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Summer Learning Track: Armchair Traveler

“The books transported her into new worlds and introduced her to amazing people who lived exciting lives. She went on olden-day sailing ships with Joseph Conrad. She went to Africa with Ernest Hemingway and to India with Rudyard Kipling. She travelled all over the world while sitting in her little room in an English village.” 

― Roald Dahl, Matilda

This summer, combine your wanderlust and wonder-lust to explore far-off lands and world cultures without leaving town. Take the Richland Library Friends' Summer Learning Challenge! Get started by using this sample Learning Track, or develop your own! The challenge begins on June 1st and goes through August 16th.

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Take a tour through some of these travel memoir gems, both classic and new:

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Join the discussion! Many of our book groups will be reading and discussing books that explore different countries and cultures:

A novel set on a remote Australian island, where a childless couple live quietly running a lighthouse, until a boat carrying a baby washes ashore

Follows a young Italian innkeeper and his almost-love affair with a beautiful American starlet, which draws him into a glittering world filled with unforgettable characters.

    Presents the stories of six Japanese mail-order brides whose new lives in early twentieth-century San Francisco are marked by backbreaking migrant work, cultural struggles, children who reject their heritage, and the prospect of wartime internment.

    The Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer brings to life the most intriguing woman in the history of the world: Cleopatra, the last queen of Egypt. Though her life spanned fewer than 40 years, it reshaped the contours of the ancient world.

    In Tokyo, sixteen-year-old Nao has decided there's only one escape from her aching loneliness and her classmates' bullying. But before she ends it all, Nao first plans to document the life of her great grandmother, a Buddhist nun who's lived more than a century. A diary is Nao's only solace and will touch lives in ways she can scarcely imagine. 

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    Let your mind wander through the incredible landscapes in these photographic works:

    Getting a little jealous reading about all these beautiful, exotic locales? Peruse through a copy of Bad Trips: A Sometimes Terrifying, Sometimes Hilarious Collection of Writing on the Perils of the RoadThis collection of tales from poets, novelists, and journalists will make you glad you're globe trekking from the comforts of your living room!

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    Make an expedition to one of these engaging programs that bring world cultures right here to the library:

    June 17th: Manon of the Spring; July 15th: Life is Beautiful; August 19th: A Cry in the Dark

    Get an introduction to African dance and a great workout with instructor Renee Bellamy.  

    Learning Spanish? Ya lo hablas? Join us for an hour of some relaxed Spanish chitchat.

    • Tai Chi and Relax  --  Richland Library North Main  --  11:00 a.m., Thursdays, August 7th – 28th

    Come out for Tai Chi with us and allow its gentle movements reduce your stress and allow you other health benefits with instructor Moonah Wu.

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    Your library card is your ticket to a grand world tour! Add some stamps to your intellectual passport this summer by reading, watching, listening, participating, and exploring all of these exciting destinations and cultures, and anywhere else your mind takes you. All aboard!


