will run wild with the story of Robert Cole as he journeys from his childhood in England, througout Europe, and all the way to an Arabian medical school in Persia.

Timeless, full of intrigue and amusement, The Physician, along with my two other favorites (The Last Jew and Shaman, winner of the James Fenimore Cooper Prize by the Society of American Historians), breathe new life into ancient times.

PS. I also hear The Physician might be coming to a theater near you. If my crystal ball tells me anything it’s… ‘Oprah’s gonna put this on her Book Club List soon’.

And won’t you be thrilled to say you knew him when?

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