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13 Books You Should Read In 2014

13 Books You Should Read In 2014

If you’re an avid reader and a proud a proud bookworm – which I sincerely hope you are – then you are no doubt wondering what the big books of 2014 are going to be. Over at Maptia, they have created a thorough list of the books you can look forward to delving into over the next twelve months. Happy reading!

Great books give our senses a workout. They make us laugh, cry and expand our emotional horizons, provide us with new perspectives, teach us about different realities, free us from feeling tranquillised with trivialities, and above all make us feel gloriously alive! Just in case your left-brain needs convincing—did you know that reading also keeps you mentally sharp, can chill you out and relieve stress, and can even increase your capacity for empathy

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.

— Dr. Seuss

I already love books’, we hear you cry out. ‘But there are so many… I just don’t know where to start…’ —Ah ha! That is precisely why we have reached out to a few of our good friends with impeccable taste, and with their help, have compiled a short-list of thirteen somewhat under-appreciated but remarkable gems written in the last hundred years that deserve a place on your bookshelf for 2014.

1. The Ascent of Rum Doodle by W.E. Bowman

Suggested by Mike Sowden—Head Bloke at Fevered Mutterings

“A parody, a tragedy, a farce and a sheer delight from start to finish, The Ascent of Rum Doodle is a spoof novel that has become just as popular within mountaineering circles as the real-life adventures it lampoons. It’s the story of what happens if you assemble the wrong men in the wrong place at the wrong time, of the consequences of having an expedition leader with the social IQ of Mr Bean, a route-finder with no sense of direction, a physician who is always ill, and graduates of Oxford and Cambridge deliberately put in the same tent together because they’d ‘have a lot to talk about’. Bill Bryson writes the foreword in the latest edition; it’s one of his favourite books.”

—Mike Sowden (@mikeachim)

Find the Ascent of Rum Doodle here.

2. Vagabonding by Rolf Potts

Suggested by Tim Ferriss—Four Hour Renaissance Man

“Starting in 2004, I traveled the world for roughly 18 months. The lessons learned formed the basis for much of The 4-Hour Workweek. On my journey—from the back alleys of Berlin to the hidden lakes of Patagonia—I had next to nothing: one suitcase, one backpack, and only two books. One of those books was Walden by Henry David Thoreau (naturally), and the other was Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel. Vagabonding easily remains in my top-10 list for life-changing books. Why? Because one incredible trip, especially a long-term trip, can change your life forever.

Vagabonding teaches you how to travel (and think), not for one trip, but for the rest of your life. In my own dog-eared copy, I have notes, underlines, and highlights on practically every page, ranging from the tactical (how to pack intelligently, what to bring, what not to bring, where to go, etc.) to the philosophical (the Upanishads, how to slow down after a lifetime of rushing and caffeine, etc.) Using the Rolf’s tips, I was able to explore many of them for 2-3 months at a time at my own pace, unrushed and unworried. It was a dream come true.”

—Tim Ferriss (@tferriss)

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Check out the video trailer for Vagabonding below:

3. As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning by Laurie Lee

Suggested by Alastair Humphreys—Explorer, author and passionate microadventurer.

“This is the adventure I have wanted to do all my life. To be so footloose and carefree, living by your wits (busking in this case), and walking slowly across a landscape. Not only is it a great journey, it is also beautifully told.”

—Al Humphreys (@Al_Humphreys)

Find As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning here.

4. Cold by Bill Streever

Suggested by Duncan Geere—Freelance journalist and Wired contributor

“It’s not easy to write poetically about science, but Bill Streever manages it wonderfully in Cold. The book is split into twelve chapters, named after the months of the year, and in each he explores a different facet of the world’s coldest places, peppered with personal anecdotes, historical references and scientific facts. The dark accounts of the deaths of early Arctic explorers are balanced out by the tales he tells of communities and wildlife that thrive in places you’d never expect to be able to support life. It’s a little Alaska-heavy, but highly recommended for anyone fascinated by the polar regions.”

