Fifty Sounds: A Memoir of Language, Learning, and Longing by Polly BartonWhat it is: a thoughtful collection of 50 meditative essays about life in Japan, from a Brit who moved there to teach English when she was 21 and stayed for decades.
Reviewers say: This "refreshingly honest" (Kirkus Reviews) debut is "filled with linguistic surprises and a quiet intellect" (Publishers Weekly).
For fans of: books that combine language and travel, such as Jhumpa Lahiri's In Other Words, or immersive travelogues about Japan, like Hannah Kirshner's Water, Wood, and Wild Things.
Everything Left to Remember: My Mother, Our Memories, and a Journey Through the Rocky... by Steph JaggerWhat happened: After her mother's Alzheimer's diagnosis, Steph Jagger took her mom on a two-week road trip, visiting national parks in Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho. They camped, hiked, went rafting, and rode horses, all while Steph pondered her own future and tried to learn more about her mother before it was too late.
Want a taste? "The very best part about being in nature is that the truth meets you there, which is also the reason it's hardest to go."
Read this next: For another reflective book, try Braver than You Think by Maggie Downs, who took the trip of her mother's dreams, visiting 17 countries, after her mom no longer could.
The Far Land: 200 Years of Murder, Mania, and Mutiny in the South Pacific by Brandon PresserWhat it is: a mix of history and travelogue focused on remote Pitcairn Island in the Pacific Ocean, where the HMS Bounty mutineers hid from British authorities in 1789, starting new lives with their Tahitian wives, and where today 48 people live, most of whom are descended from the original mutineers.
What happened: Arriving via container ship, author Brandon Presser tried to get to know the islanders, some of whom were reticent to talk. While waiting three months for the next ship, he delved deep into the island's history, explored, and endured bugs and nightly power cuts.
The High Sierra: A Love Story by Kim Stanley RobinsonWhat it is: an eclectic, richly detailed look at California's Sierra Nevada mountains that combines memoir, travelogue, geology, and natural history, by award-winning science fiction novelist Kim Stanley Robinson, who's hiked the area over 100 times since 1973.
Don't miss: the evocative writing, the color photos and illustrations (many by the author himself), and the eye-opening chapter about hiking the Swiss Alps.
For fans of: Terry Tempest Williams, Barry Lopez.
Six Walks: In the Footsteps of Henry David Thoreau by Ben ShattuckThe first steps: Without much of a plan and little more than some bread, cheese, and a notebook (but no sunscreen), Ben Shattuck set out to retrace Henry David Thoreau's walk along Cape Cod's outer beaches.
What happened: Taking five more of Thoreau's walks, Shattuck observed animals and landscapes, met intriguing people, pondered life and anxiety, and saw the restorative effect of walking in nature.
Why you might like it: Six Walks showcases lyrical prose, lovely illustrations, and fascinating details about Thoreau.
On the Menu: Culinary Treats
Pasta, Pane, Vino: Deep Travels Through Italy's Food Culture by Matt GouldingWhat it is: a fun and informative foodie tour of Italy that covers culture and history and highlights the chefs, shepherds, fisherman, farmers, and others who bring the pizzas, pastas, and other regional delicacies to life.
Read this next: Frances Mayes' See You in the Piazza; Anthony Bourdain's writings; other books by the author, such as Rice, Noodle, Fish or Grape, Olive, Pig.
Truffle Hound: On the Trail of the World's Most Seductive Scent, with Dreamers, Schemers... by Rowan JacobsenWhat happened: an award-winning author traveled to Italy, France, Eastern Europe, the U.S., and Canada, unearthing all he could about the secretive world of truffles, meeting truffle hunters, chefs, and others, in order to explain the appeal of the expensive ingredient that grows underground and is located by truffle-sniffing dogs and pigs.
For fans of: Pig, the 2021 film starring Nicolas Cage; Ian Purkayastha's coming-of-age memoir, Truffle Boy.
Reviewers say: "altogether delightful" (Kirkus Reviews); "well written and full of interesting characters and fascinating facts" (Library Journal).
Buttermilk Graffiti: A Chef's Journey to Discover America's New Melting-Pot Cuisine by Edward LeeWhat it is: an upbeat, richly detailed travelogue and food memoir (with 40 recipes) by Brooklyn-born chef and restaurateur Edward Lee, who spent two years traveling the U.S. learning about different food cultures.
Recipes include: Green Tea Beignets, Hasenpfeffer, My Version of a Slaw Dog, Fried Pork Chops with Miso Creamed Corn and Pickle Juice Gravy, Octopus Stir Fry, Lacy Cornbread with Rhubarb Jam.
Winner of... the 2019 James Beard Award for Writing.
My Place at the Table: A Recipe for a Delicious Life in Paris by Alexander LobranoWhat it is: the engaging memoir of a James Beard Award-winning writer that addresses his childhood and youth, but centers on his time in Paris, where he became an influential food critic and a resident for over 30 years.
What's inside: details about adapting to life and work in a new country when he wasn't fluent in the language, his search to to find delicious food in various settings, and a list of 30 recommended restaurants.
For fans of: David Lebovitz's books, David Downie's A Taste of Paris, and Ann Mah's Mastering the Art of French Eating.
Cheese, Wine, and Bread: Discovering the Magic of Fermentation in England, Italy... by Katie QuinnWhat it is: a charming travelogue with recipes, by a personable YouTube star who worked and traveled in three countries to educate herself about French breads, English cheeses, and Italian wines.
Why you might like it: Cheese, Wine, and Bread has engaging stories, clearly explained science, color photos, and charming illustrations.
Reviewers say: "Quinn's ability to transport readers into new adventures matches the best of travel writing" (Booklist).
Contact your librarian for more great books!