Category Archives: Travel

Last Night in Montreal

TitleLast Night in Montreal

Author:  Emily St. John Mandel

Publisher: Unbridled Books, April 2010

Summary: When Lilia’s father abducts her in the middle of the night, the 7 year old willingly goes with him. Some might say she was rescued, not kidnapped. From that night on, Lilia and her father move across the United States, never staying in one place for more than a few months. Now, as an adult, Lilia doesn’t know how to stay anywhere for very long. She has become quite adept at leaving people behind, and most people have easily let her go. That is, until Eli. Eli’s life seemed so much better with Lilia in it that he cannot bear to think of his life without her.

This is a story of obsession and the effect it has on everyone involved. From Lilia who is obsessed with moving on, to Eli who travels to another country to find her. From Christopher, the detective hired years ago to find Lilia, to Michaela, his daughter who he abandoned in his effort to find the missing girl. Michaela is the greatest victim here. Her wounds are so deep and her pain so obvious, it is heartbreaking to know that it was all caused by her father’s obsession to search for someone who did not want or need to be found.

Who will like this book? Anyone.

Recommended by: Sue, Circulation Coordinator

American Shaolin

Title: American Shaolin: Flying Kicks, Buddhist Monks and the Legend of Iron Crotch: An Odyssey in the New China

Author: Matthew Polley

Publisher: Gotham, December 2007

Summary: This is not your typical travelogue or coming-of-age story, but this Alex Award winner will be as entertaining as any book you’ll read this year. In 1992, Matthew Polley dropped out of Princeton and went to China to learn kungfu from the legendary monks of the Shaolin temple in China. He lived there for two years at the temple, studying kickboxing and becoming the first American to be accepted as a Shaolin disciple.

This book chronicles not only Matthew’s story, but also the rapid changes occurring in rural China during the ’90s, where cultural traditions and social mores truly began to collide with the modernizing influences of the West. Written in an almost irreverent tone with several laugh-out-loud, cringe inducing moments (the noted Iron Crotch technique being among them), American Shaolin is really about the relationships between Matthew, his fellow trainees and monks, and the other laowai (foreigners) who come to Shaolin to study and to profit. The monks of Shaolin, young and old, provide the heart and soul of this terrific book.

Who will like this book?: People looking for a book about the changes in China that isn’t overly political or preachy. Readers who like stories about other cultures. Anyone who harbors fantasies about secretly being the toughest guy in the room…and being able to prove it.

If you like this, try this: A Fighter’s Heart by Sam Sheridan. Iron and Silk by Mark Salzman. Shenzen by Guy Delisle.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Burma Chronicles

Title: Burma Chronicles

Author: Guy Delisle

Publisher: Drawn and Quarterly, September 2008

Summary: Because his wife works for MSF (Doctors without Borders), French-Canadian cartoonist Guy Delisle often finds himself living in countries that, for most of us, are shrouded in mystery. This graphic travelogue recounts the year he spent living in Myanmar, formerly called Burma, a small impoverished nation run by a military junta constantly sanctioned for human rights violations. It’s most notable citizen is the leader of its banned democratic party and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been under house arrest for nearly 13 years.

Delisle rarely gets political, even though he lives in a house just up the road from Suu Kyi, or ‘The Lady,’ as she is referred to by the Burmese people. Instead, he describes everyday life in Burma: The oppressive heat, the delight his neighbors take in his light-skinned baby Louis, and the ubiquitous Karen Carpenter songs playing in the grocery stores. He describes the difficulties NGOs like MSF have trying to reach the impoverished and disadvantaged populations they strive to aid, and the idiosyncrasies of living under dictatorship.

Who will like this book?: Fans of travel writing. People interested in human rights, or the plight of Aung San Suu Kyi.

If you like this, try this: Delisle’s other graphic travelogues: Shenzen (about China) or Pyongyang (North Korea.) A Perfect Prisoner: A Life of Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma’s Prisoner of Conscience by Justin Wintle.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Ghost Train to the Eastern Star

Title: Ghost Train to the Eastern Star: On the Tracks of the Great Railway Bazaar

Author: Paul Theroux

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, August 2008

Summary: In 1975, Theroux’s book The Great Railway Bazaar, a 28,000-mile intercontinental journey via rail from London to Tokyo became a travel classic. Thirty years later, Theroux decided to retrace his steps. The result is this fascinating account of the places you vaguely knew existed (Tblisi), probably would never go to (Bangalore), but definitely should know something about (Mandalay).

Who will like this book?: All who love great travel books and love to travel vicariously.

If you like this, try this: The Great Railway Bazaar. Dark Star Safari. The Kingdom by the Sea, all by Theroux.

Recommended by: Cliff, Reference