—Duncan Geere (@duncangeere)

Find Cold here

5. Edgelands by Michael Symmons Roberts and Paul Farley

Also suggested by Duncan Geere, as he couldn’t quite resist a double recommend!

“We’re very familiar with the concepts of cities and countryside, but what happens in between? The answer can be found in Edgelands, by poets Michael Symmons Roberts and Paul Farley. The pair journey into what they call “England’s true wilderness”—the forgotten places on the peripheries of cities that most people ignore as they whiz through in trains, buses and cars, where nature encroaches on the man-made. What’s particularly compelling about Edgelands is how the authors compile and rework other writers’ thoughts on the boundaries between humanity and the natural world, from Wordsworth to Mabey. It’s a well-researched, fascinating window on the places that your parents warned you not to go.”

—Duncan Geere (@duncangeere)

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Find Edgelands here.

6. Macroscope by Piers Anthony

Suggested by Alex Berger—Chief Virtual Wayfarer

“My dad introduced me to Macroscope when I was in my teens. The story, which revolves around the use of a space telescope similar to a super powerful version of the Hubble telescope, helped me view the world from above. The book paints a narrative where through the use of the Macroscope the researchers are able to watch and explore the social development of two alien races. Races not dissimilar from our own. This combined with my natural traveler’s curiosity and love of space to send my mind racing; exploring how our nations, religious structures, history, gender relations, and other quirks might be viewed by an alien race. In so doing, it gave me new insights and passion for exploring the subtle differences from person to person, region to region, and culture to culture. It also nurtured my intense curiosity about new cultures, new people, and then of course, what might be out there and as yet undiscovered on one of the countless planets located within the tens of billions of galaxies in the universe.  It is also fascinating to think about how much the world has changed since the text was originally written in 1969. We now have the Hubble Space Telescope, things like Google Earth, and other tools that, while far from the power of the Macroscope, offer similar opportunities to explore the universe around us.”

—Alex Berger (@alexberger)

Find Macroscope here.

7. How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization by Franklin Foer

Suggested by Audrey Scott—Chief Storyteller at Uncornered Market

“Who knew you could learn so much about globalization, economics and politics from soccer? Franklin Foer uses his love of soccer and journalism background to take the reader around the world examining soccer clubs and their culture and history from Argentina to Ukraine. The depth that he is able to go into to explain socioeconomic and geopolitical shifts connected to globalization through the lens of soccer is remarkable. And, it’s not always pretty—he shows how the soccer culture of a place has contributed to racism, corruption and even violence. Whether you’re a soccer fan or not, you’ll enjoy the stories and learn a lot in the process.”

—Audrey Scott (@umarket)

Find How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization here.

8. At the Tomb of the Inflatable Pig by John Gimlette

Suggested by Jodi Ettenberg—Writer and Soup Expert at LegalNomads

“I love it because it’s a well-written and engaging take on a complicated country and its tragic historical turn, with personal details woven into the chapters.”

—Jodi Ettenberg (@legalnomads)

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Find At the Tomb of the Inflatable Pig here.

9. How to be an Explorer of the World: A Portable Life Museum by Keri Smith

Suggested by Jonny Miller— cofounder here at Maptia

“Keri Smith is convinced that everything in the world is fascinating. She persuades you that even the most mundane objects and places are worthy of your attention, if you are willing to ask the right questions. From attaching places to fictitious stories, to giving seemingly mundane objects superpowers—Keri peppers the book with fresh perspectives that will restore your childlike sense of astonishment for the everyday and leave the wheels of your imagination spinning long after you put it down.”

—Jonny Miller (@jonnym1ller)

Find How to be an Explorer of the World: A Portable Life Museum here.

