Seeing the World Through Books.
She says, "In recent years I have reviewed books set in countries from Afghanistan to Zanzibar, representing 132 of the 195 countries in the world. My objective is educational. The vast majority of books I review are literary fiction written by authors from other countries or set in other countries. Since so many western readers have not traveled to many of the countries featured here, and since references are often made to particular places well known to readers from those countries, I often use small photographs to clarify and explain the references within the novels." As of today, there are nearly 590 book reviews on Mary's site, and they cover nearly every country on the planet.
I've always loved books which afford me the luxury of armchair travel or which impel me to buy airline tickets to see distant places for myself. I've also been long obsessed with maps. You know, maps -- those diagrams of what is where, drawn by people who know.
Another web site, They Draw and Travel, has expanded my definition of a map. Bandung, a former hill-station during the Dutch colonial period on Java, Indonesia, now draws compulsive shoppers, having converted its glorious old colonial buildings into factory outlets, selling the wares of Indonesia's clothing manufacturing trade at negligible discounts. Sensible people might use this map to find the glorious natural waterfall (on the left) and enjoy its beauty while their companions shop til they drop along the thoroughfares to the east.
Other maps include special interests, like the taco tour of Puerto Vallarta, or an aspiring vampire's map of New Orleans. There's even a map of street musicians in Cork, but unless Irish buskers are people of long-standing habits, that map may have an expiry date.
This map, 'Trulli and Silence in Italy', caught my eye first because it is beautiful, and second because I rarely associate Italy with silence or the tranquillity that this map evokes. Maybe I should go to Trulli to investigate for myself.
Postscript: Trulli does not refer to a place, but to the buildings found there. According to Unesco, trulli, "limestone dwellings found in the southern region of Puglia, are remarkable examples of drywall (mortarless) construction, a prehistoric building technique still in use in this region." Here is a photo from Unesco's page, but frankly, I think the map above, by Federica di Carlo, is more captivating.