Around the World on Two Wheels

By the late 19th century, much of the world had been newly linked by the ever-expanding web of steamships, railroads, and telegraphs. The ordinary Western tourist could, with luck and determination, go places that only a few decades before had been the exclusive province of heroic explorers. With tales like Jules Verne's Around the World in Eighty Days firing the public imagination, feats of travel became a source of popular entertainment. Author Peter Zheutlin follows the celebrated ride of his great-grandaunt Annie Kopchovsky, as the immigrant mother of three from Boston set out on a highly publicized journey around the world on a bicycle. Along the way she wore practical riding clothes -- shocking some and delighting others -- and spoke out against those who disapproved of women taking to the roads. But her main talent was in creating a spectacle that suited her own purposes: taking a sponsor's brand as a quondam surname ("Londonderry" spring water), Annie always kept her eye as much on the newspapers as on the road. In fact, Zheutlin finds that Annie was almost completely disingenuous about her journey, freely inventing stories for the press about her trips to war zones and attacks by ruffians. Moreover, she traveled far more by steam power than pedal power (her actual riding outside of the U.S. was mostly a single leg in France -- the rest of the haul was done by steamship). Her greatest feat was a typically American one: to have reinvented herself as necessary, the facts be what they may. -

July 25: On this day in 1834 Samuel Taylor Coleridge died of heart disease at the age of sixty-one.

Crime fiction legends Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly discuss the new book that unites their beloved sleuths Patrick Kenzie and Harry Bosch.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Paradise and Elsewhere

Canadian short story marvel Kathy Page emerges as the Alice Munro of the supernatural from these heartfelt tales of shapeshifting swimmers, mild-mannered cannibals, and personality-shifting viruses transmitted through kisses.


When a persuasive pastor arrives in a sleepy farm town, his sage influence has otherworldly results (talking sheep, a mayor who walks on water). But can he pull off the miracle of finding kindly local Liz Denny the love of her life?  Small wonder looms large in this charmer from Andre Alexis.

The Hundred-Year House

When a poetry scholar goes digging through the decrepit estate of his wife's family to uncover a bygone arts colony's strange mysteries, he awakens a tenacious monster: his mother-in-law. A wickedly funny take on aging aristocracies from author Rebecca Makkai (The Borrower).