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 ūüėČ

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.

last trainA decade ago, Paul Theroux‚Äôs best-selling Dark Star Safari chronicled his epic overland voyage from Cairo to Cape Town, providing an insider‚Äôs 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 ‚ÄúWhat Am I Doing Here.‚ÄĚ

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)

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)

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 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 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 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‚Äôs literary heritage and attractions and suggests three-day itineraries that include plenty of lit-inspired excursions ‚Äď 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‚Äôs elite Newport, Rhode Island ‚Äď while blending in ‚Äúbeyond the book‚ÄĚ 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)

eighty daysOn November 14, 1889, Nellie Bly, the crusading young female reporter for Joseph Pulitzer‚Äôs¬†World¬†newspaper, left New York City by steamship on a quest to break the record for the fastest trip around the world. Also departing from New York that day‚ÄĒand heading in the opposite direction by train‚ÄĒwas a young journalist from¬†The Cosmopolitan¬†magazine, Elizabeth Bisland. Each woman was determined to outdo Jules Verne‚Äôs fictional hero Phileas Fogg and circle the globe in less than eighty days. The dramatic race that ensued would span twenty-eight thousand miles, captivate the nation, and change both competitors‚Äô lives forever.

The two women were a study in contrasts. Nellie Bly was a scrappy, hard-driving, ambitious reporter from Pennsylvania coal country who sought out the most sensational news stories, often going undercover to expose social injustice. Genteel and elegant, Elizabeth Bisland had been born into an aristocratic Southern family, preferred novels and poetry to newspapers, and was widely referred to as the most beautiful woman in metropolitan journalism. Both women, though, were talented writers who had carved out successful careers in the hypercompetitive, male-dominated world of big-city newspapers. Eighty Days brings these trailblazing women to life as they race against time and each other, unaided and alone, ever aware that the slightest delay could mean the difference between victory and defeat.

A vivid real-life re-creation of the race and its aftermath, from its frenzied start to the nail-biting dash at its finish,¬†Eighty Days¬†is history with the heart of a great adventure novel. Here‚Äôs the journey that takes us behind the walls of Jules Verne‚Äôs Amiens estate, into the back alleys of Hong Kong, onto the grounds of a Ceylon tea plantation, through storm-tossed ocean crossings and mountains blocked by snowdrifts twenty feet deep, and to many more unexpected and exotic locales from London to Yokohama. Along the way, we are treated to fascinating glimpses of everyday life in the late nineteenth century‚ÄĒan era of unprecedented technological advances, newly remade in the image of the steamship, the railroad, and the telegraph. For Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland‚ÄĒtwo women ahead of their time in every sense of the word‚ÄĒwere not only racing around the world. They were also racing through the very heart of the Victorian age. (description from publisher)

appalachian trailCompleted in 1937 by a small cadre of volunteers, the Appalachian Trail spans fourteen states from Maine to Georgia and is more than 2,000 miles long. Now, 75 years after its completion, the A.T. remains America’s premier hiking trail and is known as “the People’s Path.” Visitors from all over the world are drawn to the trail for a variety of reasons: to reconnect with nature, to escape the stress of city life, to meet new people, or to experience a simpler life. Out of three million annual visitors, almost 2,000 attempt to earn the distinction of “thru-hiker” by walking all five million footsteps in one continuous journey.

The only illustrated book officially published with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, The Appalachian Trail explores highlights of this legendary footpath with more than 250 spectacular contemporary images, historical photos and documents from the ATC archives, and detailed maps pinpointing each location along the trail. Readers can experience the trail as if their boots were on the path–passing by the iconic white trail blazes, taking in the surrounding wilderness at scenic overlooks, meeting other hikers at lean-tos or shelters, freezing at the sight of a black bear, moose, or other majestic wildlife.

With fascinating essays on topics ranging from the history of the trail to the hiking experience, this book is perfect for anyone interested in conservation, outdoor recreation, or American history, or for those who dream of one day becoming thru-hikers themselves. (description from publisher)

After hearing a glowing review on NPR praising¬†this witty and charming book, I quickly placed a hold on a copy of Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple. ¬†Told primarily through emails, faxes, letters, and transcripts of taped conversations, the novel explores the events leading up to agoraphobic housewife Bernadette Fox’s disappearance. ¬†She and her Microsoft bigwig husband promise their gifted daughter Bee that if she gets straight A’s at her prestigious middle school, she can have anything she wants as a graduation gift. ¬†Bernadette’s worst nightmare comes true when Bee succeeds and chooses a family trip to Antarctica.¬†¬†She attempts to cope with this sudden obligation to be around (gasp) people;¬†she even¬†hires a virtual assistant in India to make all the vacation preparations!¬† That’s why it is such a shock when Bernadette disappears just before they are due to embark on the trip.¬† Bee compiles these documents looking for clues, hoping against all evidence that she can bring her mom home again.

Semple was a writer for Arrested Development¬†and it shows in this book, in which witty dialogue and over-the-top scenarios¬†abound.¬† Bernadette’s feud with the PTA moms at Bee’s school, most notably with the one who lives next door, is ridiculous and hysterical.¬† Neighbor¬†tresspasses to insist that Bernadette remove some unsightly blackberry vines?¬† Better erect a 5 ft. x 8 ft. billboard telling her to stay off the property, of course!¬† But despite all of the wacky humor, at the heart of this novel is a very touching mother-daughter relationship.¬† Bee will stop at nothing to find out what happened to her mother, and it is her unconditional love and determination that will render you unable to stop reading until you find out how their story ends.