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    1. 25 Language Phrasebook: German,
    $12.95
    2. The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues,
    3. Understanding the Americans: A
    $7.01
    4. Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search
    $11.49
    5. Diners, Drive-ins and Dives: An
    $24.00
    6. Drives of a Lifetime: 500 of the
    $25.99
    7. Journeys of a Lifetime: 500 of
    $18.99
    8. Travels in Siberia
    9. Nicholas Nickleby
    $18.48
    10. A Short History of Nearly Everything:
    $37.15
    11. Atlas of the World: Seventeenth
    $8.37
    12. Rand McNally 2011 Road Atlas:
    $7.99
    13. A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering
    $19.80
    14. The Most Scenic Drives in America:
    $11.49
    15. More Diners, Drive-ins and Dives:
    $11.97
    16. 1,000 Places to See Before You
    $10.20
    17. Between a Rock and a Hard Place
    $11.69
    18. 1,000 Places to See Before You
    $18.48
    19. Atlas of Remote Islands
    $23.10
    20. Lidia Cooks from the Heart of

    1. 25 Language Phrasebook: German, French, Spanish, Catalan, Portuguese, Italian, Greek, Danish, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, Czech, Polish, Hungarian, ... Chinese, Indonesian, Malay, and Thai.
    by MobileReference
    Kindle Edition
    list price: $0.99
    Asin: B000OI1JMG
    Publisher: MobileReference
    Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    FREE 25 Language Phrasebook: German, French, Spanish, Catalan, Portuguese, Italian, Greek, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, Czech, Polish, Hungarian, Russian, Croatian, Turkish, Hebrew, Arabic, Japanese, Chinese, Indonesian, Malay, and Thai. Navigate from Table of Contents or search for words or phrases.

    Learn how to say Hello, How are you, Please, Thank you and much more in 25 languages!

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    Mobi Travel: FREE 25-Language Phrasebook; Travel Greece; Ireland; Barcelona, Paris, London, Rome, Venice, Prague, Beijing, New York & more

    Mobi Reference: The world's largest Encyclopedias in English, Spanish, German, French, Italian; CIA World Factbook, Encyclopedias of Birds, Mammals, Reptiles, Trees

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    ... Read more

    Reviews

    5-0 out of 5 stars This book made my traveling much more fun.
    This free book is very helpful. It lists a number of very useful phrases classified into 3 categories: basic, problems, and numbers. The basic phrases include "Hello", "How are you?", "My name is", "Is there someone who speaks English?", and about 30 other similar phrases. An active table of contents has links to all categories.

    I travel a lot and I take my Kindle 2 with me. This book made my traveling much more fun.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Only one cent! Excellent!
    At this price, such a bargain and worth alot more.
    How could anyone give this one star and say that it's "worthless"?
    The description clearly states what the book contains. I don't see anything that says that it teaches you a language. there is no reason for a bad rating.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Perfect for traveling, unbeatable price!
    We just finished traveling around the world, and I wish I'd seen this before we left! No, it's not a thorough language guide, but I just downloaded it to my iPhone and now have several phrases plus background information on pronunciation and grammar in 25 languages! We could've used it for Spanish, French, Arabic, Indonesian and Korean all in this one trip. For one cent (yes, that's what they billed my credit card!), I can't complain a bit.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A must have!
    FREE 25 Language Phrasebook: German, French, Spanish, Catalan, Portuguese, Italian, Greek, Danish, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, Czech, Polish, Hungarian, ... Chinese, Indonesian, Malay, and Thai.

    It is great to have a 25 Language Phrasebook. The sections are very well organized. You can use it on the fly. It is a good insurance policy to make sure you can get around overseas.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Great free phrasebook
    For a free phrasebook, this thing rocks. I travel a lot, and even knowing a few words helps. With the 25 languages, it's essentially a must download for any Kindle user. Granted, this book won't even come close to making you fluent, but it will teach you some words, give you a grasp of the grammar, and will hopefully make you more confident when traveling or even trying to impress someone. Phrasebooks are plentiful, but there rarely stands a good one out there. I like this - I can read this anywhere and learn on the go.

    It's wide in scope but limited in depth. That's what additional language books/CDs are for. ... Read more


    2. The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks and Giants of the Ocean
    by Susan Casey
    Hardcover
    list price: $27.95 -- our price: $12.95
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 0767928849
    Publisher: Doubleday
    Sales Rank: 58
    Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    From Susan Casey, bestselling author of The Devil’s Teeth, an astonishing book about colossal,  ship-swallowing rogue waves and the surfers who seek them out.

    For centuries, mariners have spun tales of gargantuan waves, 100-feet high or taller. Until recently scientists dis­missed these stories—waves that high would seem to violate the laws of physics. But in the past few decades, as a startling number of ships vanished and new evidence has emerged, oceanographers realized something scary was brewing in the planet’s waters. They found their proof in February 2000, when a British research vessel was trapped in a vortex of impossibly mammoth waves in the North Sea—including several that approached 100 feet.

    As scientists scramble to understand this phenomenon, others view the giant waves as the ultimate challenge. These are extreme surfers who fly around the world trying to ride the ocean’s most destructive monsters. The pioneer of extreme surfing is the legendary Laird Hamilton, who, with a group of friends in Hawaii, figured out how to board suicidally large waves of 70 and 80 feet. Casey follows this unique tribe of peo­ple as they seek to conquer the holy grail of their sport, a 100­-foot wave.

    In this mesmerizing account, the exploits of Hamilton and his fellow surfers are juxtaposed against scientists’ urgent efforts to understand the destructive powers of waves—from the tsunami that wiped out 250,000 people in the Pacific in 2004 to the 1,740-foot-wave that recently leveled part of the Alaskan coast.

    Like Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air, The Wave brilliantly portrays human beings confronting nature at its most ferocious.
    ... Read more

    Reviews

    4-0 out of 5 stars The Discovery Channel meets ESPN, September 2, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    Susan Casey's THE WAVE features an introduction that would be right at home in a Tom Clancy thriller. Following the headline "57.5 (deg) N, 12.7 (deg) W, 175 MILES OFF THE COAST OF SCOTLAND... FEBRUARY 8, 2000," she launches into sixteen pages of prose describing a handful of shipping disasters.

    Have you ever been on an ocean liner where half the passengers were turning green with nausea as the ship pitched and rolled in 25-foot swells? That's nothing. Dead calm by comparison.

    Monster waves, the height of a ten-story office building (and taller) have taken ships --big, huge ships-- and pounded, pummeled, and overturned them, split them in half and buried them forever along with everyone aboard under thousands of tons of water, and it happens with a frequency that you can't begin to imagine.

    I read those first pages, and by the time I got to Chapter one, I was electrified. This was going to be a page-turner of the first order.

    Only it wasn't. As it turns out, Casey's THE WAVE is about 1/3 "The Discovery Channel" and 2/3rds "ESPN's Gnarliest, Awesomest, Surfin' of the Century."

    Don't get me wrong. It's not that I have anything against people who surf. In fact, there was a fair amount of the surfing story that I found simply fascinating (and until reading this book, I knew NOTHING about.)

    Case in point: Cortes Bank. This is an area in the Pacific Ocean about 115 miles off the coast of San Diego. As it happens, there is a submerged, underwater chain of islands there, and when the large Pacific swells --beefed up by storm fronts-- hit the shallow water... well, surf's up, dude, in a majorly-tasty way.

    Casey's description of her six-hour trip out to this isolated area in a rather small boat with a band of some of the best surfers on the planet looking to ride 100-foot waves was astounding. I had no clue that surfing was anything but a near-the-shore sport.

    But my issue with the book --and the reason I've given it just three stars-- is the amount of ink she devotes to the surfers, their injuries, their families, their gear, their homes, the award ceremonies... well, you get the picture.

    The sections of the book that I was expecting --where she writes about the science of the waves, both what we understand, and that which remains (at this point) well beyond our ability to figure out, are very well written. I really like her writing style, and enjoyed her 2006 book about the Farallon Islands, "The Devil's Teeth" a little bit more than THE WAVE, if only because the subject was a touch more 'focused'.

    - Jonathan Sabin

    4-0 out of 5 stars Well written ultra press release for The Laird...Ultimate Wave Guy (TM), September 5, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    First things first. The Wave was fun to read because Casey is a very solid writer. She knows how to put a sentence, paragraph, and tale together. Technically, her writing is near impeccable; it's a pleasure to read a galley proof and see almost no errors, compared to so many authors who apparently can't write ten words without needing spellcheck and an editor. So from that standpoint, this was one of the best advance copies I've seen of anything over the past few years.

    I haven't read Casey's other book, about sharks, nor have I read her as editor of Oprah's O Magazine (I have trouble picking up a publication that has its owner on the cover every issue, who also named it after herself). After reading The Wave, I might just check out Casey's other writing, as she understands what good scribbling is all about. She always keeps things moving, rarely bogging down in arcane detail even when discussing the science of climatology, waves, etc, and has a fine eye for the telling fact. Perhaps too fine, but we'll get to that in a minute. What's best about The Wave is the overall scope; Casey links how the earth's weather is changing to how waves are growing, and there's no denying the stats: there is a clear correlation. She visits various scientists and marine salvage folks and shares their stories; they all agree that we're seeing the oceans get nuttier, and it's only just beginning.

    Enter our hero! Laird "Larry" Hamilton, big wave rider extraordinaire. In this book he comes off as very humble, very brave, and very wise. You root for him at every turn on every wave and it's clear that Casey has quite a rapport with the guy. She always seems to be at his house, near the infamous Jaws/Pe'ahi, a Maui big wave break, chatting with Larry and Curly and Moe. Just kidding. These guys are no stooges; they've almost perfected the art of tow-in surfing, which is the only way to catch a 50 footer or above---paddling in is too slow. But towing is still very controversial to many, and Casey pretty much skips that argument altogether, a telling omission.

    We're taken to some of the world's best big breaks, like Todos and Cortes and even Jaws' big sister Egypt, which never breaks unless it's almost 100 feet high and provides the highlight of the book, a wild day where Laird and his tow partner almost get killed, and when they realize maybe it's not worth dying to catch the biggest waves. (The fact that Laird went out again at 80-foot Egypt that same session certainly dispels any doubts; this guy definitely does live for the really hairy waves.) That chapter, and the scene where Laird takes Casey on a jet ski down the face of Jaws, offer some visceral thrills for the reader, and are part of why this book is fun. Even if its title should really be The Wave: Kingdom Of Laird.

    Which brings me to some thoughts we're unlikely to hear much about when this book hits the stands. [If you're not a surfer or are just curious if The Wave is good, no need to go further. Enjoy the book, it's a fine read.]

    As a surfer, though sadly landlocked, I've followed Hamilton's exploits on occasion since I first read about him in the '90s. When his infamous Teahupoo monster wave was on the cover of Surfer mag in 2000, I remember standing at my mailbox in true awe at the insanely malevolent lip above his head. That thing could easily vaporize anybody. From that point on Laird became the Ultimate Big Wave Surfer, TM, and suddenly he was everywhere. But here's what's most interesting about LH: he disdains surf contests, for many good reasons, and is seen as the Pure Surfer. Seeking the biggest, baddest, bestest waves on the planet, he has jettisoned the crass commercialism of the surf world to live on his own ethereal plane of Ultimate Waveness.

    Except for those American Express commercials. And that Oxbow stuff. And his own brand of products. And...well, you know, a guy's got to make a living, right? Fair enough. But here's the problem: so do other guys. There's a scene in The Wave where Laird, with his faithful reporter tagging along, gives some grief to Sean Collins, who started the website Surfline, whereby anybody can see where the best waves will be on the planet. Laird feels that's cheating, and not everybody should get that knowledge. Just like many feel that tow-in surfing---which Laird, Buzzy Kerbox and Darrick Doerner pioneered in the '90s---is completely wrong, with its gas fumes and noise and pollution of Mother Ocean, and its disrespect towards paddle-in surfers.

    But you see, when Laird does it, it's pure. Sorry, Pure TM. Just as Surfline isn't pure. And contests aren't. And maybe they're not, fair enough. But you know what? It's time Hamilton realized that while he may be a better surfer than the rest, and thus deserving of more respect out there, he's not the only surfer, and other riders want and maybe even deserve the big waves too. And the magazine covers. And the videos. And the movies. And the American Express commercials.

    And the book written by Oprah's go-to writer gal, which when you really look at it is a long, very well-done puff piece on Laird Hamilton, posing as a scientific inquiry into the world of waves. Which it also is...but it always seems to come back to Laird. So why not call this book Laird: The Super Mega Master (And His Big Waves, Etc)? Well, that would be so crass. And maybe a little too transparent.

    Hey, it fooled me. One of the reasons I picked this up was Laird, but I also wanted to hear what the real wave experts think. And they confirm what many of us were talking about 20 years ago: the waves are getting bigger due to climate change, and there'll be some awesome tubes the size of houses out there, ever bigger. So it's only logical that guys like Laird and Doerner should be stoked, and studied. Wait a minute...who?

    Another weird thing about this book is Darrick Doerner's very peripheral status. He's barely mentioned, even though he was Laird's original long-time tow-in partner. Even though he was catching monsters when Larry was a kid (including a 1988 Waimea wave still considered one of the all-time great paddle-in (ie real surfing, non-TM) waves). Even though true waterman Doerner is seen by many in Hawaii as Laird's predecessor and teacher, in many ways. So why is Darrick barely mentioned? Good question. Just like Buzzy; he and Laird had a falling out and now it's all about Kalama and Lickle here. But if this book is really about big waves, Doerner merits far more time and respect.

    And where is Eddie Aikau?! Come on. He deserves at least a paragraph, if not a chapter. Same with Jeff Clark, who surfed the insanely hairy Maverick's alone for 15 years, probably the greatest big wave feat that ever will be. You'd think that Casey, whose comfort in and respect for the water adds much credence to her writing here, would give those guys the space they very definitely earned.

    Finishing The Wave, I decided to check out Laird's website, which I've never done. And guess what? It was only there and in linked articles that I found many fascinating facts skipped over in The Wave. Like, Casey lived with the Hamiltons on Maui for five years (never once mentioned in the book...why? Seems germane. Maybe too much so?). Like, Laird's site sells a bumpersticker, Blame Laird, a weirdly ironic theft of a sticker popular on many cars at many breaks now. He's being blamed for costing plenty of surfers endless waves by popularizing the stand-up paddleboard, wherein you stand on the board way outside the break and get ALL the best waves. It used to be the old longboarders way outside who peeved folks inside...now they too are mad at the stand-ups. So it goes.

    So Blame Laird. But also make sure to check out Laird's new line of....you guessed it, stand up paddleboards! Yes, the ads are all over his website, but Casey never mentions in the book that LH has this product on sale, but she does talk about him stand-up surfing and plugs it as a genuine Hawaiian thang, and ain't it cool, etc. Hmmm. Perhaps Casey is head of O due to a very skillful way with product placement along with her literary skills?

    And Laird's website's front page now has various articles about...this book! It wasn't until I read those articles that I saw very clearly that The Wave was practically commissioned by Laird, or perhaps his wife Gabby. Her own line of products is on his site as well, and she just wrote a gushing piece on she and Laird hobnobbing with the rich in the Hamptons while promoting...The Wave! Wait, are we still talking about Laird Hamilton, hater of surf contests and all that is phony in the surf world? Can't be.

    But it gets better, or worse, or something. Laird is also now sponsored by, try not to laugh...Chanel! Yes, the perfume folks, now hawking watches. Clearly from Gabby's starstruck article ("Laird sat next to super famous artist/New York scenester Julian Schabel at dinner!"), she is all about leveraging the Hamilton brand, and Laird is being dragged along.

    Or rather, towed, into the modern world's Greatest Wave of all: Selling Yourself.

    The pictures of Laird at that party for this book show him almost cringing , and who can blame him? This whole PR exercise can't be his doing (one hopes, but one wonders...). One also hopes that he soon pulls out of this ever-bigger monster wave, with a thousand logos across its face and all sorts of bumpy shelves on the way down to the trough of Eternal Product Placement, where there is naught but a crashing, crushing lip; that's one wave you can't bail on once you're in its brutally gnarly closeout barrel, bruddah.

    Sure, LH has to make cash for his family (always the ultimate excuse for selling anything), but he can't simultaneously hate on Sean Collins, other tow-in surfers, and the surf world in general for following his lead. Especially when he's making all this money selling himself as Mr. Ultimate Big Wave Surfer in TV commercials and books and movies. Pick one or the other, Laird. You're the purist, or you're the sell-out like everyone else. You can't be both...and you ain't. The Wave and its glitzy parties and no doubt upcoming Oprah tie-ins are no better than any surf contest or gaggle of tow-in noobs at Jaws on that rare huge day every three years...they're just somewhat more subtle. Judge not lest thee be judged. You may have started it, but you can't have it all to yourself while cashing in as well. (Just like you can't preach about the purity of Mother Ocean and then jet ski into waves while spewing gas all over your mother).

    So now, along with his t-shirts, movies, bumperstickers, hats, paddleboards, vitamins, watches, credit cards, etc etc etc etc, Laird has a book, The Wave. It's a very well-disguised, well-written, intelligent product placement, and it tricked me up until I went to Laird's website. Kudos to all concerned for the subtlety. But in the end this book The Wave is yet another all too crisp meta-ironic piece of modern culture, a warning of the dangers that modern human life has unleashed on the planet, while also being the kind of well-crafted consumer-culture advertisement that has lead to the selfish earth-trashing behavior that may have caused all these freaks of nature in the first place.

    Oh well. It fooled me and I had fun while it lasted. And that's what matters.

    Isn't it?

    4-0 out of 5 stars she's not one of the boys yet, October 22, 2010
    the book begins excitingly - susan casey is a tour de force when it comes to research. she knows her subject and does all the homework, ranging over continents to talk to sources in science and industry and sport. she obviously has money, because she spares nothing in expense. she also has an amazing ability to bring esoteric concepts to life by translating the phenomenon of these giant waves into little images and analogies that the reader can relate to - she writes vibrant, muscular prose. what disappointed me: when she finally gets to the big waves and big wave surfers, that boldness seems to dissipate. and she writes like a schoolgirl with a crush on things like laird's hamilton's muscles. no longer the intrepid adventurer, she writes about quivering with fear and nervousness at actually going out with the surfers to the wave break-- but in the flank of it, where all the boats and skis sit, the safe zone. she has a tin ear for her own dialogue - her questions seem to be suddenly a whole 6 octaves stupider, focused on feelings and "how do you feel" questions to men she's already characterized as not much for excess words. women surfers appear almost nowhere in the book. the more it annoyed me, the more i began to see casey as just another goggle-eyed chick in a bikini, and i was disappointed because her book began with such a dramatic crackle of energy. when i researched around and read on laird's website that she made a financial deal to pay for access to his world, i felt even more disappointed.

    so i went back to read her first book, about great white sharks. same tendencies. amazing writing, with the same snap crackle pop of good prose. prodigious research, and capacious funds to undertake it. and yet somehow in the middle of the book she becomes all thumbs - afraid to jump from a sailboat to a dinghy, afraid to bait a fishhook, afraid of the dark, afraid of ghosts. afraid her expensive underwear will get taken by a storm. pointing out that she feels sexy wearing fashion rugged gear in the company of men. once again she never really mentions the women interns who are actually living at the farralones - who actually deal every day with the things she finds overwhelming as a visitor. they're there, but the experiences she focuses on are her own, not the experiences of those with more mileage and qualifications under their sexy belts. when a shark researcher shows up (and yes, he's handsome!!! picture included!!) she admires his muscular forearms but seems vague about what he actually does. they go to the aquarium together at the end. meanwhile she manages to lose a sailboat, set off government inquisitions and insurance claims, break federal regulations, and get one of the top research scientists fired from his job, with not so much as a fare-thee-well of regret for being the cause of so much trouble.

    i look forward to the day when casey goes through the teeth of an experience and develops a little stamina and endurance of her own. so far both her books are based on having watched specials produced by others on tv - which means it's a recycled experience, more or less. someone else pointed the way, and she picked up well on the clues, but the path was already given. and she comes across as an amazing woman who still gets self-conscious and intimidated being in the world of rugged men. her claim to fame is access, not achievement. she has too much talent to waste on schoolgirl crushes. the best adventure journalists of our time don't just get their la perla underwear dirty - they write having already gone through transforming adventures of their own.

    apologies to all concerned. as a woman writing and working in the world of men, i took these observations as a cautionary tale about tone. and tone-deafness. and being naive instead of weatherbeaten.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Waves Are Not Measured In Feet Or Inches But In Increments Of Fear, September 9, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    "The relationship between the waves, the weather, the planet's rising temperatures, and the overarching ocean cycles is wildly complex. And, they result in more frequent and higher extreme ocean waves which are a result of Global Warming" Susan Casey tells us this, and so much more. I loved this book, the waves transfixed me, the information transformed me, and the oceans and seas filled me with the fear of God.

    The stories Susan Casey carries with her and places on the written page about waves, oceans, seas, surfs, research, surfing and the people who follow and do these crazy stunts have filled me with a sense that we, the humans that populate this earth, have done it wrong. The oceans absorb 80% of the heat, and as the water heats, the wind increases, storms become more volatile. The ice melts, and the sea levels rise and millions of us who live near the ocean are at risk. The more we know about the waves and our weather and how it affects us, the better off we will be. The next generation is in for a rough ride.

    Susan Casey is a superb writer, she strings the stories of waves and the researchers in language I can understand. The people who ride the surf, the Laird Hamilton's and the Lickles, seem heroic and foolish all at the same time. The risks they take, but it seems they must. They were born to ride the waves, and they must find the highest and the fastest. They become the best surfers. They know the waves, the science and how to read the oceans and the waves. The waves become their friends and their foe. They move from ocean to ocean and place to place to meet these waves and conquer them. Sometimes they succeed.

    What I find especially fascinating are the researchers of the waves. The people who make their life's work studying the waves and how they change in size and their relationship to the universe. The people who rescue the ships that are lost at sea, the products they carry, and the people they lose. One or two ships are lost every week at sea, and it was not until 2000 that a group of like minded men came together to study why these ships were lost. It used to be said that extreme weather was the cause, well, sort of. There is so much to learn, and the list of lost ships and their stories are listed in a ledger by Lloyds of London. The reasons are waves, earthquakes, tsunamis, wind, temperature and a little bit of this and that. The Caribbean particularly Puerto Rico and the North west are overdue for tsunami inducing quakes. Scares me, does it scare you?

    Climate change has been on all of our tongues for many years, and now, we must face it up close and personal. Hurricane Katrina was but one example that should serve as a warning. Look around you and listen, everyday there is an example of warming, floods, ships lost at sea, increase hurricanes, heat, and rain and snow of unheard proportions. Susan Casey has given us a book that enlightens us all.

    Highly Recommended. prisrob 09-09-10

    The Devil's Teeth: A True Story of Obsession and Survival Among America's Great White Sharks

    Women Invent!: Two Centuries of Discoveries That Have Shaped Our World


    2-0 out of 5 stars More the book about and from a extreme surfer groupie..., December 1, 2010
    ...than a book about waves! Susan Casey is obviously fascinated by extreme surfers and spends most of the book on them, their close calls, their family life etc... Now, granted that it is a fascinating life but despite her breathless prose, one does not really get the scale of what these guys are doing: maybe a video of them riding those monsters and talking about would do more justice to their accomplishments. But, in all that, what I had bought the book for, thinking on the basis of early reviews that it would be dealing with the forces creating these monster waves, was basically lost even when eventually she talked to scientists, drawing out of them more their personal experiences than the science of it. A more accurate title would be something like "In pursuit of the ultimate ride"

    5-0 out of 5 stars Surf's UP!!!!!, November 12, 2010
    An incredible account of nature in all her unsettled splendor. I was thoroughly caught up in the telling of how the oceans spawn monstrous waves which are both awesome to behold and at the same time can be devastating to people, ships, and the land.

    Ms. Casey wrote a wonderful book based on scientific evidence and personal accounts from many people who study, live and play on the world's oceans.

    Imagine surfing on a 70ft wall of water. Too hard to imagine? Look up at a 7 or 8 story building, then stand next to it and look straight up. That's where the surfer drops into the moving wave of energy. Can you feel it?

    Photos of ships being pummeled by giant waves; of the devastation left behind when monster waves hit land; and of the very brave people who surf these giants are included.

    I love this book! I grew up on the east coast and remember some very large waves that hit beaches during stormy weather. The waves described in the book far outweigh my experiences.

    A must read for anyone who thinks about global warming, and how weather is dynamically changing the very face of the oceans.



