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Narrative Nonfiction

Armies of the Night

Armies of the Night

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Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award

Fifty years after the March on the Pentagon, Norman Mailer's seminal tour de force remains as urgent and incisive as ever. Winner of America's two highest literary awards, The Armies of the Night uniquely and unforgettably captures the Sixties' tidal wave of love and rage at its crest and a towering genius at his peak.

The time is October 21, 1967. The place is Washington, D.C. Depending on the paper you read, 20,000 to 200,000 protestors are marching to end the war in Vietnam, while helicopters hover overhead and federal marshals and soldiers with fixed bayonets await them on the Pentagon steps. Among the marchers is a writer named Norman Mailer. From his own singular participation in the day's events and his even more extraordinary perceptions comes a classic work that shatters the mold of traditional reportage. Intellectuals and hippies, clergymen and cops, poets and army MPs crowd the pages of a book in which facts are fused with techniques of fiction to create the nerve-end reality of experiential truth.

"[Mailer's] genuine wit and bellicose charm, and his fervent and intense sense of legitimately caring, render The Armies of the Night an artful document, worthy to be judged as literature."--Time

"Only a born novelist could have written a piece of history so intelligent, mischievous, penetrating and alive."--Alfred Kazin, The New York Times Book Review

Arms Wide Open: A Midwife's Journey

Arms Wide Open: A Midwife's Journey

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A midwife's memoir of living free and naturally against all odds
In her first, highly praised memoir, "The Blue Cotton Gown, " Patricia Harman recounted the stories that patients brought into her exam room, and her own story of struggling to help women as a nurse-midwife. In "Arms Wide Open, " a prequel to that acclaimed book, Patsy tells the story of growing up during one of the most turbulent times in America and becoming an idealistic home-birth midwife.
Drawing heavily on her journals, Patsy reaches back to tell us how she first learned to deliver babies, and digs even deeper down to tell us of her youthful experiments in living a fully sustainable and natural life. In the 1960s and '70s, she spent over a decade with her first partner living in rural areas in Minnesota and Ohio before eventually purchasing a farm with Tom Harman in West Virginia.
Patsy recounts the hardships and the freedom of living in the wilds of Minnesota in a log cabin she and her lover built with their own hands, the only running water hauled from nearby streams. She describes long treks in the snow with her infant son strapped to her chest, setting up beehives for honey, and giving chase to a thieving bear. Eventually, yearning for more connection, Patsy moves into communal life, forming alliances with the eco-minded and antiwar counterculture that was both loved and reviled in those days.
As a young mother on the commune, Patsy offers her personal experience and assistance to other women who, like her, wish to have safe, natural births. In time, she becomes a self-taught midwife, delivering babies in cabins and on farms, sometimes in harrowing circumstances. But her passion for the work drives her to want to help more, to do more. And so she begins the professional training that will fully accredit her to assist in childbirth. In a final section, Patsy takes us into the present day, facing the challenges of running a women's health clinic with her husband, mothering adult sons, and holding true to their principles and passions in the twenty-first century
More than a personal memoir, "Arms Wide Open" paints a portrait of a generation's desperate struggle to realize their ideals as they battled against the elements and against the conservative society that labeled them "hippies" and belittled their ecological and pacifist beliefs. Her memoir is a beautiful recollection of the convictions of the baby boom generation, a riveting account of surviving in the wild, and a triumphant story of living responsibly in our over-consuming society.
" "
Around India in 80 Trains

Around India in 80 Trains

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Crackles and sparks with life like an exploding box of Diwali fireworks. -- William DalrympleIn 1991, Monisha Rajesh's family uprooted from Sheffield to Madras in the hope of making India their home. Two years later, fed up with soap-eating rats, severed human heads and the creepy colonel across the road, they returned to England with a bitter taste in their mouths.

Two decades on, she turns to a map of the Indian Railways and takes a page out of Jules Verne's classic tale, embarking on an adventure around India in 80 trains, covering 40,000 km - the circumference of the Earth. She hopes that 80 train journeys up, down and across India will lift the veil on a country that has become a stranger to her.