    Amazon Says: The world is a breathtakingly big place, and in this big book we have undertaken the big task of detailing as much of it as we can - every single country, many of the larger d more...
    Amazon Says: The world is a breathtakingly big place, and in this big book we have undertaken the big task of detailing as much of it as we can - every single country, many of the larger dependencies and other, smaller destinations. With the traveler's experience at its heart, this book shows a slice of life in every corner of the globe, and all points in between, engaging the reader's senses in an adventure which conjures up the sights, smells, tastes, sounds and feel of our amazing world. less...
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    Amazon Says: Cities represent civilization and human achievement: they are bubbling microcosms of virtues and vices, vanguards of technology and creative pursuits, incubators of traditions more...
    Amazon Says: Cities represent civilization and human achievement: they are bubbling microcosms of virtues and vices, vanguards of technology and creative pursuits, incubators of traditions and melting-pots of diversity. More than half the world's population now lives in cities, and for travelers they hold an endless fascination. less...
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    Amazon Says: These carefully chosen selections from Edith Wharton's travel writing convey the writer's control of her craft. Wharton disliked the generality of guidebooks and focused inste more...
    Amazon Says: These carefully chosen selections from Edith Wharton's travel writing convey the writer's control of her craft. Wharton disliked the generality of guidebooks and focused instead on the "parentheses of travel"--the undiscovered hidden corners of Europe, Morocco, and the Mediterranean. Included is an excerpt from Wharton's unpublished memoir, The Cruise of Vanadis, as well as front line depictions of Lorraine and the Vosges during World War I. less...
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    Amazon Says: "Travel writing at its best." THE HOUSTON POST Author and travel writer Paul Theroux does what no one else can: he travels to the isolated, unusual, and fascinating spots of t more...
    Amazon Says: "Travel writing at its best." THE HOUSTON POST Author and travel writer Paul Theroux does what no one else can: he travels to the isolated, unusual, and fascinating spots of the world, and creates an elegy to them that makes readers feel they are traveling with him. Evocative, breathtaking, intriguing, here is the armchair traveler's guide to the sites of the world he makes us feel we know. From the Paperback edition. less...
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    Amazon Says: The entries in this collection take us to the farthest extremes of travel with tales of danger, disorientation and bemused discomfort; combines reportage, fiction and poetry r more...
    Amazon Says: The entries in this collection take us to the farthest extremes of travel with tales of danger, disorientation and bemused discomfort; combines reportage, fiction and poetry representing some of the best-known writers of our time. less...
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    Amazon Says: The astonishing saga of polar explorer Ernest Shackleton's survival for over a year on the ice-bound Antarctic seas, as Time magazine put it, "defined heroism." Alfred Lansing more...
    Amazon Says: The astonishing saga of polar explorer Ernest Shackleton's survival for over a year on the ice-bound Antarctic seas, as Time magazine put it, "defined heroism." Alfred Lansing's scrupulously researched and brilliantly narrated book -- with over 200,000 copies sold -- has long been acknowledged as the definitive account of the Endurance's fateful trip. To write their authoritative story, Lansing consulted with ten of the surviving members and gained access to diaries and personal accounts by eight others. The resulting book has all the immediacy of a first-hand account, expanded with maps and illustrations especially for this edition. less...
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    Amazon Says: A pampered Long Island princess hits the road in a converted bus with her wilderness-loving husband, travels the country for one year, and brings it all hilariously to life in more...
    Amazon Says: A pampered Long Island princess hits the road in a converted bus with her wilderness-loving husband, travels the country for one year, and brings it all hilariously to life in this offbeat and romantic memoir. Doreen and Tim are married psychiatrists with a twist: She’s a self-proclaimed Long Island princess, grouchy couch potato, and shoe addict. He's an affable, though driven, outdoorsman. When Tim suggests “chucking it all” to travel cross-country in a converted bus, Doreen asks, “Why can’t you be like a normal husband in a midlife crisis and have an affair or buy a Corvette?” But she soon shocks them both, agreeing to set forth with their sixty-pound dog, two querulous cats—and no agenda—in a 340-square-foot bus. Queen of the Road is Doreen’s offbeat and romantic tale about refusing to settle; about choosing the unconventional road with all the misadventures it brings (fire, flood, armed robbery, and finding themselves in a nudist RV park, to name just a few). The marvelous places they visit and delightful people they encounter have a life-changing effect on all the travelers, as Doreen grows to appreciate the simple life, Tim mellows, and even the pets pull together. Best of all, readers get to go along for the ride through forty-seven states in this often hilarious and always entertaining memoir, in which a boisterous marriage of polar opposites becomes stronger than ever. less...
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    Amazon Says: National Geographic Photographs Then and Now offers an intriguing, unparalleled look at places, people, and culture changing over time, through National Geographic'' s 110 yea more...
