Star Wars actress Ashley Eckstein’s It’s Your Universe book: Read an excerpt

As the voice of Jedi padawan Ahsoka Tano on the animated The Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels shows, Ashley Eckstein inspired young girls to believe they too could wield a lightsaber and battle the dark side.

As the founder of the Her Universe fashion line, she inspired women and girls in our galaxy to flaunt their geekdom with style, pride, and playfulness.

Now Eckstein is putting her galaxy-shaping philosophy down on the page with the new book It’s Your Universe, which is part autobiography, telling her own story of being a little girl who longed for the stars and stardom, and part inspirational guide.

Now, Entertainment Weekly presents a cover reveal and excerpt from the illustration-heavy book, which will be released May 8. And we’re also featuring a gallery of Eckstein’s latest Black Panther and Disney Princess clothing for kids.

At a time when some male fans are trying to put up a “No Girls Allowed” sign on Star Wars fandom, Eckstein’s book reminds young female fans that they don’t need anyone’s permission.

“I grew up in Orlando, Florida, and my dad worked for Disney, so we went to Disney World all the time,” Eckstein tells EW. “My mom and I, our favorite song was ‘When You Wish Upon a Star,’ so she always encouraged me to make a wish, and make a dream.”

But they also emphasized the hard work involved in fulfilling such dreams, which is another element of her book. ”

They said, okay, all of those wishes that you’ve been making upon all of those stars, now you have to do it,” Eckstein said. “You have to take action. You have to work hard to actually be it, and to do it. Those dreams and those wishes aren’t just going to fall in your lap.”

Sci-fi and fantasy gives people an escape, and allows kids to expand their own imaginations, but it also makes them dream bigger and aspire for more. It gives kids … hope.

“It’s an inspiration to say, ‘No, I’m never going to be Ahsoka Tano in a galaxy far, far away. Like, literally be a Togruta alien,’” Eckstein says. “‘But I could be a real-life version of Ahsoka.’ And actually it was Ahsoka who inspired me to create Her Universe. I did think, ‘What would Ahsoka do?” Ahsoka would stand up for the female fanbase and offer them more.”

For the longest time, she says, female fans were expected “to be happy with a men’s size small T-shirt because women would not buy merchandise meant for them.”

She decided to fuse her love of skirts and dresses with Star Wars, and quickly expanded to Marvel and other genre. “We can be geeks, and we can look cute while doing it,” Eckstein says.

Here’s the excerpt from It’s Your Universe. And check the gallery here for images from Her Universe’s new Black Panther and Disney Princess-inspired active wear.

Disney Electronic Content

Disney Electronic Content

Disney Electronic Content

Disney Electronic Content

‘Behold the Dreamers’ is Linn Area Reads selection

A book about immigration, the financial crisis and the American dream is the Linn Area Reads selection for 2018.

“Behold the Dreamers” is Imbolo Mbue’s debut novel, published in 2016. It tells the story of Cameroonian immigrants Jende and Neni Jonga as their lives intersect with a wealthy New York family during the 2008 financial crisis. It won the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, the Blue Metropolis Words to Change Award and was an Oprah’s Book Club selection, among other honors.

Linn Area Reads encourages residents to all read one book as a community, followed by public events such as book discussions.

“It’s a story about immigration and the American dream, something we think many people are talking about today. It’s a great book to have a discussion around,” said Cedar Rapids Public Library Community Relations Manager Amber Mussman. “The goal as always is to start a community discussion.”

This year, Linn Area Reads is expanding for the first time beyond the Cedar Rapids, Marion and Hiawatha libraries to include all libraries in Linn County. The different libraries, as well as partner bookstores Barnes & Noble and Next Page Books, will be able to create events that make sense for them, Mussman said. Programming is online at metrolibrarynetwork.or/linnareareads. More programming may be added in the future, and people can also check with their local libraries for updates.

