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Books: Read About Rome, Lemon Lessons

Herbert Ypma presents the second installment of his guides to chic accommodations, Hip Hotels: Escape (Thames & Hudson, $30). His well-edited selection of the best-designed places to stay will have readers scrambling to make travel plans. Ypma supplies hundreds of bright photographs, and his smart, concise text pays close attention to the details that make each property exceptional: Sweden's wacky ice hotel is lit with chandeliers carved from frozen river water; a seaside cottage in Cornwall offers rubber boots for guests to borrow.

One's perception of a place is often inextricably bound up with the people one encounters. This fact is made clear in Shirley Hazzard's evocative memoir Greene on Capri (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $22), a remembrance of her decades-long friendship with the irascible British novelist Graham Greene. Hazzard first spoke to Greene in Capri's Gran Caffè in the 1960's—she supplied a line of Browning he was searching for—and the rest, as they say, is history.

Billed as the ultimate insider's guide, City Secrets: Rome (The Little Bookroom, $20) is an extraordinary resource. It's a compilation of short pieces written by fellows, residents, and friends of the American Academy in Rome. You'll find architect Richard Meier on the Sistine Chapel, restaurateur Danny Meyer on his favorite family-owned trattoria, and artist Frank Stella on the world's best cannelloni. These are interspersed with suggestions from rare-book sellers, art historians, curators, and classicists.

Chris Stewart is nothing if not adventurous. Over the years he's been a sailor, a sheep shearer, a drummer for the British rock band Genesis, and even, for six scary months, an office worker. So it comes as no surprise that his experiences as a sheep farmer in Spain, related in Driving over Lemons: An Optimist in Andalucía (Pantheon, $22), are enthralling. This funny book is required reading for anyone who has ever dreamed of taking up the pastoral life in a foreign country.

The award-winning guide series published by Dorling Kindersley has a new addition, Great Places to Stay in Europe ($25). The 2,000 properties chosen by Fiona Duncan and Leonie Glass all have a few things in common—namely, lots of character, great locations, and good food. The wide variety of lodgings, from windmill to Georgian town house, in 16 countries are an open invitation to step off the beaten track. Otherwise, you might never find the former 16th-century smuggler's inn with the superb chef in Millinge, Denmark, or the castle-hotel hidden in Cévennes National Park.

Ted Conover's latest book, Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing, is out this month from Random House. Conover recently went on assignment to Saudi Arabia for T+L; his article appeared in the March issue.

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