    3-0 out of 5 stars The ocean is full of unpredictable forces and characters too, December 14, 2010
    Here we are presented with a concept book that attempts to hold various subjects, incidents and characters together around one unifying piece of information. That the ocean is full of unpredictable forces that create huge waves, some as high at 100 feet. We join the crew and scientist aboard the RRS Discovery in the North Sea as it is hurled about for days. We attend scientific workshops where mathematicians try and study waves. Find out climate change is going to make the oceans even more unpredictable. We learn two large ships sink each week on average (worldwide) and no one ever studies the cause as we do with airplanes that crash. Their disappearance is simply recorded as the results of "bad weather". Susan Casey then layers on top of this what I found to be the complete idiocy of big wave tow surfing with Laird Hamilton of Maui as the main character we are to identify with. He is sort of the Spiderman of surfing. He and his buddies (in conjunction with the surfing industry who at one point offer $100,000 to the first person who successfully rides a 100 foot wave) risk life (several surfers deaths are covered in the narrative) to just get the rush of the big wave. And interestingly enough it does not count if it is not filmed so we also meet an incredible group of surf photographers. So you mix all this into the stew and bounce around a lot and you find yourself loving and hating the book.
    For me reading is much the joy of learning things you never knew or would know if you had not read a given book. And there is lots to learn in THE WAVE about the ocean and the phenomena of big waves and I doubt many people have heard of the sport of tow surfing or how one goes about doing it. Or that the biggest waves to surf are found some 100 miles off the coast of San Diego in some 6 foot deep water which covers the tops of a huge mountain range, an area called the Cortes Bank. So the book has much to offer. What seems wrong is its balance. The surfers, especially the hero worship of Laird Hamilton gets old after a while. Does Susan Casey ever think Laird's actions as a father with a family are a bit irresponsible no matter his skill and Zen like personality? Is he really a wave whisperer with no warts?
    The interesting character for me at the end of the book is Laird's buddy Brett Lickle who having suffered a major injury which left his left leg with a scar that was "though his entire calf had been melted" (and have being saved by Laird Hamilton) stands on a cliff watching his friends challenge the latest Maui big waves. Lickle made it clear that he no longer misses "the circus, the jeopardy, the nerves" by saying, "The only thing I'll say is that the accident was a kind of ticket out, you know what I mean? What we had was a gang. And you couldn't get out of the gang. There was no way out. There's so much peer pressure like, `come on, you're the man! Let's go!' You can't just walk away because.....you can't. But if you get shot up and almost die, they let you out." For the surfers the big waves are a personal challenge and thrill like climbing a mountain. For the scientist and ships crews the waves are something to respect and fear.
    If the subject interests you which I am betting it does I believe you will enjoy the book although I found it very uneven and is a bit to hero worshiping in its promotion of the tow surfing culture.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Scientists, ships and lots of surfing, October 1, 2010
    Susan Casey is a captivating writer. Somehow she is able to take the concept of something as comparatively non-threatening as waves and spin it into an interesting tale, highlighting how wrong I was about the pretty waves breaking on the beach.

    Casey interviews mariners, Lloyd's of London reps, physicists, and--primarily--surfers about their experiences with and predictions for a huuge wave, dude. The science is a little glossed over but I suspect that it would be difficult to go into wave physics in more depth without the reader glazing over. I really did enjoy the section about Lloyd's of London and their history in insuring ships (and Tina Turner's legs, of course).

    The major problem with Casey's approach is I think she got a bit too caught up in the surfing scene. For each original section where she talked to a scientists about their dire predictions for the potential destructivenss of waves, or someone on a ship who had been caught in a wave, etc., she intersperses it with a scene about another wave-chasing day with the surfers, and it got a bit repetitive by the end of the book. I don't know, I think I would have admired the surfers more had I actually known a little less about them by the time the book was over. Anyway, this flaw wasn't enough to drop it to 3 stars. I learned a fair bit about surfing, and I finished the book in awe of the giant waves that could pay us a visit any time they like.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Radical brah, September 27, 2010
    My surfing experience is limited to boogie boarding in San Diego when I was 22, but I had many surfing dreams for about a year after that. Whatever it is, it is powerful. Still, like many others I expected less surfers and a little more exploration into others who deal or have dealt with massive waves, but I still enjoyed the book.

    4-0 out of 5 stars More Stories than Science of Waves, but Conveys Their Beauty and Destructive Power., September 2, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    Susan Casey likes water. In "The Devil's Teeth", she wrote about great white sharks in the Farallon Islands. In "The Wave", she explores the subject of big waves, taller than 50 feet, 100 feet, or even 1,000 feet high. Big waves are normally associated with storms, earthquakes, or reefs... and then there are rogue waves, whose very existence was doubted until recently, that seemingly come out of nowhere to swallow big commercial ships. Water in large volumes at high speeds is perhaps the most powerful force on Earth. To get a feel for these behemoths, Casey talked to the big wave surfers who seek them out, marine salvage experts and maritime meteorologists who help mariners escape them, and the scientists who are trying to understand them.

    Casey crisscrossed the globe for a few years speaking to experts in fields related to waves and tagging along with a group of big wave surfers whose most famous member is Laird Hamilton. Out of 13 chapters, only 5 are not about the experience of surfing big waves: Casey takes us along to the Tenth International Workshop on Wave Hindcasting and Forecasting and Coastal Hazard Symposium, where researchers present their theories on wave formation and prediction. She visits Lloyd's of London, which insures most of the world's shipping fleet, and learns how vulnerable bulk carriers are to big waves. She talks to geohazard experts, scientists at the National Oceanic Center in England, a marine salvage expert who saves ships in distress, and a geologist who speaks of the 1,740-foot wave created by a 1958 earthquake in Alaska.

    And Casey hangs out with people who like big waves: the tow-in surfers who routinely surf Pe'ahi in Maui, Teahupo'o in Tahiti, Mavericks south of San Francisco, and a handful of other big wave hot spots. She travels to those places with surfers and their photographers to get as close as she can to experiencing big waves for herself. And there's the carnage. Two dozen big commercial ships are lost at sea each year; surfers who seek out big waves don't always make it either. "The Wave" has a jaunty pace, and the surfing stories give it glamour and drama. Casey's decision to dedicate so much space to the folks who spend time inside these waves for fun is a good one. They are intimate with big waves and convey a fear and awe of them that helps the audience grasp the size, power, and beauty of such a thing. "The Wave" is a fun read. ... Read more

    3. Understanding the Americans: A Handbook for Visitors to the United States
    by Yale Richmond
    Kindle Edition (2009-04-01)
    list price: $14.95
    Asin: B003XDT8WC
    Publisher: Hippocrene Books
    Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    Full of practical advice as well as invaluable guidance on how to understand American society (covering topics like political parties, privacy, family, work, and money), this handy book is an ideal reference for anyone new to the United States. ... Read more

    Reviews

    5-0 out of 5 stars Funny and wise
    Understanding the Americans is a delightful book, and I recommend it not only to recent immigrants, but also to Americans who work with immigrants, because it may help them see America through foreigners' eyes. While at the first read the book may seem simplistic and trivial to an American absorbing the American culture from birth, a more focused reader will immediately see that Richmond very succinctly, and with great humor explains hundreds of unwritten rules governing life in America, such as "Americans [...] may tell you much about their personal lives without considering you as a friend or even wanting to be your friend," or that "drop by some time" doesn't really mean you can do that because "such an action would be seen as an invasion of a person's privacy and a failure to plan ahead." The book is also full of American expressions such as "keeping up with the Joneses" "beating around the bush," or "soccer mom," which every American knows, but which puzzling to foreigners who most likely have never heard them. I agree with the reviewer who recommends that this book should be handed out to visitors at every border crossing.

    My favorite quote:
    "When meeting someone in America, as in most countries, there is usually a ritual greeting. You ask the other person "how are you?" and the answer is usually "Fine" unless that person is mortally ill and about to be transported to a hospital."

    5-0 out of 5 stars Finding your way in another culture
    This is a different, and ultimately far more useful "travel guide" than we are used to. It is a day-to-day guide to our manners and mor�s, but is much more, providing background and insights to nearly all major features (and peculiarities) of American society. I can't think of a more useful and practical book. I--and I'm sure visitors--will appreciate the author's honesty about some of the less attractive aspects of our culture. The practice of highlighting common American terms (like doggie bag) makes the book even more user-friendly. By helping visitors to understand what to expect, and how to cope with the inevitable shocks and frustrations, this book should be handed out to visitors with every American visa. Every country should produce a book along the lines of this one.

    5-0 out of 5 stars So true, and so much fun
    This book was written as a guide, but it is also structured nicely and the style makes it so funny. I've been in the States for 4 years and realizing how true all those points in the handbook are is just hilarious. I think it is a good reading material not only for international people but also for US citizens who want to learn how non-US people perceive them. ... Read more


    4. Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia
    by Elizabeth Gilbert
    Paperback (2010-06-29)
    list price: $16.00 -- our price: $7.01
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 0143118420
    Publisher: Penguin (Non-Classics)
    Sales Rank: 101
    Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    This beautifully written, heartfelt memoir touched a nerve among both readers and reviewers. Elizabeth Gilbert tells how she made the difficult choice to leave behind all the trappings of modern American success (marriage, house in the country, career) and find, instead, what she truly wanted from life. Setting out for a year to study three different aspects of her nature amid three different cultures, Gilbert explored the art of pleasure in Italy and the art of devotion in India, and then a balance between the two on the Indonesian island of Bali. By turns rapturous and rueful, this wise and funny author (whom Booklist calls "Anne Lamott’s hip, yoga-practicing, footloose younger sister") is poised to garner yet more adoring fans. ... Read more

    Reviews

    4-0 out of 5 stars Great, for what it is., March 31, 2008
    I find it so surprising--reading the angry, negative reviews--that the people who hated the book hated it for exactly the reasons why some steer clear away from the the spiritual-journey-memoir genre. Yes, the author is self-absorbed, yes, she seems to think of only trite stuff, yes, she seems self-indulgent with her problems. And yes, she's allowed. It is after all a book that is positioned to address these things in the author's self; who otherwise would not be searching for something more: more meaning and more appreciation in/of her life.
    Here is a woman who shows all the possibly-perceived-as-lacking-substance thoughts of hers and we are throwing tomatoes at her. One thing, she obviously wasn't afraid of that. She wasn't aiming to be coming off as some deeply wise woman but a fumbling girl-woman trying to break out of what she felt was imminent disaster (had she had the baby and delayed her need to find out what she truly wants from her life she might have left not only her husband, but their child, or most probably ending up not leaving out of guilt and becoming crazy instead: exposing her family to that for years; not an uncommon reality). She is not one for anti-depressants, remember.
    This memoir falls in the same category as the TV show Sex and the City (of which it was compared to in a review here). Both get trampled for being supposedly superficial, covering the silly plights of city girls who don't know what they want and yet have everything. But this book--as the TV show--actually are part of a wider story that is illiciting reactions from the public because it reflects the transition in which women in the modern world are experiencing: now that we have equality with men professionally, now that we are liberated from all the limitations being a woman dictated two generations ago, how does that affect us? From a distance, in a glance, it seems that women have all the cards to play with now. But this book and many other works by women and/or about women of this generation show that having all those cards does not mean Happiness.
    There are still things in society--in regards to a woman's role--that grates. And then there are things within our Modernised, Westernized, Individualized, Ambitious selves, that are lacking.
    This is what Miss Gilbert's search is about, and what she represents.
    On a collective level, much of the modern world is in search of God, Spirituality (one just needs to walk through bookstores in the US and see the plethora of soul searching self help books on the shelves). This is what needs to be observed and understood as a phenomena in the West; the small voices, small cries, here and there by those who come up with the balls to share their journeys and thoughts with us--no matter how trite-sounding, how shallow-seeming--are part of a collective howl for the meaning of life.
    Elizabeth Gilbert's voice is just one of many that calls for recognition as part of a chorus for something that firstly, many women are hollering about, and secondly, humanity in general--humanity in the first world--are crying for: some kind of guidance, indication, that the collective paths we fought for and chose (the best education, career ambitions realised, a certain amount of money needed to live that certain kind of magazine-lifestyle life--which is what Liz Gilbert's life is a reflection of, remember--love in the form of marriage and what society dictates) are truly the things that give us peace and happiness in the infinite sense.
    Eat, Pray, Love might not be that deep, wise voice representing the deep, wise journey into the deep, wise self. But this book's packaging and tone, hell, its WORDS, never did say it was. It is a fumbling--almost child-like in its guilelessness--show of the ego's awareness and needs, and its attempt at searching for what many people from all walks of life only wish they could go out and find: THEMSELVES. SELF, being the keyword here. And in this memoir, ultimately, God, being in each of our selves.
    To the people who were disappointed that the author didn't seem to give a hoot about India's poverty, they must have not read the book through: Miss Gilbert never ventured out of her ashram and the little village it is located in, after making a decision to further develop her meditation skills and thus skipping the rest of India. She also ignored Italy's corruption with her indulging in good food and focus on learning and enjoying the Italian language. Again, the critics missed the point of this memoir. It's a book about a writer, a New Yorker, a recently-divorced-woman-in-her-early-thirties' journey to heal and find spiritual strength through various means: pleasure first to recover (Italy), spiritual examination and purging (India), combining the two for balance (Bali), which would result hopefully in the kind of substance and depth and balance that so many critics mentioned she lacks.
    One doesn't pick this book up to: 1. Be exposed to India's poverty and expect the author to discuss that in depth. 2. Be exposed to Italy's corruption and expect the author to discuss that in depth. 3. Be exposed to Balinese wiles and expect the author to discuss that in depth. (which she actually did in the account of the Balinese woman she raised money for to buy the land the woman needed to build a home).

    Next time you pick a book up at the bookstore, call up your powers of perception before purchasing it. A book IS pretty much its cover. Did everyone really expect a book titled "Eat, Pray, Love" A Woman's Search for Everything, to be an experience of religious fervor, one that would reveal the secrets of the universe? It's a story about a girl who thought everything she thought she wanted, would bring her happiness. It didn't. It didn't for her, and possibly not for many other women. If it took this one woman to go to Italy, India, and Indonesia, to get away after a difficult and painful divorce to heal and get perspective--instead of festering and turning into a pile of flesh in depression--then by all means. Yes, she financed her travels through her book advance--after giving away the suburban home and NYC apartment to her ex-husband. And if she wrote this book for us, it's really for us to appreciate and enjoy the ride with her. Anybody else who got so upset needed only to put the book down and pick another one to their taste. If anything, that's this book's lesson: Do what makes you smile and thankful for life.

    1-0 out of 5 stars A ME-moir, not a memoir, April 25, 2009
    I'm a big fan of Gilbert's earlier work (specifically 2003's The Last American Man) and I was deeply disappointed by this book. In fact, I sent it sailing across the room twice within the first hour. Gilbert's a fine writer, let there be no doubt. Her structure is great. She writes scrumptious sentences. She's an eminently likable narrator. But my complaint is more psychological rather than literary. As we learn over the course of the book, Ms. Gilbert is an enormously privileged woman, lives the glamorous writing life in NYC, owns two homes and yet is so sad and depressed about life. Get over yourself, lady! This book is the literary equivalent of like How Stella Got Her Grove Back. Only with yoga and white people.

    Gilbert claims to be quite the globe-trotter but seems to have never learned the basic tenet of travel: learning about the larger world. Confronted with the rich, confounding, complicated world, she turns away and gets lost in her own navel.

    What I hate even more about this book is what its incredible popularity says about us as Americans: just like Gilbert, we are giant narcissists and we never, ever stop thinking about ourselves and our own needs and cannot, even for a second, think about the lives of the less fortunate around the world. Gilbert thus becomes the American Every-Woman: 9-11 happens in her own backyard and she's so distraught over her failed marriage that it barely registers. If you think I'm being too hard on us Americans, think of it this way: her previous book The Last American Man was much, much better than Eat, Pray, Love but since it evinced none of the yoga-loving-upper-middle-class-woman-who-spouts-cheap-wisdom-like-Oprah-on-a-global-quest-for-self-actualization story elements, it barely sold 1% of what Eat, Pray, Love did. This is a sadly-revealing book about the state of our culture. And it's not just about Elizabeth Gilbert. It's all about us.

    And, of course, don't miss the upcoming film adaptation, starring-you guessed it- Julia Roberts. If I have one other person recommend this book to me I'm going to to kill them.

    1-0 out of 5 stars Eat Pray Shove (It), February 16, 2008
    Here is a book that either changed people's lives or irritated the bejesus out of them. Count me among the latter.

    Eat Pray Love - One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert was supposed to enlighten me. It didn't.

    OK -- First the positive: Overall, it is a well-written book. The author takes many complicated metaphysical concepts and makes them readable. The book is divided into sections: Eat, which is the author's journey to Italy; Pray, her pilgrimage to India and Love, where she takes a lover in Bali.

    This is about a thirty-something woman looking for spirituality and happiness. She is married, but desperately unhappy for no single reason that she cannot or will not divulge. So, she leaves her husband (and, by the way, gives him all marital property out of supposed "guilt" for leaving him, making me wonder what exactly she did to warrant this)and falls right into another relationship (a-ha! adultery, perhaps?). When the rebound relationship that broke up her marriage falls apart, she now wants to find God. Of course. She claims God spoke to her on the bathroom floor, thus beginning her journey.

    But not before she goes to her publisher and secures a $200,000 advance for this book. Makes you wonder, as one reviewer on Amazon pointed out, was the journey retrofitted to the book proposal?

    What better way to go find God than in Italy. For four months she eats gelato, practices her Italian with a young man named Luca Spaghetti (If you are going to make up names of allegedly real people, could you find a more sterotypical name? Why not Carmine OrganGrinder?) and gains 23 pounds -- quick to point out to the readers that she was way underweight to beign with.

    She learns to enjoy life and be selfish from the Italians - who by the way still find her immensely attractive, although they don't hoot and holler at her like they did 10 years previously. But she is still so damned cute. Just ask her.

    On to India. At the Ashram, she learns to meditate and still broods over her lost marriage and subsequent realtionship. Probably the most boring part of the book, except for her conversations with "Richard from Texas" -- a down home, larger than life character who speaks in folksy platitudes that would make Andy Griffith proud. He also bestows our author with her nickname "Groceries" because she was emaciated from grief from crying for the millionth time over her beloved David. As one reviewer from Amazon said, "What kind of nickname is Groceries?"

    I honestly believe she made these people up. Reminds me of "Go Ask Alice" -- supposedly the real story of the drug-addicted Anonymous -- until it was revealed that the protagonist was a fictitious composite of the author's psychiatric patients. Boo.

    Then Bali. She ends her self-imposed celibacy with an older Brazilian man. High on orgasmic ecstasy, out of the supposed goodness of her heart, she asks her friends to send $18K in donations to help a single mother, an alleged friend of Ms. Gilbert's, who is portrayed as a con artist because she didn't buy a house in the timeframe coinciding with the termination of Ms. Gilbert's visa. I always thought that a gift should be a gift without strings attached -- especially coming from someone who supposedly found God. I wanted to ask Ms. Gilbert "What Would Jesus Do?"

    My biggest problem with this tome is that this 30-something woman basically is looking for applause for running off for a year, obstensibly supported by a $200K book advance, to "find God." I'm sure millions of women would love to leave their everyday lives and travel the world to do nothing but self analyze. If she had done volunteer work, I may have felt differently. If she went through some real hardship, I could sympathize. But she was in an incompatible marriage, then dumped by the guy she left her husband for. She should perhaps speak to those battling life-threatening diseases, or raising children alone, or taking care of an elderly parent, or worried about where their next meal is coming from.

    And for all of her self-realization and navel-gazing to end her dependence on men, Ms Gilbert has, as pointed out by anotherAmazon reviewer, married her Brazilian and moved to new Jersey. She could have saved Penguin Books a whole lot of money by getting in her car and going through the Lincoln Tunnel. I wonder how long before she ends up back on the bathroom floor.

    1-0 out of 5 stars Blah, blah, blah, blah...., October 24, 2007
    I could not finish this book. When the author burst into sobs yet again in the middle of prayer, or a conversation, or walking down the street, or (more likely) on the floor of yet another bathroom, I gave up. This is the type of person you meet at a cocktail party and RUN in the other direction after a few minutes when she starts spewing out all her problems at you with no end in sight. Note to the author: I am your reader, not your psychotherapist. I really tried to enjoy the book and even like the author, but after slogging through a couple hundred pages of endlessly self-absorbed chatter, I was worn out and put the book in the Goodwill pile. When she writes, "I discovered my mind was not a very interesting place to be," I have to say, "Amen, sister!"

    1-0 out of 5 stars dishonest and poorly written, April 14, 2007
    I've read several of the reviews posted here and though I couldn't finish this book, it seems to me that what's wrong with it is not so much the author's hollow-souled narcissism but her lack of intellectual seriousness. Someone gave me this book as a birthday present. That it has received a lot of attention is no surprise. Look at the drivel America reads. Light, shallow laughs, sex, food, not much real thought. That's the sum of this book. Feel-good rubbish that inspires not one iota of serious thought. Gilbert's slapphappy universe is one in which everything can be solved with pizza and fresh mozarella. Every paragraph contains at least one stock one-liner. This isn't literature. It's stand-up comedy of the worst kind. We've read it all before. She claims she can make friends with anyone. It's precisely that lack of discernment and depth that makes this story forgettable. The prose is laced with one cliche, one trite and cutesy obvservation after another. Some reviewer here said this book is not a book but a magazine article. Exactly right. I finally closed the book when I read that while in India she wanted to "valet park" a destitue family into a new life. It isn't just that the phrase is a silly toss-off modernism but that there's no true emotion in it. You'll never know how this woman really feels. Don't waste your money on it.

    1-0 out of 5 stars Expected more. MUCH more., March 19, 2007
    This book reminded me of a quote that's served me well in life: "It's a sign of maturity when you begin to fall out of love with your own drama." The author clearly hasn't reached this stage on her path to "enlightenment"!

    1-0 out of 5 stars don't waste your time on this one, July 12, 2007
    Not one interesting character. Not even the author. A horrible divorce... big deal. A love of food ... not really worth 116 pages. I had to get to page 156 to finally understand. She is in an Ashram in India having trouble silencing her mind and meditating.

    "What I am alarmed to find in meditation is that my mind is actually not that interesting a place after all."

    That sentence sums up the book

    1-0 out of 5 stars Glib, narcissistic and lightweight, May 14, 2007
    I picked up this book on the strength of good reviews and found myself wanting to throw it at the wall. The author is a fine writer with a good sense of humor who seemed to want to write about her journey to self fullfilment, spiritual awakening and happiness. Instead she came off as a priviledged, slightly spoiled writer who needed an excuse for a writers advance so she could travel for free. She reveals herself to be a spiritual narcissist who obsessively navel gazes. While many passages are light hearted and funny and she is oh, so very clever and witty!! there was no real depth, no real meaningful questions asked or answered except for how she could get more breaks and be FULFILLED. It seemed like an extended article for SELF magazine. Instead order books by Kathleen Norris or even Anne LaMott for God's sake!

    1-0 out of 5 stars Symptomatic Of The Downfall Of Western Civilization..., October 28, 2009
    Elizabeth Gilbert was a self-absorbed, married, thirty-something living the privileged existence of an affluent writer in the most powerful nation on Earth, when, suddenly - shock-horror - she realized that she wasn't happy. As a consequence, she cast aside her husband, took up with another man - with whom she still wasn't happy - and, after this relationship fell into inevitable dissolution, decided to run off around the world in order to "find herself" (one must assume that she'd already looked down the back of the sofa) after receiving a handsome advance from a publishing company to chronicle her subsequent exploits.

    "Eat, Pray, Love" is pseudo-intellectual, altruistic, mother-my-dog pap of the worst kind masquerading as spiritual insight. Read between the lines and it expounds selfishness as a virtue and mindless hedonism as both philosophy and legitimate path to spiritual insight. Unsurprisingly, that great doyen of the gullible, Oprah Winfrey, loved it and made it one of her book club choices, thus unleashing it to a wider audience than Gilbert's talents as a writer would normally have ever allowed. Apparently, God help us, a big-screen version with Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts is currently in the offing.

    As a literary construct, Gilbert herself seems to be the contemporary living embodiment of Tom and Daisy Buchanan from "The Great Gatsby", of whom F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote, "They were careless people...they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness...and let other people clean up the mess they had made."

    "Self-absorbed" does not begin to cover it; "self-centred" is not nearly an adequate description. One hopes that she can't really have been so completely inured to the poverty of India and Indonesia by her solipsism. If so, then she seems to be genuinely emblematic of a subset of the "sex and the city" generation of women who put their own self-gratification above all other things. Worryingly, this attitude seems to be becoming increasingly more prevalent in western society.

    I will be honest, I first happened upon this book after briefly seeing some of Winfrey's interview with Gilbert on television and consequently read three quarters of the book in my local library - and was so completely incensed that I felt it my civic duty to warn you off of this book.