Here is the current list of upcoming Linn Area Reads programs:

Taming a Bear Market, 6:30 p.m. Feb. 13, Marion Public Library, 1095 Sixth Ave., Marion. Financial experts from the Strellner Agency Group will unpack the 2008 financial collapse and share what can be done to protect oneself from future recessions.

Community book discussion of “Behold the Dreamers”, 6 p.m. Feb. 21, Marion Public Library, 1095 Sixth Ave., Marion.


Plunder: The Crime of Our Time documentary screening, 6 p.m. Feb. 22, Marion Public Library, 1095 Sixth Ave., Marion. Exposing the forces responsible for the loss of trillions of dollars, millions of jobs, massive foreclosures and the disappearance of retirement funds, “Plunder: The Crime of Our Time” investigates the unregulated fraud and theft that led to the market’s collapse in fall 2008. Filmmaker Danny Schechter, Emmy Award-winning former ABC News and CNN producer, explores the epidemic of subprime mortgages, predatory lending, insurance scams, and high-risk hedge funds to illustrate the connection between the housing market and the economic collapse that followed.

Community book discussion of “Behold the Dreamers”, 7 p.m. Feb. 26, Lisbon Public Library, 101 E. Main St., Lisbon.

Community Cultural Celebration and Expo, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 3, Cedar Rapids Public Library, 450 Fifth Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids. Join the Cedar Rapids Public Library and the Cedar Rapids Civil Rights Commission as organizations and groups from across the area celebrate the diversity and culture of the community.

Reality Bites: Immigrants and Refugees, 6 to 8 p.m. March 7, April 4 and May 2, 6-8 p.m., Cedar Rapids Public Library, 450 Fifth Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids. This is a workshop-style class, with short videos and films, collective conversations and group exercises around the theme of Immigrants and Refugees. Be prepared to share in a civil and safe environment. In the first session participants learn, then discuss in the second and finally share. All are welcome.

Community book discussion of “Behold the Dreamers”, 2 p.m. March 12, Barnes & Noble Booksellers, 333 Collins Road NE, Cedar Rapids

West African Art, 7 p.m. March 13, Marion Public Library, 1095 Sixth Ave., Marion. Vero Smith, Assistant Curator at the University of Iowa Museum of Art, will present on the West African Art collection.

Community book discussion of “Behold the Dreamers”, 1 p.m. March 21, Coggon Public Library, 216 E. Main St., Coggon

l Comments: (319) 398-8339; [email protected]

Shocking Surprise Entrant & Dream Match to Book At Royal Rumble 2018 ? Huge Updates On Royal Rumble

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Dave Eggers tells true story of dogged man’s triumph | Book Blog

“The Monk of Mokha” is a real-life story of the American Dream by way of Yemen, with a stop at the Hills Brothers coffee logo.

Readers will cheer for Mokhtar Alkhanshali, the subject of Dave Eggers’ most recent book, a biography. A U.S. citizen born in 1988, Mokhtar grew up with six siblings in San Francisco’s troubled Tenderloin district, which “taught you to think quick, talk fast. You had to listen and assimilate.” Mokhtar shrugged off school, preferring wily self-study.

Mokhtar’s first after-school job at a Banana Republic store taught him how to dress and carry himself so that he was “trusted and wanted around.” This led to better retail positions, more access, higher paychecks. But “there was no precedent and there was no money” for college. Called “mister” and “sir” around town, “he went back home, to sleep on the top bunk of a two bunk set in his family’s one-bedroom apartment,” Eggers writes.

Mokhtar takes classes, gets involved in local politics, sells cars, and borrows money to buy a laptop. But at 25 years old, bursting with ambition, he’s working as a doorman at a luxury high rise.

A friend texts “pick a direction for your life.” She suggests that “across the street there’s a statue of a Yemeni dude drinking a big cup of coffee.” Maybe that Hills Brothers logo from 1906 is a sign. Mokhtar directs his scattered energies toward one thing: a coffee importing business.

