Friday, January 26, 2007 3:31 PM
I am an avid traveler -- like many, I like to explore the world and experience different cultures. But when I can't physically travel, I'm content to be an armchair explorer and read books to learn about the world.
One of my recent finds is Extreme Cuisine: The Weird & Wonderful Foods that People Eat. The book is organized into chapters like "Dogs & Cats," "Rats & Mice," "Alligator & Crocodile," and so on. While that's a perfectly sensible way to organize a book about food, what I really want to know is where in the world they dine on rats, and which country's cuisine includes cats.
As of yesterday, this sort of information became a lot easier to find as well as visualize: there's now a Book Search feature on the "About this book" page which shows readers the places mentioned in a particular book and pinpoints them on a map. Clicking around on the map for Extreme Cuisine, I quickly found out that dogs are on the menu in Seoul, Roman emperors enjoyed dormice, Melbourne residents serve up emu and crocodile, and Mopani worms are available in Johannesburg!
There are plenty of books that you can explore this way. Here are some more of my favorites:
- We Are Off - The Journal
- Just Keep Pedaling: A Corner-to-corner Bike Ride Across America
- Patricia Unterman's San Francisco Food Lover's Guide
- A Short Guide-book for Tourists in Japan
- A Journey Around the World
If you're hungry for more (no pun intended), there are even more examples on the Inside Book Search blog, where my teammate David first talked about this feature. And you can try your own searches too, at http://books.google.com.
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