The Epic City: The World on the Streets of Calcutta by Kushanava ChoudhuryWhat it's about: After graduating from Princeton, Kushanava Choudhury left his immigrant parents in New Jersey and returned to Calcutta, India, where'd he spent a portion of his youth, to work at the Statesman newspaper and explore the teeming, complex city.
For fans of: Eloquently combining travelogue, memoir, and history, The Epic City will be appreciated by fans of Suketu Mehta's Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found.
Following Fifi: My Adventures Among Wild Chimpanzees by John Crocker; foreword by Jane GoodallFeaturing: fascinating wild chimpanzees; primatologist Jane Goodall (who's justifiably famous for studying them in Gombe forest in Tanzania); and author John Crocker (who, as a premed student, spent eight months working with Goodall, observing mother chimpanzees).
What it's about: Not only does Crocker describe his 1973 visit, but also a return trip with his teenage son years later. Crocker also explains how his field work helped make him a better father and physician.
Look for: Those interested in Goodall will be interested in the recent National Geographic documentary, Jane.
Cuba on the Verge: 12 Writers on Continuity and Change in Havana and Across... by Leila Guerriero, editorWhat it is: an anthology of eye-opening essays written by 12 authors -- some native Cubans, some visitors -- and edited by Leila Guerriero, an Argentinian journalist. The book offers a wide-ranging look at modern Cuba, covering baseball, movies, sex tourism, immigration, sexism, and more.
Further reading: Pick up another thought-provoking recent book about Cuba, Mark Kurlansky's Havana.
The Abu Dhabi Bar Mitzvah: Fear and Love in the Modern Middle East by Adam Valen LevinsonWhat it's about: Hoping to address his post-9/11 fears, a Jewish American man armed with college Arabic skills took a job in Abu Dhabi and visited over 20 Middle-Eastern countries, including Iraq, Iran, and Egypt.
Who it's for: those who appreciate curious, funny, introspective travelers.
Further reading: Want another amusing, Arabic-centric travelogue? Try Zora O'Neill's All Strangers Are Kin.
A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill BrysonWhat it's about: American travel writer Bill Bryson, who'd been living in England for years, set out to hike the Appalachian Trail with an old friend. The two out-of-shape 40-somethings thought they'd walk the entire 2,100 miles to Maine before winter -- but reality soon hit. Nature descriptions and a history of the storied trail combine with the pair's amusing experiences and their encounters with other hikers.
The movie: In 2015, Robert Redford and Nick Nolte dramatized the duo's nature adventure on the big screen.
Out of Africa by Isak DinesenWhat it's about: When Kenya was known as British East Africa, Dane Karen Blixen (whose pseudonym was Isak Dinesen) lived and worked on a family coffee plantation located at the foot of the Ngong Hills. Her classic memoir lyrically captures her time there from 1913-1931, describing the alluring landscape, the local people, the deaths of close friends, and the eventual failure of the farm.
The movie: The award-winning 1985 film adaptation of Out of Africa, which also drew from other Dinesen writings, focused on Blixen's romance with a British aristocrat and starred Meryl Streep and Robert Redford.
Into the Wild by Jon KrakauerWhat it's about: Bestselling author Jon Krakauer pieces together the dramatic -- and tragic -- story of Chris McCandless, an intelligent young man who embarked on a solo journey into the wilds of Alaska with no map and virtually no supplies.
The movie: Originally published in 1996, Into the Wild was adapted as a film in 2007 by Sean Penn and starred Emile Hirsch; Chris' sister, Carine McCandless, consulted on the movie and later wrote a book, The Wild Truth, about her and her brother's abusive childhood.
Under the Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy by Frances MayesWhat it's about: First published in 1986, this delightful book chronicles poet Frances Mayes' purchase of a Tuscan villa in need of refurbishing. Relating experiences from her new Italian life, Mayes describes spending time with her neighbors, dealing with repairs, and dining on delicious foods (recipes are included!).
The movie: The 2003 Under the Tuscan Sun movie is quite different from the book but features luminous scenery and a compelling Diane Lane as Mayes.
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