    If you want a genuinely enjoyable book to provoke introspection, this isn't it, but may I politely suggest Tom Hodgkinson's How to Be Idle: A Loafer's Manifesto and The Freedom Manifesto: How to Free Yourself from Anxiety, Fear, Mortgages, Money, Guilt, Debt, Government, Boredom, Supermarkets, Bills, Melancholy, Pain, Depression, Work, and Waste or Lin Yutang's The Importance Of Living in it's stead; If you want a decent travelogue, may I politely suggest any Bruce Chatwin's books, and if you really want to read a writer with talent give the exponents of the Gilbertian philosophy of self-aggrandisement both barrels, then I strongly recommend Michael Bywater's Big Babies: or: Why Can't We Just Grow Up?

    1-0 out of 5 stars She teaches you how to discipline yourself not to judge someone, November 20, 2007
    I hated this book but I forced myself to finish it. Putting the authors irritating voice aside, it epitomizes everything wrong with American culture today: worship of the mediocre, travel without seeing anything, polarizing of the Other and fake spirituality. That said, I learned something important about spirituality as well but I'll get to that in a minute. It has to do with learning not to judge (see above, I've become quite judgmental).

    When I was dragging myself through this book, I experienced strong waves of hatred for this woman. She missed all of the poverty in those places and all complexities of the cultures she "learned about". She acted like hers was the only travel experience any of her readers have ever had with her "Let me explain what being Balinese means..." demeanor. She couldn't even accurately transcribe the Italian words in the passage of curses ("Molto migliore"???). She spoke about Italy like an annoying travel companion who has been there for five minutes, has read two things about the place and knows five words and acts like the expert and when you visit her there and after 2 days there yourself you can see that she still hasn't seen or learned a thing. She takes what she wants to see from the world and tells readers what she thinks they want to hear about it. She doesn't even give an original spin to these common travel destinations, or even any insight into the expats she does meet. Did she ever mention not liking someone? Did she ever mention any negative emotions about anyone other than "David" or her ex-husband? Did she ever mention any locals being any less than thrilled that she graced them with her presence? Did any other readers feel her jealousy seething when the sexy Brazilian Armenia walked in Wayan's shop? Of course we all did but the author, miss Spiritually Enlightened at Greeting Her Emotions must still not be able to face that one. Or maybe she can't dare mention it because that might make her readers not like her and this woman spends all her energy spinning a version of herself that everyone can like. I guess her spiritual enlightenment only works for exploring and sharing insights about her weight. Or making money off the bored, privileged American public.

    Now, how about how offensive she is? Besides her condescending assumption that we are all married 35 year olds stuck in our houses who have never traveled and are relying on her to tell us how it is, she made two references where she tried to make the suffering of her love life out to be comparable that of a refugee ("we had the eyes of refugees" and counseling with the boat people revealed that their suffering too "was all" love story sagas (personally offensive to anyone touched by the world's refugee story).

    Okay, I said that I learned something. Yes, I learned something. Important. I looked deeply into my hatred I felt towards this woman throughout the book. I learned that the reason I hated her so much was because I was expecting her to have something insightful to say and I was expecting to learn about the people from an anthropological, non-biased, realistic perspective. Each faux pas she made infuriated me. I wasn't seeing her for her. I was trying to project what I thought was her view of herself onto her. Basically, I was expecting her to live up to how great she tells us she is and when she didn't deliver, time after time, sentence after sentence, I felt some justified sense of triumph and anger at "catching" her, and then feeling immense frustration at not being able to expose her to the world so everyone else would see through her too. Instead, I should learn to accept the book for what it is (horrible) and accept the author as she is (whoever that is) and accept that to her it was suffering, to her it was enlightenment and it does no good to judge her for it (even though I am not spiritually enlightened enough to stop myself). Instead of hating her, I should have shut the book, written this review, and laughed about it. ... Read more


    5. Diners, Drive-ins and Dives: An All-American Road Trip . . . with Recipes! (Food Network)
    by Guy Fieri, Ann Volkwein
    Paperback
    list price: $19.99 -- our price: $11.49
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 0061724882
    Publisher: William Morrow Cookbooks
    Sales Rank: 263
    Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    Food Network star Guy Fieri takes you on a tour of America's most colorful diners, drive-ins, and dives in this tie-in to his enormously popular television show, complete with recipes, photos, and memorabilia.

    Packed with Guy's iconic personality, Diners, Drive-ins and Dives follows his hot-rod trips around the country, mapping out the best places most of us have never heard of. From digging in at legendary burger joint the Squeeze Inn in Sacramento, California, baking Peanut Pie from Virginia Diner in Wakefield, Virginia, or kicking back with Pete's "Rubbed and Almost Fried" Turkey Sandwich from Panini Pete's in Fairhope, Alabama, Guy showcases the amazing personalities, fascinating stories, and outrageously good food offered by these American treasures.

    ... Read more

    Reviews

    4-0 out of 5 stars A little disappointing ..., November 20, 2008

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    I really wanted to LOVE this book, I really did. I'm such a huge fan of Guy Fieri's "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" television show, and I've been hoping he'd come out with a cookbook containing recipes featured on his shows.

    I'm a sucker for great road food, and often go out of my way to try a "hole in the wall" diner. Guy has traveled the US highlighting exactly the kinds of places I love to visit. His show on Food Network is loads of fun. No one can describe food like Guy, with his blend of humor and killer adjectives.

    The humor doesn't translate all that well in print, and the jokes just aren't that funny. But I didn't get this book for the jokes -- I got it for the recipes.

    The recipes that are included are OK -- but if you're a fan of the show, don't expect to find very many of the dishes Guy spotlighted. There are a few (the Cap'n Crunch French Toast from the Blue Moon Cafe in Baltimore, for example), but the bulk of the recipes are "new."

    It was more than a little frustrating to read about the wonderful dishes in Guy's descriptions of the restaurant, only to find few recipes for any of them. While each establishment is represented by a recipe, almost none of the recipes are described in the narrative.

    For example, Baby Blues Bar-B-Q in Venice, CA -- Guy waxes rhapsodic over the "killer mac and cheese made from four cheeses" and "grilled corn with chipotle-poblano butter and cotijo cheese sprinked on top." The featured recipe: saut�ed okra. Huh?

    That's not to say these are not GOOD recipes -- in fact, most of them look pretty darned tasty. And if your expectations don't include recipes for dishes featured on the show, these will be just fine.

    As a travelogue, it's probably OK, too. And maybe that was its intended purpose, rather than a "cookbook." Or maybe it can't really decide what it wants to be.

    But if you're like me, you might be a little disappointed that the dishes included in the book are NOT the ones that made your mouth water when you watched the show OR read about them here.

    4-0 out of 5 stars What fun!, October 22, 2008

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    And one book I will take on my next road trip - although why CaveMan Chicken is not in here......

    Guy Fieri from the Food Channel takes the reader on a tour of his favorite Diners Drive-Ins and Dives around the country. The book is broken up into regional sections - Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, South, Midwest and West & Southwest. Each place gets a two page bit with pictures describing the restaurant, its history, owners and their specialty to fame. There's also a box on a sidebar called "Track it Down" with full business name, address, phone numbers and website (if available). Also included are recipes from many of the featured restaurants, and most look quite simple with minimal fuss and ingredients. Whilst I'm not much for spending time in the kitchen a few of these are putting me in the mood -- Cap'n Crunch French Toast, BBB Mac and Cheese, Chorizo Garbage Plate, a potato chip "In"crusted Dolphin (mahi mahi) sandwich and more.

    The book is paperback 7" x 9" (should slip easily into your luggage), and the photos are all black and white and not on glossy paper. At the back of the book is a recipe index by type (breakfast, starters, dinner, etc.) along with a List of restaurants. I've not perused others roadside dining books to draw a comparison to, but I've found it quite entertaining perusing the recipes, as have my coworkers -- definitely a good conversation piece. Four stars.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Like diners and dives? Check this out!, November 6, 2008
    I'm addicted to Guy Fieri's Food Network show, "Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives." Whenever I have a chance, I tune in; normally, it's a cool one hour trip across the country. His enthusiasm comes right through the screen as he tries out different dishes at each establishment.

    This book provides a sampling of some of those establishments across the country. The format is simple: a brief description of the diner or deli or dive, a photo of the place, and one or more illustrative recipes. In a sense, using one of his own terms, this is a trip to "Flavortown." One nice touch: his recognition of key players in his crew, as they work together as a team across the country.

    Some examples of the places he looks at and the recipes that he spotlights. The "Blue Moon Cafe" in Baltimore, Maryland. I am looking forward, in the near future, to a long weekend in Baltimore; it's an enjoyable visit. This time, I may choose to try out this place. He focuses on breakfast in his two cafe examination of this cafe. The recipe given is intriguing--but not for me, Cap'n Crunch French Toast. I'm not going to ever make this, but it's fun to imagine making it and tasting it. Ingredients: heavy cream, eggs, vanilla, Cap'n Crunch, sugar, bread, sugar, berries. The 5 steps in the recipe sure look doable for amateur chefs. Interesting. . . .

    Then, there is "Panini Pete's," located in Fairhope, Alabama. One interesting aspect: the head cook is a classically trained European chef. One recipe: Pete's Rubbed and Almost Fried Turkey Sandwich. Focaccia bread, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, Kosher salt and pepper, Dijon mustard, fried turkey (a menu provided for that, too), roasted red pepper, baby greens, mozzarella, and garlic mayo. Oooh. Read the recipe and imagine the tasty results!

    Then, there is Joe's Farm Grill in Arizona. Much of the food is grown right there. One specialty is hamburgers, with all sorts of eye popping toppings (e.g., apple-cider smoked bacon, pepperoni, roasted red peppers, and so on). But this isn't just a burger joint. Witness the recipe provided--Asian Slaw with Spicy Thai Vinaigrette. Combine the vegetables, including green and red and napa cabbage, julienned green onion, julienned red bell pepper, shredded carrots, salt and pepper, topped with spicy Thai vinaigrette. Looks yummy.

    Anyhow, this is worth the price of purchase simply for the description of the diners, delis, and dumps--and seeing the building where the establishment is located. The recipes are interesting, too, although I would not even think of making many of these (some may be great tasting, but they're awfully fatty and loaded with cholesterol). If you like Guy Fieri's show, you'll enjoy this book, I think.

    5-0 out of 5 stars crazy tasty, October 24, 2008

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    Guy Fieri was the first winner of the "Next Food Network Star" andhe is no flash in the pan. His tv show is entertaining. But how does the book stack up?
    Very well. Mr Fieri visits (and revisits) over 50 "diners, drive-ins and dives" with a signature recipe from each location. The recipes are as diverse as "Cap'n Crunch French Toast" from the Blue Moon Cafe' in Baltimore, Maryland to a falafel from the Original Falafel's Drive-In in San Jose', California. The restaurant descriptions make you want to hop in the car and check them out.
    I would recommend this book to anyone who wanted to try any sort of new recipe, as the book includes a diverse group of recipes. I would also recommend it to anyone who is a fan of Mr Fieri (and who isn't?). Finally, if you're planning a road trip, this is the book for you. You can stay away from the chain restaurants and try something unique to the area you're visiting. Or you might find a homegrown delight in your own backyard. This book is great fun to read.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Okay, but not much of a cookbook..., October 30, 2008

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    I love the TV show and could not wait to get the book. While it's a fun book, it's a bit of a disappointment in terms of being a recipe book (most of the recipes in the book are not anything I would want to try making), but it's still a very good companion piece to the TV show. Anyone looking for an actual "cookbook" might want to avoid this one, but if you're a fan of the show. Go ahead and give it a try. Three and a half stars for this one.

    2-0 out of 5 stars Sadly, It Doesn't Live Up To Potential, November 9, 2008

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    This book, given the places Guy Fieri has visited, had great potential, but it failed to live up to that potential. I love the show and to eat at the types of places that he frequents, so I had high hopes that the book would provide a number of new places to explore and provide recipes so that I could recreate the food from some favorites at home.

    While the book looks substantial, it only highlights a relatively few establishments. There are regional headings, which tend to be very broad (New England/ Mid-Atlantic, etc) and each only has a small number of eateries. New England has a whooping 4 places listed, which is about the number that I could point him towards in single towns in New England. And, with the exception of Baltimore and the State of New Jersey, most other areas are equally under represented.

    The recipes are equally sparse in most cases. A goodly number feature recipes that could be easily figured out by a diner at a particular establishment without the help of a trained restaurateur. There are recipes for burgers and sandwiches galore, along with such things as coleslaw. Not the most interesting or inspiring book.

    I would have preferred that he visited a number of establishments in a given region and then written a book by region. By doing that, he would have created a series of books that could have traveled with me on trips...as it is, this isn't worth the trouble to pack. I usually know where I am headed, so I can easily photocopy the places that might hold interest.

    This had strong potential, which in my opinion was wasted. More time spent on the book would have yielded a better product that could have started a line of books. I doubt I will bother with anything else he prints unless I check it out in advance.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A "Must Have" for DD&D Fans, November 1, 2008

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    The perfect natural extension of the Food Network show. If I ever take a cross-country road trip, this is going to be my primary reference - kept right on the front seat.

    In the book, Fieri hightlights over 50 of his 'discoveries' across the nation from his show. He includes a short recap, interesing facts about each place, pictures (usually of Fieri hamming it up with the staff), and interesting side-bars written in true Fieri style.

    The biggest surprise bonus is you also get a recipe or two from each establishment. (Getting the recipe for Duarte's crab cioppino is, in itself, worth the price of the book!)

    I'm guessing a big source of hits on the Food Network web site is to find the exact location of restaurants featured on Fieri's show. (I'm still trying to find the elusive taco truck north of San Jose. Also, is it just me, or is the Food Network web site truly one of the more difficult ones to navigate?)

    Regardless, you now have the perfect reference -- descriptions, locations and recipe's included! And, as expected -- coming from Fieri -- it's all done in a very entertaining manner.

    1-0 out of 5 stars What was the point of this?, June 24, 2009

    I don't know what I was thinking here. I like the show, but what was I hoping for from this book? Perhaps, A bit more depth and behind the scenes info? Well, if you're looking for an overview of the show with even less information than the show supplied, buy this book. Even the recipes are weak, with nothing here that couldn't be found someplace else or figured out from watching the show (We're not talking haute cuisine.). Throughout the book there are even "Guys Asides," little comments attached to the main article, which seem strangely redundant in a book that he has "written." Hey, this is my fault, I bought it without checking. Unless you are a huge fan of the show or of Guy's odd coif and bling, this one will not be missed on your bookshelf.

    1-0 out of 5 stars money thrown away, January 27, 2009
    While the show is interesting and entertaining the book is just the opposite. Not well organized, and receipes are disappointing. Would not recommed this book,if you want to visit the places he visits, just watch the show and make note of the names and locations and take the list when you travel to that area. Looked up several areas of interest we had seen on the show, and none of the resturnats are mentioned in the book.

    2-0 out of 5 stars Too little of everything, November 6, 2008
    I have been a DDD fan from the beginning. I have seen every episode at least once, some thrice. I have wanted a book forever, and have long thought about what I wanted it to be. So maybe that is why I am disappointed so much.

    I was hoping for a travel guide that I could use to seek out DDD favorites. But this guide does not cover everyplace he has been, just some of them. And it lacks a good index by state and city for the locations he does cover. You can flip thru the pages by part of the country, but it is tedious and not as easy as it could be. A national map with numbered locations would have been good too. The fact that the pictures of the people and locations are black and white keeps it from becoming exciting or make me want to visit. A black and white picture of a building sign is just a waste of book space. These places have character, and you get NONE of it in the pictures. The whole book feels boring and drab from the minute you pick it up.

    The book tries to be part travel guide, part cookbook, and part show diary. IMHO, it fails at all three. It has a recipe from most of the selected locations, but no pictures of the food. That may be just as well, because black and white pictures of food would take the book to a new level of dullness. The narratives for each location are uninspired, and sound like they were written by a newly-graduated ghost writer rather than the inimitable Guy. Most of it reads more boringly than a small-town restaurant review. As a show diary, it lacks any funny stories or off-camera tidbits that might have brought some humor and interest to an otherwise exceedingly dull book.

    Maybe i will feel better about this book once I make a few recipes. But I suspect that this one is going to end up on eBay or Amazon Used Books in a few weeks. ... Read more


    6. Drives of a Lifetime: 500 of the World's Most Spectacular Trips
    by National Geographic
    Hardcover
    list price: $40.00 -- our price: $24.00
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 1426206771
    Publisher: National Geographic
    Sales Rank: 315
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    Pack your suitcase, load up the car, and head for the open road! In the tradition of National Geographic Traveler magazine's award-winning annual feature showcasing the world's best auto trips, National Geographic presents Drives of a Lifetime: Where to Go, Why to Go, When to Go. This lavishly illustrated, hardcover travel planner and gift book gives you every bit of information you'll need to navigate 400 amazing driving routes in some of the world's most fascinating locales.

    This practical travel planner provides specific, in-depth descriptions of the sights each drive offers. A clear, detailed, easy-to-read map of each route. Useful information on the best time to travel. And insider tips to help you get the most out of every fabulous trip. Abundant sidebars call your attention to standout sights along the drive or entertaining background information on the region and its culture.

    While handy indeed as a planner, Drives of a Lifetime doubles as a full-color gift book with more than 200 dazzling, large-format photos and crisp, evocative text that will enchant armchair travelers. The book immerses you in the unique appeal and beauty of hundreds of inviting locales.

    Sample entries include the road to the spectacular ancient ruins in and around Angkor Wat in Cambodia; the Natchez Trace Parkway, along an ancient Native American trail through Mississippi; the scenic old coastal route from Dublin to Wexford in Ireland; an off-road dune drive in Dubai; the famous ocean views along the Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia, Canada; the Winelands Route through South Africa's Western Cape; a drive among the incredible land formations in South Dakota's Badlands; and an archaeological tour through Syria. In addition, you'll find several fun Top Ten lists: skyscraping drives, Mediterranean island roads, African wildlife excursions, and more.

    Chapters organized by theme include Ultimate Road Trips, featuring famous drives such as Highway One down the California coast; Over Hill and Mountains; By Sea and Shore; The Road Less Traveled, highlighting unpaved and untamed routes and safaris; Village Byways through some of the world's most picturesque hamlets; and Historic Trails, tracing the paths of history's great builders and explorers.

    Whether you travel these storied routes by car or through the pages of the book--countless wonders await your discovery in
    Drives of a Lifetime.

    ... Read more

    7. Journeys of a Lifetime: 500 of the World's Greatest Trips
    by National Geographic
    Hardcover
    list price: $40.00 -- our price: $25.99
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 1426201257
    Publisher: National Geographic
    Sales Rank: 357
    Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    No one knows the world like National Geographic—and in this lavish volume, we reveal our picks for the world's most fabulous journeys, along with helpful information for readers who want to try them out.

    Compiled from the favorite trips of National Geographic's travel writers, Journeys of a Lifetime spans the globe to highlight the best of the world's most famous and lesser known sojourns. It presents an incredible diversity of possibilities, from ocean cruises around Antarctica to horse treks in the Andes. Every continent and every possible form of transport is covered.

    A timely resource for the burgeoning ranks of active travelers who crave adventurous and far-flung trips, Journeys of a Lifetime provides scores of creative ideas: trekking the heights of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania... mountain biking in Transylvania... driving through the scenic highlands of Scotland... or rolling through the outback on Australia's famous Ghan train... and dozens of other intriguing options all over the world.

    Journeys of a Lifetime also features 22 fun Top 10 lists in all sorts of categories. What are the world's top 10 elevator rides, bridges to walk across, trolley rides, ancient highways, or underground walking adventures? Readers will love evaluating and debating the selections.

    Each chapter showcases stunning photography, full-color maps, evocative text, and expert advice—including how to get there, when to visit, and how to make the most of the journey—all packaged in a luxurious oversize volume to treasure for years to come.
    ... Read more

    Reviews

    4-0 out of 5 stars A Good Starting Point for Adding to Your Trip Choices, January 30, 2008
    If you take one trip a year and never go to the same place twice, even the most fortunate person will probably visit no more than 50 different places in a lifetime. What a great idea it is to be more aware of what your choices are before taking one of those 50 trips.

    The book is organized around nine themes as described thusly on the contents page:

    1. Across Water (Unforgettable voyages, from luxury cruises to dugout canoes)

    2. By Road (Chasing the horizon: legendary drives and secret detours)

    3. By Rail (Watching the world pass by your window)

    4. On Foot (The pleasures of the oldest and greenest mode of travel)

    5. In Search of Culture (Life-enhancing odysseys for lovers of all the arts)

    6. In Gourmet Heaven (Seeking out the world of flavors)

    7. Into the Action (Hands-on adventures for those who'd rather do it for themselves)

    8. Up and Away (Flights, skyways, and bird's-eye views)

    9. In Their Footsteps (Pilgrimages for readers, dreamers, and history fans)

    Typical trip choices are usually described in one or two pages with color photographs and maps taking up at least half of the space. An entry contains brief advice on when to go, how long the trips last, how far ahead to plan, special packing advice, and Web sites for more information. Highlights of such a trip are also briefly described so you can get a sense of what you'll see and do. Some trips are, however, listed in as little as a paragraph.

    Naturally, you have to judge a book like this very carefully. By definition, you haven't taken most of the trips!

    I looked at trips I've taken that were terrific and noticed some weaknesses in the advice. Here are a few examples:

    1. Each entry is treated as though there's nothing else nearby that might be of interest. As a result, you need to check the geographies to see how you might combine several trips listed in the book into one. For example, many of the New England trips are located not too far from one another and you should consider doing more than one on a visit.

    2. The timing of how to enjoy other events isn't always considered in enough detail. For instance, Boston's Freedom Trail is listed in the book. But you aren't told that if you come around Patriot's Day (a Monday in April) you can also see re-enactments of the battles of Lexington and Concord and the running of the Boston Marathon on the same trip.

    3. Some of the advice seemed just plain wrong from my point of view. When I went to the Galapagos, I was there for 10 days in the dry season and 4 days in the wet season. The wet season was awful! People there said to be sure to always come in the dry season (which ends around the beginning of winter in North America). The book made no mention of this issue in discussing when to go. Also, many of the most interesting things to do in the Galapagos aren't mentioned.

    As a result, use this book to start dreaming a little about what you might go see. I was fascinated by some of the choices for Australia and New Zealand that I had never heard of but which looked very beautiful. But do plenty of homework beyond the book to find out what you really need to know before choosing and organizing a trip.

    Bon voyage!

    5-0 out of 5 stars A "Must-Have" for those who love to travel!, January 12, 2008
    I love to travel and I think this book is fantastic! Browsing through this beautiful book, I had to add several travel destinations to my list of places I someday want to visit. If you want some great vacation ideas, from US to exotic oversees destinations, this book will provide many. Paging through the book is also an educational opportunity to discover a bit more about places around the world.

    The book is not organized by location (although there is an index for finding specific destinations), but rather the itineraries are listed under the following categories:

    Across Water
    By Road
    By Rail
    On Foot
    In Search Of Culture
    In Gourmet Heaven
    Into the Action
    Up and Away
    In Their Footsteps

    Each destination or journey entry includes a page of photos and information. A small map showing the location and route (if applicable) is included as well as a list of highlights. There is also a paragraph or two about the trip and each destination includes sections labeled: When to Go, How Long, Planning, Insider Information, and Websites. These provide some good information and tips for travelers and the website listings give the readers a way to find more details if they want to plan a trip.

    The book contains a wealth of ideas and there is certainly something for everyone. Just a sampling of the trips in the book:

    Sampling Food along the Mediterranean
    Following Che's trip in Argentina (as depicted in the movie "The Motorcycle Diaries")
    Cycling Across Transylvania
    Riding the Moroccan Camel Train
    Driving from Utah's Bryce Canyon to Capital Reef
    India's Golden Triangle (Dehli, Jaipur, Agra)

    This is a beautiful book that is very well done. National Geographic does not disappoint here!

    4-0 out of 5 stars Amazing value, December 27, 2007
    This is a great "coffee table" style book, filled with interesting information and the sort of excellent photography one would expect from National Geographic. What's most remarkable, however, is simply the price. This is a big, heavy, tome of a book--hardcover--and I would have expected it to easily cost twice what it does. It's a real pleasure to browse through, and I learned of quite a few places I had not heard of or would not have thought about as options for travel destinations. It is not a resource per se. Think of it as a collection, a wide array, of mini-travelogues with good photography (even if on a fairly matte paper stock), and given the large size of the book, this allows for fairly large-format images. A good value.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Journeys of a Lifetime: 500 of the World's Greatest Trips, December 25, 2007
    The format is wonderful--one simple page for each recommended location or activity. Each page includes the best time of year to travel and other recommendations. We've been to some of the selected locations, and the descriptions were very good for a one-page summary. It also helps you think of places to travel that you might not have thought of or considered. The pictures are beautiful. Great gift idea from friends who travel.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Fantastic!, December 29, 2007
    This is the perfect cocktail table book, and everyone that has looked at it loves it. I plan to order more for gifts.

    I travel a lot, and this is very well done, with good photos and descriptions. It even gives the right time of year to travel to each place. Great book, and would highly recommend it.

