100 Places You Will Never Visit: the World’s Most Secret Locations by Daniel Smith

100 placesEver wondered what it takes to get into Fort Knox? Fancied a peek inside the Coca-Cola Safety Deposit Box? Would you dare to visit Three Mile Island?

The world is full of secret places that we either don’t know about, or couldn’t visit even if we wanted to. Now you can glimpse the Tora Bora caves in Afghanistan, visit the Tucson Titan Missile Site, tour the Vatican Archives, or see the Chapel of the Ark. This fascinating guide book takes a look at 100 places around the world that are either so hard to reach, so closely guarded, or so secret that they are virtually impossible to visit any other way. (description from publisher)

Fluent in 3 Months by Benny Lewis

fluent in three monthsBenny Lewis, who speaks over ten languages—all self-taught—runs the largest language-learning blog in the world, Fluent In 3 Months. Lewis is a full-time “language hacker,” someone who devotes all of his time to finding better, faster, and more efficient ways to learn languages.

Fluent in 3 Months: How Anyone at Any Age Can Learn to Speak Any Language from Anywhere in the World is a new blueprint for fast language learning. Lewis argues that you don’t need a great memory or “the language gene” to learn a language quickly, and debunks a number of long-held beliefs, such as adults not being as good of language learners as children. His proven techniques break down language learning myths and replaces them with practical “language hacks” that take advantage of the skills we already possess.

Fluent in 3 Months provides everything you need to make learning a new language fast, intuitive and fun. (description from publisher)

Travels with Casey by Benoit Denizet-Lewis

travels with caseyA moody Labrador and his insecure human take a funny, touching cross-country RV trip into the heart of America’s relationship with dogs.

“I don’t think my dog likes me very much,” New York Times Magazine writer Benoit Denizet-Lewis confesses at the beginning of his journey with his nine-year-old Labrador-mix, Casey. Over the next four months, thirty-two states, and 13,000 miles in a rented motor home, Denizet-Lewis and his canine companion attempt to pay tribute to the most powerful interspecies bond there is, in the country with the highest rate of dog ownership in the world. On the way, Denizet-Lewis-known for his deeply reported dispatches from far corners of American life – meets an irresistible cast of dogs and dog-obsessed humans. Denizet-Lewis and Casey hang out with wolf-dogs in Appalachia, search with a dedicated rescuer of stray dogs in Missouri, spend a full day at a kooky dog park in Manhattan, get pulled over by a K9 cop in Missouri, and visit “Dog Whisperer” Cesar Millan in California. And then there are the pet psychics, dog-wielding hitchhikers, and two nosy women who took their neighbor to court for allegedly failing to pick up her dog’s poop.

Travels With Casey is a delightfully idiosyncratic blend of memoir and travelogue coupled with an exploration of a dog-loving America. What does our relationship to our dogs tell us about ourselves and our values? Denizet-Lewis explores those questions-and his own canine-related curiosities and insecurities during his unforgettable road trip through our dog-loving nation. (description from publisher)

One Day, One Year, Two Books

I’m pretty sure that if a cute stranger offered to take me to a romantic European city for the day, I would probably say “No, but thank you. I’m just too awkward for that.” And I wouldn’t even fret about possibly missing out on an experience of a lifetime because, luckily, there are plenty of young adult romances that can satisfy my “but what would have happened?!” curiosity. Just One Day by Gayle Forman (and its companion book, Just One Year) is the perfect choice for armchair travel because the heroine just happens to be quite introverted herself, and thus, very relatable to us classic Librarian-types 😉

Just One Day begins with sensible, quiet Allyson feeling ready for her graduation trip around Europe with a teen tour group to be over so she can go home to the States. Yeah, that whining-about-being-in-Europe part isn’t that relatable to me, but granted her best friend has gotten a little bit wild/annoying, and the tour skipped over Paris–the one city Allyson wanted to see on the tour. But then she runs into a cute street actor who had flirted with her during his performance the night before…AND HE OFFERS TO TAKE HER TO PARIS! YES! YES! YES! So Allyson tells him her name is Lulu and hops on the train to Paris with him (and then promptly has several panic attacks on the train about him leaving her, killing her, making a fool of her, etc–this is actually the moment where I went from liking the book to LOVING the book). Lulu/Allyson and Willem spend an amazing day running around Paris and then live happily ever after. Swooooooon.

Well, until the next morning when Allyson wakes up alone in an empty Paris art studio.

With lots of tears and panic, Allyson finds her way back to London and her tour group and then back home to the United States. We then follow her through her first year of college as she learns to overcome her broken heart and embarrassment. After a long self-inflicted isolation, new friends help Allyson discover that she needs to revisit Paris and find Willem–partly because she believes that there is a mystery surrounding the morning Willem left her and partly because she needs to prove to herself that she is in control of her life.

Sorry, I can’t tell you if she finds Willem…BUT I will tell you that the companion book Just One Year tells the story of what happened to Willem during his year apart from Lulu. He does quite a bit more traveling…that is all I will say.

These two books are a must read for fans of Stephanie Perkins, John Green and Maureen Johnson and anyone else who likes a little independence and a little travel with their romances.

The Last Train to Zona Verde by Paul Theroux

last trainA decade ago, Paul Theroux’s best-selling Dark Star Safari chronicled his epic overland voyage from Cairo to Cape Town, providing an insider’s look at modern Africa. Now, with The Last Train to Zona Verde, he returns to discover how Africa and he have changed in the ensuing years. On this trip, Theroux is journeying through West Africa for the first time. From Cape Town, South Africa, to Namibia to Botswana, he covers nearly 2,500 miles before he is forced to give up what is to be his final foreign trip, a decision he chronicles in a delightfully curmudgeonly and unsparing chapter titled “What Am I Doing Here.”

