If you like pouring over old atlases or scrolling though Google maps, you will probably like this book. The author is a geographer, not a travel guide, and this comes through in the tone of the book as well as subjects covered.
The connection of what makes each of these places so strange is human intervention, either through physical occupation or mapmaking. The book’s first entry is about Sandy Island, which was neither sandy nor an island. But it was on maps for centuries.
Now and again we hear about how there is a war being waged on Christmas. Yet the Puritans did not celebrate Christmas. In 1659, the Massachusetts General Court even declared celebrating Christmas to be a criminal offense. How did we get from there to here?
This year’s Pulitzer Prize winner in Biography was also the best book I’ve listened to in 2013. The Black Count by Tom Reiss is both informative and entertaining. Read by Paul Michael, an actor who gave the story even more depth with his expressive style and excellent pronunciation, this book is a step above the average biography. I was enthralled not only by the amazing adventures of the man who was the inspiration for the Count of Monte Cristo but by the writing style of the author.
The Immigrant Advantage recounts 7 separate cultural traditions observed by some members of immigrant groups after coming to America: the Vietnamese Money Club; the Mexican Cuarentena; South Asian Assisted Marriage; Korean and Chinese Afterschools; West Indian Multigenerational Households; Barrio Stoops, Sidewalks, and Shops; and Vietnamese Monthly Rice.
Casey, daughter of children’s book author/illustrator Jon Scieszka, and Steven met while studying abroad in Morocco during their junior year of college. They fell in love, and after their return to the US started a long-distance relationship. After graduation they decided to pursue their joint goals for nearly two years: 1) living abroad, 2) pursuing their creative interests, and 3) being together. The first six months were spent teaching English to children in Beijing. From China they toured south-east Asia including Thailand, Laos and Vietnam.