One for the Road: Charm City – A Walk Through Baltimore

I’m super excited about today’s book suggestion. The latest title in Crown’s Journey Series is Charm City: A Walk Through Baltimore by Madison Smartt Bell. The cover itself, decorated with Hon hair and a photo of the famous Painted Ladies, is enough for me to know — I want to read this book! When I first started writing for Gadling back in 2005, I was still a Baltimore resident, and I’ve mentioned the fantastic city here on more than one occasion. I debated waiting to tell ya all about this one until after I had a chance to read it, but why wait? I’m fairly confident it’s an excellent read. I BELIEVE in all things Baltimore.

But you don’t have to take my word for it — This week, the New York Times praised Bell’s book as a guide to the “soul” of a “real city.” Bell, an award-winning author who has lived in Baltimore for over twenty years, is a professor at Goucher College, where he directs the creative writing program. His book explores the history of the city by traveling through its unique mix of neighborhoods and major arteries, focusing on four specific walks through Fells Point and Dickeysville and along Charles Street and Greemount Avenue. Some well-known locals, like Laura Lippman and David Simon, join him on the jaunts. The Baltimore Sun interviewed Bell about how this project came to be. It’s a good read, and more proof that the book is sure to serve as a perfect companion for any trip to Charm City.

One for the Road: Evidence of My Existence

Jim Lo Scalzo has been a staff photographer for US News & World Report since 1994. His new memoir is a moving look at the life of a photojournalist who has traveled the world. Evidence of My Existence tells the story Lo Scalzo’s 17 years on the job as an “obsessive wanderlust” — He handled assignments in over 60 countries, capturing important news stories, while jeopardizing his relationships and his very own life, for the sake of his career.

Eventually, Lo Scalzo had to make a choice, as this recent book review explains: He had to make a decision about what was the most important to him: his profession or his family. It is a decision that many photojournalists have to make but rarely talk about in the direct way that Lo Scalzo does.

Be sure to watch the compelling trailer for the book, which begins with the question, “How to stop moving?” Whether we’re taking photos or not, it’s a question that all travelers are faced with. This book explores how one man answered the question for himself.

One for the Road: Nomad’s Hotel

In the past week, I’ve come across two different thumbs up for a collection of travel essays by Dutch writer Cees Nooteboom. I’ve now added Nomad’s Hotel: Travels in Time and Space to my 2008 “really-must-read” list and wanted to give all of you list-loving readers a chance to do the same. Here’s what I’ve gathered:

First, in the latest issue of Geist, Michael Kozlowski describes the pieces in Nomad’s Hotel as “meditations” and calls it “…less a book of travel stories than a collection of Nooteboom’s musings on travel and impressions of places.” My interest was piqued. Then I found it listed among Rory Maclean’s 2007 recommended reads, where he praises it as, “…a jewel of a travel book, free of pretension, full of easy adventure, fresh with childlike wonder for the world.” Rory wrote a much longer review of the book for the Guardian earlier this year. These two positive reviews were enough for me to take notice of Nooteboom, but if you need more, check out this in-depth look at the fascinating “traveling writer.”

One for the Road: Into Hot Air

Funny man Chris Elliott has taken his comedy to new heights in his third book, a comic spoof on a classic travel adventure that was released last month. Into Hot Air: Mounting Mount Everest is a novel that pokes fun at, well, just about everything, including the author himself. Elliott’s narrator, also named Elliott, wonders if it really was Sir Edmund Hillary who was the first to scale Everest. The discovery of a diary written by a crazy great uncle begins the questioning, and readers are dragged along on a mysterious and laugh-out-loud journey that includes a cast of all-star celebrities.

Elliott depicts epic adventure at its funniest, and ” …also takes aim at disaster movies, celebrity activism, and reality TV shows like Survivor and The Amazing Race.” As Chris explains in this recent Gothamist interview, CNN and the titles of other folks books did inspire some aspects of his own story: “It’s more or less using Everest and the action-adventure genre as a backdrop for my goofiness.”

One for the Road: Planet Earth

The BBC’s much-praised Planet Earth series was shown in the US on the Discovery Channel earlier this year. It was accompanied by the publication of a companion book, Planet Earth: As You’ve Never Seen It Before, which jumped up some notches on the New York Times bestseller list this week, partially due to an encore presentation of the show.

As another year of traveling comes to a close, the book offers wanderers an opportunity to sit back and truly look at the bigger picture: this astounding planet that we all move upon, and all the amazing creatures we share it with! Over 400 color illustrations create a “visual odyssey” of landscapes, packaged beautifully in 300-pages! The spectacular collection of photos takes readers along to remote and far ranging locations – mountains, forests, deserts and rivers, showcasing natural wonders and wildlife from around the world. Nomads from all walks of life will appreciate this hardbound tribute to our shared home.