    3-0 out of 5 stars nice, January 27, 2008
    This book can be a little annoying at times. The chapters are divided into catagories such a "travel by train," or "travel on foot." This means if you want to say go to Peru, you have to look at the index for Peru and flip to all the scattered writeups. You might miss something. I think there could be a little more info written too on each "Journey" mentioned. Sometimes it's not enough to get a true excitement about the place, event, or experience. Overall I do like the book though. Great reference and gives enough info to do some research on your own when making plans for your trip. Great photos.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Must Have for all Travelers, February 8, 2008
    This is an amazing book. It has everything you ever need to know about amazing vacation spots. It even tells you the best time of year and best travel route. I especially liked that each section also included the top 10s, like top ten boat rides, etc throughout the world. This is a must have for anyone who loves to travel and is also just a great coffee table book. Everyone who visits finds themselves lost in the pages of this amazing book!!!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Great broad perspective travel book, January 7, 2008
    Great book for those interested in a little bit of everything. It is broken up into several sections that provide a nice variety of travel types (ex. culinary, culture, boat, plane, etc.) Incredible pictures for each entry.
    This book is best used as a means of getting ideas for travel because it provides only general information rather than the specific "how to" for each journey.
    Overall, a really interesting read.

    4-0 out of 5 stars pretty darn good book!!!, February 9, 2008
    i purchased this book as a birthday gift for my brother. now i don't want to give it to him. i want to keep it.
    the photos in this book will knock your socks off. it's a lovely book and it's so much fun to just pick up and turn to any page. i recommend this book for people planning a trip AND for people who just want to see what a wonderful world we live in.
    my only complaint: IT'S HEAVY!!
    enjoy.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Great Travel Book, Average+ Photo Book, November 19, 2008
    This book generally fulfilled my expectations as a travel book. It gives a great number of amazing destinations with enough info to allow you search further. I also liked the idea of splitting the trips by means of travel (boat, plane, train, car, 2-legs, 4-legs, etc).

    On the other hand, as an amateur photographer/photo enthusiast and an overall National Geographic fun, I found the photos as well as the printing quality of the book not of the best quality, or at least not of the quality that NG normally provide in their photo books.

    Overall, a great publication that I would recommend!

    Check out also "Where To Go When" (Eyewitness Travel Guides) - DK Publishing. Highly recommended, great travel book, great photo book too!!! ... Read more


    8. Travels in Siberia
    by Ian Frazier
    Hardcover
    list price: $30.00 -- our price: $18.99
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 0374278725
    Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
    Sales Rank: 385
    Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars
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    Editorial Review

    A Dazzling Russian travelogue from the bestselling author of Great Plains

    In Travels in Siberia, Ian Frazier trains his eye for unforgettable detail on Siberia, that vast expanse of Asiatic Russia. He explores many aspects of this storied, often grim region, which takes up one-seventh of the land on earth. He writes about the geography, the resources, the native peoples, the history, the forty-below midwinter afternoons, the bugs.

    The book brims with Mongols, half-crazed Orthodox archpriests, fur seekers, ambassadors of the czar bound for Peking, tea caravans, German scientists, American prospectors, intrepid English nurses, and prisoners and exiles of every kind—from Natalie Lopukhin, banished by the czarina for copying her dresses; to the noble Decembrist revolutionaries of the 1820s; to the young men and women of the People’s Will movement whose fondest hope was to blow up the czar; to those who met still-ungraspable suffering and death in the Siberian camps during Soviet times.

    More than just a historical travelogue, Travels in Siberia is also an account of Russia since the end of the Soviet Union and a personal reflection on the all-around amazingness of Russia, a country that still somehow manages to be funny. Siberian travel books have been popular since the thirteenth century, when monks sent by the pope went east to find the Great Khan and wrote about their journeys. Travels in Siberia will take its place as the twenty-first century’s indispensable contribution to the genre.

    ... Read more

    Reviews

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Genuine Masterpiece, October 15, 2010
    I also read the excerpts in the New Yorker and was very anxious to get the complete book. I was not disappointed. This is easily one of the best nonfiction books (or books of any kind, for that matter) I have ever read. I am always wary about using the overworked word "masterpiece," but I truly believe this is one. Frazier takes us on a wonderful journey: his gradual discovery of Russia through its literature, history and by meeting several native Russians in New York; his deciding to visit the country with Russian friends; his efforts to learn to read and speak the Russian language; and his first trip to eastern Siberia by crossing the Bering Strait from Alaska to Chukotka. The longest journey he takes is by van with two Russian guides across the entire length of Siberia in 2001, arriving at the Pacific Ocean on September 11th. He returns to Siberia in 2005, traveling from Yakutsk to the village of Oimyakon, "said to be the coldest place on earth outside Antarctica," and along the Topolinskaya Highway to the see the abandoned prison camps of Stalin's Gulag. His last visit is in 2009, when he travels by himself to Novosibirsk, Siberia's largest city. Throughout the book, Frazier's descriptions of the forests, the steppes, the taiga, the mountains, the rivers and lakes, the cities, the villages, the monuments and outposts, as well as the horrific mosquitoes and the often questionable food, are simply riveting. He meets a truly remarkable assortment of men and women from all walks of Siberian life, learning how they survive, and often thrive, in such a difficult, unforgiving place. He recounts tales of many figures, both famous and obscure, from Siberia's incredible past: Genghis Khan and the Mongol hordes, the revolutionary Decembrists of the 1820s, exiles like Dostoyevsky and those who died in the horrific Soviet prison camps, Czar Nicholas II, Rasputin, Rudolph Nureyev, and even Yul Brenner. And like all great writers of nonfiction, Frazier sees things that others would miss and makes discoveries that will take your breath away; he is always looking for the unobvious and finding the most fascinating wherever he goes. Consequently, we are treated to a unique portrait of an amazing place by one of our finest writers. Ian Frazier has written a great, great book.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Great historical journey through Siberia, October 13, 2010
    i read two excerpts from this book in the New Yorker Magazine a summer or two ago and couldn't tear myself away. It's such an adventure. If you've ever read one of the great Russian novels or studied world history at all you already have an historical vision filed away in your head and this book brings it all back, richly. The spirit in which Frazier traveled to research this book and because he's written it so well you feel like a fly on his shoulder throughout the journey. i'm so happy the book is finally published, i've been waiting a long time for it. Highly recommended!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Brilliant - But PLEASE, people, review the BOOK, not Amazon!!!!, October 25, 2010
    I will not try to add much to the other 5-star reviews of "Travels in Siberia" except to say that the superlatives being used here are totally justified. As a review in the San Francisco chronicle said, "'Travels in Siberia' is a masterpiece of nonfiction writing - tragic, bizarre and funny. Once again, the inimitable Frazier has managed to create a genre of his very own." This review is spot on. Readers should read this book and savor every word. It truly is one of the most beautifully written books I have ever encountered--one for the ages.

    BUT, I implore people like Mr. Piro to stop giving 1-Star reviews to books because you don't like Amazon's pricing policy! Don't you realize that you are supposed to be reviewing the content of the book? If you are upset with Amazon, why are you taking it out on an author who has nothing at all to do with how Amazon sets its prices? Your anger is totally misdirected. If you are upset with Amazon, CALL them up or WRITE them and complain. To give this great book a 1-star review because you're upset with Amazon is the height of stupidity.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Gorgeously written, but flawed American viewpoint, November 12, 2010
    I'm going to write my review without biasing myself by reading the others.

    I lived and worked in Siberian and the Russian Far East for several years in the 1990s. Frazier has always been one of my favorite authors; he is king of detail. "On the Rez" was a phenomenal book. Missing my second home, Russia, I snatched up Travels in Siberia the instant it became available.

    I'm going to start with the limitations of this book:

    1. East of Chita and Yakutia, the locals uniformly call their land the "Russian Far East." They do not call it Siberia, any more than people from Idaho or California call their land the Midwest. Just like Americans have the Midwest and the West, the Russians have the corresponding landlocked Siberia and the coastal Far East. It perpetuates Westerners' geographic misnaming of the region.

    2. Leaving the history of Siberia's Indigenous peoples out of the book. This is the most egregious oversight of this book, and it's particularly perplexing given Frazier's history researching and writing "On the Rez." Can you imagine an author writing on the history and the experience of the Dakotas without mentioning the Sioux? This book manages to paint Siberia and the Russian Far East as the historic battleground of Russians and the Mongols, without mentioning the couple dozen tribes - of Asian, Turkish, or European descent - that migrated to, lived in, and defined Siberia for centuries before either the Russians or the Mongols arrived. In a few of these regions, Indigenous peoples still outnumber Russians, and it is still common to hear the native languages spoken on the streets or in government offices. Frazier writes about two visits to the Republic of Buryatia without clarifying that Buryatians are Indigenous descendents of the Mongols. He then visits a bit with the Even peoples in Yakutia, but again fails to relate any information about their history, although the book has some history on the Russian colonization of the region.

    3. Frazier entered Siberia with the notion that it is All About Gulags; that is a typical American lens/misperception. Siberia is a whole lot of things, and Siberians do not, nor did they ever, think of their land as Prison Land, any more than Californians currently obsess about Japanese internment camps in California. In both places the gulags are a sad and horrible history but they are far from defining the place. If you lived in Siberia for a year and listened to Russian conversation, you would never know there are any prisons there. Another stereotype of Siberia that Frazier failed to question, and ended up just perpetuating.

    4. Siberia and the Far East are the very most beautiful (a) in nature and all the wilderness parks, which Frazier never seems to get off the highway to see!; and (b) in private homes, where Russians and other natives fully open their hearts and are your best friends for life. Frazier is more exposed to the (much harsher) "public life" of Russia, the train toilets and the public litter, than to its wonderful private life. Russians often said to me, "I've visited America, and it's boring there." What they often mean is that Russians, and particularly those who live east of the Urals, are a very social, hospitable, warm, fun people who know how to have a good time. Frazier for whatever reason barely gets a peak at this. And he writes about forests, but never really gets a look at how gorgeous they are in Siberia, because he is always sort of on the main drag, pushed on by two hosts from St. Petersburg who only want to drive faster rather than slowing down and actually seeing anything.

    That said, this book is wonderfully written, has riveting detail, and has some truly brilliant insights into both the Russian psyche and the land that Frazier visited. Worth reading.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Travels in Siberia, October 27, 2010
    `Travels in Siberia` is an excellent and up to date travel book through Siberia by American writer Ian Frazier, best known for his 1980s travel book Great Plains. Parts of the book were originally serialized in The New Yorker, which sponsored one of his five trips to Russia (those five trips making up the five main chapters of the book). There are countless older travel books about Siberia, many with the exact same title "Travels in Siberia", but things have changed rapidly since the collapse of the USSR so it's good to have a recent account. Frazier's fascination and love of Siberia is somewhat infectious, though he and his friends often wonder what the appeal is given all its problems and horrid history. Frazier is an excellent writer who focuses on the small detail, such as types of trash on the road, the types of clothes, food, restrooms, service (or lack thereof) etc.. one really gets the sense of how crude and rough it is, like a third world country. As a traveler, Frazier is ironically not very adventurous, given how dangerous Siberia can be, it is a safe pedestrian journey. The most daring thing he did was jump out of the car and snap a picture of a prison from afar. When his Russian guides went off to party with the locals, he would stay at camp alone inside the tent. Perhaps because his Russian language skills were very basic it limited his comfort level in new situations. We learn a lot about his guide Sergei, an archetypal Russian who had an amazing ability to fix any vehicle problem with a nail, wire and roadside refuse. In the end I think it's a good book because it covers so much territory and Frazier's eye for simple but revealing detail combined with his excellent writing and humor keep it always interesting and fun to read.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The best book of the year - More like a great Russian novel, November 1, 2010
    I have read a number of the year's so-called "best" books, and there are quite a few very good ones, both fiction and nonfiction. But Ian Frazier's "Travels In Siberia," in my opinion, stands head and shoulders above the rest. Frazier somehow has captured the size and scope of this enormous place and describes it with a force equal to one of the great Russian writers--I do not exaggerate!--yet with a totally American sensibility. Since a number of other reviews have concentrated on the amazing experiences and adventures and the fascinating people he encounters, I would like to focus on another aspect: the absolutely brilliant writing. What I have always admired about Frazier, in both his humor pieces and his nonfiction and reporting work, is how effortless his writing seems to be. I am sure, like all great writers, he works incredibly hard at each sentence. But it never shows. His descriptions and metaphors are truly fresh, original and unexpected, yet they always work. A couple of examples: "On the Barabinsk Steppe . . . stretches of real forest often appeared here and there, intruding into the flatland like the paws of a giant dog asleep just the other side of the horizon." And this passage about his arrival back in the US shortly after 9/11: "I smelled diesel fuel, bus exhaust, and a whiff of Jamaica Bay not far off. The speedy channel changing in my head slowed to a stop, and all the ordinary JFK Airport surroundings seemed to settle on my shoulders like an old coat. In my gratitude I did not fall to my knees and kiss the ground. But for a moment I did squat down and touch the warm, black, grainy, pebbly asphalt with the fingers of one hand."

    "Travels in Siberia" brims with observations and insights that are simply overwhelming. I do hope people will read this book, as they'll be in for one of the great literary experiences of their lives.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Great history lesson, but shaky travel book, December 5, 2010
    I truly enjoyed reading this book. I am learning Russian and took my own first trip to the country this year; there is so much to learn and discover about Russia and I appreciated Frazier's interesting, concise and occasionally humorous lessons on the country's history, culture and geography. Indeed, I found myself laughing out loud at several passages - a valued experience during a good read for me!

    Nonetheless, as much as I appreciate seeing an author's sense of humor and personality shine through a narrative like this, I found parts of Frazier's discourse to be simply grating and tinged with a familiarly uncomfortable, unmistakable East Coast self-importance. As many times as Frazier may call himself a Midwesterner in the text, his worldview is clearly that of an affluent New Yorker. This is perfectly evidenced by his reference to his guide/trip organizer/translator/mechanic throughout Siberia as his `driver'. It took a native Russian teacher later to point out to him that he should call the talented person who shepherded him (and his expensive fishing rods) across thousands of miles of Siberia his `colleague' instead (also worth pointing out that in addition to this man's guide credentials, he's the head of the robotics lab at St. Petersburg State University, hardly a `driver' qualification).

    Frazier goes on to display a latent sexism in a passage about the beauty of post-soviet-era Russian women. He marvels at the `beautiful women walking everywhere' in Krasnoyarsk, recalling a negative Cold War American stereotype of Russian female appearance and questioning its origins. In his quest to figure out how Russian women apparently became beautiful, he examines historical male perceptions of Russian women (including that of John Quincy Adams), questions a Russian male friend and then finally agrees with the theory of an American male economist that compares Russian female beauty to a commodity crop. Not once does he ask Russian female friends about this apparent phenomenon; had he taken this simple and evident approach, he might have heard numerous, more logical explanations, including the simple reason of the sudden availability of Western fashions after the fall of Communism.

    In general, and as other reviewers on Amazon have pointed out, Frazier's attitude and approach keeps him tied to a high-way or zipped up in a one-man tent for good portion of his travels. As his Russian `drivers' go into towns and villages in the evening and get to know the local people and culture, letting the flow of the journey lead them to new experiences and friends, the author remains a somewhat hesitant observer. His obstinate request to see a Siberian prison causes an obvious cultural disconnect and tension between himself and the Russian guides; once again baring his East Coast mind-set, he seems to believe that the simple act of paying them to show him a prison should override their evident discomfort with exploring this aspect of Russian history.

    On the whole, I liked this book. My repeated bouts of irritation with the author's personality, however, chip two stars off of my rating.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Well researched, but a little off-putting...., December 14, 2010
    I enjoyed all the research included in this massive history of Siberia. Frazier did a great job with a lot of information. The book is fact-filled, very detailed, and generally written in an entertaining style. Good map showing the location of towns he visited -- although I'd recommend that readers refer to maps that show the geography from the "top" of the globe instead. His map seriously distorts the northeastern part of Siberia.

    Prior reviewers have covered the strong aspects of the book better than I can. But the some things were a little off-putting.

    For instance, it made me squirm when he too-frequently compared himself to fellow-travelers and his hired tour guides, with himself coming off as the better person. That's not something nonfiction readers enjoy in an author.

    And he missed out on a lot of the culture of the country by sanctimoniously avoiding the consumption of vodka or people drinking it. Hey, he's in Russia! What about When in Rome, do as the Romans do? Not that he needed to be a strong imbiber, but imagine all the good stories, camaraderie and experiences he missed out on! It's like a foreigner writing about rural America and refusing to attend a potluck, whether he ate the food or not.

    Too: I'll bet his married tour guides didn't much appreciate him tattling on them and their escapades. Imagine the stories Frazier could've told if he'd occasionally accompanied them! Maybe he did... Would love to read a book with their version of the long journeys with him.

    He very briefly mentions a few people he encountered who were exploring Siberia without paid hand-holders. Those are the kind of stories I'd recommend and will be looking for next. Also, like a previous reviewer noted, I wish he'd included more about the many ethnic groups in Siberia. And why couldn't he have found or taken better photographs?

    Finally, the book needed a good editor. Got tedious by the end. Doubt if I'll read any prior books of Frazier's.

    3-0 out of 5 stars More History Book Than Travelogue, December 14, 2010
    Ian Frazier's Travels In Siberia is a lengthy tome about not just Mr. Frazier's travels in Russia but a history of the country including Genghis Khan, the Decembrists, Stalin, Lenin and everyone in between. The book is extremely well written and you can feel Mr. Frazier's genuine love of the country coming through, but I felt a little shorted by the passages on his actual travels in Siberia. The first thing you think about when you think of Siberia is that it is a cold desolate place, but on his first trip he goes in the summer. While he does rectify this by going back and travelling through Siberia in the winter that trip seems more like an afterthought in the book. On his first trip, he spends much of his time sitting back in the camp his two travelling companions set up in various campgrounds, roadsides, etc. while they go out and experience the towns. It would have felt more like a travel book if Mr. Frazier had joined the two on their excursions into town and written about the locals instead of the many museums he visited. That being said, Mr. Frazier deserves credit for an extremely well written book especially his story of how he ended his first journey through Siberia on 9/11/01 and his resulting trip back to his home in New Jersey. It was quite compelling and the most heartfelt portion of the book.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Been there, done that, December 3, 2010
    In a previous life, ie before marriage, I spent a good amount of time in the wilds of Siberia/China working for a timber company. In the 5 or so years since my travels I often wondered just what it was about this desolute, cold and sometimes downright ugly part of the world that I found strangely compelling. Now I know it is the love of russia that Ian talks of often in this book. While I mainly flew, the author does a wonderful job of bringing back memories of just what it is like to see the real Russia, and the real Russians.

    I really liked this book, a great combination of humor, tribulation and history... from a part of the globe still a faceless wasteland to many. Also a good insight into the vast difference between the rule the world mindset in Moscow versus the simeply make it until tomorrow of the 1960's era of the countryside. ... Read more


    9. Nicholas Nickleby
    by Charles Dickens
    Kindle Edition
    list price: $0.00
    Asin: B000JQV5MM
    Publisher: Public Domain Books
    Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars
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    Editorial Review

    This book was converted from its physical edition to the digital format by a community of volunteers. You may find it for free on the web. Purchase of the Kindle edition includes wireless delivery. ... Read more

    Reviews

    4-0 out of 5 stars Not his best work, but a very good read!, September 18, 2009
    This is a good introduction to Dickens for those who haven't yet read any. The plot is interesting, the characters memorable, and the twists and turns are less convoluted than of some of his other works, such as Tale of Two Cities or Great Expectations. Nicholas is a bit too good to be true, but he does have a quick temper that gets the best of him at times. Descriptions of a Yorkshire boarding school are rather grim, but the author's comments indicate that it is a fairly accurate representation. This book has it all, good guys in tough circumstances, bad guys of various sorts, social and political commentary, and a love story or two.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful (but what Dickens text isn't?), June 22, 2010
    Dickens' ability to write outrageously hilarious scenes consistently leaves me floored (and fangirling!) and /Nicholas Nickleby/ is no exception in this respect. Dickens is also tremendously skilled at rendering poetic, heartbreakingly beautiful sentimental scenes, and those also find their place in the plot of /NN/.

    This is definitely earlier Dickens - he hasn't quite attained the writing maturity that characterizes what I consider his masterpieces (David Copperfield, Little Dorrit, Bleak House, Great Expectations) but it is nevertheless a wonderful read. Early Dickens is still masterful writing.

    My only qualm with the text is a qualm I have with Dickens in general, his female leads are so bland. Kate Nickleby is basically another Agnes -- too passive and good for me to like. The rest of the characters, however, are wonderfully rendered (Newman Noggs! Smike (sob)! and of course, the Squeers!).

    The Kindle edition was relatively free of typos (at least, I don't remember too many of them marring my reading).

    4-0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable, pulpy, summer read, August 13, 2009
    There's nothing so entertaining as reading a Dickensian description of a letter being dropped in shock by its reader, and it then fluttering to the floor.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Be prepared to be mad, glad, and annoyed...., January 15, 2010
    Dickens' novels will spike and plummet emotions. In this book, characters were created that annoy, yet add a needed sense of humor (Mrs. Nickleby for example), and there are those which grate on you- boil your blood, really- but without them you wouldn't adore Mr. Nicholas Nickleby so much.

    I was caught by Great Expectations from page one. The opening was more entertaining and it kept up its momentum throughout. This book took me longer to get into, but once I did it was good.

    One failing was the close of Nicholas' love life. You read a thick, burly novel like this and grow very attached to the lead character. He falls in love with someone without knowing her at all (so YOU don't know her at all, except that she is pretty) and then in the very end, you do not get to see through Dickens' words how it plays out between the lovers- you get to imagine that yourself (which is fine, I have an imagination, but I like to see these things in ink and through the eyes of a master of the craft). Instead, the ending focuses on an unlikely romance between two somewhat present but not strong characters in the novel, and you get this "here you go" summary of the more prevalent characters' lives.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Good but long, September 7, 2010
    This is long. Anyone who completes it should get some kind of credit. Indeed Dickens creates these wonderful caricatures of the human soul in the different characters of the story. Each is like an individual portrait. But the portraits are part of a narrative. There is the battle between good and evil. And I feared that evil would have the upper hand. Dickens is good. ... Read more


    10. A Short History of Nearly Everything: Special Illustrated Edition
    by Bill Bryson
    Paperback
    list price: $28.00 -- our price: $18.48
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 0307885151
    Publisher: Broadway
    Sales Rank: 340
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    Editorial Review

    This new edition of the acclaimed bestseller is lavishly illustrated to convey, in pictures as in words, Bill Bryson’s exciting, informative journey into the world of science.

    In A Short History of Nearly Everything, beloved author Bill Bryson confronts his greatest challenge yet: to understand—and, if possible, answer—the oldest, biggest questions we have posed about the universe and ourselves. Taking as his territory everything from the Big Bang to the rise of civilization, Bryson seeks to understand how we got from there being nothing at all to there being us. The result is a sometimes profound, sometimes funny, and always supremely clear and entertaining adventure in the realms of human knowledge, as only Bill Bryson can render it.

    Now, in this handsome new edition, Bill Bryson’s words are supplemented by full-color artwork that explains in visual terms the concepts and wonder of science, at the same time giving face to the major players in the world of scientific study. Eloquently and entertainingly described, as well as richly illustrated, science has never been more involving or entertaining.


    From the Hardcover edition.
    ... Read more

    Reviews

    5-0 out of 5 stars Perhaps the Best Armchair Scientist Book I've Ever Read, May 28, 2003
    I picked this one up expecting "good". Instead, I got one of the most delightful reading experiences in science that I have ever had. What a wonderful surprise.

    Bryson tries to do what most school textbooks never manage to do, explain the context of science in a way that is relevant to the average person. At the beginning of the book, he recalls an event from his childhood when he looked at a school text and saw a cross-section of our planet. He was transfixed by it, but noticed that the book just dryly presented the facts ("This is the core." "This part is molten rock." "This is the crust.", etc.), but never really explained HOW science came to know this particular set of facts. That, he quite correctly points out, is the most interesting part. And that is story he sets out to tell in this book.

    Bryson obviously spent a great deal of time and effort developing and checking his facts and presentation. He obviously enjoyed every minute of it too, and it shows. Never have I read a book where the author conveyed such joyful awe of what we have learned as a species (with the possible exception of some of Richard Feynman's books).

    My benchmark for this kind of book is usually; How well does it explain modern physics? There are few books out there that manage to explain relativity, quantum mechanics and string theory in a way that doesn't make your eyes glaze over. The Dancing Wu Li Masters by Gary Zukav is the best of the lot in my opinion. While this book did not change my opinion, Bryson's explanations of these mind-bending theories are not only lucid and sensible, they are also full of his telltale tongue-in-cheek side comments and therefore are just plain fun to read. However, Bryson goes way beyond Zukav, focusing not only on physics, but on the full panoply of scientific disciplines. He also focuses more on the discoverers themselves, and the process of discovery.