Along the way, Monisha discovers that the Indian Railways - featuring luxury trains, toy trains, Mumbai's infamous commuter trains, and even a hospital on wheels - have more than a few stories to tell, not to mention a colourful cast of characters. And with a self-confessed militant devout atheist in tow, her personal journey around a country built on religion isn't quite what she bargained for...

Around the World in 50 Years

Around the World in 50 Years

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The New York Times Bestseller

This is the inspiring story of an ordinary guy who achieved two great goals that others had told him were impossible. First, he set a record for the longest automobile journey ever made around the world, during the course of which he blasted his way out of minefields, survived a serious accident atop the Peak of Death, came within seconds of being lynched in Pakistan, and lost three of the five men who started with him, two to disease, one to the Vietcong.

After that-although it took him forty-seven more years-Albert Podell set another record by going to every country on Earth. He achieved this by surviving riots, revolutions, civil wars, trigger-happy child soldiers, voodoo priests, robbers, pickpockets, corrupt cops, and Cape buffalo. He went around, under, or through every kind of earthquake, cyclone, tsunami, volcanic eruption, snowstorm, and sandstorm that nature threw at him. He ate everything from old camel meat and rats to dung beetles and the brain of a live monkey. And he overcame attacks by crocodiles, hippos, anacondas, giant leeches, flying crabs-and several beautiful girlfriends who insisted that he stop this nonsense and marry them.

Albert Podell's Around the World in 50 Years is a remarkable and meaningful tale of quiet courage, dogged persistence, undying determination, and an uncanny ability to escape from one perilous situation after another-and return with some of the most memorable, frightening, and hilarious adventure stories you have ever read.

Around the World in 80 Spiritual Places

Around the World in 80 Spiritual Places

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Discover some of the world's most awe-inspiring and holy places, from Stonehenge to Uluru, and Walden Pond to Angkor Wat.

Humans have always searched for and created meaning in the world around them, whether in breathtakingly stunning natural features and phenomena, acknowledging the ancient home of a particular faith or movement, or honoring the location of a significant event. In this beautifully illustrated guide, Alice Peck discusses what makes a place spiritual--whether reaches of time, geography, the provision of sustenance or inspiration, or mystery and magic--and then explores 80 such locations around the globe. Rather than a comprehensive travel guide, the description of each one includes a detail or tip--something beautiful, strange, relatively unknown or unfamiliar--to allow readers to deepen their focus and perhaps experience the place in a different way than they might expect. If you are unable to travel at this time, this book will help you plan your next adventure. And if you are trying to limit your carbon footprint, each destination is accompanied by a related meditation, prayer, practice, or quotation to help you connect to the spirit of it from your own home.

Around the World on a Bicycle

Around the World on a Bicycle

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This classic, once hard-to-find travelogue recalls one of the very first around-the-world bicycle treks. Filled with rarely matched feats of endurance and determination, Around the World on a Bicycle tells of a young cyclist's ever-changing and maturing worldview as he ventures through forty countries on the eve of World War II. It is an exuberant, youthful account, harking back to a time when the exploits of Richard Byrd, Amelia Earhart, and other adventurers stirred the popular imagination.

In 1935 Fred A. Birchmore left the small American town of Athens, Georgia, to continue his college studies in Europe. In his spare time, Birchmore toured the continent on a one-speed bike he called Bucephalus (after the name of Alexander the Great's horse). A born wanderer, Birchmore broadened his travels to include the British Isles and even the Mediterranean. After a lengthy, unplanned detour in Egypt, Birchmore put his studies on hold, pointed Bucephalus eastward, and just kept going. From desert valleys to frozen peaks, from palace promenades to muddy jungle trails, Birchmore saw it all on his eighteen-month, twenty-five-thousand-mile odyssey. Some of the people he encountered had never seen a bike--or, for that matter, an Anglo-European.

