This week is the unofficial start of the vacation season. Summer days are meant for exploring — whether through travel, reading, or both. And we’ve got the perfect collection of e-books for those of you who have already hit the road and those of you who are still in the planning (or just dreaming) stages. From Alaska to Paris, Tuscany to Charleston, take the e-book express to these great destinations for just $1.99 apiece now through July 31, 2013.
A Thousand Days in Tuscany by Marlena de Blasi: American chef Marlena de Blasi and her Venetian husband, Fernando, married rather late in life. In search of the rhythms of country living, the couple moves to a barely renovated former stable in Tuscany with no phone, no central heating, and something resembling a playhouse kitchen. They dwell among two hundred villagers, ancient olive groves, and hot Etruscan springs. In this patch of earth where Tuscany, Umbria, and Lazio collide, there is much to feed de Blasi’s two passions–food and love. We accompany the couple as they harvest grapes, gather chestnuts, forage for wild mushrooms, and climb trees in the cold of December to pick olives, one by one. Their routines are not that different from those of villagers centuries earlier.
They are befriended by the mesmeric Barlozzo, a self-styled village chieftain. His fascinating stories lead de Blasi more deeply inside the soul of Tuscany. Together they visit sacred festivals and taste just-pressed olive oil, drizzled over roasted country bread, and squash blossoms, battered and deep-fried and sprayed with sea-salted water. In a cauldron set over a wood fire, they braise beans in red wine, and a stew of wild boar simmers overnight in the ashes of their hearth. Barlozzo shares his knowledge of Italian farming traditions, ancient health potions, and artisanal food makers, but he has secrets he doesn’t share, and one of them concerns the beautiful Floriana, whose illness teaches Marlena that happiness is truly a choice.
Like the pleasurable tastes and textures of a fine meal, A Thousand Days in Tuscany is as satisfying as it is enticing. The author’s own recipes are included.
The e-book of A Thousand Days in Tuscany includes a FREE preview of A Thousand Days in Venice.
New Orleans, Mon Amour by Andrei Codrescu: For two decades NPR commentator Andrei Codrescu has been living in and writing about his adopted city, where, as he puts it, the official language is dreams. How apt that a refugee born in Transylvania found his home in a place where vampires roam the streets and voodoo queens live around the corner; where cemeteries are the most popular picnic spots, the ghosts of poets, prostitutes, and pirates are palpable, and in the French Quarter, no one ever sleeps.
Codrescu’s essays have been called “satirical gems,” “subversive,” “sardonic and stunning,” “funny,” “gonzo,” “wittily poignant,” and “perverse”—here is a writer who perfectly mirrors the wild, voluptuous, bohemian character of New Orleans itself. This retrospective follows him from newcomer to near native: first seduced by the lush banana trees in his backyard and the sensual aroma of coffee at the café down the block, Codrescu soon becomes a Window Gang regular at the infamous bar Molly’s on Decatur, does a stint as King of Krewe de Vieux Carré at Mardi Gras, befriends artists, musicians, and eccentrics, and exposes the city’s underbelly of corruption, warning presciently about the lack of planning for floods in a city high on its own insouciance. Alas, as we all now know, Paradise is lost.
New Orleans, Mon Amour is an epic love song, a clear-eyed elegy, a cultural celebration, and a thank-you note to New Orleans in its Golden Age.
Paris Was Ours by Penelope Rowlands: Paris is “the world capital of memory and desire,” concludes one of the writers in this intimate and insightful collection of memoirs of the city. Living in Paris changed these writers forever.
In thirty-two personal essays—more than half of which are here published for the first time—the writers describe how they were seduced by Paris and then began to see things differently. They came to write, to cook, to find love, to study, to raise children, to escape, or to live the way it’s done in French movies; they came from the United States, Canada, and England; from Iran, Iraq, and Cuba; and—a few—from other parts of France. And they stayed, not as tourists, but for a long time; some are still living there. They were outsiders who became insiders, who here share their observations and revelations. Some are well-known writers: Diane Johnson, David Sedaris, Judith Thurman, Joe Queenan, and Edmund White. Others may be lesser known but are no less passionate on the subject.