    One of the things I like about this book is that Bryson again and again makes sure credit is given where credit it due. For many discoveries, he tells us the "official" story, but also tells us the often untold story of the small-time scientist who got the idea first but, for whatever reason, never got credit. This happens a great deal in science, and Bryson appears to be on a quest to set the record straight when he can. The result is not only charming storytelling, it's got a certain justice that just feels good.

    I didn't have huge expectations for this book, but I am delighted to report that it is one of the best of its kind. Hurrah to Bryson for writing it, and hurrah to me for stumbling on it.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Man Said to the Universe, November 13, 2005
    Bryson's "A Short History of Nearly Everything" is beautifully written, very entertaining and highly informative--and now, it is lavishly illustrated as well.

    Bryson is not a scientist, but rather a curious and observant writer who, several years ago, realized that he couldn't tell a quark from a quasar, or a proton from a protein. Bryson set out to cure his ignorance of things scientific, and the result was "A Short History of Nearly Everything," which was originally published in 2003.

    For readers who are new to science and its history, "A Short History of Nearly Everything" contains one remarkable revelation after another. It is amazing how enormous, tiny, complex and just plain weird the universe is. Learning about "everything" is a humbling experience, and I kept thinking of Stephen Crane's blank verse: "A man said to the Universe: 'Sir, I exist!' 'However,' replied the Universe, 'the fact has not created in me a sense of obligation.'"

    Just as engaging as Bryson's story of what we know is the parallel story of how we know it--from the first clever experiments to figure out how much the earth weighs to today's ongoing efforts to describe the origins of the universe itself, it becomes obvious that science is not an answer but a process, a way of learning about a world that always seems to have one more trick up its sleeve.

    Whatever else may be said about the universe, Bryson explains that learning about its mysteries is a very human endeavor. The book is peppered with tales of the odd turns, like Percival Lowell, the astronomer who saw canals on Mars when in fact there are none (and whose initials figured in the naming of "Pl"uto, the ninth planet); the Askesian Society, a learned 19th century body devoted to the study of laughing gas; and the knock-down, drag-out personal battles between scientists whose genius was rivaled only by their lack of civility.

    This is a superb book and a quick read despite its length. The illustrated edition makes the journey all the more enjoyable.

    5-0 out of 5 stars All that stuff we were supposed to have learned, but ..., May 11, 2003
    I am a big fan of Bill Bryson's travelogues. I was therefore surprised when I cam across this, somewhat more weighty, tome. But I am pleased that I picked it up.

    The author says he didn't do very well in science when he was in school because the teachers and texts seemed to be hiding all the good stuff. Now, as an adult, he's gone after the good stuff. And he's the guy to write it so the rest of us can understand. Not only does he write clearly, but he's very good at explaining as much as a normal person can understand (of relativity, for example), while pointing to the stuff that's weird, and setting aside the stuff that you have to be a specialist to understand.

    He also is very good at giving credit to people who thought of things but were ignored until someone else came along and took credit. This has happened all too frequently, and it's good for the record to be set straight.

    If you too were afraid of science, this is a wonderful book. If you already know a lot of this but just like to read enjoyable writing--it's also a wonderful book.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A layman's guide to the history of the world, June 11, 2003
    I've spent the past few days devouring Bill Bryson's latest work: A Short History of Nearly Everything. It's an incredible read and reinforces how amazing the history of the earth really is. Bill's wit and comedic timing that has made all his previous travel books instant classics is absent, but it has been replaced with an enthusiastic and somber tone that is just as interesting to read. I've enjoyed all his previous books, but I like this one just as much, even though it's a bit of a departure.

    Bryson took three years to research the book by conducting interviews and reading lots of history and it comes through in the text. You almost feel like you were in the room with Bill, following prominent scientists around, asking newbie questions. Bryson comes off as genuinely enthralled by the subjects at hand and you learn new things along with him. The narrative reminds me a great deal of James Burke's books and Connections TV series. Bryson not only tells the tales of how things came to be, but he's constantly weaving a link between all the various stories and pulling similar themes out.

    It's a fantastic book and reminds me why I was so enamored by science in school. It also drives the point home many times that we are very, very lucky to be standing here, doing what we do everyday. The chances that the universe came together to enable it are insanely slim for all sorts of reasons as you will quickly find out.

    3-0 out of 5 stars An entertaining read, cautiously recommended, July 13, 2005
    Bill Bryson's "A Short History of Nearly Everything" has a lot of good points. It is above all a very entertaining and engaging read. Bryson writes in an informal, chatty style that at times reminded me of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. His subject is, essentially, life, the universe and (nearly) everything. Bryson aims to explore the history of science in general, summarizing not only what we know, but also how we know it - he sets himself the wonderful goal of trying to explain "how scientists work things out". It's a big task, and had Bryson accomplished it, this would have been an incredible book. As it is, "A Short History of Nearly Everything" is still a worthwhile read, despite its flaws, which I will soon discuss.

    The organization of the book is partly chronological, partly thematic. It is divided into six parts and thirty relatively short chapters. The earlier parts focus on the physical sciences, including astronomy, cosmology, geology, physics and physical chemistry. The latter half of the book deals primarily with the life sciences - biology, ecology, botany, zoology, oceanography, organic chemistry and so on. It's a considerable challenge to organize such a large amount of material dealing with so many distantly-related subjects, and Bryson pulls it off quite well. I can make no criticism of his large-scale organization.

    However, the devil is in the details, and many of the details Bryson chooses to include in his "Short History" have little if anything to do with what he's supposedly writing about. He has a persistent tendency to head off on irrelevant tangents and lose himself in anecdotes about some of the curious characters that have walked the halls of science. Bryson wastes far too much ink relating bizarre factoids picked up in the course of his research, from William Buckland's dining habits to Gideon Mantell's twisted spine. He especially loves recounting the details of feuds and squabbles between scientists - the more intense, underhanded, unreasonable and destructive, the better. In all of this, the material we picked up the book to explore can get somewhat lost. Chapter 10, for instance, is "an important and salutary tale of avarice, deceit, bad science, several needless deaths, and the final determination of the age of the Earth" - in that order of importance.

    Reading "A Short History of Nearly Everything", I did greatly appreciate Bryson's ability to make clear how much scientists don't know and are still working to figure out. However, I was disappointed that despite his promise to explore "how scientists work things out", Bryson often just quotes results and conclusions without further explanation. Sometimes he doesn't even do that - modern physics is largely dismissed as wacky and incomprehensible.

    Even worse, Bryson makes several glaring errors in his discussion of physics (and perhaps also in other areas that I'm not so familiar with), far worse than any I've seen in other popular science books I've read. For example, he suggests particles with "spin" are actually spinning about an axis (which they are not) and presents entanglement as a violation of relativity (which it is not). Bryson also incorrectly claims that the production of black holes within future particle accelerators would destroy the world. In fact, these microscopic black holes would evaporate in a fraction of a nanosecond - something that would have been very nice to learn in "A Short History of Nearly Everything".

    I enjoy reading popular science, and much of what I've read I've found better than Bryson's "A Short History of Nearly Everything". I would especially recommend Brian Greene, Stephen Hawking, Alan Guth and Martin Rees for physics, astronomy and cosmology, and Richard Dawkins and Stephen J. Gould for biology. However, I know of no other work that attempts to cover nearly as many fields as Bryson's "Short History". Even though Bryson's book wasn't able to live up to its initial promise, it was a decent read - one I recommend, though with some reservations.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Not quite everything, but enough..., November 16, 2005
    I was first acquainted with Bill Bryson through his works on the English language and various travelogue types of books. In these books he proved to be an entertaining writer, witty and interesting, with just the right amount of I'm-not-taking-myself-too-seriously attitude to make for genuinely pleasurable reading. Other books of his, 'Notes from a Small Island' and 'The Mother Tongue', are ones I return to again and again. His latest book, one of the longer ones (I was surprised, as most Bryson books rarely exceed 300 pages, and this one weighs in well past 500), is one likely to join those ranks.

    Of course, a history of everything, even a SHORT history of NEARLY everything, has got to be fairly long. Bryson begins, logically enough, at the beginning, or at least the beginning as best science can determine. Bryson weaves the story of science together with a gentle description of the science involved - he looks not only at the earliest constructs of the universe (such as the background radiation) but also at those who discover the constructs (such as Penzias and Wilson).

    A great example of the way Bryson weaves the history of science into the description of science, in a sense showing the way the world changes as our perceptions of how it exists change, is his description of the formulation, rejection, and final acceptance of the Pangaea theory. He looks at figures such as Wegener (the German meteorologist - 'weatherman', as Bryson describes him) who pushed forward the theory in the face of daunting scientific rejection that the continents did indeed move, and that similarities in flora and fauna, as well as rock formations and other geological and geographical aspects, can be traced back to a unified continent. Bryson with gentle humour discusses the attitudes of scientists, as they shifted not quite as slowly as the continents, towards accepting this theory, making gentle jabs along the way (Einstein even wrote a foreword to a book that was rather scathing toward the idea of plate tectonics - brilliance is no guarantee against being absolutely wrong).

    Bryson traces the development of the universe and the world from the earliest universe to the formation of the planet, to the growing diversity of life forms to development of human beings and human society. Inspired by Natural History (the short history refers more to natural history than anything else), this traces the path to us and possible futures. Bryson juxtaposes the creation of the Principia by Isaac Newton with the extinction of the dodo bird - stating that the word contained divinity and felony in the nature of humanity, the same species that can rise to the heights of understanding in the universe can also, for no apparent reason, cause the extinction of hapless and harmless fellow creatures on earth. Are humans, in Bryson's words, 'inherently bad news for other living things'? He recounts many of the truly staggering follies of species-hunting, particularly in the nineteenth century, calling upon people to take far more care of the planet with which we have been entrusted, either through design or fate.

    Bryson's take on things is innovative and his narrative is interesting, but there is a point to it, just as there is with most of his writing. He writes not merely to entertain, or to inform, but to persuade. Bryson is intrigued by science, having a joy that comes across the page of someone who essentially did not know or understand a lot of the background of science and how it worked in the world until recently, and now wants to share that joy with everyone! He definitely has points to argue - for starters, the need for open-mindedness, even among (perhaps particularly among) those who are supposed to have the open and searching intellects, the scientists themselves. He also wishes others to know more about science, professionals and laypersons, and more about our own origins as a people, both in terms of where we've come from, and how we've come to know about it.

    This is a new version of his already-published text, this time with graphics, paintings, pictures, maps and other things that make the history come alive in new and interesting ways. This is a good revision, adding quite a bit to Bryson's already interesting text. Unique among Bryson's writing in many ways, this is in some ways a travelogue through geology, paleontology, cosmology and evolution. A fun and fascinating read!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Not Dumbed down. Gets you very excited about science., October 31, 2003
    This book is the type of book that would inspire you to become a biologist or a geologist or an astronomer. From this book you are able to see bits and pieces of famous scientists lives and get a feeling by the end that its not all fun and games but at the same time it soooo very worth it to dedicate your life to the pursuit of furthering the knowledge of your fellow human beings and in some small way pushing our species in a positive direction. From reading this book you find out how all the knowledge from hundreds of years ago has become the basis of where we are today. This is conveyed extremely well to the audience. The other thing which is conveyed so very well is the power and destructive force of mother nature here on earth and in space. Parts of this book read better than seeing an end of the world movie because the author is so good at getting a vivid picture drawn in the reader's minds eye.

    This book is so good and so comprehensive I can see myself reading this over again.

    Thank you Bill Bryson for your hard, extensive research! Quite remarkable.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Overview of Science and Scientists, August 13, 2003
    I think this book should replace the texts used in most high school science courses. If it did, I think we would see more kids pursuing science careers, because Bryson does a wonderful job of conveying the joy and excitement of doing science as well as a sense of awe that our world evolved as it did.

    Sure, given a book of this nature, there is plenty people could quibble with. Bryson's writing style is amusing and entertaining, though it doesn't come close to matching "A walk in the woods," (but then again, not much could...). Readers expecting the humor quotient of that book or Bryson's other travel books will be disappointed, however. And although one can tell Bryson struggled valiantly to make the chapter on quantum physics understandable, he didn't succeed (at least for me). For example, he relates a study showing that one atomic particle can affect another atomic particle 70 miles away, simultaneously. I still don't understand how that can happen and wish somebody could explain it to me.

    But those are minor complaints compared to what this book is able to accomplish, which is to provide a broad, yet admirably detailed, education in the physical and biological sciences. I am overjoyed to see this book on the bestseller lists, because if enough people read it, we can no longer be accused of being the scientific ignoramuses that we largely have been. I think it could also work to serve more effectively as an environmental wake-up call than the wide array of existing polemical books that are read only by the already convinced.

    Lastly, perhaps the aspect of the book I admired and enjoyed the most is the way Bryson provides the human side of science through his frequent character sketches of the quirks and foibles of the many scientists whose work is reviewed. I may soon forget, once again, all three of Newton's laws of motion, but I will never--for the rest of my life--forget that he once inserted a rod behind his eyeball and stirred it around "just to see what would happen." This book is worth reading just for the anecdotes, and along the way you will learn an incredible amount of science.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Armchair Traveler Develops Genius of Rocket-Scientist!, November 15, 2003
    When I picked up "A Short History of Nearly Everything" I had abosolutely no idea what to expect. As a travel junkie who can rarely afford to travel myself, I grab Bill Bryson's books whenever I can with great enthusiasm. His keen wit in presenting characters and scenes is unparalleled, and in this new romp (in which he narrates a journey through not just a county but through the scientific world as well as space and time) he is in top form.

    Bryson's everyman prose makes the mysteries of scientific thought interesting, understandable, and funny. The book begins with the building blocks of the universe and works its way slowly down through the smaller mysteries such as life on earth and why human beings even exist. However, the science of the work does not become overwhelming to the lay-reader and Bryson maintains an admirable sense of wonder and joy throughout.

    And, of course, the text is delightfully littered with anecdotes about the men and women who have dedicated themselves to discovering and defining these mysteries. Both living and dead, these men and women take on life that leaps off the pages, making them feel like old friends. And from the comfort of your favorite reading spot, you feel like you could be sharing a pint with them and Bill in a cozy pub somewhere.

    I recommend this book to anyone who has a inclination for pondering the large questions of life but who is equally interested in keeping his or her sense of humor and sanity in tact.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Science Explained For The Rest Of Us, July 14, 2003
    Bill Bryson has done something exceedingly useful: written a book that explains the major tenants of science in a form that non-scientists can understand and enjoy.

    This is a smart and intelligent book that retains Bryson's charming and witty voice in the telling of the broad range of natural history. It is interesting that this author can retain his appeal across mediums -- he is known as a witty travel writer and has also produced fun and intelligent books on the history of the English language. Now, he goes far afield and explains natural philosophy, as the sciences were once called, in a way that textbooks have avoided ever since there have been science textbooks.

    Bryson tackles space, the origins of the universe, geology, the formation of the Earth, physics, the beginning and development of life, cells, DNA and humans in this natural world round-up. Each chapter follows a similar format. A fascinating tidbit is introduced to draw the reader in, the history of understanding in each field is discussed and the evolution of thinking to the current state of understanding explained. This format is enlivened by the personalities past and present (including science's crackpots, iconoclasts and geniuses).

    Besides the Bryson wit, what makes this a phenomenally good read is the author's ability to relate scientific principles with examples that laymen can understand and that clarify often confusing scientific knowledge and theories.

    For example, I was floored to learn that our solar system is so vast, that it literally could not be drawn to scale on any size in a meaningful way. Neptune is five times farther from Jupiter than Jupiter is from Earth. On a scale drawing with Earth the size of a pea, Jupiter would be a thousand feet away and Pluto a mile and a half (and the size of a bacterium). Now that illustrates space in our immediate environs better than I've every seen it described before.

    What is the largest concentration of magma waiting to blow? (and possibly blow us out of existence) It's under Yellowstone National Park. Ten percent of the weight of a six year old pillow is dead skin flakes, mites and mite dung. Most physicists think Einstein wasted the second half of his life pursuing a unified theory instead of thinking about other useful things. Every human cell contains DNA strands that are six feet long if laid end to end. The core of the Earth is as hot as the surface of the sun - and solid because of the immense pressure compacting that mass. Only three percent of the Earth's water is fresh, and almost all of this is in ice sheets - only a scanty .03% of the total is available to us a fresh, flowing water.

    Interesting tidbits like the above abound. So do dire stories about past volcanic activity, changes in magnetism, changes in atmospheric conditions and asteroid impacts that have periodically befell Earth and helped move species development forward (usually by wiping out most species existing at the time). Could they/ would they happen in the future? Sure. However, the scale of time over which the next cataclysmic event may occur could be so far removed that we will have evolved into something else (or have found a way to blow up or steer threatening asteroids out of our way).

    This book fascinates and amuses. If science textbooks had a bit of this ability to relate and engage during my time in school, I'd bet today there would be a lot more scientists working to figure out the remaining mysteries of our world. ... Read more


    11. Atlas of the World: Seventeenth Edition
    Hardcover
    list price: $80.00 -- our price: $37.15
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 0199751285
    Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
    Sales Rank: 475
    Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars
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    Editorial Review

    Amazon.com ReviewProduct Description
    The only world atlas updated annually, guaranteeing that users will find the most current geographic information, Oxford's Atlas of the World is the most authoritative atlas on the market. Full of crisp, clear cartography of urban areas and virtually uninhabited landscapes around the globe, the Atlas is filled with maps of cities and regions at carefully selected scales that give a striking view of the Earth's surface. Opening with world statistics and a colorful, instructive 48-page Introduction to World Geography--beautifully illustrated with tables and graphs--this acclaimed resource provides details on numerous topics of geographic significance, such as climate change, biodiversity, energy, and landforms.

    The popular satellite image section has been refreshed with stunning new images of Denver (clearly showing how the natural barrier of the Rockies affects population spread), Kabul (which shows in vivid detail how that city is encircled by mountains), and Port-au-Prince, Haiti. All census information and country descriptions have been updated to reflect the latest developments around the world. Completely new to this edition is a section titled "Will the World Run Out of Food?," which discusses world food distribution and how this has changed rapidly in recent years, based on data collected by Rothamsted Research, the oldest research station in the world. A new section on world shipping piracy explores the rise in piracy, especially off the coast of Somalia, and the effects on the World Food Programme. Maps throughout have been updated to include such new features as the World Financial Center (the world's third tallest building) in Shanghai, new international airports in India and South Africa, administrative changes in Iceland, Bulgaria, and elsewhere, new national parks in Denmark, and many more.

    Providing the finest global coverage available, the Atlas of the World is not only the best-selling volume of its size and price, but also the benchmark by which all other atlases are measured.

    Take a Look Inside The Atlas of the World
    Seattle 100: Portrait of a City
    Topography of Asia [PDF]: Asia is the largest continent in size and houses over half the Earth’s population. The Great Wall of China in Asia is the only man-made super structure that can be seen from space.
    Seattle 100: Portrait of a City
    Will the World Run Out of Food? [PDF]: Did you know that the world’s population is predicted to increase to 9 billion by 2050? Learn how the current rate of population growth is affecting our global food supply.
    Seattle 100: Portrait of a City
    Satellite Image of Haiti [PDF]: This image was shot shortly after the catastrophic earthquake in January 2010. Port-au-Prince, the capitol and chief port of Haiti, is located just miles from the quake’s epicenter.

    Seattle 100: Portrait of a City
    Satellite Image of Afghanistan [PDF]: Kabul, the capital city of Afghanistan, now has a population of over 3 million. It is southeast of the runways of the international airport, which can be seen in this image.
    Seattle 100: Portrait of a City
    Map of Shanghai and Singapore [PDF]: Take a closer look at Shanghai, China. The Shanghai World Financial Center is at the heart of the city, towering 101 floors above ground level.

    1 ... Read more

    Reviews

    5-0 out of 5 stars Atlas of the World, November 27, 2010
    The absolute best book we have ever had. Tops in quality and detail. Cannot say enough about how happy we are that we bought this Atlas from Amazon.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Best Atalas ever published., December 1, 2010
    I bought this book expecting it to be a good purchase. I was pleasantly surprised to find this atlas is amazing. This book is popular amongst friends who come over because it is just full of beautiful images, and amazing tidbits of information. Anyone who has an appreciation of amazing, accurate maps of the highest quality, then look no further, this book will not let you down.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Amazing Photography Brings the World to Life, December 26, 2010
    This is our third world atlas. I have one that was a gift from my parents in 1966; my husband gave me one in 1998, and I purchased this one as a gift for my husband. It was fun to put the three side by side and see how many new countries had been formed and how many countries had new names, etc. But for information and overall beauty, this 17th edition of Oxford's Atlas of the World wins hands down.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Good Atlas but could be better, December 2, 2010
    Basically this is a nice altas, with excellent satellite images, useful world geography parts, and qualified maps.
    The flaw is there are many errors on city size in China, which reduced the credit of this altas. They should check google earth to make calibration. The city maps is of little value and the dividing of the maps by region can be better. ... Read more


    12. Rand McNally 2011 Road Atlas: United States, Canada, and Mexico (Rand Mcnally Road Atlas: United States, Canada, Mexico)
    Paperback
    list price: $13.95 -- our price: $8.37
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 0528355287
    Publisher: Rand McNally & Company
    Sales Rank: 655
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    Reviews

    5-0 out of 5 stars A "Consistently Good" Atlas, May 15, 2010
    Rand McNally's 2011 Road Atlas is the highest quality paperback road atlas currently available.

    The atlas's maps strike a perfect balance between detail and legibility; even though the maps are loaded with information, they are still, somehow, incredibly readable.

    The atlas is also made by a company that values customer feedback. Last November, I wrote to Rand McNally asking how they decide which cities to "bold" in their atlases. (I had noticed in earlier editions that a number of cities with as few as 5,000 residents were labeled in large bold type, while other, much larger ones weren't given bold labels. It seemed inconsistent.) I suggested that the company, instead, use bold type to indicate a city's population.

    Rand McNally appears to have acted on my suggestions. In this new edition, the boldness and size of a city's label now corresponds to its population. In addition, all cities with populations greater than 5,000 now appear in bold type; this wasn't the case before.

    Other changes I've noticed in the 2011 edition:
    - Many more cities have been added to the atlas's state maps, especially in and around major metropolitan areas.
    - Unincorporated cities and towns are now given different city "dots" than incorporated communities.
    - Interstate exit numbers are now in green boxes. (This makes them easier to read and harder to confuse with mileage numbers.)
    - The inset boxes around major cities are now gray instead of yellow.
    - Elevation values for major cities and bodies of water have been removed from the maps.
    - Construction areas have been updated.

    There are also five new "Best of the Road" routes, if you're into that sort of thing.

    All in all, the 2011 edition is a great update to an already great atlas.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Good atlas, June 5, 2010
    Good atlas, worth the cost. Even though they come out with a new one every year, it is definitely needed for all of the road changes and updates. Recommend this product.

    4-0 out of 5 stars I wish I'd gotten the large print one, June 26, 2010
    Much cheaper and actually more useful than a GPS (sometimes you want to scope out where you might go, not just get directions), a road atlas is a staple in our cars. Updating annually gives access to proposed construction locations (although it was off in places despite being only a month old). We took this on a recent trip through PA and New England. Alas, the maps a re a bit hard to make out once you get off the main drags in the more populated areas, like Southern Maine. I missed my old DeLorme Maine Atlas. I think the solution for when you are traveling about in the more congested states is to buy the large print one.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Gigantic!, October 18, 2010
    In this day of GPS, I still like to have a map as a back up and also enjoy looking at the map while my husband is driving. I've purchased the Rand McNally road atlas in the past but was way overdue for an update. My only complaint is the size. Where in your car do you store such a behemoth and still keep it handy?

    5-0 out of 5 stars Road Atlas, August 8, 2010
    I bought this atlas as a gift for my father who has a knack for viewing maps. The details provided in this atlas is really amazing. My father can visualize almost all of these countries roadways sitting in yet another totally distant country.
    This serves far better than a GPS provided you are used to following maps by yourselves than being guided by a voice. It is real fun.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Fine atlas, updated., July 31, 2010
    We've used the Rand-McNally Road Atlas for years; our mid-90s edition was out of date. The 2011 edition is exactly what we need - covers all territory where we drive with good detail, yet is a manageable size for in the car. This provides great coverage, with much lower cost and complexity than a GPS unit. ... Read more


    13. A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail
    by Bill Bryson
    Mass Market Paperback
    list price: $7.99 -- our price: $7.99
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 0307279464
    Publisher: Anchor
    Sales Rank: 538
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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    Editorial Review

    The Appalachian Trail trail stretches from Georgia to Maine and covers some of the most breathtaking terrain in America–majestic mountains, silent forests, sparking lakes. If you’re going to take a hike, it’s probably the place to go. And Bill Bryson is surely the most entertaing guide you’ll find. He introduces us to the history and ecology of the trail and to some of the other hardy (or just foolhardy) folks he meets along the way–and a couple of bears. Already a classic, A Walk in the Woods will make you long for the great outdoors (or at least a comfortable chair to sit and read in). ... Read more

    Reviews

    5-0 out of 5 stars More than a hiking narative., May 10, 2000
    This is much more than a travelogue of two neophyte hikers on the Appalachian Trail, and readers looking for a blow by blow account of the travails of Bill Bryson and his companion, Stephen Katz, will be disappointed. Hiking provides only a backdrop to a heartfelt discourse on the social condition of America, local history, the environment, and the complexities of friendship. The pretext for the book was Bryson's return to the United States after twenty years in Britain, and his interest in "rediscovering America" after such a lengthy absence.

