“You can often understand a destination better through its literature than through a guidebook,” says David Del Vecchio, a former press officer for the United Nations, who recently opened IdleWild Books, a stylish new spot in Manhattan's Flatiron District (12 W 19th St.; 212/414/8888). Idlewild shelves its books by destination instead of category, so if you’re traveling to Turkey, you’ll find Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk’s My Name Is Red next to a political biography of Atatürk and a guide to the Blue Mosque.
Here are Five of Del Vecchio's favorite travel-oriented titles.
The Brazilians by Joseph A. Page.
An African in Greenland by Tété-Michel Kpomassie.
The People’s Guide to Mexico by Carl Franz and Lorena Havens.
The Asiatics by Frederic Prokosch.
The Secrets of Rome: Love and Death in the Eternal City by Corrado Augias.