Staff Pick

Although I’ve lived in DC for six years, there were many places in this book that I had never even heard of before. Even when writing about famous sites like the National Air and Space Museum, Seiger points out artifacts that many of us would normally pass by. The sites vary widely, including outdoor parks, performing venues, restaurants, locations where seasonal events take place, and memorials in every quadrant of DC. In addition, the Tips section typically features other nearby sites—so really, you get to choose from almost 222 places! Even if you can’t get to all the sites, you’ll definitely discover at least one new favorite spot!

111 Places in Washington That You Must Not Miss Cover Image
By Andrea Seiger, John Dean (Photographer)
$19.90
ISBN: 9783740802585
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Emons Publishers - June 12th, 2018

Staff Pick

Like seas, deserts tend to be monotonous, disorienting, blinding, and endless. People can disappear in them without a trace. And unlike mountains, deserts don’t offer the incentive of a peak to scale—the goal is simply to make it out alive. So why explore a desert? For one thing, they’re not all the same. Some get as much as 35 cm of water a year, others as little as 5 mm. Some are gray, some pink—the sand covered with “a rind of ferric oxide.” Atkins, interested in “the axis where the absolute coexists with the infinite,” reports from the Empty Quarter, covering parts of Oman, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia; the Great Victoria Desert in Australia; the Gobi and Taklaman in China; Kazakhstan’s Aralkum; the Sonoran and Black Rock Deserts in the American Southwest; and the Eastern Desert in Egypt. Each essay is beautifully done and reflects the particular region’s character, belying that desert monotony. In some, Atkins focuses on the natural landscape, in others on native culture, history, the foreign (usually British) explorers, or new rituals, like the Burning Man festival. Overall, his emphasis is spiritual. He views Middle Eastern deserts, especially, “through a biblical filter.” He stays in monasteries, delves into China’s Caves of the Thousand Buddhas and writes empathetically and poignantly about the British nuclear tests that left the Great Victorian Desert a radioactive wasteland, robbing Indigenous peoples of a landscape so sacred they made no distinction between the desert and the Ancestors. This chapter alone is worth the price of the book, but Atkins leaves many indelible moments: an eagle blinded by an atomic flash, the stages of dehydration, an evaporated lake like “an eyeless socket,” the untold numbers of migrants lost in the Sonoran Desert, bodies that have “simply been erased,” the geography once again “enlisted as cordon and executioner.”

The Immeasurable World: Journeys in Desert Places Cover Image
$28.95
ISBN: 9780385539883
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Doubleday - July 24th, 2018

Staff Pick
In tracing the outer geographic limits of Bulgaria, Greece, and Turkey, Kassabova also explores the rich metaphorical meanings of “border,” starting with her sense of the region as a place where “miracles felt as inevitable as disasters.” Watching the crises of history meet those of the present as Cold War checkpoints are reactivated to handle the flood of Middle Eastern refugees, Kassabova looks back over centuries of expulsions and repatriations, a heritage she is part of. She grew up in Bulgaria and her family emigrated to New Zealand in 1992. Returning to find her roots in this place of uprootings, she says “opened some Pandora’s box in” her psyche, and her search for something deeper than landscapes and curiosities makes her book not just fine travel writing but a compelling personal odyssey, one full of stories in addition to her own. She talked to everyone—easy, perhaps, in villages with populations of seven to thirteen. She notes the stark poverty and lack of services, as well as the thriving folk-culture. People fear the evil eye, respect cursed tombs, see a mysterious ball of fire in the hills. What Kassabova is writing is really nonfiction magic realism—an intriguing crossroads of several literary borders.
 
Border: A Journey to the Edge of Europe Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781555977863
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Graywolf Press - September 5th, 2017

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