Monica L. Smith
In this panoramic history, Monica L. Smith, a professor of anthropology at the University of California, takes readers on an in-depth tour of the world’s most fascinating cities. Covering thousands of years of history and ranging from the ancient city of Tell Brak to modern-day Manhattan, Cities is an immersive and captivating read.
This wide-ranging travelogue follows National Book Award–winner Barry Lopez in his extraordinary travels around the world. Moving through places like the western United States, the far reaches of Antarctica, the Galapagos Islands, and the deserts of Kenya, Horizon follows Lopez as he explores the locales of the world’s densest cities to its most remote locations. It is an epic and transporting read lifted by Lopez’s evocative, poetic prose.
Disappointment River recounts the early explorations of Alexander Mackenzie, a Scottish explorer who crossed North America 14 years before Lewis and Clark made their legendary trek. Alongside his retelling of Mackenzie’s harrowing journey, Brian Castner retraces Mackenzie’s steps, taking readers deep into vast, remote swaths of wilderness that lead toward the Northwest Passage and the Arctic Ocean beyond.
With the love affair between iconic playwright Tennessee Williams and Frank Merlo serving as the narrative backbone, Leading Men creates a mesmerizing portrait of the Italian Riviera in the 1950s. Seamlessly melding fact and fiction, Castellani has written a haunting, vivid love story with decadent parties and beautiful vistas.
The Food Explorer
The Food Explorer is the incredibly fascinating story of the man who changed the way Americans eat. In the 19th century, a young botanist named David Fairchild set out on a mission to appease America’s broadening appetites. His once-exotic finds—Chilean avocados, kale from Croatia, Bavarian hops, and many others—are now staples of U.S. cuisine. His oft-beleaguered travels make for a page-turning adventure.
Have you ever imagined what it would be like to ditch conventional life and see where the road takes you? Rest assured, you’re not alone. There is an entire roving culture dedicated to this sort of nomadic existence. The Vanlife Diaries is a captivating, photo-filled chronicle of people who have made a life for themselves in converted vans and buses on the open road.
Lost and Wanted
This thought-provoking novel centers around a groundbreaking physicist, Dr. Helen Clapp, who has dedicated her life to a rational understanding of the world around her. When she begins receiving text messages from a recently deceased friend, her world is turned upside down. With this guiding her story, author Nell Freudenberger creates an immersive portrait of the city of Boston and all of its hard-scrabble charm.
Atlas of a Lost World
In this fascinating book that’s one part history, one part narrative, and one part scientific exploration, Craig Childers transports readers back to Ice Age America for a view of the New World, unlike anything one could imagine. Atlas of a Lost World delves into a long-gone era, filled with vast change and devastating danger, to recount the lives of humanity’s earliest explorers.
Born a Crime
Amid the oft-and-unsurprisingly hilarious and sometimes tragic stories of Trevor Noah’s childhood are complex and incisive odes to his native South Africa. In Born a Crime, Noah takes readers on a trip back through his formative years in a country beset by internal strife and a tyrannical ruling class struggling to forge an identity apart from the sins of its past.
Where the Crawdads Sing
Delia Owens’ haunting coming-of-age tale is set in the North Carolina coastal marsh lands. The novel centers around a girl named Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. She has survived for years in the marsh on the outskirts of Barkley Cove until a murder pulls her inexorably from her isolation and toward a world she is not yet ready for. The marshland is as much a character in Owens’ novel as the Marsh Girl herself.
Do you desperately need a vacation? Of course you do; we all do. Fortunately, there’s an alternative to the hassle and expense that come with traditional travel: curling up and escaping into a great book. A book with a strong sense of place is a magical thing—it can transport you to locales, both exotic and mundane, all from the well-worn confines of a comfortable couch. These books and novels are just the ticket you need.
Featured Image: @mrsannief/Twenty20