Together, their reflections add up to an unusually perceptive and multifaceted portrait of a city that is entrancing, at times exasperating, but always fascinating. They remind us that Paris belongs to everyone it has touched, and to each in a different way.
Very Charleston by Diana Hollingsworth Gessler: Cobblestone streets leading to perfectly preserved historic homes. Intricate wrought-iron gates opening to lush, fragrant gardens. A skyline of steeples and a river harbor bustling with schooners and sailboats. Charleston is one of America’s most charming cities.
In vibrant watercolors and detailed sketches, artist Diana Gessler captures the beauty and riches that make Charleston so unique: White Point Gardens, the Spoleto Festival, Rainbow Row, Waterfront Park, Fort Moultrie, the beaches of Sullivan’s Island, sumptuous Lowcountry cuisine, and handmade sweetgrass baskets. Full of fascinating details–on everything from the art of early entertaining, the city’s inspired architectural and garden designs, and George Washington’s Southern tour to famous Charlestonians and the flags of Sumter–Very Charleston celebrates the city, the Lowcountry, the people, and our history. Hand-lettered and full color throughout, Very Charleston includes maps, an index, and a handy appendix of sites.
With her cheerful illustrations and love for discovering little-known facts, Diana Gessler has created both an entertaining guide and an irresistible keepsake for visitors and Charlestonians alike.
Very New Orleans by Diana Hollingsworth Gessler: The exquisite antebellum mansions of the Garden District. Giant oaks stretching across boulevards and back in time to before the Civil War. The decadence of Bourbon Street. The vibrant sounds of jazz, blues, and Cajun music coming from every doorway or right from the street. Lacy iron balconies that wrap around the historic buildings of the French Quarter. A leisurely meal under a canopy of wisteria.
In vibrant watercolors and detailed sketches, artist Diana Gessler captures the unique charm that makes New Orleans alluring: Mardi Gras, the Cabildo, Jackson Square, the Court of the Two Sisters, St. Louis Cemetery, the Jazz Festival, the River Road Plantations, the Cajun country, sumptuous Creole cuisine, and Audubon’s Aquarium of the Americas. In fascinating detail—on everything from the making of Mardi Gras, Napolean’s death mask, the city’s inspired architectural and garden designs, and favorite author hangouts to famous New Orleanians and Aunt Sally’s Creole pralines—Very New Orleans celebrates the city, the Cajun country, the people, and our history.
Very Washington, DC by Diana Hollingsworth Gessler: A travel guide with character, this fact-filled keepsake offers all the history, beauty, charm, and culture of our nation’s capital city. In eye-catching watercolors and detailed sketches, artist Diana Gessler captures the allure that makes Washington DC one of the most visited destinations in the country. In addition to the national landmarks, stirring memorials, and vibrant neighborhoods, there’s the Cherry Blossom Festival, the Twilight Tattoo (a military pageant featuring the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps and the U.S. Army Drill Team), colorful row houses, famous hotels and restaurants, and more museums than you’ll be able to visit in just one trip.
Gessler covers the city’s most popular attractions but also heads off the beaten path to share hidden gems, like the quirky Albert Einstein Memorial and Eastern Market, where you can dine on bluebucks and browse for flea market finds. Also included are an index of sites and a useful appendix of addresses, Web sites, Metro stops, and phone numbers.
Very Washington DC is a picture-perfect guidebook—a one-of-a-kind memento for tourists and a cherished reminder of the city’s riches for those who have always lived in America’s hometown.
If You Lived Here, I’d Know Your Name by Heather Lende: Tiny Haines, Alaska, ninety miles north of Juneau, is accessible mainly by water or air—and only when the weather is good. There’s no traffic light and no mail delivery; people can vanish without a trace; and funerals are community affairs. As both obituary writer and social columnist for the local newspaper, Lende knows better than anyone the goings-on in this breathtakingly beautiful place. Her offbeat chronicle brings us inside her busy life: we meet her husband, Chip, who owns the local hardware store; their five children; and a colorful assortment of friends and offbeat neighbors, including aging hippies, salty fishermen, native Tlingit Indians, Mormon spelunkers . . . as well as the moose, eagles, sea lions, and bears with whom they share this wild and perilous land.
The e-book of If You Lived Here, I’d Know Your Name includes a FREE preview of Take Good Care of the Garden and Dogs.