Mokhtar learns that coffee originated in Yemen. “Rogue adventurers” moved the crop around the globe, stealing coffee cherries and seedlings, starting in the 1500s. This included an emissary of Brazil seducing the French colonial governor’s wife, who “provided him with a bouquet of flowers, inside of which she’d hidden enough coffee cherries to start a farm of his own.”

Coffee has “quite possibly the most complex journey from farm to consumption of any foodstuff known to humankind.” There’s also tasting; a Q grader is “something akin to what a sommelier is to wine, a grand master is to chess,” Eggers writes.

When Mokhtar travels to Yemen to sample and buy beans, it’s 2014. The country is unstable, but in just a few months “it was as if some almost-unknown militia from near the Oregon border swept down and took over Sacramento, San Francisco, Los Angeles, all without any significant resistance.” A major airport shuts down, then roads flood with checkpoints manned by children with guns.

Although this section of the book is especially perilous, the entirety of “The Monk of Mokha” — Mokhtar Alkhanshali’s life — reads like a harrowing adventure story. Readers will hold their breath for the charming, brilliant child of the Tenderloin. They will want Mokhtar to get the job, secure the funding, pass the Q grader test. They’ll want him to find his way to Yemen, then desperately want him to make it safely home to San Francisco, high-grade beans in tow.

Eggers interviewed Mokhtar over three years and hundreds of hours. The book is a wonder: dense with details, yet light and often funny (in Mokhtar’s first euphoric moment at a Yemeni coffee farm, he embarrassingly mistakes an olive tree for the beloved coffee plant he’s been studying).

Among Eggers’ long list of award-winning work are his own memoir (“A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius”) and dystopian fiction (“The Circle”). But a decade ago Eggers wrote both a novelization of the life of Sudanese refugee Valentino Achak Deng (“What Is the What”) and an extensively researched biography of what happened to Syrian-American Abdulrahman Zeitoun during Hurricane Katrina (“Zeitoun”).

These men, like Mokhtar Alkhanshali, triumphed against unimaginable poverty and violence.

In his introduction, the author calls his newest subject one of the “U.S. citizens who maintain strong ties to the countries of their ancestors and who, through entrepreneurial zeal and dogged labor, create indispensable bridges between the developed and developing worlds, between nations that produce and those that consume. And how these bridgemakers exquisitely and bravely embody this nation’s reason for being, a place of radical opportunity and ceaseless welcome.”

Eggers has an urgent message about resilience and a new American Dream, and his literary skills make it easy to hear.

Holly Silva is a St. Louis editor.

4FRNT’s Children’s Book Inspires a Young Reader

WORDS BY: Camryn Reddick, age 9

‘Will You Believe In Me,’ written by Matt Sterbenz, founder of 4FRNT, is a story about a boy that started skiing when he was only 4 years old. He loved nothing more than to ski. The boy’s name was Matt. As Matt grew older, he and his friends did something called freeskiing–spinning on slopes and flying up half pipes.

When Matt grew up he wanted his work to help people who loved to ski. So he decided to start a company to make skis in new ways. That company was going to be called 4FRNT. One day a skier came in named David. David was a talented skier and he loved flying up steep “U” shaped half pipes. David knew he could win a contest so he just needed the right skis. David wanted Matt to maybe make his skis and asked, “Will you believe in me?” Matt believed in David, so he made his skis.

The day came to test David’s skis in the contest. However, when David started his first run, his ski broke in half! Even though the ski that Matt made broke, he still believed in David.

So they went back to the shop and made him another pair of skis, and they would make them even better! For the next contest, David went off to Aspen, Colorado, for the X Games. Instead, Matt watched David from a computer. David was in a booth and people were giving him “high fives.”

With the skis that they had designed won the big contest! David kept winning big events. Matt started getting calls from people all over the world who were interested in his skis. Matt’s dream came true. People were enjoying the sport he loved.

Soon David was so good on his skis he got to join the Olympic USA team! As Matt was watching another one of David’s contests, he whispered: “I believe in you, David.” So dreams came true for both of them because David won an Olympic gold medal in skiing halfpipes.