As a good travel experience should, Birchmore's trip changed his outlook on strangers. Always daring, outgoing, and energetic, he now saw an innate goodness in people. In between bone-breaking spills, wild animal attacks, and privation of all kinds, Birchmore learned that he had little to fear from human encounters. That he traveled through a world on the brink of global war makes this lesson even more remarkable--and timeless.

Arrangements in Blue

Arrangements in Blue

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When British poet Amy Key was growing up, she envisioned a life shaped by love--and Joni Mitchell's album Blue was her inspiration. "Blue became part of my language of intimacy," she writes, recalling the dozens of times she played the record as a teen, "an intimacy of disclosure, vulnerability, unadorned feeling that I thought I'd eventually share with a romantic other." As the years ticked by, she held on to this very specific idea of romance like a bottle of wine saved for a special occasion.

But what happens when the romance we are all told will give life meaning never presents itself Now single in her forties, Key explores the sweeping scales of romantic feeling as she has encountered them, using the album Blue as an expressive anchor: from the low notes of loss and unfulfilled desire--punctuated by sharp, discordant feelings of jealousy and regret--to the deep harmony of friendship, and the crescendos of sexual attraction and self-realization.

Finding solace in Mitchell's songs, Key plumbs Blue's track list for themes that resonate with her heart's seasons. Listening to the song "California," she explores the mixed emotions that come with traveling alone in a world built for couples; she juxtaposes the lonely lyrics of "My Old Man" with the pleasurable art of curating a perfect apartment for one; and with the utmost tenderness, she parses out her decision to not have children with the eloquent "Little Green."

Mapping the evolution of her early conceptions of love through her adulthood, Key offers a tender and nakedly candid celebration of the many forms of intimacy that often go unnoticed. An essential work for both the single and the partnered, Arrangements in Blue is a bold manual for building a life on your own terms.
Art Is Life

Art Is Life

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From the Pulitzer Prize winner and bestselling author of How to Be an Artist a deliciously readable survey of the art world in turbulent times

Jerry Saltz is one of our most-watched writers about art and artists, and a passionate champion of the importance of art in our shared cultural life. Since the 1990s he has been an indispensable cultural voice: witty and provocative, he has attracted contemporary readers to fine art as few critics have. An early champion of forgotten and overlooked women artists, he has also celebrated the pioneering work of African American, LGBTQ+, and other long-marginalized creators. Sotheby's Institute of Art has called him, simply, "the art critic."

Now, in Art Is Life, Jerry Saltz draws on two decades of work to offer a real-time survey of contemporary art as a barometer of our times. Chronicling a period punctuated by dramatic turning points--from the cultural reset of 9/11 to the rolling social crises of today--Saltz traces how visionary artists have both documented and challenged the culture. Art Is Life offers Saltz's eye-opening appraisals of trailblazers like Kara Walker, David Wojnarowicz, Hilma af Klint, and Jasper Johns; provocateurs like Jeff Koons, Richard Prince, and Marina Abramovic; and visionaries like Jackson Pollock, Bill Traylor, and Willem de Kooning. Saltz celebrates landmarks like the Obama portraits by Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald, writes searchingly about disturbing moments such as the Ankara gallery assassination, and offers surprising takes on figures from Thomas Kinkade to Kim Kardashian. And he shares stories of his own haunted childhood, his time as a "failed artist," and his epiphanies upon beholding work by Botticelli, Delacroix, and the cave painters of Niaux.

With his signature blend of candor and conviction, Jerry Saltz argues in Art Is Life for the importance of the fearless artist--reminding us that art is a kind of channeled voice of human experience, a necessary window onto our times. The result is an openhearted and irresistibly readable appraisal by one of our most important cultural observers.

Art of Cruelty

Art of Cruelty

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Today both reality and entertainment crowd our fields of vision with brutal imagery. The pervasiveness of images of torture, horror, and war has all but demolished the twentieth-century hope that such imagery might shock us into a less alienated state, or aid in the creation of a just social order. What to do now? When to look, when to turn away?