    The vast majority of the reviews of the book cite its hilarity (one reviewer called it "choke-on-your-coffee funny"), and indeed there are very many funny parts. However, the deeper I got into the book, I detected a strong shift in the author's sentiment from satire to deep introspection. His observations became more acute, more angry, and more individualized as his long hike constantly brings to his mind the fragile environment of the Trail, the insanity of bureacrats entrusted with the AT, and his own personal limitations.

    This was my first encounter with Bill Bryson, and while I found him entertaining, a beautiful writer, and an astute observer, some readers will be put off my his sharp satiric wit. It is certain that he will offend somebody. A friend of mine, who also read the book, was very much upset by the fact that Bryson and Katz didn't hike all 2,200 miles of the Trail, and that somehow their "failure" should prevent the telling of the story. This is utter nonsense and just throws more manure onto the present dung heap that has accumulated from the participants involved in peak bagging, wilderness races, and experiential therapy groups.

    Bryson and Katz at least tried to hike the entire AT, and they returned from their hike as changed men who learned many lessons about the wilderness and friendship. Towards the end of the book, the two men are talking about the hike. When Katz remarks that "we did it," Bryson reminds him that they didn't even see Mount Katahdin, much less climb it. Katz says, "Another mountain. How many do you need to see, Bryson?" I agree with Katz (and ultimately Bryson). They hiked the Appalachian Trail.

    5-0 out of 5 stars I strongly recommend it to anyone, February 7, 2000
    A Walk in the Woods is a travel memoir on the Appalachian Trail, one of America's greatest hiking routes. The author, Bill Bryson lived in England for 20 years and came back to the United States with the urge to go on a long hike. Stephen Katz, an old college friend, and a former alcoholic accompanies him. Both men are out of shape, and beginners at hiking, so it is a wonder how they can endure such hardships along the trail. They had to carry a pack that contained their tents, food, water, clothes and other items. Katz and other interesting characters provide the book with much comic relief to keep the reader involved. At some points in the book I was laughing out loud. Along the journey they meet many people including Mary Ellen a slow-minded woman who follows them around, and Beulah, a fat woman with a very angry husband. The commentary about the long, rich history of the Appalachian Trail brings insight on the wilderness that we hardly know about. It also speaks for the preservation of the forestry and animals that we take for granted in the city. After reading this book I have more appreciation of the wilderness, and an interest in going hiking myself. One downside of the book was that some points in the book the author expanded the book with knowledge that made it a little less interesting, then the actual story. But I liked how Bryson went back and forth to discuss his journey and the history, creating a balance of interests. This book will offer something to any type of reader because it is funny, and contains a lot of historical information, and is interesting enough to keep the reader to keep going. But for someone who wishes to go on a hike, this is not a how to guide. It is also not an amazing adventure of two men and the great outdoors. What this book has to offer is an entertaining journey of two regular guys, who decide to go on a hike along one of the most difficult trails in the United States. I am highly recommending this book, and it will truly leave the reader entertained.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Interesting history of the trail, second half less compelling than the first., September 23, 2006
    As both a Bill Bryson fan and a long distance hiker myself (although I have not done the Appalachian Trail yet) I really expected to love A Walk in the Woods. I was a little bit concerned, since when my partner handed it to me (he finished the book first) he said, "I don't think you're going to like it..." But still, I was really looking forward to reading it.

    For the first half of the book, I also really did enjoy the book. I wasn't bothered by the fact that they were unprepared or out of shape. Nobody is really prepared for their first long distance hiking trip until they are a few weeks into the trail. I remember my own experience of staggering along under my overly ambitious pack. I also enjoyed that he talked honestly about the experience of hiking, and I liked the way that he interspersed history and facts about the trail with the travel writing.

    The second half, however, got much less interesting. The day trips and the abortive Maine portion were actually kind of disheartening. The whole feel of the prose got sort of mean spirited. He didn't have to walk the whole trail to feel like he walked it, but I honestly would have preferred to see him expand the first half and leave the second half out completely.

    There is still quite a bit of good stuff in here, particularly if you are interested in the southern part of the trail. There is also quite a bit of truth about the culture of the long distance hikers. I laughed quite a bit while I read. I guess that the complaints boiled down to not quite being as good as it could have been.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Laugh out loud funny!, January 8, 2000
    Very seldom do I read anything that makes me laugh out loud. To do so more than once or twice in a single book almost never happens. With "Walk," I became almost hysterical over certain chapters - in an airport, no less, while waiting for my flight. People must have thought I was nuts! Anyway, this is the story of two middle-aged and out of shape men (Bryson and his buddy, Katz) who decide to hike the Appalachian Trail. The AT is the third longest nature trail in the US, stretching from Georgia to Maine, along some incredibly rough terrain. Not all of their journey is rustic, however, as they often take a break to spend a night in the closest little town off the trail to have a shower, sleep in a "real" bed, and wash the grime from their clothes. It is during one such trip to the laundromat that Katz has a rather interesting encounter with 300 lb. Beaulah, her extra-large-sized panties, and a washing machine. Aside from the comical adventures, Bryson also has a great deal to say about the AT itself, and in particular, how much the National Parks Service needs a giant kick in the pants to help preserve these Trails.

    5-0 out of 5 stars It's not only funny, it's educational., March 19, 2007
    Bill Bryson has a great sense of humor and an excellent, precise way of expressing it. My husband had just had heart surgery when I started reading this book. I was concerned that my LOL while reading A Walk in the Woods might disturb him as I sat next to his hospital bed. However, on the other hand, I thought it might expedite the healing process. He told me later he heard me laughing and it made him feel better. So, there you go, Bill, your book is good for heart patients!!

    Bill and buddy, Stephen Katz, the only person to take Bill up on the offer to join him as he hiked the Appalachian Trail in 1997?, began their odyssey on March 9 (this just happened to be the day I began reading the book...2007). The laughs came early and continued throughout, though parts of the book are more history and information than comedy. I took notes in these sections.

    Both Bryson and Katz were out of shape when they hit the AT, but Bill noticed his body slimming and becoming more svelte right away (one thing I looked for, but never found, was word on how the adventure affected Katz's weight and figure. I would've been interested in knowing that). The men hiked the AT in two segments and, incidentally, did not hike the entire trail, which they decided was okay. I agree. At any rate, they hiked a few weeks in pre- and early spring and again in the heat of August. While they were off the trail, Bryson took day trips to walk parts of the AT between where he and Katz left off and the Hundred Mile Wilderness in Maine they planned to hike in August. This book not only tells the tale of two men attempting to walk the 2,200 miles of the AT, but is full of history lessons, geological and geographical information, stories of lost/doomed hikers, and social intercourse (i.e., the more than rude, self-centered, and boorish hikers the boys meet on their next to last day on the trail the first time).

    This book is a good companion so read it slowly, digest it thoroughly, and you will enjoy it immensely.

    Carolyn Rowe Hill

    5-0 out of 5 stars Nature writing and a travelogue with "oomph"!, August 18, 2007
    Perhaps it was a fit of angst dealing with his own personal version of a mid-life crisis that led Bill Bryson to tackle the challenge of hiking the 2,100 mile Appalachian Trail! It was certainly a solid understanding of his own personality and clear recognition of his own physical and mental limitations that prompted him to invite his friend, Stephen Katz, an overweight and out of shape recovering alcoholic with an inordinate fondness for snack foods and cream soda to accompany him on this daunting challenge. The demands of the AT ultimately proved too much for Bryson and Katz who sensibly (and with an almost relieved sense of philosophical acceptance) decided to abandon the notion of a complete through hike. But the resulting story, drawn from Bryson's daily journal of the summer's efforts, is an overwhelming success and pure joy in the reading.

    "A Walk in the Woods" is an extraordinary, entertaining travelogue on both the AT - the Appalachian Trail - and the people and places of small town America that dot the trail's path along the eastern seaboard from Georgia to Maine. At the same time, it is much, much more. Bryson is scathing in his political commentary and almost enraged criticism of the ongoing state of mismanagement and the sadly misguided policies of both the Parks and Forest Services of the US government. "A Walk in the Woods" is also a deeply moving introspective examination on the nature of friendship, family, perseverance, joy and despondency. As he and Katz amble along rock strewn trails dappled with sunlight broken by the leafy forest canopy, Bryson frequently, effortlessly and almost without our even noticing the change, wanders metaphorically off the main trail and onto a side path of lightweight but nonetheless informative and educational sidebars of nature writing on an amazingly wide variety of topics. Glaciation, bears, bugs, ecology, continental drift, hypothermia, hypoxia and weather are only a few examples of the topics which he elucidates for the lay reader with his clear, concise prose.

    Then there is the humour! It is perhaps an understatement to say that, in this regard, Bryson has a rare gift. He has treated his readers to laughs originating in every imaginable corner of the vast world of humour - wry sardonic wit; biting satire; slapstick; self effacement; sarcasm and insults; fear; and even extended comedy sketches worthy of stage or television. His description of the astonishingly stupid and entirely self-absorbed fellow hiker Mary Ellen who has the annoying habit of constantly clearing her sinuses with a grating honk is definitely laugh-out-loud material.

    Pure entertainment and enjoyment from first page to last. I believe Bill Bryson would consider it a compliment if I suggested that "A Walk in the Woods" is the first book I've ever read with a smile on my face during every single moment of the reading. Highly recommended - even if you've never spent a single night under nylon in the woods.

    Paul Weiss

    4-0 out of 5 stars Funny and informative., February 27, 2002
    Bill Bryson's travel writing has influenced my personal life in no small way. His 1989 book "The Lost Continent" (which I first discovered in 1996 and have since revisited many times), documenting his (mis)adventures driving cross-country in the United States, played a significant role in my own decision to hit the road and see this fascinating nation for myself. (Coincidentally, I am currently writing this review from Iowa, Bryson's birthplace and frequent target of his signature dry wit.) Having spent the greater part of his adult life abroad in England, Bryson returned to the United States with his family several years ago, settling in a small town in New Hampshire, to rediscover the land he'd left as a youth. He has since written two books about his time spent in America, one of them being "A Walk in the Woods", Bryson's account of his experiences hiking the renowned Appalachian Trail.

    Considered by many to be the Holy Grail of hiking trails in the United States, the Appalachian Trail runs approximately 2,100 miles long, stretching from Georgia to Maine and passing through 12 additional states along the way. Every year, hundreds of people attempt to walk the entire length of the trail from beginning to end, with only a small portion of them successfully completing the endeavor. Known as "thru-hikers", the majority of these aspiring individuals underestimate the sheer scope and arduousness of the undertaking. Most drop out well before the halfway point. Those who persevere are treated to extreme temperatures hot and cold, gruesomely harsh terrains, unrelenting winds and rainfall, a wide variety of wild predators, and some of the most awesomely scenic sights of natural beauty on earth.

    Bryson begins his own trek along the Appalachian Trail admittedly inexperienced and somewhat out-of-shape. Accompanied by an oafish college buddy named Katz with whom he shares a decidedly odd love-hate relationship (it often feels like Katz's sole purpose in being there is so that Bryson will always have someone to make fun of), the two set off with full backpacks on what promises to be a journey filled with humor, wit, insight and adventure. Along the way they encounter other hikers (some highly eccentric in disposition), endure the hardships of bad weather, visit neighboring small towns, and cover more ground on foot in a scant few weeks than most of us will in an entire year. Eventually they end their first phase of the hike in northern Virginia and part separate ways. Bryson continues to investigate key points along the trail in short spurts over the next several months, embarking on daytrips and brief overnighters in West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New England. In the last section of the book Bryson and Katz reunite to tackle the final hundred-mile stretch of the trail in Maine. Although Bryson never actually completes the entire length of the trail in true "thru-hike" fashion, he explores enough of it from enough different places to ensure that his description of the Appalachian Trial overall is valid and well-informed.

    If you have read any of Bryson's previous books, you will be familiar with his penchant for digressing from the main line of action to muse on various tidbits of history, factoids and trivia. In one paragraph he'll be admiring the splendid view from a mountaintop; in the next he's providing an overview of the trail's origins. Some of this information, especially when it pertains to the ecological aspects of the Appalachian Trail, is genuinely fascinating. Bryson is also well-known for his wry and witty observations about virtually everything he encounters: from the exasperating science of shopping for hiking gear, to the shoddy upkeep of certain portions of the trail. Though not as laugh-out-loud funny as some of his other works, there are plenty of moments scattered throughout the book that will inspire a hearty chuckle. He also does an admirable job of conveying the beauty and grandeur, not to mention the less attractive elements, of the Appalachian Trail. Although you never obtain a true sense of actually "being there" from reading his descriptive passages, Bryson nevertheless provides an adequate depiction of what it must feel like to embark on this epic journey.

    There is something agreeably comforting in reading a book by Bryson, who comes across as a friendly, educated, next-door-neighbor type of guy who would make a fine traveling companion. His informal, chatty writing style is ideally suited for a warm, lazy summer's afternoon sitting on the front porch with a glass of lemonade by your side. It's a pleasant, light reading experience that provides equal doses of laughter and insight. Although "A Walk in the Woods" is not particularly romantic, it is affectionate and sentimental in the right places, and may very well inspire me to someday throw on a pair of hiking boots and head off for a little 2,100-mile walk of my own.

    5-0 out of 5 stars You will LOVE this book!, November 18, 1999
    Fair Warning -- do not read this book while commuting - you will be laughing so uncontrolably you will risk being committed by your fellow commuters. I have loaned this book to 3 friends - in each case, the spouse was so intrigued by the constant belly laughs that they also read the book before returning it. One friend bought copies for Christmas presents. The appeal is that universal. I dare say even those with no interest in backpacking or the Appalachian Trail would find the book highly entertaining.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Laughing out loud while I'm riding the train, April 7, 2007
    I'm about 2/3 of the way through this amazing book and have to let everyone know that you need to read this one. I have been reading it during my train commute, grinning from ear to ear, and cackling out loud every few minutes.

    The book alternates between a hilarous telling of a lengthy hike along the Appalachian Trail by the author and his out-of-shape buddy Stephen, and a well-researched description of the AT's construction, history, & ecology. The stories of their hiking-gear research, the author's deathly fear of bears, and their run-ins with neurotic fellow hiker Mary Ellen had me in tears.

    This book ties with "Catch 22" as the funniest I've ever read, just ahead of Palahniuk's "Lullaby".

    3-0 out of 5 stars Half good read, half disappointment, August 30, 2004
    If you are looking for a book that describes the experience of hiking the ENTIRE Applachian Trail (a.k.a. "the AT," per hiking lingo)in a year's time, then do NOT read this book.

    Yep, you read that sentence correctly. This is NOT that kind of book.

    Knowing this one important fact in advance (as the book jacket copy does not disclose this), then you won't be disappointed as I was when I hit the point, midway through the book, when Bryson and Katz, a friend from high school days who decides to accompany Bryson on the AT, make the decision to stop at Front Royal, Virginia, part ways for a few months, and then resume the hike later that same year in Maine's Hundred Miles Wilderness. (They don't even bother to hike the entire segment from the start of the AT to Front Royal, getting into a cab at one point to take them further along the trail.)

    The first half of the book is incredibly funny and educational as Bryson prepares for the hike and begins to learn about the history of the AT. He also begins to face the truth of what it means to make this type of journey. Hiking the entire AT in a year is, after all, not your typical Sunday afternoon hike or 3-day backpacking holiday in the Sierra Mountain range. The piece on the dangers of bears is especially fine writing, and places the issue of bears in the larger context of the wilderness lands that surround us, even in large urban centers. Bryson skillfully weaves current events, history, and anecdotes about the AT.

    However, the quality of the book suffers once Bryson and Katz finish the first part of their great adventure. Bryson's writing almost mirrors the disappointment he must have felt, knowing he wasn't going to finish the trail but still had to complete the writing of this book. The writing in the second half is sketchy and almost haphazard, seemingly written in bits and pieces that lack the loving flow, attention to detail, and story-telling that mark the first half of the book.

    This is my first book by Bryson, and I may pick up another of his books, although I'll probably borrow it from the library rather than buy it. "A Walk in the Woods" is probably best saved for readers who already know Bryson's work from other books and are already-won fans of his writing style. ... Read more


    14. The Most Scenic Drives in America: 120 Spectacular Road Trips
    by Robert J. Dolezal, Jerry Bates, Barbara Dolezal
    Hardcover
    list price: $30.00 -- our price: $19.80
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 0471730335
    Publisher: Reader's Digest
    Sales Rank: 597
    Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars
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    Editorial Review

    A one-of-a-kind trip planner, a superb on-the-road reference, and an album of 400 photographs. From the Atlantic to the Pacific, here are 120 outstanding drives that show the magnificence of America-each with detailed, easy-to-follow maps. ... Read more

    Reviews

    4-0 out of 5 stars Inspiring for Family Trips, December 30, 2003
    This is a fun book for vacationing families, college student roadtrippers, RV campers, and motorcycle travelers.

    As an Illinois resident, I was pleased to see 18 stops the authors considered scenic. Having traveled through many of them, I can attest their taste is good. Seeing the majestic Shawnee National Forest is like seeing what Adam and Even might have enjoyed had Eden been located in southern Illinois.

    With all of the 120 drives, there are roughly 10-20 stops, each with a descriptive paragraph. Decorating each drive are photos of special sites or animals. Maps with insets demonstrate the context of the drive inside each state.

    Not every great site has a stop. Illinois' gorgeous Starved Rock Park is missing, but only because so much of America is beautiful. To include every place of beauty would cause this 400 page book to be 40,000 pages.

    While it makes a nice coffee table book, there is plenty to read. It can help inspire deeper research for your next family adventure.

    I fully recommend "The Most Scenic Drives in America (Most Scenic Drives in America): 120 Spectacular Road Trips" by Readers Digest. It is as enjoyable to read as it is to look at.

    Anthony Trendl
    editor, HungarianBookstore.com

    5-0 out of 5 stars The Most Scenic Drives in America, December 28, 1999
    This book has numerous beautiful color photographs as well as colored area maps where the scenic drives are located. Each stopping point has a number and a description of what you will find. I like the fact that you get the length of the trip, best time to go, and nearby attractions. If one wants to go to a specific state, you now know where the best views are.

    I like to do photography and this book will be helpful when planning my trips. The book also is a reminder of the beautiful drives within a day's drive of my home.

    The only thing I don't like about the book is the size. It is a coffee table book and won't fit on my bookshelf without sticking way out. Well worth the money.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The siren song of the open road, April 10, 2006
    It's that time of the year when I begin planning the annual vacation. Though my preference would be to hop a plane to the UK, of which I never become tired, my wife thinks I'm in a rut in that regard, so we're likely as not to spend 7-10 days traveling U.S. roads by flivver. THE MOST SCENIC DRIVES IN AMERICA is a reminder that there's a lot to see without the need for a passport and, for one as afflicted with insatiable wanderlust as myself, the book represents temptations akin to those in a Godiva shop for a chocoholic.

    Unlike your standard coffee table book, THE MOST SCENIC DRIVES IN AMERICA is enormously useful. Its 120 scenic drives are divided among four regions: The Western States (24 drives), The Rocky Mountain States (29 drives), The Central States (26 drives), and The Eastern States (41 drives). The volume begins with one-page maps of each region with each drive numbered and drawn-in with a red squiggle in case you want to see their relative positions and combine more than one in a single road adventure.

    Each numbered drive is sequentially described, 2-6 pages each, and supplemented with gorgeous color photographs - 400 total. Each description includes a route map on which the cities and towns and road numbers are shown and the main attractions along the way pinpointed. Each attraction is summarized. Finally, each drive has its own "Trip Tips": length in miles, when to go, "words to the wise", nearby attractions, and where to go for further information. As an example:

    The Eastern States, Drive #96, Pennsylvania Dutch Country, 2 pages, 2 photos. Listed attractions: Intercourse (a town, tiger, with a quilt museum), Ephrata Cloister (another town, built by the Seventh-Day Baptists), Landis Valley Museum (focusing on the PA Dutch with 80,000 items), Lancaster (a city with an historic Central Market), Marietta (another town, with a preserved silk mill), Hans Herr House (a home dating from 1719), and Strasberg (another town, with the Railroad Museum of PA). Length - 80 miles. Popular year-round. Bring a cooler to store food purchased at roadside stands, which are mostly closed on Sunday. Chocolate World at Hershey is nearby. Address and phone number for the PA Dutch Visitors Bureau.

    So, I might ask the little woman: "Honey, how about a spin along Cape Cod's Sandy Shores (#91), or through the Wisconsin North Woods (#58), or along Devil's Tower Loop (#35), or on the Loneliest Road in America (#16)?"

    But, just between you and me, several days in London and a leisurely exploration of the Devon and Cornwall coasts is my E-ride.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Good tips, astounding photos, clear maps, great book !, June 23, 1998
    Me and my wife were able to follow about a dozen out of the 120 sugested road trips, in very diferent locations of USA (Florida, New England and California/Nevada/Arizona). This book prove to be a great guide for us because it shows really wonderful places, the way to get there and good tips. It was our one month best friend; even now I love to review its pictures, showing the beautiful places we did see and the ones we couldn't. The quality of the photographs is simply outstanding. We considered ourselves very lucky to find this book in the beginning of our trip. The best of all the three we had.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Flying not an option? This book will drive your senses., November 1, 1998
    As a young newly wed college student, sometimes flying is not an affordable option. With the help of The Most Senic Drives in America, driving trips are more enjoyable. My husband and I occasionally will plan a vacation and drive to our destination. This book gives helpful tips on the most senic routes, great places to visit and a lists the best times of year to visit each location. The book is divided into regions for easy referencing. The beautiful pictures are appealing and spark a sence of bliss in the reader. The comprehensive route maps are esy to follow and mark the nearby attractions. If you are planning a trip, forget about the airlines, read this book, and drive your senses to The Most Senic Drives in America.

    4-0 out of 5 stars A great planning tool, October 28, 2004
    This was one of our best planning tools on our year long trip around the USA. Once we were on the road, we actually used it less. If you are planning shorter trips -- this is a great tool. If you are thinking of a looonnnggg road trip - this helps gets your ideas flowing - then also see "Live Your Road Trip Dream" to help with all the planning details. Get moving from the dreaming to the doing in no time at all!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Our Best Friend on Trips, May 11, 2005
    This is such a great book, I have to take the time to write!

    Despite its size, my husband and I have been bringing our 1997 edition of this book with us on road trips since we bought it. It has guided us along about twenty pleasant drives in the West, steering us to the terrific things along the road that we would have just driven by if we hadn't known, and it has saved us from wasting time on the not-so-great sites, or things that we didn't care to see. As we travel between each special place, I read the descriptions out loud so we are ready for the great adventure that is sure to come. I am now buying a copy for my parents and I am really surprised at the great price!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Most Scenic Drives in America, September 9, 2005
    A most for those who are traveling throughout the USA. This book provides excellent maps, descriptions of routes, surrounding areas, and beautiful photos. For each suggested scenic trip it lists the miles, time of year to go, some suggestions, nearby attractions, visitor centers and additional addresses and phone numbers of resources in the area.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A portal to the possibilities, December 6, 1997
    A sage once told me "A journey should be meticulously planned, yet organically executed". Truer advice I've never been given; serendipity SHOULD rule your travels. HOWEVER, you gotta start somewhere, and this wonderful book is the portal to possibilities. It'll bring out the wanderlust in anyone. I'm giving it to my parents for Christmas. My only quibble is that the thumbnail sketches are too, well, sketchy. I suppose further depth would have produced a book of unworkable size. P.S.: The Smithsonian puts out some awesome travel guides. Check 'em out.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book!, October 14, 2006
    I stumbled upon the 1997 edition of this book at a garage sale for $2. It makes me want to just quit my job and spend the rest of my life trying to check them off, one by one. The photos are so beautiful. The one thing I do wish they had though, was a trip completely mapped out for you based on how long it takes to drive and see everything. In other words, I wish it would say "First day, drive to this place, see this, this, and this. Stay overnight in this town. Second day, drive to this place..." etc. Because even though it tells you how far the drive is, it doesn't really say how long it would take you to visit the various places (obviously everyone is different, but a guideline would be really helpful) ... Read more


    15. More Diners, Drive-ins and Dives: A Drop-Top Culinary Cruise Through America's Finest and Funkiest Joints
    by Guy Fieri, Ann Volkwein
    Paperback
    list price: $19.99 -- our price: $11.49
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 0061894567
    Publisher: William Morrow Cookbooks
    Sales Rank: 567
    Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars
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    Editorial Review

    Join New York Times bestselling author and Food Network star Guy Fieri for a second helping of the best diners, drive-ins, and dives across America!

