We Fed an Island: The True Story of Rebuilding Puerto Rico, One Meal at a Time by José Andrés with Richard WolffeWhat happened: Four days after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, acclaimed Spanish American chef José Andrés went to there to feed the hungry, fighting red tape and a broken system to do so.
Why you should read it: It offers a moving, eye-opening look at a part of the United States that's often forgotten and a portrait of a tourist destination in crisis.
Author buzz: Andrés is a James Beard Award winner, a Michelin-starred chef, and founder of World Central Kitchen, a nonprofit fighting hunger.
Even Darkness Sings: From Auschwitz to Hiroshima, Finding Hope in the Saddest... by Thomas H. CookWhat it is: a lyrical, reflective memoir of the travels of crime novelist Thomas H. Cook, his wife, and their daughter to some of the saddest places on Earth, along with short histories of the troubled spots.
Places visited include: Auschwitz, Hiroshima, Verdun, Lourdes, Ghana, Spain, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Ground Zero.
First line: "I have come to thank dark places for the light they bring to life."
Hiking with Nietzsche: On Becoming Who You Are by John KaagWhat it is: a combination of an accessible introduction to Friedrich Nietzsche and a contemplative travel memoir that traces John Kaag's travels following Nietzsche's footsteps in the Swiss Alps, both at age 19 and then 17 years later with his family in tow.
Want a taste? "At nineteen, on the summit of Corvatsch, I had no idea how dull the world could sometimes be."
The Man Who Walked Backward: An American Dreamer's Search for Meaning in... by Ben MontgomeryWhat it is: the intriguing story of Depression-era Texan banker Plennie Wingo, who, after losing everything (partially due to his selling alcohol during Prohibition), decided to earn money from sponsors (which didn't work out so well) and by selling postcards (which did) by walking the world...backward.
Don't miss: his stint in a Turkish jail; tea with a queen.
About the author: Ben Montgomery, who was a Pulitzer finalist for news reporting, also wrote the delightful Grandma Gatewood's Walk.
Love and Marriage...and Travel
When in French: Love in a Second Language by Lauren CollinsWhat happened: Lauren Collins, an American New Yorker writer living in London, fell in love and married a Frenchman, moving to Geneva, Switzerland to be with him.
What it is: a funny, full-bodied, and romantic chronicle of her amusing adventures in a new land and her attempts to communicate in a new tongue.
Reviewers say: This is "a thoughtful, beautifully written meditation on the art of language and intimacy" (The New York Times).
Ruthless River: Love & Survival by Raft on the Amazon's Relentless Madre de Dios by Holly FitzGeraldWhat happened: A dream honeymoon traveling around the world turned into a nightmare for Holly FitzGerald and her new husband when their plane crashed in a South American jungle in 1973. They survived, and retrofitted a raft in order to float down the Madre de Dios river to civilization, but a storm put them off course, stalling them in swampy, piranha-infested waters.
Why you might like it: Peppered with hard-won insights about life and love, this harrowing survival tale is unputdownable.
Eve of a Hundred Midnights: The Star-Crossed Love Story of Two World War II... by Bill LascherWhat it is: a swiftly paced dual biography inspired by the writings and photographs of American journalists Mel and Annalee Jacoby.
What happened: The couple married shortly before the attack on Pearl Harbor and worked in China until just before the Japanese invasion (getting out in the nick of time), then moved from location to location chronicling the events of World War II.
Read it for: a timeless love story full of danger as well as fascinating depictions of the Pacific theater during the war.
My Berlin Kitchen: Adventures in Love & Life by Luisa WeissStarring: Chef Luisa Weiss, who was born in 1977 West Berlin to an American father and an Italian mother who soon divorced, making her a frequent international flyer at a young age.
What happened: After years of living in cities around the world, Weiss left behind a stable job and her boyfriend to move back home to Berlin...where she reconnected with the man who later became her husband.
Author buzz: Still living in Germany, Weiss writes the award-winning blog The Wednesday Chef.
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