Staff Pick

Say you’re a seasoned traveler who’s tired of guides that point you towards the same places every single time. To cure your ills, there’s no better book than Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras, and Ella Morton’s The Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders (Workman, $35), which comes replete with stories of incredible locations for the curious soul. Why not visit the Canadian Potato Museum, which prides itself on having “the largest exhibit of potato artifacts in the world”? The Child Eater of Bern, a five-hundred-year-old statue in Switzerland depicting a man munching on human babies, whose origin nobody knows? Or for the truly daring: The Gates of Hell, a hole in the ground in Turkmenistan that’s been burning constantly for forty years? It would not be exaggeration for me to say that these are only the tip of the iceberg; this book covers a lot of ground, and all of it will capture the imaginations of both the practical and the armchair traveler. But this is only the beginning. Readers will find more articles waiting on the official Atlas Obscura website, of which this volume represents merely a selection. Especially worth consideration for writers in need of ideas for stories: now, why has that hole in Turkmenistan been on fire for forty years running?

Atlas Obscura: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders Cover Image
ISBN: 9780761169086
Availability: Out of Print in This Format
Published: Workman Publishing Company - September 20th, 2016

Staff Pick

The basic premise will be familiar to readers and movie-goers the world over: a band of disparate characters comes together, overcomes long odds to find common cause, and sets off on epic adventures to achieve greatness as a unified force. From The Lord of the Rings to The Magnificent Seven and The Guardians of the Galaxy, this trope has been used with great effect. The story Ben MacIntyre tells in Rogue Heroes (Crown, $28) is just such a tale but with an added enticement: it is all completely true. MacIntyre expertly charts a pulse-raising narrative about the formation of Britain’s Special Air Service (SAS), a now legendary special operations unit, during World War II. Filled with striking characters like SAS-founder David Stirling, a man once described as being “quite, quite irresponsible,” to Jock Lewes, Stirling’s second recruit and someone who struck his peers as resembling a warrior from a bygone era, the heroism and shortcomings of this group are as amazing and astonishing as those in any fictional thriller. On their very first mission, for example, SAS recruits had to parachute behind enemy lines, during a gale-force storm—with essentially zero parachuting experience. As SAS Sergeant Jim Almonds wrote, “reality beats fiction for sheer, cold, calculating courage. Films and books of adventure fall far short of the real thing.”

Rogue Heroes: The History of the SAS, Britain's Secret Special Forces Unit That Sabotaged the Nazis and Changed the Nature of War Cover Image
ISBN: 9781101904183
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Broadway Books - August 29th, 2017

Staff Pick

People are living longer today, but the subject of aging has received relatively little literary attention. That paucity of what Canadian journalist and author Ian Brown calls “authentic” writing about aging inspired him to keep a diary beginning on his sixtieth birthday and continuing until his sixty-first. And thus was born Sixty (Experiment, $24.95), an unvarnished examination of his foibles and fantasies, failures and fulfillments. With a literary touch, humor, and charm, Brown meditates on gardening, marriage, uncooperative body parts, and how to measure one’s life and work. His story is particularly poignant when recounting the challenges of raising a severely disabled son, (the subject of his highly acclaimed first book, The Boy in the Moon). While it’s easy for those of us of a certain age to recoil at the thought of reading a book about getting older (who wants to go there?), Brown’s work is the perfect entry point. One discovers reading Sixty that there’s really nothing to fear about the topic!

Sixty: A Diary of My Sixty-First Year: The Beginning of the End, or the End of the Beginning? Cover Image
ISBN: 9781615193509
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: The Experiment - August 23rd, 2016

Sixty: A Diary: My Year of Aging Semi-Gracefully Cover Image
ISBN: 9781615193967
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: The Experiment - September 5th, 2017