Vivid, witty, and beautifully evocative, The Last Train to Zona Verde is a fitting final African adventure from the writer whose gimlet eye and effortless prose have brought the world to generations of readers. (description from publisher)

The Longest Road by Philip Caputo

longest roadIn The Longest Road one of America’s most respected writers takes an epic journey across America, Airstream in tow, and asks everyday Americans what unites and divides a country as endlessly diverse as it is large.

Standing on a wind-scoured island off the Alaskan coast, Philip Caputo marveled that its Inupiat Eskimo schoolchildren pledge allegiance to the same flag as the children of Cuban immigrants in Key West, six thousand miles away. A question began to take shape: How does the United States, peopled by every race on earth, remain united? Caputo resolved that one day he’d drive from the nation’s southernmost point to the northernmost point reachable by road, talking to everyday Americans about their lives and asking how they would answer his question. So it was that in 2011 Caputo, his wife and their two English setters made their way in a truck and classic trailer (hereafter known as “Fred” and “Ethel”) from Key West, Florida, to Deadhorse, Alaska, covering 16,000 miles. He spoke to everyone from a West Virginia couple saving souls to a Native American shaman and taco entrepreneur. What he found is a story that will entertain and inspire readers as much as it informs them about the state of today’s United States, the glue that holds us all together, and the conflicts that could cause us to pull apart. (description from publisher)

Travel Photography

Did you travel somewhere exciting this summer?  Did you take photographs that you want to share, but your family has watched your slideshow enough?  Then maybe you should submit your photos to the German American Heritage Center’s Travel Photography Contest!  You have until September 22nd to submit your potentially winning photograph, and selected photographs will be on exhibit from October 6th until January 5th.

In the meantime, you should check out some of the library’s photography resources for inspiration or instruction.

shutterfly     70yearslife     digitalthroughyear     night&lowlight

The shutterfly guide to great digital photos by Jeffery Housenbold

The complete guide to night & lowlight digital photography by Michael Freeman

Platinum anniversary collection : 70 years of extraordinary photography 

Capture the light : a guide for beginning digital photographers by Steve Meltzer

lonelyplanet      ansel adams      capture the light     ultimate field guide

Lonely Planet’s Guide to travel photography by Richard l’Anson

Digital photography through the year by Tom Ang

Ultimate field guide to travel photography by Scott Stuckey

Ansel Adams in the national parks : photographs from America’s wild places by Ansel Adams

Grant Wood’s Iowa by Wende Elliott

grant woods iowaIconic Regionalist American Artist Grant Wood certainly left his mark on the international art world – and on Iowa, his home state. Wood’s American Gothic is one of the most recognizable paintings in the world, and his work graces museums far and wide. Now you can tour Iowa with a thoughtful, detailed exploration of Wood’s life and the historical context of his work.

Grant Wood’s Iowa explores Wood’s role in the art world with self-guided museum tours and detailed discussions of his work, but it also allows you to get out into the Iowa he loved – a place that hasn’t changed all that much since Wood’s era. You’ll find nature hikes and parks where you’ll enjoy the landscapes that inspired Wood; county fairs and arts festivals that celebrate Wood and the rural character of his beloved home; modern eco-attractions, theaters, and wineries; and the studios and galleries of the Iowa artists who are Wood’s heirs.

In order to understand Wood’s work, one must first understand the Iowa he lived in. This unique guide allows you to fully appreciate Iowa’s role in nurturing Wood’s wit, humor, and enormous talent. It also explains his leading role in the Midwestern Regionalism art movement and introduces us to other major Iowa artists who were contemporaries influenced by Wood. The only book of its kind, Grant Wood’s Iowa assists vacationing and resident art aficionados in understanding and appreciating Wood’s important body of work in the cultural and environmental context of his home state. Wood’s life is lovingly detailed, from his childhood on a farm to his adulthood teaching and working in Iowa’s small-town communities. Grant Wood’s Iowa transports art lovers into the creative world of this iconic and quintessentially American artist. (description from publisher)

Cooks, Clowns and Cowboys

cooks clown and cowboysYou know the question’s coming: what did you do on your holiday? Master the experiences in Cooks, Clowns and Cowboys : 101 Skills and Experiences to Discover on Your Travels and you can reply:

I created a perfume in France.

I danced the flamenco in Seville.

I mixed the perfect martini in New York.

I earned my cosmonaut stripes in Russia.

I rode with cowboys in Argentina.

Saddle up for a new you, and come back from your travels with more than just a suntan. (description from publisher)

Off the Beaten Page by Terri Smith

off the beaten pageOff the Beaten Page by Terri Smith encourages avid readers, particularly those in book clubs and other groups, to leave the security of their living rooms and seek to experience in person the places they’ve read about.This book is ideal for anyone eager to mix their love of travel and quality time with friends or family with their desire for meaningful cultural experiences.

Inspired by years of excursions with her own book club, award-winning journalist Terri Smith offers lively, expert guidance through fifteen US destinations including Boston, Chicago, Austin, and Santa Fe. She describes each destination’s literary heritage and attractions and suggests three-day itineraries that include plenty of lit-inspired excursions – a tour of Santa Monica through the eyes of Raymond Chandler, a Devil in the White City view of Chicago in the Gilded Age, an exploration of Edith Wharton’s elite Newport, Rhode Island – while blending in “beyond the book” experiences such as Broadway shows, Segway tours and kayaking.

Practical, entertaining and inspirational, Off the Beaten Page is the ideal companion for adventurous readers or anyone looking to enrich a weekend getaway. (description from publisher)