This is Cuba: An American Journalist Under Castro's Shadow by David AriostoWhat happened: In 2009, photojournalist David Ariosto headed to Cuba, where he worked for nearly two years, confronted by the harsh realities of daily life in Fidel Castro's country. He also returned many times afterwards to cover Castro's death, sonic attacks, political transitions, and more.
What it is: a clear-eyed, eloquent mix of memoir and history.
Read this next: Sarah Rainsford's Our Woman in Havana or Mark Kurlansky's Havana.
The Last Whalers: Three Years in the Far Pacific With a Courageous Tribe and a Vanishing... by Doug Bock ClarkWhat it is: An eye-opening, lyrical account of Doug Bock Clark's immersive visits over many years to a remote Indonesian island. There, many indigenous Lamaleran live as they have for centuries, but their traditional way of life is threatened as the modern world encroaches.
Want a taste? "As the six impromptu crews chased after the white spouts contrasting against the dark waves and stormy sky, they sang."
Did you know? Aboriginal subsistence hunts are allowed by the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling.
Sicilian Splendors: Discovering the Secret Places That Speak to the Heart by John KeaheyWhat it is: a charming, evocative look at Sicily by astute travel writer John Keahey, who immersed himself in the food, history, and culture of the island, enjoying quaint villages and friendly people.
Reviewers say: "a wondrously joyous account of travel as it should be" (Publishers Weekly); "a must-read for everyone interested in Sicily and Mediterranean Europe" (Booklist).
Rediscovering Travel: A Guide for the Globally Curious by Seth KugelWhat it's about: Travel writer Seth Kugel encourages travelers to stop relying too heavily on technology and the travel industry and embrace discovery; he also shares amusing stories of memorable moments and misadventures of his own as well as offering budgeting tips, calculating travel risks, and exploring why we travel.
About the author: Kugel wrote The New York Times’ incredibly popular Frugal Traveler column for six years and now hosts two YouTube channels, Amigo Gringo and Globally Curious.
Focus on: Entertaining Essays
White Sands: Experiences from the Outside World by Geoff DyerWhat it is: an elegant small volume of travel essays that asks big questions, such as: Who are we? Why are we here? Why do we travel?
What happened: Seeking insight, author Geoff Dyer journeyed to disparate locales, including Beijing to visit the Forbidden City, Tahiti to learn about the French artist Gauguin, Norway for the Northern Lights, New Mexico to see the land art installation "The Lightning Field," and Los Angeles to visit philosopher Theodor Adorno's former home.
Don't miss: the final essay, which details a mild stroke suffered by the witty, insightful (and sometimes persnickety) Dyer.
Uganda Be Kidding Me by Chelsea HandlerWhat it is: a collection of humorous essays by outspoken comedian and bestselling author Chelsea Handler, where she shares candid and sometimes ribald stories about her life, friends, flings, and travels (including to the Bahamas, Africa, Germany, and Switzerland).
Is it for you? Not everyone will like Handler's particular type of no-holds-barred humor, but those who do can mix a margarita and settle in.
Read this next: For another raucous look at traveling, try Chuck Thompson's Smile When You're Lying: Confessions of a Rogue Travel Writer.
Here, There, Elsewhere: Stories from the Road by William Least Heat-MoonWhat it is: Acclaimed travel writer William Least Heat-Moon, who's known for his lyrical writing and cross-country trips across the U.S., travels the world in this collection of 30 essays written over 30 years.
Locations include: Japan, England, Wales, Italy, New Zealand.
Read it for: Though many of the pieces were previously published in magazines, Heat-Moon took control of the editorial reins here, rearranging words and restoring deleted sections.
Far and Away: Reporting from the Brink of Change; Seven Continents, Twenty-Five Years by Andrew SolomonWhat it is: a volume of intelligent, moving, and entertaining essays by a National Book Award winner that elegantly captures his time spent in places in transition (politically, culturally, etc).
Locations include: the U.S.S.R., Russia, China, South Africa, Taiwan, Turkey, Zambia, Cambodia, Mongolia, Greenland, Senegal, Afghanistan, Japan, the Solomon Islands, Libya, Brazil, Ghana.
Want a taste? "Change is often heady; change often goes horribly wrong; change often electrifies the air only to evanesce unrealized."
Contact your librarian for more great books!