10. Wild: An Elemental Journey by Jay Griffiths

Suggested by Dean Fischer—cofounder here at Maptia

“Wild provides a completely unique and enthralling view of our world. Jay Griffiths takes us along on her external and internal journey over seven years to the edges of the ‘civilised’ world, where language is a tool for seeing and where land, water, wind and fire are the anchors to our cultural roots and abounding sources of knowledge. Jay paints our home planet with an unsurpassed eloquence that will awaken the wild side of anybody. Get ready to yearn for wide-open landscapes, for freedom from the ever-encroaching, tainted mindsets of the ‘civilised’ world. Get ready to stand firmly on the side of our fragile, dwindling wildernesses as they burn with what could be their final flame, and fight for their last breath. With unexpected emotional force, the tales of misplaced ideals, misspoken words, and misused knowledge shook me with sadness when contrasted with the complex and emotional depiction of these delicate corners of our planet.”

—Dean Fischer (@deanfischer_)

Find Wild here.

11. The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel

“There is no book—or should I say books—I have read which have captured my imagination, or my heart, more than the six adventurous and gripping tales in the Earth’s Children Series by Jean M. Auel. Set around 30,000 years before the present day, during the dawn of mankind, The Clan of the Cave Bear is the beginning of Ayla’s remarkable story. Set against the backdrop of a wildly beautiful but sparsely populated and treacherous continent, the vivid descriptions of the landscapes Ayla travels through will have you longing to explore the world around you, and to get closer to nature yourself. The scope and scale that the books encompass is almost impossible to comprehend, and for me, the themes and emotions explored in this ancient story offer an unusual and astoundingly thoughtful insight into the fabric of our society today and our cultural roots as the dominant species on planet Earth. No-one can fail to be moved by Ayla’s journey through life, as she travels across what will one day become Europe, experiencing the people and landscapes around her with curiosity, insight—and above all—courage.”

—Dorothy Sanders (@doro1hy)

Find The Clan of the Cave Bear here.

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What’s that? You’d like more? Oh alright then, here are a couple of absolutely visually stunning and remarkable books chosen by the Maptia Team…

12. Steve McCurry Untold: The Stories Behind the Photographs by Steve McCurry

Steve McCurry has spent more than three decades following his curiosity around the globe. You may have heard that during his various adventures he survived a plane crash in Slovenia, as well as armed robbers and bombings in Afghanistan, but what we feel shines through in his photography is his trademark unquenchable sense of wonder and curiosity for the world around him. Harking back to Al Humphreys sentiments on adventuring, Steve believes that compelling photography doesn’t require exotic travel, but that he simply needed to wander and explore. Talking to Art Space he wrote:

“It’s a joy to be alive, and maybe that’s what come through.

Steve’s photography is uplifting and affecting in equal measure, yet Untold Storiesis more than just a visual feast to perch on your coffee table—it is an insightful journey into the life of this remarkable human. To leaf through its pages is to peer behind his world famous lens and dive into the hand scribbled notes and scrapbook-esque momentos from his adventures in every corner of the globe. InUntold Stories you get a sense of the man behind the lens, delving into his philosophies, which we felt were aptly summed up with these timeless words of his:

“Nothing has dented my faith in the human spirit or in unexpected human kindness… the kindest were often those who lived in the harshest of conditions.

If you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past 30 years and aren’t familiar with Steve’s photography, then his blog should already be loading in your next tab whilst you watch this video below:

13. Before They Pass Away by Jimmy Nelson

Jimmy Nelson traveled to the ends of the earth in the hope of immortalising the world’s least-touched tribes. The results are nothing less than spellbinding—Jimmy is like a modern Doctor Who, who makes inter-dimensional voyages possible via his 4×5 large-plate field camera instead of a TARDIS. There is a strong sense of human purpose behind his project, he writes:

“These tribes, although we don’t necessarily have to be personally interested in them, they represent for us an individuality, a balance that we’ve lost.

