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Posts Tagged ‘Friendly Planet Travel Book Club’

A night in Italy at the Friendly Planet Travel Book Club

JOYFUL DISCUSSION: We chatted about “Every Day in Tuscany”
over wine and snacks 

Another inspiring Book Club meeting has come to a close, and we’d like to thank everyone who attended. It was a joy recounting Frances Mayes’ stories of fragrant gardens, warm and interesting friends, and gorgeous scenery from “Every Day in Tuscany,” her third installment of the “Tuscan Sun” series.

We recalled how entertaining it was to live vicariously through Frances’ writing as she recounts her adventures in Italy. Several attendees spoke about their own trips to Italy and how this wonderful country has touched their lives. Also discussed was our yearning desire to “pick up everything” and buy a house in another country as Mayes did, as well as the challenges that come with such a life-changing decision.

We enjoyed a lovely array of Tuscan inspired snacks, such as tomato and basil crostini, prosciutto and melon, and delicious Toscana olives, and toasted with a glass of prosecco.

After discussing Italy, we chatted about our other favorite destinations, which led to a friendly debate about the next book selection. Africa and South America were top contenders, but we’d love your input too. Let us know what you think we should read next (any destination/region will be considered). And, of course, we hope to see you at our next meeting!

Get lost in Italy at the next Friendly Planet Travel Book Club

Summer is in full swing and that can only mean one thing … summer reading! I’m happy to announce the third meeting of our Friendly Planet Travel Book Club. This time, we decided to pick a region that exudes summer warmth and beauty, and the obvious choice was Italy!

There are countless books about Italy, but no one writes about this destination better than Frances Mayes, author of worldwide bestseller “Under the Tuscan Sun” and “Bella Tuscany.” Frances is the queen of Tuscan writing, and we decided to make her third Italian memoir, “Every Day in Tuscany“, the feature of our third book club.

Mayes entered a wondrous new world when she began restoring an abandoned villa in the spectacular Tuscan countryside. Her newest book offers a deeply personal account of her present-day life in her adopted hill town, sharing the delights and challenges of daily life, the pastoral pleasures of feasting from her garden, and her favorite recipes. “Every Day in Tuscany” is an inviting and authentic account of the timeless beauty and vivid pleasures of Italian life. It’ll be sure to leave you longing for the Tuscan countryside before you reach the last page!

If you’re interested in learning what it feels like to live under the Tuscan sun, pick up a copy of the book and join our discussion. We’ll explore the wonders of Tuscany on July 31 at the Jenkintown Library from 7-9 pm. Let us know if you can join us by contacting Liz Hutchins at EHutchins@FriendlyPlanet.com or by calling 800-555-5765 Ext. 214. Please RSVP no later than Friday, July 27 so we know how many to expect.

Hope to see you there. Ciao!

Cuba is the cover story at the Friendly Planet Travel Book Club!

As the cliché goes, tomorrow is only a day away. For us, that means the next meeting of the Friendly Planet Travel Book club is almost upon us. “Last Dance in Havana,” a novel by Eugene Robinson, was chosen for our second book club meeting scheduled for tomorrow night, April 17. We’ll be meeting at 7 p.m. at the Jenkintown Library in Jenkintown, Pa. to chat about all things Cuba.

We’re excited for another book club meeting that is sure to have lively discussion about the fantastic setting and culture that offers itself to the story. We’ll talk about how Cuba has changed since Robinson wrote the book, as well as what to expect if you travel to Cuba.

Expect to meet new, like-minded people; have more than a few laughs; and enjoy the company of fellow travelers and readers. Also, a few attendees have just returned from our People-To-People Cuba programs and are eager to share their experiences!

If you plan on attending, please RVSP to the event on Facebook, or email Liz Hutchins, our book club coordinator, at EHutchins@FriendlyPlanet.com. It’s bound to be a fun-filled evening, and we’re looking forward to seeing you there!

“Last Dance in Havana” voted the next Friendly Planet Travel Book Club selection

I asked and you answered: What book should we read for our next Friendly Planet Travel Book Club meeting that will explore the people and culture of Cuba? You voted, and it was a close one! We tallied your votes, and the book we’ll be reading is “Last Dance in Havana,” by Eugene Robinson.