Genre-busting author Maggie Nelson brilliantly navigates this contemporary predicament, with an eye to the question of whether or not focusing on representations of cruelty makes us cruel. In a journey through high and low culture (Kafka to reality TV), the visual to the verbal (Paul McCarthy to Brian Evenson), and the apolitical to the political (Francis Bacon to Kara Walker), Nelson offers a model of how one might balance strong ethical convictions with an equally strong appreciation for work that tests the limits of taste, taboo, and permissibility.
Art of Patience

Art of Patience

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A journey in search of one of the most elusive creatures on the planet

Adventurer Sylvain Tesson has led a restless life, riding across Central Asia on horseback, freeclimbing the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame, and traversing the Himalayas by foot. But while recovering from an accident that left him in a coma, and nursing his wounds from a lost love, he found himself domesticated, his lust for life draining with each moment spent staring at a screen. An expedition to the mountains of Tibet, in search of the famously elusive snow leopard, presented itself as a cure.

For the chance to glimpse this near mythical beast, Tesson and his companions must wait for hours without making a sound or a movement, enduring the thin air and brutal cold. Their vigil becomes an act of faith--many have pursued the snow leopard for years without seeing it--and as they keep their watch, Tesson comes to embrace the virtues of patience and silence. His faith is rewarded when the snow leopard, the spirit of the mountain, reveals itself: an embodiment of what we have surrendered in our contemporary lives. And the simple act of waiting proves to be an antidote to the frenzy of our times.

A celebration of the power and grace of the wild, and a requiem for the world's vanishing places, The Art of Patience is a revelatory account of the communion between nature and the human heart. Sylvain Tesson has written a new masterpiece on the relationship between man and beast in prose as sublime as the wilderness that inspired it.

Art of Revision: The Last Word

Art of Revision: The Last Word

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The fifteenth volume in the Art of series takes an expansive view of revision--on the page and in life

In The Art of Revision: The Last Word, Peter Ho Davies takes up an often discussed yet frequently misunderstood subject. He begins by addressing the invisibility of revision--even though it's an essential part of the writing process, readers typically only see a final draft, leaving the practice shrouded in mystery. To combat this, Davies pulls examples from his novels The Welsh Girl and The Fortunes, as well as from the work of other writers, including Flannery O'Connor, Carmen Machado, and Raymond Carver, shedding light on this slippery subject.

Davies also looks beyond literature to work that has been adapted or rewritten, such as books made into films, stories rewritten by another author, and the practice of retconning in comics and film. In an affecting frame story, Davies recounts the story of a violent encounter in his youth, which he then retells over the years, culminating in a final telling at the funeral of his father. In this way, the book arrives at an exhilarating mode of thinking about revision--that it is the writer who must change, as well as the writing. The result is a book that is as useful as it is moving, one that asks writers to reflect upon themselves and their writing.

Art of Rivalry

Art of Rivalry

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Pulitzer Prize-winning art critic Sebastian Smee tells the fascinating story of four pairs of artists--Manet and Degas, Picasso and Matisse, Pollock and de Kooning, Freud and Bacon--whose fraught, competitive friendships spurred them to new creative heights.

Rivalry is at the heart of some of the most famous and fruitful relationships in history. The Art of Rivalry follows eight celebrated artists, each linked to a counterpart by friendship, admiration, envy, and ambition. All eight are household names today. But to achieve what they did, each needed the influence of a contemporary--one who was equally ambitious but possessed sharply contrasting strengths and weaknesses.

Edouard Manet and Edgar Degas were close associates whose personal bond frayed after Degas painted a portrait of Manet and his wife. Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso swapped paintings, ideas, and influences as they jostled for the support of collectors like Leo and Gertrude Stein and vied for the leadership of a new avant-garde. Jackson Pollock's uninhibited style of "action painting" triggered a breakthrough in the work of his older rival, Willem de Kooning. After Pollock's sudden death in a car crash, de Kooning assumed Pollock's mantle and became romantically involved with his late friend's mistress. Lucian Freud and Francis Bacon met in the early 1950s, when Bacon was being hailed as Britain's most exciting new painter and Freud was working in relative obscurity. Their intense but asymmetrical friendship came to a head when Freud painted a portrait of Bacon, which was later stolen.