I liked this book because Matt shows friendship and happiness with David, and David shows the same. It just makes me smile!

I am similar to Matt because I love to ski and help others. What I liked about Matt and David is that they never gave up even if they had to make more skis for David. Also, it is so nice of Matt to stop his time of “freeskiing” and help David.

I would recommend this book to all my friends that ski and even the ones that don’t, because I feel like they need to have the courage to do whatever they want when they grow up and to stay focused on their dreams. The lessons that I learned from this story are to never give up; anything is possible, and people can do amazing things if they work together and believe in one another.

A good night’s sleep can be a key feature in your dream home

Sending midnight emails from the comfort of bed used to be the ultimate status symbol. Now, science and society are tending to agree that it’s the ultimate drag.

The home design world is starting to tune in, with developers and architects approaching a good night’s sleep as a challenge worth solving. It’s a nascent awareness that follows a shift across other industries, moving away from relentless technology and stress, toward a calmer way.

IPhones have that “do not disturb” setting. Companies are adding nap rooms. Schools are pushing start times later.

“Sleep, like clean air, increasingly has the potential to be the new luxury good,” said Rachel Gutter, the chief product officer of the International Well Building Institute, which offers a health and wellness building standard modeled after LEED environmental ratings. “We are increasingly cognizant of how our homes and our offices directly contribute to our health and well being.”

Last year, the Nobel Prize in medicine, given for research on circadian rhythms, renewed the spotlight on the link between sleep and health, and Arianna Huffington’s new book, “The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time,” brought the message of sleep’s importance to a mass audience. People are more interested than ever in sleep, she said in an interview.

“The level of receptiveness is skyrocketing,” Huffington wrote in an email. “I can see a clear difference from when I first started writing the book and telling people about it compared with now. These days, people are much more aware of the science about how important sleep is — and how could they not be; it’s everywhere in the media — but what they want to talk about now is less the ‘why’ than the ‘how.’ ”

Gutter said that while sleep-optimized homes are still a rarity, a focus on how design can support sleep is starting to take root, “particularly in higher-end housing and particularly in urban areas” where quality sleep is threatened by light and noise.

Between high-tech solutions, such as light bulbs that promote alertness in the day and rest at night, and more primal ones, such as moving the bedroom or sometimes the whole house away from busy streets and into nature, the various approaches to sleep-friendly housing say one thing: “A good night’s sleep is one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves and our families,” Gutter said.

The Lakehouse, a luxury waterfront condominium tower in Denver slated to open in 2019, where condos are priced from half a million to more than $3 million, treats quality sleep as one of many health and wellness perks — including strategically placed elevators that nudge people to take the stairs, organic gardens cultivated by residents and a “harvest room,” where people can wash their fruits and veggies while mingling.

Blackout shades in bedrooms and dimmable LED lights are standard, said Brian Levitt, president and co-founder of Nava Real Estate Development. The project, which has set out to be Colorado’s first Well-certified project, also has sound attenuation that exceeds code and air filtration “that might help the sleep for occupants with asthma or other environmental sensitivities.” Circadian lighting and an extra air filter are optional.

Levitt, in his late 40s, started valuing sleep when it became scarce: after he had kids. He soon began to wonder: What sleep sustaining features can he add to his projects?

“You start to think about — well, people live in these buildings. A third of their life they’re sleeping,” he said.

Levitt doesn’t expect people to spend more for wellness amenities, but he thinks his own investment should pay off in terms of reputation and resident satisfaction.

“They’re just going to have a better experience in their home. How do you capitalize that?” The long view: If, over time, it is proven that living in a healthy space, walking more and sleeping more can add years to someone’s life, “the economic value of our buildings will be exponentially increased.”

On California’s Monterey Peninsula, Nick Jekogian said he hopes his nature- and mindfulness-themed community will entice overworked, Type A tech heads from Silicon Valley to unwind — after spending $5 million for a lot of approximately 20 acres and several million more to build on it.

