Suggestions For the Next Title in the Atlas Obscura Book Club

Greetings from the Atlas Obscura Book Club!

We’re well into our discussion of the first Atlas Obscura Book Club title, Douglas Adams and Mark Carwardine’s Last Chance to See (please join us!), but now we need to pick the next book we want to start reading in a couple of weeks.

Please give us any suggestions you might have for titles the Atlas Obscura Book Club should tackle next. We are interested in fiction and non-fiction, ideally with a strong focus on place, travel, and/or exploration. Really any book that you think fits with the Atlas Obscura feel!

We’ll take a look at the suggestions and announce the new title we’ve chosen in the next couple of weeks. We’re excited to hear your suggestions, so what should we read next?!

(Image: César Viteri/Public Domain)

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I read this one a couple years ago and it was a hoot.

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My suggestion is Ballad of the Whiskey Robber! A fascinating and funny true crime book that provides a vivid, unique window on Romania and Transylvania in the early 2000s. It’s also got an amazing subtitle: “A True Story of Bank Heists, Ice Hockey, Transylvanian Pelt Smuggling, Moonlighting Detectives, and Broken Hearts”

I suggest Ken Kramer’s Surviving the Extremes: A Doctor’s Journey to the Limits of Human Endurance. Kramer, a physician and surgeon, has accompanied numerous expeditions into the Amazon, up the Andes, to the top of Mt. Everest, and beyond. His book details these adventures from a medical standpoint, examining the physical toll that such adventures take on the human body as well as our ability to adapt and overcome, allowing us to venture to every corner of the globe.

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Aretino’s Dialogues
Because they’re 16th century shocking

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A Time of Gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermor. Great insight in to Europe in the old days, and well written.

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Gardens in the Dunes , by Leslie Marmon Silko. a fascinating book about gardens that travels from the American Southwest to New England, England, Brazil and Italy. It has monkeys and parrots and cows in the kitchen. A fictional look of how gardens are used and abused through the eyes of a child. Fiction Book Review: Gardens in the Dunes by Leslie Marmon Silko, Author Simon & Schuster $25 (304p) ISBN 978-0-684-81154-3

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We the Drowned by Carsten Jensen. So amazing, with a hint of Gabriel Garcia Marquez
“The story of the port town of Marstal, whose inhabitants sailed the world’s oceans aboard freight ships for centuries. Spanning over a hundred years, from the barren rocks of Newfoundland to the lush plantations of Samoa, from the roughest bars in Tasmania to the frozen coasts of northern Russia–“We, the Drowned” is a magnificent tale of love, war, and adventure, of the men who go to sea and the women they leave behind.
Ships are wrecked and blown up in wars, they are places of terror and violence, yet they continue to lure each generation of Marstallers. Among them are Laurids Madsen, who vanishes in the South Pacific; his son Albert, who searches the globe for his father; Knud Erik and his widowed mother, Klara, who takes on here, shrunken heads, prophetic dreams, forbidden passions, cowards, heroes, devastating tragedies, and miraculous survivals–everything that a town like Marstal has actually lived. “We, the Drowned” is a novel destined to take its place among the greatest seafaring literature.”

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The Valleys of the Assassins by Freya Stark.

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“Silk Weavers of Hill Tribe Laos” by Joshua Hirschstein and Maren Beck, Photos by Joe Coca (Thrums Books, 2017, $34.95)


Join an American family as they fall in love with an incredible corner of NE Laos were textile creation is central to daily life, much the way it has been for over 200 generations. Combines travelers story-telling with cultural anthropology, and is also a primer to the traditional silk weaving art and methods of the Tai Daeng and Lao Loum people. Introduces many of the artists and has over 200 photos of the people, villages, and textiles.

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@setietje I was just about to recommend yWe, the Drowned when I saw your comment! It is my favorite book.