This novel takes readers on a journey through the culture of Cuba, using music as a lens. Despite Castro’s attempts to shut down nightclubs, obstruct artists, and subsidize only what he wants, the musicians and dancers of Cuba cannot stop. In this provocative work, Robinson takes readers on a lyrical tour of a country on the verge of revolution, using its musicians as a window into its present and future.
I encourage you to pick up this book to get a glimpse of what it’s like in Cuba (after all, isn’t that what traveling is all about?). “Last Dance in Havana” is available at your local bookstore, or available for download on your e-reader. We’re gathering on April 17 at the Jenkintown Library to dive into the wonders of Cuba through “Last Dance in Havana.” Get reading, and I’m looking forward to seeing you there!

The Friendly Planet Travel Book Club: Cuba, Cuba, and more Cuba

We started the Friendly Planet Travel Book Club so travelers and fans can connect and experience the joy of travel through reading. Since we had so much fun the first time, I’ve been eagerly anticipating the second meeting. This time around, we’re focusing on Cuba because of its vibrant history, culture, and people.

I wanted to pick a book that delved into Cuba’s rich heritage. But I’ve gone beyond that and picked three books about Cuba. To shake things up, we’re putting the book choice to a vote among our travelers, so you’ll have a hand in what we read. The three choices are:

Telex from Cuba” by Rachel Kushner. Set in 1968, the novel tells the story of two young people growing up in Oriente Province in Cuba, a place where Americans tended 300,00 acres of United Fruit Company sugarcane. In the midst of the cane plantation were 100 acres the company did not own. Those 100 acres belonged to Fidel and Raul Castro’s father. The sons, who grew up excluded from a privileged American world, started the revolution there. The story is told from three narrators: a boy whose father runs United Fruit’s sugar operation, a girl whose father runs the nickel operation, and a French agitator who helps train the rebels.

Mi Moto Fidel: Motorcycling Through Castro’s Cuba” by Christopher Baker. This nonfiction book tells the story of Christopher Baker as he drives his motorcycle through Cuba over a three-month period in the early 2000′s. He meets and speaks with the Cuban locals, some of which support Fidel Castro and some who do not. He explores the rich heritage of an island gripped by poverty, political uncertainty, and painful transition, all the while charting his own gradual but profound change of heart about the Cuban Revolution.

Last Dance in Havana” by Eugene Robinson. Using music as a lens, Eugene Robinson shows readers the real side of Cuba and its people. Despite Castro’s attempts to shut down nightclubs, obstruct artists, and subsidize only what he wants, the musicians and dancers of Cuba cannot stop. In this provocative work, Robinson takes readers on a lyrical tour of a country on the verge of revolution, using its musicians as a window into its present and future.

So which one of these books do you want to read for our next book club meeting? You can read more or buy each book on Amazon.com, or at your local bookstore. Tell us in a comment below which book piques your interest and that you want to discuss with other travelers. And if you want to double your vote, Like our Facebook page and vote there too!

We’re gathering on April 17 at the Jenkintown Library to dive into the wonders of Cuba. Voting is open from now until March 6, and then I’ll announce the winner. I’m excited to see which book our travelers choose!

Stories, laughs, and more at the Friendly Planet Travel Book Club

The first meeting of the Friendly Planet Travel Book Club is in the books, and we couldn’t be more pleased with how it went. Despite the dreary weather, travelers gathered at the Jenkintown Library in Jenkintown, Pa., to discuss our first book choice, “Radio Shangri-La” by Lisa Napoli. The team was excited to hear everyone’s reactions, and pleasantly surprised to have some well-traveled guests in our midst.

Shelly and Harriet, two attendees, contributed a wealth of knowledge about travel that I think rivals mine! Each woman loves to travel and has been all over the U.S. and the world. Shelly has been to Bhutan, so she was able to share her experiences and relate them to Lisa’s. But the conversation didn’t stop with Bhutan. The group branched off, talking about other countries and how their people relate to the Bhutanese.

The group discussed Bhutanese traditions, the country’s changing culture, how technology is influencing Bhutan, and much more. We had our camera at the ready to capture the goings-on and interesting conversations. Press play to hear it all.

What a great kick-off to our Friendly Planet Travel Book Club! We’ll be meeting again soon and we want to know: What travel book we should read next? Leave your ideas here or on our Facebook page.

Tune in with ‘Radio Shangri-La’s’ Lisa Napoli

If you’ve been following our posts lately, you probably know we’re gearing up for our first meeting of the new Friendly Planet Travel Book Club. Our office has been buzzing with conversations about “Radio Shangri-La,” the first book we’re reading. Author Lisa Napoli‘s journey to Bhutan has been sparking comments like, “What do you think it’s really like there?” and “I wish I could know more!”