“I think that the ability to disconnect, and using nature to do that, is going to be of huge value in people being able to sleep better,” he said.

While other luxury developments tout their curated art collections or pet spas, the first feature Jekogian mentioned in an interview was the land’s centuries-old oak trees.

Jekogian named the community Walden Monterey, inspired by his experience camping on the property and by Henry David Thoreau’s Walden, which praises early rising.

“Rise free from care before the dawn, and seek adventures,” Thoreau wrote there.

Jekogian described his sleep as “phenomenal” in Monterey and terrible in New York. “I personally know that keeping my phone next to me at night when I’m in New York City is probably one of the worst things I can do for my sleep,” he said.

He feels “less anxious” when he dozes on the still undeveloped land. “When you sleep near a 200-year-old tree, it puts today’s rapid-fire news into perspective. It’s meaningless,” he said.

This ties into Huffington’s “number one tip” for creating a sleep-friendly environment: charge your phone anywhere but in the bedroom.

“Our phones are repositories of everything we need to put away to allow us to sleep — our to-do lists, our in-boxes, our anxieties. So putting your phone to bed outside your bedroom as a regular part of your bedtime ritual makes you more likely to wake up as fully charged as your phone,” said Huffington.

Susan Redline, a senior physician with the Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, said avoiding artificial light at night is essential. Camping — or a setting that mimics camping, with natural light and natural darkness — is a great way to get “better quality and longer sleep.”

“Our clock is very much aligned with sunset and sunrise, and artificial light can disturb the normal rhythms of that clock,” she said.

Her advice: Create a “sleep sanctuary” with no gadgets, no lights, no reminders of the day’s hassles. The room should whisper, “This is your time to regenerate. This is your time to relax. This is your time to heal,” Redline said.

Michael Breus, a board-certified sleep doctor based in Los Angeles, shared his two essential tips: Make your bed and clean your bedroom to make it feel welcoming. Slightly pricier, but still accessible for many, is investing in better pillows, biological light bulbs, an updated mattress or a mattress topper.

For bigger budgets, he recommends insulating walls for sound and temperature and considering the cardinal direction the bedroom’s windows are facing.

With a blank slate, Breus’s sleep-optimized bedroom would be high tech, yet atavistic: On the top floor, at the back of a house built on a quiet piece of land, with at least two outside walls, to minimize sounds from inside. Blackout curtains would run on a timer, opening about an hour before his wake-up time. If he has to get out of bed at night, sensors by the bed would feel his feet swinging out and light a dim pathway to the bathroom — dim, to prevent melatonin disruption.

It would have French doors overlooking a serene body of water and a small meditation space where he could calm down before bed.

A few years ago, Stuart Narofsky, an architect in Long Island City, created a dream bedroom for clients he now considers close friends.

“I love my husband. My husband is my soulmate. He’s a great guy. But he snores,” is how Bonnie Greenfield, 59, described the situation.

She more or less put up with it for years, sometimes asking her husband, Tod, a co-owner of Martin Greenfield Clothiers, a menswear company, to use a spare bedroom. But one morning, riding the train into New York City and feeling drained again, “a light went off in my head.” What if they slept together, but apart? Could architecture solve what nose strips and years of elbows in the ribs had not?

For the poured concrete, sustainable house the Greenfields moved into in 2012, Narofsky created a “snoring room” for Tod, up a flight a stairs from the master bedroom. With four exterior walls, in the home’s highest point, it “wound up being almost like a tree house,” Narofsky said.

The “snoring room” was an architectural fix for a problem that, doctors say, deserves medical attention to rule out serious health conditions, including sleep apnea. But for the Greenfields, their creative custom bedroom beat alternatives such as a sleep study or surgery.

Now Bonnie sleeps well — so well that she has the pep to launch a women’s classic clothing line.

“If you do not have enough sleep, you are cranky and angry and you have no patience. It is so important to sleep,” she said.

