The Immeasurable World: Journeys in
Desert Places by William AtkinsWhat it is: a lyrical travelogue anchored by history and literature, which describes the British author's travels to eight deserts, where he lived in a straw hut, visited a shrine, and experienced Burning Man.
Deserts include: the United States' Sonoran, China's Gobi, Australia's Great Victoria, and the man-made(!) Aralkum in Kazakhstan.
Want a taste? "Waking in the night to the buzzing of cicadas or the yapping of coyotes, I experience a weight of tranquility that has the quality of a quilt."
On the Ganges: Encounters with Saints and Sinners on India's Mythic River by George BlackWhat it's about: In short trips over several years, journalist George Black followed India's iconic Ganges River from its Glacier source to its mouth at the Indian Ocean, 1,500 miles away.
Why you might like it: Deftly using history and the writings of earlier travelers (Sir Edmund Hilary, Mark Twain, the Beatles, etc.) to inform his travels, Black thoughtfully discusses the sacred river and relates his own experiences meeting a wide variety of people, including those who worship it and those who pollute it.
Northland: A 4,000-Mile Journey Along America's Forgotten Border by Porter FoxWhat it is: a beautifully written, reflective look at the border region between the United States and Canada, which traces the area's rich history (including the role of Native Americans) and draws on three years of exploration from Maine to Washington State via car, foot, freighter, and canoe.
Did you know? "Before September 11, 2001, half of the 119 border crossings between the US and Canada were unguarded at night."
For fans of: Brian Castner's Disappointment River.
Lands of Lost Borders: A Journey on the Silk Road by Kate HarrisWhat it's about: In her first book, an Oxford-trained scientist who always wanted to be an explorer combines history, science, and adventure in a poetic, thought-provoking memoir of her bicycle journey along the legendary Silk Road, accompanied by her childhood friend.
Reviewers say: "Exemplary travel writing: inspiring, moving, heartfelt, and often breathtaking" (Kirkus Reviews).
Maeve in America: Essays by a Girl from Somewhere Else by Maeve HigginsStarring: Maeve Higgins, an Irish comedian and podcaster now living in New York.
What it is: A collection of funny yet thoughtful essays about her time in the United States and other locales that discusses everything from the Irish in America to renting expensive clothing for formal affairs.
Don't miss: "Pen as Gun," describing a comedy workshop in Iraq.
Mysteries, Ghosts, and Death
Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places by Colin DickeyWhat it is: an intelligent examination of Colin Dickey's offbeat journey to some of the United States' most haunted places that includes interviews with psychics, ghost hunters, and historians, and thoughtfully compares ghost stories with facts, and examines what the differences mean.
Haunted places include: hotels, houses, prisons, plantations, bars, brothels, and battlegrounds.
About the author: professor and writer Colin Dickey grew up just a few miles from California's infamous Winchester Mystery House.
From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death by Caitlin DoughtyWhat it is: an enlightening, clever, and respectful memoir of Caitlin Doughty's travels to observe death culture and rituals in various places, including Spain, North Carolina, Japan, Bolivia, and Indonesia.
About the author: A mortician and owner of a non-profit funeral home, Doughty is part of the death positive movement; she's also written about her work in a crematory in the bestselling Smoke Gets in Your Eyes.
Dead Mountain: The Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident by Donnie EicharWhat it's about: Using personal journals and government documents, Donnie Eichar retraced the steps of nine college-age Russian hikers in the Ural Mountains in an attempt to explain their mysterious 1959 deaths.
Clues: a tent was cut open, there were high levels of radiation, some hikers were found shoeless in the snow, and one was missing her tongue.
Is it for you? Yes, if you like compelling adventure stories and books that alternate chapters between the past and the present.
The Lost City of the Monkey God: A True Story by Douglas PrestonWhat it is: a real-life adventure tale and high-octane account of Douglas Preston's travels in the Honduran jungle as part of a team looking for evidence of the fabled Ciudad Blanca (aka The Lost City of the Monkey God).
For fans of: David Grann's Lost City of Z or William Carlsen's Jungle of Stone.
About the author: Preston is the co-author of the bestselling Agent Pendergast suspense novels; the 1st, Relic, was made into a movie.