The Books of Summer

Nothing can ruin a long-haul flight or a lazy August afternoon at the beach as much as lack of good reading material. The best #TripLit reads — the ones that distinctly evoke place — can enhance your travels or even inspire you to explore fresh destinations.

Wherever you are, put your Wayfarers on and hit the sand with one of these new books:

  • The Rathbones, by Janice Clark: In this debut novel about a quirky whaling family, characters have mouth-filling names like Hepzibah and Erastus and the setting comes soaked in the salt water of the Connecticut coast.
  • Ten Trees and a Truffle Dog: Sniffing Out the Perfect Plot in Provence (new in the U.S.), by Jamie Ivey: A London couple escape to the daily food festival that is Provence, build a country home, and then discover it’s not so easy to get into the serious business of truffle hunting.
  • This is Paradise, by Kristiana Kahakauwila: This native Hawaiian author writes about the intersections of tourist-brochure Hawaii and the often gritty reality of living on these tropical islands in her debut collection of short stories.
  • Crazy Rich Asians, by Kevin Kwan: This dishy debut novel throws open the gilded doors for a satisfying peek at the lifestyles of Singapore’s super rich.
  • The Whole Fromage: Adventures in the Delectable World of French Cheese, by Kathe Lison: The cheesehead author here celebrates the French dairymen who still milk cows by hand, the young people who leave office jobs to take up sheep farming, and others for whom cheese is not just a food but a way of life.
  • I Hate to Leave this Beautiful Place, by Howard Norman: The writer of the best-selling The Bird Artist presents a memoir rich in the landscapes he’s experienced in his life — the Arctic, Vermont, Nova Scotia, and Point Reyes, California.
  • Delirious Delhi: Inside India’s Incredible Capital (new in the U.S.), by Dave Prager: “We knew we would love living in Delhi the moment we heard the door-to-door paella salesman.” And that’s just the first line of Prager’s humorous, insightful account of taking up residence in this megacity of 16 million.
  • Trains and Lovers, by Alexander McCall Smith: Taking a break from lady detective agencies in Botswana, the enviably prolific Smith interweaves four tales of romance on the rails.
  • The Cleaner of Chartres, by Salley Vickers: You just know that quiet cleaning lady with the enigmatic past has a backstory as vivid as the Chartres blue of the famed cathedral’s stained glass, right?

Amy Alipio is an associate editor at National Geographic Traveler magazine. Follow her story on Twitter @AmyTravels.

Now it’s time to hear what you’re reading. Tell us in the comments section below or on Twitter by using the #TripLit hashtag.


  1. Paula Behnken
    United States
    August 9, 2013, 3:45 pm

    Here are a few of my favorite geocentric books/authors:

    Any of Archer Mayor’s mysteries—all set in/around Vermont

    Tout Sweet by Karen Wheeler—young Brit moves to Brittany, finds love, sort of
    Murder in the Marais or any of Cara Black’s Paris mysteries—great mysteries told within context of history and culture of Parisian arrondisement
    Encore Provence by Peter Mayles—the author of A Year in Provence returns to France after 15 years
    Le Mariage, L”Affaire and Le Divorce (3 novels) by Diane Johnson—A Brit’s light and engaging romp through French romance

    State of Wonder by Ann Patchett—riveting sci-fi adventure set in Amazon jungle. Feminist version of Heart of Darkness.

    New Mexico
    anything by Tony Hillerman, of course

    August 9, 2013, 3:13 pm

    Just finished reading “Where’d You Go, Bernadette?” and was very sorry to see it end. It’s a really inventive novel that travels from Seattle to Antarctica.

  3. claudia Caramanti
    August 9, 2013, 7:11 am

    WILLIAM DALRYMPLE, From the Holy Mountain,
    excellent book, he has followed following the path of a V cent. monk from Geece to Egipt, Fascinating country.
    His experience in eastern Turkey, similar to mine in 1999, has to be known, hard life for minorities, forgotten and mistreated.

  4. Pricey
    August 8, 2013, 1:14 pm

    Loving Extreme Sleeps: Adventures of a Wild Camper by Phoebe Smith. Makes me want to get out and explore my home ground!

  5. Ellie Antonellis
    August 8, 2013, 10:58 am

    I am reading Shantaram; probably not a light reading but amazing! Can’t put it down.
    I am traveling trough India thanks to this book.

  6. Donna Vos
    August 8, 2013, 10:40 am

    I suggest “Waiting for Bones,” a suspenseful journey into the African bush that grips and enchants, with a powerful evocation of place.

  7. Krista
    August 3, 2013, 4:27 am

    Right now I am laughing out loud to a comedy travel book called That bear ate my pants by Tony James Slater. A really funny and yet moving story of an English man volunteering with animals in Ecuador. Cheap, and funny!

  8. Amy Alipio
    August 1, 2013, 2:02 pm

    Thanks for all these great book suggestions! Keep them coming, it’s always interesting to see what other people are reading to feed their wanderlust.

  9. Sherry Kennedy
    Tulsa, Oklahoma
    July 31, 2013, 6:14 pm

    Just finished “Trains and Lovers” It was a delightful AMS book about love. Also just read “And the Mountains Echo”. It was also a good book that I enjoyed very much. I’m getting ready to read “The Interestings.” Hope it’s as good as everyone says it is.

  10. jacquie whitt
    July 30, 2013, 3:36 pm

    I’m reading “One River” by Wade Davis. True story of how the wild, wild Amazon Rainforest was “discovered” & how Richard Schultes, Harvard ethnobotanist, explored the region of South America in late 1940’s & 50s. Makes me want to become an ethnobotanist. And an explorer.

  11. Caroline Eubanks
    Atlanta, Georgia
    July 30, 2013, 2:49 pm

    I’m a fan of Torre DeRoche’s Love with a Chance of Drowning. Very clever and not too sappy.