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The Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux. An adventure by train that would be nearly impossible today. One of the best travel books ever written

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The Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler Parable of the Sower (novel) - Wikipedia

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This is one of mine! Many people feel that they’ve visited the island just from reading the book…

The AdderStane. Based on the remote island of Fetlar in the Shetland Islands. Historical facts, landmarks and folklore mixes with fiction.

Something is unearthed that should have stayed buried…

When a retired schoolteacher visits the remote island of Fetlar in the Shetland Islands, she becomes obsessed with the story of a local man who went missing in 1965. While the island is plagued with strange events, she uncovers more than she bargained for. What is the true meaning of The AdderStane Prophecy? Who are the Papar, and why are they linked to Fetlar?!

emailsignature

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Tahir Shah’s “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”

Tahir Shah set out to seek to learn first hand from the great masters of Indian tradition - masters of illusion, deception and street fraud - to investigate and come to understand the strategies behind their artifice. It details his apprenticeship to one of India’s great conjurors, and includes encounters with various people and groups who have developed seemingly unusual or extraordinary talents or abilities such as god-men, magicians and hypnotists. Aimed at travellers, readers of travel literature and those who simply want to know how the Indian `rope trick’ is done and with an interest in Indian esoterica, Tahir Shah provides an insight into an India rarely, if ever, seen by the tourist.

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It’s a new release but The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See has place, anthropology, travel, atypical gender roles, and themes of friendship and forgiveness. It’s about the female divers of Jeju Island in South Korea, set in the twentieth century and worth a read.

"This beautiful, thoughtful novel illuminates a world turned upside down, one where the women are in charge, engaging in dangerous physical work, and the men take care of the children.

…The Island of Sea Women introduces readers to the fierce and unforgettable female divers of Jeju Island and the dramatic history that shaped their lives."

(Google Books description)

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I have a weakness for travel books of the early 20th century - when the world was full of countries with lots of wild and weird experiences to be had. A quick look through my stash turned up these adventures:

Brazilian Adventure by Peter Fleming - “Fleming and his companion set off for Amazonia to determine what happened to an explorer who’s disappeared seven years before searching for a lost city of gold. They didn’t find him and, as Fleming admits, didn’t face death or hordes of cannibals. Instead, they had a rollicking, sometimes trying adventure in the midst of a Civil War. with their greatest adversary their alleged guide. Fleming was the brother of James Bond creator Ian Fleming. Ian supposedly idolized his brother. With good reason.”

Hindoo Holiday by J.K. Ackerley - “Ackerley recorded the Maharajah’s fantastically eccentric habits and riddling conversations, and the odd shambling day-to-day life of his court. Hindoo Holiday is an intimate and very funny account of an exceedingly strange place, and one of the masterpieces of twentieth-century travel literature.”

Far Away and Long Ago by W.H. Hudson - "Far Away and Long Ago is told with such passion and candor that the grassy plains of Argentina, the gauchos, the birds and wildlife emerge from the pages. Not only great natural history, Far Away and Long ago is one of the most magical childhood memoirs ever written. "

and a bit earlier:

Following the Equator, A Journey Around the World by Mark Twain - " brimming with Twain’s celebrated brand of ironic, tongue-in-cheek humor. Written just before the turn of the century, the book recounts a lecture tour in which he circumnavigated the globe via steamship, including stops at the Hawaiian Islands, Australia, Fiji Islands, New Zealand, India, South Africa and elsewhere."

The Twain is perhaps too long but more varied in locale.

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The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles

It’s beautifully dark.

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The Wild Trees

The Wild Trees: A Story of Passion and Daring is a non-fiction book by Richard Preston about California’s coastal redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) and the recreational climbers who climbed them. It is a narrative-style collection of stories from climbers who pioneered redwood climbing, including botanist Steve Sillett, lichenologist Marie Antoine, and Michael Taylor. They inadvertently discovered a thriving ecosystem hidden among the tree tops, 60–90 meters (200–300 ft) above, of redwood lattices, berry bushes, bonsai trees, epiphytes, lichens, voles, and salamanders.

The Wild Trees
The wild trees coverpage.jpg

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