    Amazon Says: National Geographic Photographs Then and Now offers an intriguing, unparalleled look at places, people, and culture changing over time, through National Geographic'' s 110 years of travelling and photographing the world. ' less...
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    Amazon Says: "Earthbound: A Rough Guide to the World in Pictures" showcases the best in "Rough Guides"' extensive picture library of stunning travel images. Explore the world over with thi more...
    Amazon Says: "Earthbound: A Rough Guide to the World in Pictures" showcases the best in "Rough Guides"' extensive picture library of stunning travel images. Explore the world over with this definitive photographic guide; from amazing Hindu prayer flags in Nepal to breathtaking views of the Caribbean coast. "Earthbound" is packed with more than 250 beautiful photographs, reproduced in full colour with GPS coordinates for the location of each image with captions and short essays from local correspondents. The book captures the experience of travel in all its guises from colourful festivals & celebrations and powerful art & amazing architecture to people at work & at play, unveiling the essence of a place, its people, its sights and monuments, its heart and soul. Each image in the book includes a Google QR code, just photograph the code with your mobile phone and be connected to the image location online via Google Maps. It is a must-have unique world photography for the armchair traveller, photography enthusiast or seasoned adventurer looking for inspiration. less...
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    LIFE Hidden America by Editors of Life
    Amazon Says: In Hidden America, LIFE's editors explain the subtleties of our countrys history--and of its present day--with stunning, often beautiful and constantly surprising photography more...
    Amazon Says: In Hidden America, LIFE's editors explain the subtleties of our countrys history--and of its present day--with stunning, often beautiful and constantly surprising photography as well as evocative text. America is filled with tantalizing riddles both natural and unnatural, and LIFE's editors solve those that can be solved in this fascinating--and beautiful--illustrated tour of our sometimes odd country. Among the destinations visited are: Mystery Hill, New Hampshire The chamber in Washington D.C. holding the Constitution The Anasazi ruins The Great Serpent Mound in Ohio The summit of Mount McKinley The ship graveyard off the Florida Keys less...
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    Amazon Says: Here, acclaimed landscape photographer Joe Cornish turns his eye to the magnificent scenery of Scotland’s 6,000-mile coastline. Traveling from the Mull of Galloway in the so more...
    Amazon Says: Here, acclaimed landscape photographer Joe Cornish turns his eye to the magnificent scenery of Scotland’s 6,000-mile coastline. Traveling from the Mull of Galloway in the south to the tip of Unst in the northerly Shetlands, from the remote St. Kilda in the Atlantic to the Sands of Forvie National Nature Reserve on the North Sea, he captures all the stunning variety of the Scottish seacoast. Whatever the subject—be it a wide Hebridean vista or fragmented patterns of ice on a frozen beach—Cornish, with his artist’s eye and dramatic use of light, reveals it in fresh and startling beauty. Joe Cornish’s previous book was First Light: A Landscape Photographer’s Art. less...
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    Wild Africa by Alex Bernasconi
    Amazon Says: A sumptuous visual record of one of Earth's last natural paradises. From a totally fresh perspective, world-renowned photographer Alex Bernasconi provides a spectac more...
    Amazon Says: A sumptuous visual record of one of Earth's last natural paradises. From a totally fresh perspective, world-renowned photographer Alex Bernasconi provides a spectacular tour across a magnificent continent. This is the off-road, seldom-seen Africa. Moments of true beauty and natural delicacy show the full splendor of wildlife at one with the landscape. Choosing from among many thousands of photographs -- having taken more than 1,800 photographs a week of some of nature's finest and most endangered animals -- Bernasconi stays true to the best principles of wildlife photography: invisible, honest, creative. He is especially well known for his uncanny ability to capture animals in their true nature, and the pages of Wild Africa demonstrate he is often rewarded for his patience with endearing and humorous images. These are unique images captured by a photographer motivated to preserve for posterity one of the world's most exceptional panoramas of extant wildlife. See it here -- and let's try to preserve it. less...
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    Alaska by Nick Jans
    Amazon Says: Alaska remains one location that is singularly arresting to the American imagination. Twenty exceptional writers share their stories of work, play, and life in what is often c more...
    Amazon Says: Alaska remains one location that is singularly arresting to the American imagination. Twenty exceptional writers share their stories of work, play, and life in what is often called the Last Frontier. Armchair travelers everywhere will find delight in this anthology of exuberant original essays that reveals Alaska as a place, an adventure, and a state of mind. less...
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    The Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux
    Amazon Says: First published more than thirty years ago, Paul Theroux's strange, unique, and hugely entertaining railway odyssey has become a modern classic of travel literature. Here Ther more...