Jennifer Luce, principal of Luce et Studio, in San Diego, recently designed a “sleep pavilion” and custom bed for a pair of clients who wanted a bedroom that would help them wind down. In some ways, it is unconventional. The approximately 500-square-foot room is a standalone building in the garden.

“It will be the only place they sleep,” Luce said. “It will become a ritual, to leave the house, and to leave the daily world, and enter this really special place.”

Another feature: metal slat screens around the building are timed to move automatically based on the hour and time of year, darkening the room at night and brightening it in the morning.

An inspiration comes from 18th century follies, which were eye-pleasing spaces used for leisure.

Luce said she had been thinking architecture and empathy when she started the project: “How does space honor and react to human tendencies, human emotions, human ways of life? And certainly, one of those is sleep.”

Dream come true for author as story is set to be brought to life

Horsham author Daisy White is delighted to have optioned one of her stories to local independent creatives ‘Singularis’.

Entitled ‘Ripe Tomatoes’, the story is set to go into production in February.

Daisy said: “I saw the call for potential stories to be made into films last year, and submitted four. I was so excited when they called to say ‘Ripe Tomatoes’ had been chosen.

“It is an absolute dream come true, and I can’t wait to see actors actually bringing my story alive.

Daisy has a busy year ahead for 2018, with six new book releases, including the second book in the successful Ruby Baker Mysteries.

Daisy added: “The Ruby Baker Mysteries are set in 1960’s Brighton, which is where I was born.

“The second book in the series, ‘Before I Found You’ sees Ruby investigating a cold case of a missing child and is out on January 30.

“When a woman claims to have served ten years for a crime she didn’t commit, Ruby can’t turn her plea for help down,” she added.

“I am having to be so organised this year, as I never planned to have so many books out at once, but publishing schedules vary and it just happened.”

The Ruby Baker series is published by Joffe Books, but Daisy also writes Young Adult thrillers for US publisher Fire & Ice YA Books, and has a book for younger children out this spring with New Zealand based publisher, The Patchwork Raven.

As well as writing a new thriller, and working with editors and art departments at her current publishers, Daisy is looking forward to attending The Southern Book Show on March 4 in Worthing.

Tips, links and suggestions: what are you reading this week? | Books

Your space to discuss the books you are reading and what you think of them

Nod by Adrian Barnes

Nod by Adrian Barnes.
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Welcome to this week’s blog. Here’s our roundup of your comments and photos from last week.

First, a lesson on mutability from reverendbow:

I’ve just finished a yellowed paperback of The First Circle by Solzhenitsyn that I found in a second hand bookshop in Isleworth. As I read it, the sections I had just finished fell apart. In my imagination, the book had been stuck in the shop for decades waiting to be read and when it was picked out and fulfilled its destiny it expired in my hands. I know actually it was just a result of old paper, cheap glue and unexpected movement but it’s nice to dream. Anyway, I really enjoyed it. Full of real characters, struggle and pain but also moments of lightness and levity. It was only pointed out to me once I’d finished that I was reading the shortened version and the original version was translated fairly recently. Oh well.

Next, a lesson in being open to literary experiences from HousmansEngland, who has enjoyed Jon McGregor’s Reservoir 13:

I’d seen all the hype about this novel, of course, but decided it wasn’t for me. I changed my mind at the weekend, and gave it a go. I’m so glad I did! … This is a closely-observed story of an entire village, an entire way of life. The story covers a decade of village life, showing the characters, and the countryside in which they live, going through their daily lives, showing how they change, how the years change them, and how they respond to the environment and each other.

I found this a genuinely amazing book. The cool, distant narration has a power that draws the reader in, making you want to know what happens next. This is the first time in a long while that I was genuinely sorry to have finished reading a novel.

And a few words on perseverance from Misstash16:

I’m about halfway through John Crowley’s Little, Big. I started off being confused, then reached a place where I felt like I had a firm grasp on what was going on, and now I’m utterly lost again. So, I’ll just keep going I think.