Each of these relationships culminated in an early flashpoint, a rupture in a budding intimacy that was both a betrayal and a trigger for great innovation. Writing with the same exuberant wit and psychological insight that earned him a Pulitzer Prize for art criticism, Sebastian Smee explores here the way that coming into one's own as an artist--finding one's voice--almost always involves willfully breaking away from some intimate's expectations of who you are or ought to be.

Praise for The Art of Rivalry

"Gripping . . . Mr. Smee's skills as a critic are evident throughout. He is persuasive and vivid. . . . You leave this book both nourished and hungry for more about the art, its creators and patrons, and the relationships that seed the ground for moments spent at the canvas."--The New York Times

"With novella-like detail and incisiveness [Sebastian Smee] opens up the worlds of four pairs of renowned artists. . . . Each of his portraits is a biographical gem. . . . The Art of Rivalry is a pure, informative delight, written with canny authority."--The Boston Globe

Art of Seeing Things

Art of Seeing Things

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A collection of essays by noted naturalist John Burroughs in which he contemplates a wide array of topics including farming, religion, and conservation. A departure from previous John Burroughs anthologies, this volume celebrates the surprising range of his writing to include religion, philosophy, conservation, and farming. In doing so, it emphasizes the process of the literary naturalist, specifically the lively connection the author makes between perceiving nature and how perception permeates all aspects of life experiences.

Art of Teaching Children

Art of Teaching Children

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An essential guide for teachers and parents that's destined to become a classic, The Art of Teaching Children is one of those rare and masterful books that not only defines a craft but offers a magical reading experience.

After more than thirty years in the classroom, award-winning teacher Phillip Done decided that it was time to retire. But a teacher's job is never truly finished, and he set out to write the greatest lesson of his career: a book for educators and parents that would pass along everything he learned about working with kids. From the first-day-of-school jitters to the last day's tears, Done writes about the teacher's craft, classrooms and curriculums, the challenges of the profession, and the reason all teachers do it--the children.

Drawing upon decades of experience, Done shares time-tested tips and sage advice: Real learning is messy, not linear. Greeting kids in the morning as they enter the classroom is an important part of the school day. If a student is having trouble, look at what you can do differently before pointing the finger at the child. Ask yourself: Would I want to be a student in my class? When children watch you, they are learning how to be people, and one of the most important things we can do for our students is to model the kind of people we would like them to be. Done tackles topics you won't find in any other teaching book, including Back to School Night nerves, teacher pride, the Sunday Blues, Pinterest envy, teacher guilt, and the things they never warn you about in "teacher school" but should, like how to survive recess duty, field trips, and lunch supervision. Done also addresses some of the most important issues schools face today: bullying, excessive screen time, the system's obsession with testing, teacher burnout, and the ever-increasing demands of meeting the diverse learning needs of students.

But The Art of Teaching Children is more than a guide to educating today's young learners. These pages are alive with inspiration, humor, and tales of humanity. Done welcomes us like visitors at Open House Night to the world of elementary school, where we witness lessons that go well and others that flop, periods that run smoothly and ones that go haywire when a bee flies into the room. We meet master teachers and new ones, librarians and lunch supervisors, principals and parents (some with too much time on their hands). We get to know kids who want to hold a ball and those who'd rather hold a marker, students with difficult home lives and children with disabilities, youngsters who need drawing out and those who happily announce (in the middle of a math lesson) that they have a loose tooth.

With great wit and wisdom, irresistible storytelling, and boundless compassion, The Art of Teaching Children is the new educator's bible for teachers, parents, and all who work with kids and care about their learning and success.

Art of the Commonplace

Art of the Commonplace

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Here is a human being speaking with calm and sanity out of the wilderness. We would do well to hear him. --The Washington Post Book World

The Art of the Commonplace gathers twenty essays by Wendell Berry that offer an agrarian alternative to our dominant urban culture. Grouped around five themes--an agrarian critique of culture, agrarian fundamentals, agrarian economics, agrarian religion, and geobiography--these essays promote a clearly defined and compelling vision important to all people dissatisfied with the stress, anxiety, disease, and destructiveness of contemporary American culture.