    Amazon Says: First published more than thirty years ago, Paul Theroux's strange, unique, and hugely entertaining railway odyssey has become a modern classic of travel literature. Here Theroux recounts his early adventures on an unusual grand continental tour. Asia's fabled trains -- the Orient Express, the Khyber Pass Local, the Frontier Mail, the Golden Arrow to Kuala Lumpur, the Mandalay Express, the Trans-Siberian Express -- are the stars of a journey that takes him on a loop eastbound from London's Victoria Station to Tokyo Central, then back from Japan on the Trans-Siberian. Brimming with Theroux's signature humor and wry observations, this engrossing chronicle is essential reading for both the ardent adventurer and the armchair traveler. less...
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    Amazon Says: Published for the first time as Ernest Hemingway intended, one of the great writer’s most beloved and enduring works: his classic memoir of Paris in the 1920s. Publi more...
    Amazon Says: Published for the first time as Ernest Hemingway intended, one of the great writer’s most beloved and enduring works: his classic memoir of Paris in the 1920s. Published  posthumously  in  1964,A  Moveable  Feast remains  one  of  Ernest  Hemingway’s  most  beloved works.   Since   Hemingway’s   personal   papers   were released  in  1979,  scholars  have  examined  and  debated  the changes made to the text before publication. Now, this spe- cial restored edition presents the original manuscript as the author intended it to be published. Featuring a personal Foreword by Patrick Hemingway, Ernest’s sole surviving son, and an Introduction by the editor and grandson of the author, Sean Hemingway, this new edi- tion also includes a number of unfinished, never-before-pub- lished Paris sketches revealing experiences that Hemingway had with his son, Jack, and his first wife Hadley. Also included are irreverent portraits of other literary luminaries, such as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ford Maddox Ford, and insightful recollections of Hemingway’s own early experiments with his craft. Sure to excite critics and readers alike, the restored edition of A Moveable Feast brilliantly evokes the exuberant mood of Paris after World War I and the unbridled creativity and unquenchable enthusiasm that Hemingway himself epitomized.   less...
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    Amazon Says: Lisa Napoli was in the grip of a crisis, dissatisfied with her life and her work as a radio journalist. When a chance encounter with a handsome stranger presented her with an more...
    Amazon Says: Lisa Napoli was in the grip of a crisis, dissatisfied with her life and her work as a radio journalist. When a chance encounter with a handsome stranger presented her with an opportunity to move halfway around the world, Lisa left behind cosmopolitan Los Angeles for a new adventure in the ancient Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan—said to be one of the happiest places on earth.   Long isolated from industrialization and just beginning to open its doors to the modern world, Bhutan is a deeply spiritual place, devoted to environmental conservation and committed to the happiness of its people—in fact, Bhutan measures its success in Gross National Happiness rather than in GNP. In a country without a single traffic light, its citizens are believed to be among the most content in the world. To Lisa, it seemed to be a place that offered the opposite of her fast-paced life in the United States, where the noisy din of sound-bite news and cell phones dominate our days, and meaningful conversation is a rare commodity; where everyone is plugged in digitally, yet rarely connects with the people around them.   Thousands of miles away from everything and everyone she knows, Lisa creates a new community for herself. As she helps to start Bhutan’s first youth-oriented radio station, Kuzoo FM, she must come to terms with her conflicting feelings about the impact of the medium on a country that had been shielded from its effects. Immersing herself in Bhutan’s rapidly changing culture, Lisa realizes that her own perspective on life is changing as well—and that she is discovering the sense of purpose and joy that she has been yearning for.   In this smart, heartfelt, and beautifully written book, sure to please fans of transporting travel narratives and personal memoirs alike, Lisa Napoli discovers that the world is a beautiful and complicated place—and comes to appreciate her life for the adventure it is. less...
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    In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson
    Amazon Says: A CLASSIC FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF ONE SUMMER Every time Bill Bryson walks out the door, memorable travel literature threatens to break out. His more...
    Amazon Says: A CLASSIC FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF ONE SUMMER Every time Bill Bryson walks out the door, memorable travel literature threatens to break out. His previous excursion along the Appalachian Trail resulted in the sublime national bestseller A Walk in the Woods. In A Sunburned Country is his report on what he found in an entirely different place: Australia, the country that doubles as a continent, and a place with the friendliest inhabitants, the hottest, driest weather, and the most peculiar and lethal wildlife to be found on the planet. The result is a deliciously funny, fact-filled, and adventurous performance by a writer who combines humor, wonder, and unflagging curiousity. Despite the fact that Australia harbors more things that can kill you in extremely nasty ways than anywhere else, including sharks, crocodiles, snakes, even riptides and deserts, Bill Bryson adores the place, and he takes his readers on a rollicking ride far beyond that beaten tourist path. Wherever he goes he finds Australians who are cheerful, extroverted, and unfailingly obliging, and these beaming products of land with clean, safe cities, cold beer, and constant sunshine fill the pages of this wonderful book. Australia is an immense and fortunate land, and it has found in Bill Bryson its perfect guide. less...
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