    Guy Fieri strikes again with More Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, giving you a road map to road food that's earned its culinary citizenship in "Flavortown." Join Guy on a cross-country noshing parade, mapping out the best places you've never heard of—more than fifty establishments off the beaten path. Compete in a (no hands) apple-pie-eating contest at Bobo Drive-In in Topeka, Kansas, dip your taste buds in Sweet Spicy Love sauce at Uncle Lou's Fried Chicken in Memphis, Tennessee, and get a load of the killer four-cheese mac-and-cheese at Gorilla Barbeque in Pacifica, California. Filled with Guy's hilarious voice and rampant enthusiasm for these hidden culinary gems, More Diners, Drive-ins and Dives is the perfect book for lovers of the American food scene and fans of Triple D.

    ... Read more

    Reviews

    4-0 out of 5 stars IMHO, April 15, 2010
    I love 'Triple D' which is why I ordered both books. I was hoping to see a laundry list of places Guy has gone so I can back track him. I was not too happy to see a selected review on a few places, and really not happy to see food etc, in B&W. I still watch every show with drooling anticipation, but I wouldn't order either of these books if you anticipate the slightest imitation of the show...

    4-0 out of 5 stars More Triple D, November 6, 2009
    Do you enjoy Guy Fieri's show on the Food Channel, "Diners, Drive0Ins, and Dives"? Did you get a kick out of his first book exploring the three Ds? If yes to either, you should enjoy this volume, too. If you want a lot of recipes, then this book isn't likely to engage you.

    However, I do enjoy the author's televised Odyssey through diners, drive-ins, and dives throughout the country. Here, you get a brief sense of the uniqueness of a variety of joints--as well as an illustrative menu item or two from each. It all makes for a nice diversion. And there are always a few recipes that are a lot of fun to contemplate and to make.

    As before, Fieri divides the country into regions--in this instance, Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, South, Midwest, and West and Southwest. For each region, he selects a handful of places (between 10 to 18 per region). One of the charms, in the author's own words is (Page 3): I get to shine a light on a real group of people. . . . I get to bring out the kid and adventurer in all of us. . . . We're reminding people to get back to the basics: real food from real people."

    Let's take a look at a couple representative D,D,or Ds.

    Northeast/Mid-Atlantic: Kelly O's Diner in Pittsburgh. Fieri's visit boosted business quite a bit, according to the owner. The example from the menu: Haluski. Green cabbage, butter, julienned Spanish onions, garlic salt, sliced bacon, egg noodles, black pepper, and grated Romano cheese. Cook cabbage leaves in water; melt butter and add onions and half of the garlic salt stir in cabbage until onions and cabbage begin to caramelize; stir in other ingredients (except cheese) then plate and add cheese to the top of the dish. Down home cooking here!

    West and Southwest: Pat's Barbecue in Salt Lake City. Nice, brief description of the place's operation. The dish? Smoked barbecue meatloaf. Ingredients: ground beef, eggs, seasoned bread crumbs, milk, barbecue sauce, dry onion soup mix, and grilled onions. Key to the recipe is smoking the meatloaf mix for 4 hours! Now that's a whole lot different than the way I make my meatloaf.

    Once more, if you like the show, you'll probably enjoy the book. If not and if you are interested ikn a more traditional cookbook, this might not do the trick.

    5-0 out of 5 stars www.jennifervido.com, November 8, 2009
    Guy Fieri, best-known as the bleach-blonde spiky hair chef on The Food Network channel, is at it again in his latest release MORE DINERS, DRIVE-INS AND DIVES. Winner of the second season of The Next Food Network Star, he took the network by storm with his vivacious personality and good-natured charm. What started out as a test drive has turned into stardom and fame for this fun-lovin' California guy.

    As host of the three hit shows, Guy's Big Bite, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, and Ultimate Recipe Showdown, Guy serves up the right balance of know-how and charm to keep his fans coming back for more. His first book, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives made its way to the New York Times Bestseller List. In his follow-up release, he takes his readers on another tour around the country serving up some of the best dishes discovered on his culinary cruise.

    With a foreword written by none other than the legendary chef Emeril Lagasse, MORE DINERS, DRIVE-INS AND DIVES gives the reader a backstage pass to the making of this popular television show.It also includes a Q&A section with Guy himself plus anecdotal recaps from some of the most memorable episodes. The most interesting part of the introduction is the section called "What It Takes to Pull Off the Show." Each member of the crew shares thoughts about Guy, his pranks, and other interesting facts and tidbits.

    The many restaurants Guy has frequented are divided into four main sections of the country. With each establishment, he delivers some background information complete with photographs to make the reader feel right at home. The mouth-watering recipes make even the most finicky eater want to step out of the box and try something new. From Cheddar Cheese Burgers with Jezebel Sauce to Bar-B-Q Fried Chicken, Guy Fieri once again makes mealtime the best part of the day.


    4-0 out of 5 stars 3 of the best D's, November 5, 2009
    What more could a food lover want than diners, drive-ins and dives with a top down to drive. Guy Fieri has a sequel to his first book and it is enjoyable and definitely covers this all-American food.
    The book covers how the program 'Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives' is made and who the crew is that creates this popular show. There are many black and white pictures of the people and places and Guy's top 5 pranks, how to eat in 'the hunch'. (The position to avoid grease and spills from covering your shirt.)
    The Northeast and Mid Atlantic, the South, Midwest, West and Southwest are covered, giving spots to get some of the great 3 D food. I do wish there were more states covered, only 22 are represented here, some states having several food places covered.
    Some history for each location is given, their address, telephone number and web site - if available. There are one or two recipes from each place. Guy also includes many side spots `Guy Aside' giving his personal thoughts.
    An index covers recipes by breakfast, burgers and sandwiches, condiments and sauces, starters, dinner mains, sides and sweets. There is also a list of all the restaurants that have been featured on the show, ones in red are in this book, those with an asterisk were in the first book and then the others that have been on the show; addresses, telephone numbers and web sites are given - a great resource.
    If you enjoy the show, or enjoy diners and drive-in, dive food- this is a book for you.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Another great DDD book, January 31, 2010
    I love Guy Fieri and this book is great. I have made a couple of the recipes and they were pretty easy and yummy. The writing style in this book is just like watching the show. I would recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of DDD and Guy Fieri.

    3-0 out of 5 stars more diners drive-ins and dives, January 10, 2010
    I really enjoyed Guy Fieri's firstr book and was excited to get his second book, which unfortunately I found somewhat of a let down. I feel this srcond book is to wordy and places seem to established. There are so many places on his TV program that have much more appeal.

    4-0 out of 5 stars More Diners, Drive-ins and Dives pbk, February 6, 2010
    Fun book! Along with Fieri's TV show, it makes you want to jump in your car and start exploring these fun places to eat! Recommend it for anyone who likes driving trips and eating.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Diner, Drive-ins, and Dives # 2, February 1, 2010
    I'm a current watcher of triple D, and enjoy the shows very much. I'm using Guy's books as my personal "BUCKET LIST" places to be try when I travel. And as long as you have a good GPS system it makes the food treasure hunt most enjoyable. I plan on trying some of the recipies, in my spare time at home. My only wish is that in Guy's next book (and I'm sure there will be one) he'll give us a small map for location, and hours that the D,D,and D's are open. some of them have irregular schedules, but all in all I think there worth the effort. Best of luck Guy. You have the job I know I'd enjoy the best

    5-0 out of 5 stars Off The Hook!, January 30, 2010
    Have two of Guy's books, been to some of the places he reviewed and they were all he said they were. This guy (no pun intended)is for real! What a personality! Love his shows, makes me want to eat even after I have eaten!

    5-0 out of 5 stars great book, January 27, 2010
    I love reading about all the diners, drive-ins and dives even though I've seen mostly all the shows. This book has even more to offer. THere are stories from the crew and stories about guy, as well as owners telling you what happened at the show was aired. ... Read more


    16. 1,000 Places to See Before You Die, updated ed. (2010) (1,000 Before You Die)
    by Patricia Schultz
    Paperback
    list price: $19.95 -- our price: $11.97
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 0761161023
    Publisher: Workman Publishing Company
    Sales Rank: 619
    Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars
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    Editorial Review

    Introducing the Eighth Wonder of travel books, the New York Times bestseller that's been hailed by CBS-TV as one of the best books of the year and praised by Newsweek as  the "book that tells you what's beautiful, what's inspiring, what's fun and what's just unforgettable everywhere on earth."

    Packed with recommendations of the world's best places to visit, on and off the beaten path, 1,000 Places To See Before You Die is a joyous, passionate gift for travelers, an around-the-world, continent-by-continent listing of beaches, museums, monuments, islands, inns, restaurants, mountains, and more. There's Botswana's Okavango Delta, the covered souks of Aleppo, the Tuscan hills surrounding San Gimignano, Canyon de Chelly, the Hassler hotel in Rome, Ipanema Beach, the backwaters of Kerala, Oaxaca's Saturday market, the Buddhas of Borobudur, Ballybunion golf club-all the places guaranteed to give you the shivers.

    The prose is gorgeous, seizing on exactly what makes each entry worthy of inclusion. And, following the romance, the nuts and bolts: addresses, phone numbers, websites, costs, and best times to visit—all updated for 2010 with the most current information.
    ... Read more

    Reviews

    4-0 out of 5 stars Not bad ... for a to-do list, December 24, 2003
    I was prepared to really dislike this book, if for no other reason than because it takes one of my passions -- travel -- and reduces it to a kind of grocery list. Travel, I have always thought, is about experiencing a different culture and its history and not about checking the most important cathedral or museum in a city off a to-do list.

    But I must admit this small-but-thick book intrigued me. Most of the criticisms of something like this will be of specific choices the author makes: How could she overlook X? Or what was she thinking when she included Y? And while I admit that I scratched my head at a few curious omissions and chuckled at some of the choices that did make the cut, I must say that overall, the selection is very good. Every traveler or would-be traveler will find selections of interest on its pages, whether they are looking for luxury or natural beauty or history or art or culinary masterpieces or thought-provoking journeys.

    But I think the real strength of 1,000 Places to See Before You Die is author Patricia Schultz' lively writing. Ms. Schultz has a real gift for description, and her love and enthusiasm for the places she writes about at once manage to excite the reader about the place being described and to give him or her a small taste of it before even diverting the eyes from the page.

    All that said, I would be disappointed to scan someone else's copy of this book and see places that have been already visited crossed off in red ink or to discover that future trips were being planned to maximize the number of the 1,000 places that can be visited in a short time. I don't think the book should be used like that, but rather as a means to provoke thought and conversation regarding the best of what the world has to offer us by giving us the views held by one person (albeit someone who is extremely well traveled and with unusual writing talent). We'll all come up with our own lists in our heads, lists that may or may not overlap with the contents of this book. And that's something worth being passionate about.

    2-0 out of 5 stars A great book for hotel lovers, January 19, 2004
    This is my first review of a book for Amazon. I just had to write this to tell the truth about this book.

    For a person who loves to travel, I just had to purchase this book to see what places I need to go to and review places I have been to.

    According to the author, I missed a lot of places because I was too busy to vistit all the recommended 5 star hotels. For an example, Torres Del Paine, Chile is one of the most beautiful nature wonder of the world with its glaciers, lakes, peaks, and majestic views. Instead of writing this, the author decide to descibe in detail about the over-priced hotel in the park.

    Author consistently writes about:

    1. Hotel, hotel, and more hotels. Not just any hotel, but the most expensive accomodation in town.
    2. Hotels, of course. I have not counted, but I can guess about 250 places to see are hotels.

    If you like hotels, this is a book for you, otherwise look elsewhere.

    2-0 out of 5 stars A great choice for the traveling grandpa, January 1, 2004
    If grandma and grandpa are getting bored in retirement, this is a fantastic book to buy them. If *you* are looking to explore the world, consider a Lonely Planet or guide better geared at the under-65 crowd.

    Certainly people would quibble with my list of 1000 places, but here is why I believe this book is not appropriate for anyone who doesn't get an AARP discount:

    - Euro-american focus. The book is almost insulting in its lack of coverage of Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. For instance, there is nothing listed in Delhi except a restaurant vs. nine sites in over-touristed Morocco. There is virtually nothing in places not covered by travel guides, such as Central Asia and almost anywhere in Africa that doesn't have pyramids or characters from "The Lion King." Iraq is the cradle of civilization, but apparently UFOs in Roswell and Disney theme parks are more important. At least Schultz acknowledges the bias, saying that places like Kolkata and Madagascar are "arduous choices."

    - Cultural insensitivity. Schultz's use of the most anglicized names possible and long-replaced colonial monikers (like Calcutta and Laotian for Kolkata and Lao) makes her occasionally sound like Mr. Burns asking for "the Prussian consulate in Siam."

    - Intended for traveler-writers with unlimited budgets. Despite claiming with a straight face that she's "never a travel snob," Schultz typically choses the most expensive way to see a place. I am a travel snob, but sometimes Schultz's recommendations of tours are too outrageous even for me. For instance, Ayuthaya, Thailand, is easily reached by a comfortable air-con first class bus from Bangkok for 95 cents, but Schultz recommends a $390 tour.

    - Questionable rationales. Schultz gives the Toronto Four Seasons an entry because, well, celebrities have stayed there. Never mind that the Toronto Four Seasons is potentially the most shabby, cramped, and run-down property in the chain. I have certainly never seen it on a list of Four Seasons's top properties, and the food was nothing spectacular. Entries like that make me wonder if Schultz is holding back the truly great establishments.

    1-0 out of 5 stars 1001 Hotels and Overpriced Experiences, January 6, 2007
    Having traveled to more than 40 countries, I thought I had experienced some of the most amazing sceneries, sights and cultures in the world.

    Apparently, according to the author of this book, most of what's worth seeing on this globe is between four walls in various overpriced hotels. How wrong I have been! How pitiable this poor traveler who finds riches in conversations, delights in traditional foods and is enchanted by places off the beaten track.

    This book is not meant for real travelers or people interested in experiencing something new or unique. It is aimed at the rich, luxury adoring crowd, usually seen getting out of air conditioned limo's next to the pyramids, snapping a few pictures and rushing to the next place they have to see before they depart this mortal coil.

    The book is filled with endless gushing passages relating to well known tourist traps and overpriced hotels in easily accessible places. It seems that if a place is to feature in the book, it should have a 5 star hotel and a major airport not more than a few miles away, and preferably a restaurant with the basics like caviar and Dom P�rignon in the vicinity.

    I have come to the conclusion that in compiling this book, the author wrote to various tourist agencies worldwide and compiled their responses into this shallow tome.

    A sample entry reads:

    "What: site, hotel. Where: [...] north of New York City. Tel:[...] Cost: from $1200 - $2500 per night, year round, includes all meals and activities for 2."

    Woohoo! A place I have to see before I die from only $2500 a night! And the meals are included!? I'll just quickly sell my house and car and I'll be right there!

    Admittedly, if you've never heard of the internet, rarely spoke to people, have never read a book and didn't own a TV, some of the places featured would be new to you. Unfortunately you'd have to sell most of the possessions in your cave to be able to afford a few nights at a place you *have* to "see before you die."

    Save your money for a decent travel guide such as Lonely Planet or The Rough Guide and ignore this bloated advertisement for the beaten path like the plague.

    5-0 out of 5 stars DO YOU ENJOY TRAVELING? GET THIS ONE., September 27, 2003
    I have owned books like this before. Some have just boring predictable suggestions for places to visit (Paris, Rome, Sydney etc,) while others have a bland guidebook type of narrative.

    Schultz's compilation is a tightly researched work with fascinating trivia about the places he recommends, and there are plenty of places you wouldn't have thought about, and its got pictures to speak for themselves!

    Makes for quite a handy gift item too, which is why I bought it initially, but liked it so much I decided to keep it for myself. Delectable!

    3-0 out of 5 stars 1000 places to stay before you're bankrupt, December 21, 2003
    This is a great idea for a book, and it is fun. I'm being a bit tough to give it only 3 stars, but after a while it got to me.

    There are probably about 50 to 100 places in this book that one ought to visit if at all possible. There are also some places that ought to be there, like the Vale of Kashmir, but one would die while visiting them. There are also about 8,765 very expensive hotels to exercise a Platinum card on. She's a traveller who likes her servants elegant and plentiful. I'm sure they're fine hotels, I've known a few of them myself. Still, they're hotels darn it! Not one is worth ten minutes in the Louvre, or a walk in any fine forest.

    Some of the places she mentions I knew 20 years ago when they were fresh, now they are well worn and there are different and better alternatives. She also is rather stuck on the northeast.

    That said, it is a fun bathroom read for residents and guests. As a travel book it's three stars, as a certain kind of recreation it's 3-4 starts. If you want to travel with it, use the examples as hints, but explore as much around the places she mentions as in them.

    5-0 out of 5 stars 1000 x 1000 cheers - This is The Best, April 28, 2004
    How glad I was to have overlooked a scathing criticism or two re the author's would-be emphasis on expensive hotels only - were we reading the same book???? What planet do these people live on?? The beauty of this book is that it covers every category or travel destination imagineable - from events to museums, bars to national parks, annual festivals to ancient temples. Are there hotels? Let's hope so, because the author's choice in every other category is so on the dime, you can be sure she has singled out all of the world's best hotels too. Are they expensive? Most are, yes - but where else do you intend to go for your once-in-a-lifetime trip to celebrate a honeymoon, a promotion, an anniversary or your mother's 80th birthday??? Still too expensive? Then go and sit in the lobby, wander the impeccable grounds, take in the white-gloved service with a smile and get a glimpse of the good life and make believe if only for a few hours....then explore the hundreds of other options that will fit a leaner budget and keep you mighty busy and awefully happy for years.
    The book blew me away - and I thought I had been around the block.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Kudos - A Job Remarkably Done, February 13, 2004
    I have been professionally traveling for 35 years and for personal reasons twice that. Yes this 900-page travel bible features a lot of (historical, must-see and unusual) hotels, but there are so very many more museums (the world's biggest and best and the small gems too), festivals (a betrothal festival in in Morocco's Atlas Mountains and the Spoleto Festivals in both Spoleto, Italy and Charleston USA), food experiences (the Maine Lobster Festival and George Blanc in France) and sites of natural beauty (the Grand Tetons, Patagonia, Cappodocia in Turkey, Italy's Dolomite Mountains, Connemara in Ireland) - oh and I could go on and on....as Patricia Schultz does. You can never please everyone all the time, but no one has ever come as close as this intrepid author, and with a lovely and easy to read prose that should awaken the adventurer and explorer in all of us. I gave 20 of these books away as Christmas gifts and now have 20 best friends who are still talking about the best gift they ever received.

    1-0 out of 5 stars Places to see if you're a millionaire or fast food conniseur, December 29, 2003
    Maybe I'm being a little critical, but I was extremely disappointed with the authors selections. She chose many high-end expensive restaurants rather than great historical sites. Charlie Trotter's in Chicago? Why not spend $1000 less to see a ballgame at beautiful Wrigley Field. You'll be able to spend more time there, plus catch a baseball game while you're at it. Also, I was upset to see that a rib restaurant in Tennessee surpassed Rainier National Park or the Olympic Penninsula as a sight to see. What about the salt mines in Krakow or the Alambra in Rhonda? For the author's sake, I suppose you do become wary after the first 500 places. Eventually you want to go to $5000 a night spa in Jackson, Wyoming (yes it is one of the mentioned places to see) and dictate a travel guide from there.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Jet-Setter's Life List, March 20, 2007
    Board your private jet (or, if you're on a budget, hop into your Mercedes) and see the world! Is money no object? $300 a night for a room, or $150 for dinner, your idea of travel? Then this book is for you!

    The author wrote hotel reviews for Conde Nast, and obviously drew on those reviews in writing this book. Not just any hotels, mind you, but the swankiest possible. Does living in luxury from one city and resort to another qualify you as a world traveler? You make the call. She claims that no visit to London is complete without teatime at the Ritz; funny, I spent about seven months there (it's my favorite city in the world) without going anywhere near the Ritz, and I didn't miss it at all!

    So why do I give it three stars? For all her jetsetting, Schultz does manage to slip in a good number of scenic and historic destinations that the normal person would do well to visit. And it makes a good daydreaming book. If I did make a million a year, I'm sure I'd love her restaurants and hotels--and I can always dream, can't I? ... Read more


    17. Between a Rock and a Hard Place
    by Aron Ralston
    Paperback (2005-08-30)
    list price: $15.00 -- our price: $10.20
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 074349282X
    Publisher: Atria
    Sales Rank: 689
    Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars
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    Editorial Review

    One of the most extraordinary survival stories ever told -- Aron Ralston's searing account of his six days trapped in one of the most remote spots in America, and how one inspired act of bravery brought him home.

    It started out as a simple hike in the Utah canyonlands on a warm Saturday afternoon. For Aron Ralston, a twenty-seven-year-old mountaineer and outdoorsman, a walk into the remote Blue John Canyon was a chance to get a break from a winter of solo climbing Colorado's highest and toughest peaks. He'd earned this weekend vacation, and though he met two charming women along the way, by early afternoon he finally found himself in his element: alone, with just the beauty of the natural world all around him.

    It was 2:41 P.M. Eight miles from his truck, in a deep and narrow slot canyon, Aron was climbing down off a wedged boulder when the rock suddenly, and terrifyingly, came loose. Before he could get out of the way, the falling stone pinned his right hand and wrist against the canyon wall.

    And so began six days of hell for Aron Ralston. With scant water and little food, no jacket for the painfully cold nights, and the terrible knowledge that he'd told no one where he was headed, he found himself facing a lingering death -- trapped by an 800-pound boulder 100 feet down in the bottom of a canyon. As he eliminated his escape options one by one through the days, Aron faced the full horror of his predicament: By the time any possible search and rescue effort would begin, he'd most probably have died of dehydration, if a flash flood didn't drown him before that.

    What does one do in the face of almost certain death? Using the video camera from his pack, Aron began recording his grateful good-byes to his family and friends all over the country, thinking back over a life filled with adventure, and documenting a last will and testament with the hope that someone would find it. (For their part, his family and friends had instigated a major search for Aron, the amazing details of which are also documented here for the first time.) The knowledge of their love kept Aron Ralston alive, until a divine inspiration on Thursday morning solved the riddle of the boulder. Aron then committed the most extreme act imaginable to save himself.

    Between a Rock and a Hard Place -- a brilliantly written, funny, honest, inspiring, and downright astonishing report from the line where death meets life -- will surely take its place in the annals of classic adventure stories. ... Read more

    Reviews

    5-0 out of 5 stars Compelling, riveting tale of survival and human strength
    I agree with the last reviewer. The fact that Aron Ralston used poor judgment, i.e. hiking alone and not telling anyone where he was, only makes his story more compelling. Hasn't everyone made a huge mistake that leads to a painful, regretful plight?
    Calling the media sensationalistic,in this instance, is just plain silly--amputing one's arm in order to save one's life IS a sensational, highly unusual event. I don't think the media or Aron is making it anything more than what it was. The charge that Aron is self-promoting is just as ridiculous. After you read the book, you will see that Ralston is a humble person with great integrity and strength. He is simply telling his own, true, unbelievable story. Bottomline, this book is incredibly well-written, moving and not to be missed.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Must-read literature
    Aron's story is intelligent, sincere, warm and at many times, funny. As amazing as the story of his ordeal is, what is nearly as amazing is that something this well-written was created by the person it involved, not a ghost writer. It is nothing short of fine literature, not to mention an obviously compelling story.

    Aron inspires us all. He shows us that a motivated person can save himself, and that the force of life can beat unbelievable odds against the force of death. ... Read more


    18. 1,000 Places to See Before You Die Page-A-Day Calendar 2011
    by Patricia Schultz
    Calendar
    list price: $12.99 -- our price: $11.69
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 0761157778
    Publisher: Workman Publishing Company
    Sales Rank: 949
    Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars
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    Editorial Review

    See the world, one day at a time. Adapted from the roaring #1 New York Times bestseller, 1,000 Places to See Before You Die celebrates the discovery and exuberance of travel with hundreds of thrilling destinations in full color. Tour the lush canopy of the Costa Rican rain forest. Trek to the terraced rice paddies of Yunnan, China. Closer to home, explore the ancient pueblos of Mesa Verde, Colorado. Plus Arctic adventures, island paradises, majestic medieval castles, otherworldly caves and caverns, travelers' lists—most gorgeous coral reefs, best North American Shakespeare festivals—Traveler in the Know tips, and quotes: "A traveler without observation is a bird without wings" (Saadi).
    ... Read more

    Reviews

    5-0 out of 5 stars great photos, January 19, 2009
    this is my second year of buying this calendar. I keep it at work, right by my chair, and look at the beautiful, colorful photos (and read the interesting tidbits about the place pictured). An added bonus -- you get to choose to receive a second page-a-day calendar free by e-mail, just enter the special code found inside this calendar.
    Highly recommended.