Well, I was delighted when one of our Friendly Planet Travel bloggers got the opportunity to get these answers and more, directly from Lisa. Our blogger Caitlin sat down with her, via Skype, to chat about what it’s like to travel to Bhutan, the vast differences in scenery and culture from the U.S., and what working at the first youth radio station in Bhutan was really like for her.

In her book, Lisa talks about writing down three good things that happened to her everyday. Tune in to see what they were. Lisa and Caitlin also talk about the changing influence media is having on the people of Bhutan, and whether a trip to Bhutan will change the life of every person who goes there, so be sure to hit play below to see the entire conversation.

If you have any questions for Lisa, check out her website and Twitter. She has additional interviews and information about Bhutan on her YouTube channel. And if that isn’t enough to whet your appetite to read her book, Lisa has made the first 30 pages available as a sneak preview.

So after you watch our interview, I hope you’ll crack open “Radio Shangri-La,” if you haven’t already. Then please join us at the Jenkintown Library tonight from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. to delve deeper into this book. Thanks so much for taking the time to speak with us Lisa — we had a great time!

If you’re reading ‘Radio Shangri-La’ for our first book club meeting …

… you’ll want to read this! Adam Platt, a writer for Condé Nast Traveler, detailed his experiences in Bhutan in “Bhutan or Bust!” Bhutan is the setting of “Radio Shangri-La,” so I thought this article would be the perfect introduction for readers to get to know Bhutan before diving into the book.

A self-described “neurotic lowlander,” Adam Platt is like most of us, consumed by technology, work, and a recessive economy.

But most people of Bhutan have no knowledge of these things. In fact, when Adam asks Tobgay, a young monk from Bhutan, if he has any words of advice about the recession, the monk responds, “Please explain the meaning of this word recession.

A quick overview for anyone not familiar with Bhutan: The country, while around the size of Switzerland, doesn’t have a single stoplight. It has only three movie theaters; no tall buildings; and hardly any unemployment, pollution, or crime.

The people are spiritual, pragmatic, and environmentally green. They measure progress not by GDP, but by Gross National Happiness. In fact, the country can boast that its people are among the happiest and most content in the world.

So if you want to hear more, check out Adam’s full article over on Condé Nast Traveler. And start by reading this excerpt of “Radio Shangri-La,” and then pick up the full copy and join us at our book club meeting on Nov. 29 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Love reading about far-off places? You’ll love the Friendly Planet Travel Book Club

Bookworms unite! If you’re passionate about reading and travel (like most of us here at Friendly Planet Travel), you’ll be delighted to hear about our latest project. Friendly Planet Travel is embarking on a journey to see the world through amazing literature with our Friendly Planet Travel Book Club.

Every month, we’ll be discussing a different travel-related novel, memoir, or travelogue. It’s a great way for all of our travelers and fans to connect and experience the joy of travel with friends and neighbors right in their own town.

We’re starting our book club by meeting in Jenkintown, Pa., where we’re located. But if you’re not from around here, we’re also starting a Facebook group so you can join us from around the planet. We’ll let you know when this group is created, and how you can get involved.

For our first meeting, we will be reading and discussing “Radio Shangri-La,” a non-fiction book by Lisa Napoli. The author, a Los Angeles-based radio journalist, tells the story of her midlife crisis and how it inspired her to pick up and move to the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan. She starts volunteering at the country’s first youth radio station, Kuzoo FM.

There, she experiences the simplicity and happiness of life that Bhutan is known for. And as she becomes more immersed in the culture and connected to the people around her, she begins to find the happiness that she has been searching for.

The New York Times called “”Radio Shangri-La” an “affectionate portrait of life in a slower-paced, high altitude society…[an] absorbing, often touching memoir.” We’re excited to dive into a lively discussion about Lisa’s discovery of happiness and the differences between American and Bhutan cultures.

Pick up a copy of the book on Amazon or your local bookstore and start reading! Get your friends and family to join in too. It’s a great way to spend quality time and have good, intellectual conversations with those around you.

Please join us at the Jenkintown Library on Nov. 29 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. to discuss this amazing account of one person’s journey to happiness. Space is limited, so this will be a first come, first seated event. We look forward to seeing you there!

About Peggy

Peggy Goldman is a specialty tour operator and travel expert, who owns and operates Friendly Planet Travel, a full-service company that specializes in tour packages to exotic worldwide destinations at affordable prices.   More about Peggy

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