When you travel, is walking always part of the itinerary? Besides being good exercise generally and a great way to unstiffen those limbs after the tight quarters on an airplane, train, or car, walking lets you see so much more of your destination. Take your time, and you can see –and- understand the sites much better than if you whirled past them on a tour bus.
Set your own pace, and you’ll have the opportunity to make interesting discoveries, about a place’s history, maybe even how it relates to the history of the world itself. A History of the World in 500 Walks is an intriguing blend of travel book and history book. With chapters ranging from Prehistory (the Gold Coast Hinterland Great Walk, a 34-mile rainforest traverse in Queensland, Australia) to the 20th Century (the Selma to Montgomery Trail in Alabama and the Long Trail in Vermont—completed in 1930), you’ll become more aware of history’s triumphs and tragedies and nature’s sometimes harsh beauty, as well as other cultures' histories, as can be found on the Nakasendo Trail in Japan.
Whether you consider it a melting pot or salad bowl, America’s culinary culture is rich with spices, both savory and sweet. Caraway seeds add piquancy to Jewish rye breads. Paprika, hot or mild, gives Hungarian stews and meats warmth and subtlety. Vanilla, theoretically the blandest of flavors, is intrinsic to many beloved forms of chocolate, cookies, cakes and even tea and coffee.
Indian spice blends, named curries when made up for Europeans, vary from district to district, from mellow to fiery. In Ethiopia, a berbere spice combination may take a dozen different ingredients—typically including chiles, allspice, cardamom, and fenugreek—to create unforgettable flavor.
If you are interested in exploring new types of cuisine or want to learn more about these ingredients’ place in world history, books about spice can brighten your summer.
The recent movie War Horse, based on the book by Michael Morpurgo, succeeded in showing the strong emotional connections between horses and people. Indeed, this bond was much a part of human history and everyday life up to the middle of the 20th century. Tamsin Pickeral’s book, The Horse: 30,000 Years of the Horse in Art, is as much about history of this relationship as it is about art.
From Neolithic horse hunters’ vivid and probably shamanic cave paintings in France to portraits of proud aristocrats and royalty with their prized possessions to scenes such as the mournful “Ownerless Horse on the Battlefield at Mozhaisk in 1812,” by Adam Albrecht, the horses depicted are as much a projection of human feeling as they are simple studies in landscape or nature.