    5-0 out of 5 stars So much fun!, December 27, 2008
    This is the 2nd year I've bought this for my husband. Even my 5 year old gets so excited to see each page and the fun and exotic places we could possibly travel to.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Beautiful!, January 31, 2010
    Amazing, vibrant, colorful photographs of places you will find yourself wanting to visit. I couldn't bring myself to throw out my 2009 1,000 Places calendar because I can't see throwing out those gorgeous pictures. I am determined to come up with an art project for them. I would have given this five stars if it had the miniature month-before and month-after feature that most standard calendars have.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Travel Each Morning, February 4, 2010
    I had one of these calendars last year at work. It has been a great way to start the work day by taking a few seconds to change the page and see if it was somewhere that I had already traveled to or some beautiful new place that I may never arrive to and enjoy other than the photo. Have shared with my co-workers from time to time. The weekly quiz is fun to polish geography and history skills. Would love to travel and this is my Walter Mitty.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Pictures Plus Quizzes, Quotes, Trivia, January 2, 2010
    1000 Places to See Before You Die Page-A-Day Calendar features 313 pages full color photographs of amazing destinations. In addition to pictures, it also furnishes delightful quizzes, quotes, and trivia.

    For example: a nightscape picture of Gateway Arch in St. Louis adorns Saturday 2 January & Sunday 3 January, 2010 page (weekend is combined on one page). Above it, this multiple-choice question is provided:

    Soaring 630 feet above the Mississippi River, the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri, is the masterful work of which well known architect?
    a) Alvar Aalto b) Santiago Calatrava c) I.M. Pei d) Eero Saarinen

    It's a great fun to start a day realizing that our world is full of beautiful places. Makes me want to pack my bag and go there.



    By the way, this answer to above question is provided on its back page:

    d, Eero Saarinen. The arch was unveiled in 1965 and commemorates the 1803 Louisiana Purchase of vast Midwestern lands from France.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Each Day A Treat!, January 12, 2009
    I am really enjoying this calendar. Each day brings a new color photograph of yet another place to add to my list of places to visit. And I'm learning too!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Can't imagine starting the year without it!!!, November 18, 2010
    Waking up each day to a glorious picture of one of the thousands of wonderful places to visit in this world has been my delight for the past 4 years. I could hardly wait to get my hands on the 2011 version of my favorite daily calendar so I would be all set to start my "arm-chair travel" adventures on January 1. I am ready to discover new places to visit and to ponder lovely memories of places around the world I have been lucky enough to visit in the past. This calendar is a must have for any travel buff.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Great fun, and great ideas!, March 1, 2010
    I enjoy seeing what beautiful photo or trivia - and a travel idea - await me every day. Even those who are not particularly taken with the concept behind the book or some of the locations the authors put in it should appreciate the calendar's daily selections.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Best Calendar, June 15, 2009
    I have received this calenader for the last three years and each year is excellent. The places that they show are so interesting and different and I have vacations plans set up until I am 90. It has quizzes that are fun to try to figure out once a week. So it is an over all fun calendar.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Amazing product!, October 13, 2009
    This is amazing calendar, in last 3 years i buy this product every year. Every day view one good place on Earth. ... Read more


    19. Atlas of Remote Islands
    by Judith Schalansky
    Hardcover
    list price: $28.00 -- our price: $18.48
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 014311820X
    Publisher: Penguin (Non-Classics)
    Sales Rank: 451
    Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars
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    Editorial Review

    A rare and beautifully illustrated journey to fifty faraway worlds.

    There are still places on earth that are unknown. Visually stunning and uniquely designed, this wondrous book captures fifty islands that are far away in every sense-from the mainland, from people, from airports, and from holiday brochures. Author Judith Schalansky used historic events and scientific reports as a springboard for each island, providing information on its distance from the mainland, whether its inhabited, its features, and the stories that have shaped its lore. With stunning full-color maps and an air of mysterious adventure, Atlas of Remote Island is perfect for the traveler or romantic in all of us.
    ... Read more

    Reviews

    5-0 out of 5 stars Far from the madding crowd, you find the best gift book in years..., October 5, 2010
    That impossible-to-please friend, that cranky relative, that coffee table begging for something more interesting than last Sunday's New York Times Magazine --- worry about them no more.

    Here is your holiday gift, your birthday present, your living room's conversation-igniter.

    And no worries that "Atlas of Remote Islands (Fifty Islands I Have Never Set Foot on and Never Will)" will be showing up on legions of gift lists. [To buy "Atlas of Remote Islands" from Amazon, click here.] Though published by Penguin, the biggest recognition the book has received to date is the German Book Office's October Book of the Month. The author, Judith Schalansky, is a German designer and novelist whose last book was "Fraktur Mon Amour, a study of the Nazis' favorite typeface.

    Schalansky got interested in maps and atlases for the most personal of reasons. She was born in East Berlin; when she was 10, East and West Germany merged, "and the country I was born in disappeared from the map." With that, she lost interest in political maps and became fascinated with the basic building blocks of Earth's land masses : physical topography.

    Fascinating stuff.

    You doubt me?

    Consider: Schalansky sees a finger traveling across a map as "an erotic gesture."

    Consider: Schalansky disdains any island you can easily get to. The more remote the destination, the more enthusiastic she is for it. Like Peter I Island in the Antarctic --- until the late 1990s, fewer people had visited it than had set foot on the moon.

    Consider: Schalansky believes "the most terrible events have the greatest potential to tell a story" --- and "islands make the perfect setting for them." Thus, the line at the start of the book: "Paradise is an island. So is hell."

    The result? Fifty islands. The world's loneliest places, in lovely two-page spreads, with geographical information and curious histories on the left, and, on the right, a map of the hapless land mass set on a deceptively peaceful blue background.

    Start in the Far North, at Lonely Island, where the average annual temperature is -16 degrees. In the Indian Ocean, on Diego Garcia, is a secretive British military base with a golf course where 500 families once lived. A hundred twenty million crabs begin life on Christmas Island; millions of penguins inhabit Macquarie Island. France tested its hydrogen bomb on Fangataufa, after which no one was allowed to set foot on it for six years. On Pukapuka, there is no word for "virgin." The Banabas hang their dead from their huts until the flesh disappears; they store the bones under their houses.

    And, to give you a sense of Schalansky's lovely, ironic style as a writer:

    St. Kilda, United Kingdom
    There are sixteen cottages, three houses and one church in the only village on St. Kilda. The island's future is written in its graveyard. Its children are all born in good health, but most stop feeding during their fourth, fifth or sixth night. On the seventh day, their palates tighten and their throats constrict, so it becomes impossible to get them to swallow anything. Their muscles twitch and their jaws hang loose. Their eyes grow staring and they yawn a great deal; their mouth stretch in mocking grimaces. Between the seventh and ninth day, two-thirds of the newborn babies die, boys outnumbering girls. Some die sooner, some later: one dies on the fourth day, another not till the twenty-first.

    Amsterdam Island, France
    Everyone who stays on Amsterdam for longer than a year is examined by a medical officer from the south of France to check that he is coping with the long period of restriction of movement and the confined, purely masculine environment. No woman has visited longer than two days. At night, the men gather in the small video room in Great Skua to watch one of the porn films from their personal collection. Each man sits in a row on his own. The loudspeakers emit grunts and groans, and the air is heavy with the musky scent of the bull seals.

    Are these stories true? The author is cagey:

    That's why the question whether these stories are `true' is misleading. Every detail stems from factual sources...however I was the discoverer of the sources, researching them through ancient and rare books, and I have transformed the texts and appropriated them as sailors appropriate the lands they discover.

    Transformed? Well, why not --- it's not like you're booking a ticket to visit any of these places. Just the opposite. Reading in your favorite chair, sipping a cuppa, you can conclude there's no place like home.

    5-0 out of 5 stars a physical book that takes you away, October 26, 2010
    As a book lover you can become forlorn with the constant barrage of why physical books and the brick-and-mortar bookstore are obsolete in these days of digital book hype and the pursuit of immediate gratification in quick, small portions.

    "Atlas of Remote Islands" is the refutation of those perceived realities.

    I serendipitously came across this book as I was meandering through a bookstore...was arrested by the book displayed (tall, thin) and the sub title ("Fifty Island I Have Never Set Foot On and Never Will"). Okay, okay, I'm posting this review on Amazon... but the book is so good that if your local bookstore doesn't have it, then buy it wherever you can!

    Not only is the concept for the book just so cool.... it is also beautifully presented, each entry wonderfully laid out and completely engrossing. This is a book you curl up with in your favorite chair on a dark winter night with a hot cup of something in arms reach.

    This book is exactly why the book - the physically opening the cover and turning the pages book - will never become obsolete.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Almost other-worldly..., December 20, 2010
    This is an amazing, somewhat eerie, but certainly interesting expose about remote islands all over the world. A great aphrodisiac for people like me who are curious and filled with wanderlust...I loved it but wish the maps were more detailed!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Why Kindles can't do everything., December 27, 2010
    This is a book you have to hold in your hand, page through, and imagine about. Then you put it on the shelf. Then you take it down and look at it again. Repeat.

    Really, it's very beautiful, very inspiring, very mysterious.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Beautiful book!, December 26, 2010
    This book is beautiful! The pictures are simple but gorgeous and the writing is so interesting! I love how everything throughout the book is on the same scale, really giving a feel for distances, times, and sizes. Easy purchase for a traveler or map-lover.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Recommended for any general lending library, December 17, 2010
    Atlas of Remote Islands: Fifty Islands I Have Never Set Foot On and Never Will is a fine pick for armchair travel and geography collections alike. It blends history and science to create a story around each island: imagined realities for survival, possible rare animals and inhabitants, and more. The inclusion of color maps throughout enhances this unique presentation, recommended for any general lending library.

    2-0 out of 5 stars It only gets the second star for the gorgeous printing!, December 9, 2010
    I'll try and make this simple: This book is a travesty- of information. Uncited, uninformative, boring. If you, like me, are obsessed with the mysterious far-flung remote locations of the world, and want to LEARN anything about them...this is NOT the book to buy. Each one-page entry consists of a random, vague, and more often than not interesting anecdote which (appears to?) describe something that may or may not have once happened near or in relation to the island. Enough qualifiers there? Accompanying each is an opposite page displaying some of the saddest examples of cartography I've ever encountered. I am also a major map enthusiast, and collect many of all different forms. These maps where incomplete, imprecise, and often failed to even cite locations the few times the corresponding anecdote actually mentioned one.
    The counter to this, and its a small one, is that the book is truly beautiful. Gorgeous binding, printing, fonts, and color selections make for a terrific "object". And why not? They author is a typographer/typsetter, whose first book was on the history of a font! And she designed the whole book, so it makes sense that it would be aesthetically beautiful.
    That said, she has absolutely no business even purporting to have any business whatsoever writing (or simply transcribing folklore) a geographical text. I had the highest expectations for this book and looked forward to it eagerly. Unfortunately it couldn't even hold my attention in the bathroom. ... Read more


    20. Lidia Cooks from the Heart of Italy: A Feast of 175 Regional Recipes
    by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich, Tanya Bastianich Manuali
    Hardcover
    list price: $35.00 -- our price: $23.10
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 0307267512
    Publisher: Knopf
    Sales Rank: 862
    Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    In this inspiring new book, Lidia Bastianich awakens in us a new respect for food and for the people who produce it in the little-known parts of Italy that she explores. All of the recipes reflect the regions from which they spring, and in translating them to our home kitchens, Lidia passes on time-honored techniques and wonderful, uncomplicated recipes for dishes bursting with different regional flavors—the kind of elemental, good family cooking that is particularly appreciated today.

    Penetrating the heart of Italy—starting at the north, working down to the tip, and ending in Sardinia—Lidia unearths a wealth of recipes:

    From Trentino–Alto Adige: Delicious Dumplings with Speck (cured pork); apples accenting soup, pasta, salsa, and salad; local beer used to roast a chicken and to braise beef
    From Lombardy: A world of rice—baked in a frittata, with lentils, with butternut squash, with gorgonzola, and the special treat of Risotto Milan-Style with Marrow and Saffron
    From Valle d’Aosta: Polenta with Black Beans and Kale, and local fontina featured in fondue, in a roasted pepper salad, and embedded in veal chops
    From Liguria: An array of Stuffed Vegetables, a bread salad, and elegant Veal Stuffed with a Mosaic of Vegetables
    From Emilia-Romagna: An olive oil dough for making the traditional, versatile vegetable tart erbazzone, as well as the secrets of making tagliatelle and other pasta doughs, and an irresistible Veal Scaloppine Bolognese
    From Le Marche: Farro with Roasted Pepper Sauce, Lamb Chunks with Olives, and Stuffed Quail in Parchment
    From Umbria: A taste of the sweet Norcino black truffle, and seductive dishes such as Potato-Mushroom Cake with Braised Lentils, Sausages in the Skillet with Grapes, and Chocolate Bread Parfait
    From Abruzzo: Fresh scrippelle (crêpe) ribbons baked with spinach or garnishing a soup, fresh pasta made with a “guitar,” Rabbit with Onions, and Lamb Chops with Olives
    From Molise: Fried Ricotta; homemade cavatelli pasta in a variety of ways; Spaghetti with Calamari, Shrimp, and Scallops; and Braised Octopus
    From Basilicata: Wedding Soup, Fiery Maccheroni, and Farro with Pork Ragù
    From Calabria: Shepherd’s Rigatoni, steamed swordfish, and Almond Biscottini
    From Sardinia: Flatbread Lasagna, two lovely eggplant dishes, and Roast Lobster with Bread Crumb Topping

    This is just a sampling of the many delights Lidia has uncovered. All the recipes she shares with us in this rich feast of a book represent the work of the local people and friends with whom she made intimate contact—the farmers, shepherds, foragers, and artisans who produce local cheeses, meats, olive oils, and wines. And in addition, her daughter, Tanya, takes us on side trips in each of the twelve regions to share her love of the country and its art.
    ... Read more

    Reviews

    5-0 out of 5 stars Another exquisite culinary journey through Italy!, November 28, 2009
    Once again, without any hesitation, this is a most fabulous cookbook/tour guide/education of the Italian experience through the most capable palate of Lidia and her daughter, Tanya. They are becoming synonomous with each other as this is another collaboration of love from this most lovely mother-daughter team of experts.

    For anyone who knows of Lidia, she does not just give you recipes and photos; you can get those from any Italian cookbook, and there nothing wrong in that. But I truly feel that her purpose in all her books and endeavors is to appreciate the Italian history and culture hence her books are three-fold: you are given a geographical and culinary education along with the historical education so that you will be able to appreciate how, why, and where the recipes have been given.

    So in essence, you are educated on the past history and influence that brought certain dishes to that region and how the geographical region lent itself to encourage certain meals and traditions due to the hard work and joy of the people who lived there. It is through the collaboration of Lidia and her lovely daughter Tanya, that we are given not just the standard information and recipes but instead, the food history, the rich culture, and the appreciation for what you are preparing so that you are not just cooking; you are creating the generations of family joy and culinary history that was passed on from parents to children and to which we need to cling to especially today.

    In this particular book, her dedication is to her father, Vittorio. Her childhood and coming of age in this country leaves you with the sincere appreoiation of Lidia's need for acknowledging all who helped to shape and influence her ideology and vocation to this culinary artform. Her parents very humble beginnings started in the former Yugoslavia and have brought her to New York today.

    The book is a heavy, well-printed and sectioned gift of love with its text printed on high-quality paper and with exquisite photographs of the Italian regions that she presents to us through her recipes. There is a particular photograph of a shepherd and his flock that is amazing; it will remind you of a Renaissance painting. I felt that her Acknowledgment page was just as wonderful to read as the rest of the book in that she has many gifted and loved people in her life whom she revolves her life, most notably her family as well as all the talented people whom she met and worked with to produce this latest offering.

    There are 175 recipes selected within the 12 regions of Italy which are:
    Trentino-Alto Adige
    Lombardy
    Valee D'Acosta
    Liguria
    Emilia-Romagna
    Le Marche
    Umbria
    Abruzzo
    Molise
    Basilicata
    Calabria
    Sardinia

    Each section gives you her history with that region whether personal or professional. Each recipe has a short introduction of sorts along with hints and suggestions in both preparing and serving the dishes. Throughout the chapters are wonderful photographs of the meals and people and countryside that the recipes come from; I could not imagine a more enjoyable journey in making this book albeit the hard work and energy it took in legistics, transportation, compilation of information, etc. At the end of each chapter is the wonderful listing of places and sites to see particular to that region that you would not want to miss should you be blessed enough to be able to travel to this glorious country. A small legendary map of sorts is posted at the start of each region with that region being highlighted so as to know from which area you are taking the recipes.

    I particularly appreciated the actual ingredients of the recipes highlighted in red; I can't seem to quite put my finger on why that seemed to make the reading and preparation easier but it did.

    The recipes themselves are full of the foods that are both expected and indigenous to Italy such as pastas, breads, wines, seafood, desserts, etc as well as others that some may not know as part of the Italian culture. There are even vegetarian recipes to choose from if you, or someone within your circle, prefer to stay away from meats, though many of the pastas and soups will fare well with vegetarians also. For those recipes which require standard preparations such as sauces and stocks, there is a short section at the end of the book that one can reference to in a quicker mode. Her sources for many of the ingredients are listed as well are sources for specific items that you might not find within your area. She also broke down the dishes by course so as to help section them for easier reference.

    And last, but certainly not the least, is a listing of what can be found on her accompnaying series that began this month on local PBS stations. Each region and what she will be cooking on each episode is listed along with corresponding page number so that you could read along while watching her show.

    You will truly enjoy this book for many reasons, therefore you will be most pleased. Peace.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Italy in a plate, October 27, 2009
    The food pictures in this book make me salivate and the pictures of Italy show the true Italy. I have tried the recipes and they are easy and extremely flavorful. I love Lidia's cookbooks because they allow for some personal interpretation and they really bring the flavor of Italy to my kitchen and family.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A good, simple, home-cooking take on Italian food, November 17, 2009
    We'll see if this becomes an Italian home cooking standard, but it's a beautiful mix of recipes (with a real eye towards fairly simple preparations, though delicious), excellent food photography (better than any other Italian cookbook that I have), and some text and photos of Italy to inspire the connections between the food and the land.

    The writing is casual and friendly, and the photos genuinely enhance the cookbook. But mostly we're here for the recipes. And they do not fail us. We have a roasted lobster dish from Sardinia, heading north to polenta with white beans and black kale from Valle d'Aosta, and finally beer-basted roast chicken from Trento. The regional cuisines of Italy, local ingredients and preparations, are on display here, and with the wonders of the American grocery store, are quite accessible.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Brava, Bravissima, Lidia!, December 14, 2009
    Lidia Bastianich's latest cookbook "Lidia Cooks from the Heart of Italy" is a masterpiece of collected recipes from many less well known regions of Italy. Those which I have tried are truly from the earth, from the land of Italy. You can just feel it, you can taste it with the unique combinations of sometimes unexpected ingredients. Some are familiar from our own family links and still-cooked handed-down recipes from our immigrant ancestors, and thus their authenticity at least per these cases is right on. Others which I have tried are equally fantastic. But then we have grown to expect this from Lidia and are not disappointed once again. This book is a must have for the Italian Cooking admirer and enthusiast alike. Brava, Bravissima, Lidia!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, January 2, 2010
    In the week I have had this book, I have tried four recipes from the first region featured (Trentino-Alto Adige): Country Salad, Spaghetti in Tomato-Apple Sauce, Whole-Grain Spaetzle, and Beef Braised in Beer. All were so simple that I feared the results would be boring, but all turned out to be delicious.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Family-friendly and sumptuous, March 21, 2010
    Organized by region, north to south, and written with her daughter, PBS cooking star and restaurateur Bastianich's sixth book features a must-try dish on practically every well-designed page. Photos highlight the countryside the dishes come from - as well as the food itself. Chapter introductions offer food-themed tours and recipes focus on local specialties, from starters, through first and second courses and dessert; some classic, some unfamiliar.

    Like Spaghetti in Tomato-Apple Sauce (Trentino-Alto Adige), Risotto Milan-Style with Marrow & Saffron (Lombardy), Beef Filet with Wine Sauce (Valle D'Aosta), Tagliatelle with ricotta-based Walnut Pesto (Emilia-Romagna), Fish with Pepper Sauce (bell pepper based, with orange zest, tomatoes, and a dash of peperoncino flakes) (Le Marche), Crostini with Black Truffle Butter (Umbria), Meatless Pecorino Meatballs (cheese, eggs, breadcrumbs, herbs) (Abruzzo), Fresh Cavatelli with Cauliflower (Molise), Rigatoni with Lentils (Basilicata), Spicy Calamari (Calabria), Flatbread Lasagna (Sardinia).

    Familiar and peasant dishes include: Braised Veal Shanks (Lombardy), Roasted-Pepper & Olive Salad with Fontina (Valle D'Aosta), Bread Salad with Summer Vegetables (Liguria), Spaghetti with Clam Sauce (Le Marche), Wedding Soup (Basilicata), Baked Eggplant in Tomato Sauce (Sardinia).

    There are numerous recipes for making fresh pasta and dumplings and many family-friendly comfort foods. A particular favorite of mine is Meat Sauce Genova Style which features a beef pot roast braised slowly in a wine-tomato sauce flavored with sage and rosemary, thickened with toasted pine nuts. There's plenty of sauce for a second meal (or a first course, as Bastianich suggests) of pasta and the whole thing can be made a day ahead. Scrumptious!

    Bastianich's short intros give a sense of the dish and offer tips for the novice or the seasoned cook and appendices include her TV series' menus, a recipe finder by course, and a list of sources.

    While dishes appeal to a range of ambitions, abilities and tastes, Bastianich assumes an uncomplicated love of cooking.

    5-0 out of 5 stars True provincial cooking for any kitchen, December 20, 2009
    Unlike a mere-how-to book of cold print on white paper, the very first page of this cookbook casts a heart-warming feel over the entire piece; in it, Lidia Matticchio Bastianich expresses a brief but very moving tribute to her father, whose favorite dishes she included in this compilation. Such a beginning voices well the focus on family gathering which is so much a part of cooking in Italy; having married into a Sicilian-American family, I found much of this book pleasantly familiar in the authentic recipes as well as its traditional feel. The recipes themselves are--like Italy--divided by region; the result is a tantalizing array of dishes to prepare: Stuffed Cabbage Rolls from Lombardy, Beef Braised in Beer, Whole-grain Spaetzle of Trentino-Alto Adige, Veal Scaloppine from Umbria, Calabrese Onion Soup and Sardinian Pasta "Pearls" and Flatbread Lasagna. The "General Reference" recipes were a welcome addendum to the book, including the basic building blocks of Italian cuisine, such as chicken stock and marinara sauce.

    A cook with several published recipe books and a television series, Lidia Bastianich (with the help of her daughter Tanya) presents treasured recipes from her own family and her travels, including charming pictures taken along the way, as well as mouth-watering photographs of select dishes. This is a must-have book for any kitchen inhabitant.

    5-0 out of 5 stars This Book is a Treasure, December 27, 2009
    As always, Lidia transports you right to the various locals in Italy that she writes about. The photography (of the food and locations) is exquisite. And the recipes are wonderful - easy to follow and to replicate. Lidia gives you the feeling that you are right there with her, and then you prepare the food and it feels even more like you are sitting in a trattoria in Italia. Having been raised as a second generation Italian-American, some of the recipes are as familiar as family, yet others are new to me. And having Lidia explain the origin and evolution of these dishes and their indigenous regions makes them feel like I've known them forever - I just needed to get reacquainted with them. A must-have book for any lover of Italian cuisine.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Marvelously, Easy To Follow Italian Recipes, February 25, 2010
    I am a big fan of Lidia, as well as the owner of one of her earlier cook books. I found this particular cookbook chock full of easy to follow recipes that even a less experienced cook would be able to prepare. Instructions were clear and precise. Ingredients were readily available in the neighborhood supermarket. An all-around delightful book, picturesque, enhanced with Lidia's personal touch.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Good recipes for everyday and weekends, February 2, 2010
    This book is a good compliment to my Italian cookbooks by Hazan, Bugialli and Rosetto-Kasper. The voice of the cook is fun, you sense Bastianich's quirks and preferences easily but you are never talked down to. She loves to cook and eat this food and wants you to share her passion. The techniques in most recipes are not beyond even a beginning cook. Simple recipes like penne and mushrooms and rice and butternut squash have already become part of my regular dinner line-up. The socca casserole of cabbage, beef and potato is great for winter weekend meals, just the thing for family and friends after outdoor exercise. I took this book out of the library and tried out some of the recipes before I bought it and recommend that folks do this before they purchase any cookbook. ... Read more


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