Even if this ethnographic balance can never be fully restored, we admire Jimmy’s resolve to document and witness tribal traditions that are threatened by the forces of globalisation and couldn’t tear our eyes away from his remarkable and compelling visual catalog.

To end on an entertaining note, check out Jimmy’s TEDx Talk and learn why yellow snow and reindeer make for a hilarious consequences at the edge of the world.

This post originally appeared over on the Maptia Blog; the team at Maptia have just launched their beautiful platform for telling stories about places. The book spine illustrations were done by Ella Frances Sanders, Illustrator in Residence at Maptia.

What’s On Your Bookshelf For 2014? | Maptia Blog

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Last Updated on August 15, 2018

7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

Bodyweight exercises are gaining ground in the fitness world due to the practicality and simplicity of getting in shape using your own body weight. Planks are one form of bodyweight exercises that will never go out of fashion. Planks are one of the most effective exercises you can do. Why? Because they require a small time investment on your part, and offer the chance to achieve substantial results in a relatively short span of time.

Video Summary

Why is it important to train up our core strength?

There are numerous sites and blogs which detail ways to build your core muscles or core strength. Often though, these sites neglect to explain what your core muscles actually are, and why building them is important.

This is quite surprising, as core muscles are quite easy to explain. Your core muscles are a series of muscles in your midsection, and are used in most forms of movement. Though they aren’t housed in your arms or legs, your core muscles can help transfer force from one limb to another, or are used in addition to muscles in your arms or legs to increase their effectiveness. As such a strong core will make a big improvement on your ability to move and exercise further.

Also they are great for helping other muscles in your midsection such as your abdominal muscles. Your abdominal muscles are important for supporting your back and spinal column, and as such are important aids in preventing injuries. However for them to be most effective you need to spend a lot of time developing your core muscles.

In short, planking exercises can make a huge improvement in your muscles down your whole body. Making them a hugely effective exercise to perform.

One Exercise, multiple benefits

There are few forms of exercise as effective at building your core as planking exercises. However, planking exercises benefit far more than just your core strength.

By holding yourself in the position for a planking exercise, you’ll notice that your biceps, neck, and shoulder muscles are also being tested and strained. This this encouraging their buildup and development. This is great news if you like to do press ups, developed shoulder muscles will have a big impact on your press up performance.

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When planking, you are holding yourself up through your arms and biceps and so by holding a planking position, your arm muscles are being toned and developed. Making planking a great alternative exercise to other forms of bicep developing exercises.

Moving down your midsection, successful plank exercises actually develop the muscles in your butt! These muscles tend to be ignored by a lot of exercises, so this is another great benefit of plank exercises.

In much the same way as you develop your biceps and arm muscles, holding the planking position helps develop the muscles in your thighs too.

What is even better is that planking exercises don’t take much time at all. In fact you should probably only spend about ten minutes max per day in the planking exercise.

What will happen when you start doing planks every day

    1. You’ll improve core definition and performance: 

    Planks are an ideal exercise for the abdominal muscles exactly because they engage all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominusthe external oblique muscle, and the glutes. The importance of strengthening each muscle group cannot be underestimated either, for all of these groups serve their own purpose. If you strengthen these muscle groups you will notice:

    • Transverse abdominis: increased ability to lift heavier weights.
    • Rectus adbominis: improved sports performance, particularly with jumping. This muscle group is also responsible for giving you the renowned six pack look.
    • Oblique muscles: improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting
    • Glutes: a supported back and a strong, shapely booty.

    2. You’ll decrease your risk of injury in the back and spinal column

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      Doing planks is a type of exercise that allow you to build muscle while also making sure that you are not putting too much pressure on your spine or hips. According to the American Council on Exercise, doing planks regularly not only significantly reduces back pain but it also strengthens your muscles and ensures a strong support for your entire back, especially in the areas around your upper back.

      Check out this article if you would like to find out about how doing planks on different surfaces can impact the effectiveness of this exercise in strengthening your core.