Elsewhere, dylan37 has enjoyed The Herald Tribune: The First Hundred Years by Charles Robertson:

It’s a romping tale of fin de siècle rich playboys, sailing yachts across the Atlantic, two World Wars, American ex-pats in 1930s Paris drinking, screwing and writing, and changes to newspaper publishing and attitudes of (and to) the press. It’s a window on a lost world, like stepping past the palm fronds into one of those old world, gold and red cafés they still have in Paris.

And Indrek Hargla’s Apothecary Melchior and the Ghost Of Rataskaevu Street has entertained safereturndoubtful:

It is set in Tallinn in 1419 and is actually the second in a series (the first one was tremendous also). The murders take second stage to the wonderful backdrop of the city and the cast of characters. Crime is rare, which is no surprise with the pillories, torture of suspects and a variety of styles of public executions, and the taverns are well frequented. Melchior is in the role of sleuth, and often extends his questioning to his favourite pub, which happens in this story to be inside the Nunnery and apparently, has many fine ales. Hargla is by far the most famous current Estonian author. He also writes other fiction which is popular, but at present it is just these two books that have been translated. There are another four Melchior books which I hope will follow. I’m usually not one for series, but this is great fun.

Finally, paulburns recommend’s Angela Carter’s superb final novel, Wise Children:

Read Angela Carter’s Wise Children. A rambunctious epic of two theatrical families spanning the British music hall, Edwardian Shakespeare, the 1920s, 1930s Hollywood, WW2 and post war Britain. A shout of joy out to the world.

Interesting links about books and reading

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If you’re on Instagram and a book lover, chances are you’re already sharing beautiful pictures of books you are reading: “shelfies”, or all kinds of still lives with books as protagonists. Now you can share your reads with us on the mobile photography platform – simply tag your pictures there with #GuardianBooks, and we’ll include a selection here. Happy reading!

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Check It Out: Book a journey with this illustrated history of travel

Jan Johnston is the Collection Development Coordinator for the Fort Vancouver Regional Library District. Email her at [email protected]

It’s that time of year when a lot of people dream of traveling to tropical locales. We’ve had a pretty mild winter thus far, so the urge to get away from the cold and wet may not be as strong as, say, last year (remember last January? If you’re from this area, I’m sure you do).

This year, instead of going to the library to check out travel guides, perhaps a little armchair traveling will do just fine. If so, I would like to recommend Simon Adams’ “Journey: An Illustrated History of Travel.” It’s published by Dorling Kindersley, which is known for its beautifully illustrated titles, but it’s also produced in association with the Smithsonian Institution, and that powerhouse combination has resulted in a truly stunning book. I’m not the only one to be wowed, by the way. Reviews are singing its praises, with one reviewer for “Library Journal” commenting that “readers will be struck by the sheer wonder of it all.” Exactly.

Maps, photographs, eyewitness accounts, ephemera — this book is packed (travel pun!) with information. In case you’re wondering if this history of travel is limited to more modern-day experiences involving powered modes of transportation, the answer is a resounding “no.” Adams starts his exploration with the Ancient World, 3000 BCE. Think camels, wagons, and lots of traveling by foot. In other words, you didn’t need a travel agent to book your journey, you just went. If you were lucky enough to be part of the Minoan culture, which just happened to take a big step forward with the building of wooden ships, you might have been able to cruise around the Mediterranean, trading with other islands and enjoying the sea breeze. Well, cruising might not be the best term. From the looks of the Minoan ship design, rowing your heart out was more like it. All the more reason to enjoy the sea breeze, I suppose.

From traveling by donkey to pushing an oar (remember — 100 percent hard work, 0 percent like a cruise), touring by locomotive to flying to Mars (SpaceX, some day), humans have been traveling for millennia and will continue to travel for as long as the human race continues. Check out “Journey” and hit the road, bibliographically-speaking, as the history of travel unfolds over 440 fascinating pages. No reservation required.