Why is agriculture becoming culturally irrelevant, and at what cost? What are the forces of social disintegration and how might they be reversed? How might men and women live together in ways that benefit both? And, how does the corporate takeover of social institutions and economic practices contribute to the destruction of human and natural environments?

Through his staunch support of local economies, his defense of farming communities, and his call for family integrity, Berry emerges as the champion of responsibilities and priorities that serve the health, vitality and happiness of the whole community of creation.

Art of the Wasted Day

Art of the Wasted Day

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"A sharp and unconventional book -- a swirl of memoir, travelogue and biography of some of history's champion day-dreamers." --Maureen Corrigan, Fresh Air

A spirited inquiry into the lost value of leisure and daydream

The Art of the Wasted Day is a picaresque travelogue of leisure written from a lifelong enchantment with solitude. Patricia Hampl visits the homes of historic exemplars of ease who made repose a goal, even an art form. She begins with two celebrated eighteenth-century Irish ladies who ran off to live a life of retirement in rural Wales. Her search then leads to Moravia to consider the monk-geneticist, Gregor Mendel, and finally to Bordeaux for Michel Montaigne--the hero of this book--who retreated from court life to sit in his chateau tower and write about whatever passed through his mind, thus inventing the personal essay.

Hampl's own life winds through these pilgrimages, from childhood days lazing under a neighbor's beechnut tree, to a fascination with monastic life, and then to love--and the loss of that love which forms this book's silver thread of inquiry. Finally, a remembered journey down the Mississippi near home in an old cabin cruiser with her husband turns out, after all her international quests, to be the great adventure of her life.

The real job of being human, Hampl finds, is getting lost in thought, something only leisure can provide. The Art of the Wasted Day is a compelling celebration of the purpose and appeal of letting go.

Art of the Wasted Day

Art of the Wasted Day

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"A sharp and unconventional book -- a swirl of memoir, travelogue and biography of some of history's champion day-dreamers." --Maureen Corrigan, "Fresh Air"

A spirited inquiry into the lost value of leisure and daydream

The Art of the Wasted Day is a picaresque travelogue of leisure written from a lifelong enchantment with solitude. Patricia Hampl visits the homes of historic exemplars of ease who made repose a goal, even an art form. She begins with two celebrated eighteenth-century Irish ladies who ran off to live a life of "retirement" in rural Wales. Her search then leads to Moravia to consider the monk-geneticist, Gregor Mendel, and finally to Bordeaux for Michel Montaigne--the hero of this book--who retreated from court life to sit in his chateau tower and write about whatever passed through his mind, thus inventing the personal essay.

Hampl's own life winds through these pilgrimages, from childhood days lazing under a neighbor's beechnut tree, to a fascination with monastic life, and then to love--and the loss of that love which forms this book's silver thread of inquiry. Finally, a remembered journey down the Mississippi near home in an old cabin cruiser with her husband turns out, after all her international quests, to be the great adventure of her life.

The real job of being human, Hampl finds, is getting lost in thought, something only leisure can provide. The Art of the Wasted Day is a compelling celebration of the purpose and appeal of letting go.

Art of Travel

Art of Travel

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Any Baedeker will tell us where we ought to travel, but only Alain de Botton will tell us how and why. With the same intelligence and insouciant charm he brought to How Proust Can Save Your Life, de Botton considers the pleasures of anticipation; the allure of the exotic, and the value of noticing everything from a seascape in Barbados to the takeoffs at Heathrow.

Even as de Botton takes the reader along on his own peregrinations, he also cites such distinguished fellow-travelers as Baudelaire, Wordsworth, Van Gogh, the biologist Alexander von Humboldt, and the 18th-century eccentric Xavier de Maistre, who catalogued the wonders of his bedroom. The Art of Travel is a wise and utterly original book. Don't leave home without it.