      3. You’ll experience an increased boost to your overall metabolism

        Planking is an excellent way of challenging your entire body because doing them every day will burn more calories than other traditional abdominal exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups. The muscles you strengthen by doing this exercise on a day-to-day basis will ensure that you burn more energy even when sedentary. This is especially important if you are spending the majority of your day sitting in front of a computer. Also, making it a daily 10- to 1 minute home exercise before or after work will not only provide an enhanced metabolic rate but it will also ensure that that metabolic rate remains high all day long, (yes, even while you are asleep).

        4. You’ll significantly improve your posture

          Planking exercises have a great impact and improvement on your posture. This is great news as a strong posture brings with it a huge number of fantastic benefits .

          A good posture keeps your bones and joins in the correct alignment which means both your bones and joints will be better maintained and more healthy, but also means the overall effectiveness of your muscles will be improved.

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          A good posture will ensure your back or spine is in the correct position and so you will suffer less back pain.

          On top of everything, someone with good posture looks better, healthier, and more confident.

          5. You’ll improve overall balance

            Have you ever felt that when you tried standing on one leg, you couldn’t stand up straight for more than a couple of seconds? It’s not because you were drunk- unless you happened to be at the time!-  but rather, it’s because your abdominal muscles weren’t strong enough to give you the balance you needed. Through improving your balance by doing side planks and planks with extensions you will boost your performance in every kind of sporting activity.

            6. You’ll become more flexible than ever before

              Flexibility is a key benefit of doing planks regularly, for this form of exercise expands and stretches all your posterior muscle groups – shouldersshoulder blades, and collarbone – while also stretching your hamstrings, arches of your feet, and toes. With a side plank added in to the mix, you can also work on your oblique muscles. This will provide you with further benefits when it comes to hyper-extending your toes, a movement that is crucial for supporting your body’s weight.

              7. You’ll witness mental benefits

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                Plank exercises have a particular effect on our nerves, making them an excellent means of improving overall mood. How? Well, they stretch out muscle groups that contribute to stress and tension in the body. Just think about it: you are sitting in your chair, at home or at work, all day long; your thigh muscles get tight, your legs get heavy due to being bent for several hours; and tension develops in your shoulders due to being forced to slump forward all day. These are all circumstances that put too stress on the muscles and nerves. The good news is that planks not only calm your brain, but they can also treat anxiety and symptoms of depression– but only if you make it part of your daily routine.

                How to hold a plank position

                1. Get into pushup position on the floor.
                2. Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms.
                3. Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
                4. Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
                5. Hold the position for as long as you can.
                6. Remember to breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.
                7. When your form begins to suffer, pull the plug. You’re only benefiting from the plank by actually doing the plank.

                Watch the video if you have any doubt!

                Here is a great infographic that shows the best plank variation exercises to evenly target all abdominal muscle groups:

                  How to improve your plank time gradually

                  1. Start with the easier variation if needed. You can start with a bent-knee plank if you can’t perform a regular plank yet. If you can hold a plank for more than two minutes with ease, you can move on to these tougher variations.
                  2. Practise every day. Space your planking exercise throughout the day and do 3-4 times every day. Try to hold the position 10 seconds longer each time.
                  3. Perform other body-weight exercises at the same time. Push-up and squat will improve your core strength too.

                  Are you ready to devote 5-10 minutes of your day, every day, to stay fit, healthy and, most importantly, strong as a bull? Then jump in and make doing plank exercises a part of your life.

                  Who Should Be Cautious Doing The Plank?

                  You need to be cautious doing Planking exercises if any of these risks apply to you:

                  • Prolapse
                  • After prolapse surgery
                  • Pelvic pain conditions
                  • Weak or poorly functioning pelvic floor muscles
                  • Previous childbirth
                  • Overweight

                  Choose an alternative pelvic floor abdominal exercise or consult your doctor before performing plank regularly.

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