Books + Reading Lists
The chances of running into the likes of New York City resident Hugh Jackman or Sarah Jessica Parker in one’s lifetime are—let’s face it—slim to Fat Chance. Getting to strike up an illuminating conversation with them about Gotham's charms over a cappuccino? Fuggeddaboutit.
Oh, the dreams of knowing our stars’ favorite city haunts. If not just to up the odds on a little celeb sighting, at least so we, the humble many, can discover the side of New York loved by the famous few.
Luckily, Jeryl Brunner has done the work for us. The author had the pleasure of discussing with some of New York's most beloved residents exactly what it is they adore about their home city—all their wonderful secrets are amassed in the recently launched book My City, My New York.
This is hands down the most electrifying book cover that’s come across my desk in my recent memory: the words Love, Inshallah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women emblazoned over lacy lingerie tantalizingly dropped on an unkempt bed. If Ayesha Mattu and Nura Maznavi, the editors of this intoxicating compilation of 25 personal narratives, are to be believed, Muslim women flirt, date, have sex, and fall in love, just like everyone else. Who knew?
The essays range from hilarious (a 14-year-old being given a crash course in the birds and the bees by her mom in a movie-theater parking lot) to heart-wrenching (a woman who realizes that her non-Muslim fiancé has an insurmountable disdain for her faith); from chaste (an endearing tale of a girl passing up a chance to make out with her model-hot trainer) to steamy (a bittersweet retelling of a passionate weeklong affair with a Muslim punk rocker). Premarital sex, arranged marriage, online dating, polygamous relationships, date rape, lesbian romances—everything is recounted with refreshing honesty and courage. My favorite section was, unsurprisingly, International Habibti: Love Overseas, full of enticing encounters in the Andes, Sri Lanka, and Cairo—who hasn’t fantasized about meeting a mysterious, accented, handsome stranger in an exotic, faraway land?
As you’ve no doubt heard, today marks the 200th anniversary of Charles Dickens’ birth. Besides being a great writer, Dickens was a believer in travel. He did not always put a happy spin on his voyages (On crossing the English Channel: “I am bumped rolled gurgled washed and pitched into Calais Harbour..” or on the world’s great capitals: “Naples is hot and dirty, New York feverish, Washington bilious, Genoa exciting, Paris rainy…”), but he is just as eloquent about the joy of experiencing the world around you:
He went to the church, and walked about the streets, and watched the people hurrying to and for, and patted the children on the head, and questioned beggars, and looked down into the kitchens of homes, and up to the windows, and found that everything could yield him pleasure. He had never dreamed of any walk, that anything, could give him so much happiness.
And the enduring benefits of travel:
The more man knows of man, the better for the common brotherhood among us all.
Happy Dickens Day!
Ann Shields is a senior digital editor at Travel + Leisure.
Photo of Dickens World, a theme park in Kent, England, by Robert Bird/Alamy.
Hot off the release of the second edition of best-seller 1,000 Places to See Before You Die (Workman; $19.95)—featuring 28 new countries, including Ghana, Nicaragua, and South Korea—the globe-trotting author sat down with T+L.
Q: What can readers expect this time around?
A: No sooner was the ink dry on the 2003 edition than I saw destinations that were on their way to being better equipped for visitors: former Soviet-bloc countries and war zones, places like the Balkans and Colombia. Now is their moment.
Q: Is there someplace you wish you could have included?
A: Libya would have been great for armchair travel. Its future looks just too unstable right now.
Q: What were some of your best discoveries?
A: Ireland’s Aran Islands are remote and otherworldly. And it’s hard to believe you are still in Europe in Romania’s Carpathian Mountains and the pristine swath of Transylvania—one of the most untouched corners left on the continent.
Q: Where are you going next?
A: Turks and Caicos, for my annual luxury-on-the-beach reprieve. Grace Bay Club and Parrot Cay, here I come!
Photo by Diana Allford
How’s this for a flame of the month? Paris-based ceramics company Astier de Villatte recently unveiled a range of scented candles inspired by some of the world’s loveliest locales. With hints of, say, the wisteria-covered trellises of the Grand Hôtel in Cabourg, France—where Marcel Proust penned part of his classic Remembrance of Things Past—and a patina to match, they’ll surely transport you to another time or place.
Candles from $75, astierdevillatte.com
Christine Ajudua is an Assistant Editor at Travel + Leisure.
Photo credit: Lars Klove.
Celebrity chef David Rocco has a full plate these days. The host of The Cooking Channel's travel-food show David Rocco's Dolce Vita has just wrapped shooting on his next series for that network, David Rocco's Amalfi Getaway, which will air in March. He'll be joining Bobby Flay and other culinary grandees at the Chef's Challenge charity event November 26-27 in Toronto to support women's cancer research. He's a passionate spokesman for Ruffino wines, and tours the country on their behalf. He and his wife had their third child in October (a baby boy named Dante). And simply to fill all the empty hours in his day, he's written his second cookbook, Made in Italy, just out from Clarkson Potter. I sat down with Rocco over lunch in Midtown Manhattan last week and asked him about his new book.
Four fall releases on our reading list.
If You’re ... a City-Dwelling Nature Lover
Read ... High Line: The Inside Story of New York City’s Park in the Sky by Joshua David and Robert Hammond (Farrar, Straus & Giroux; $29.95)
Because ... This account by the founders of the nonprofit responsible for the groundbreaking reclamation project chronicles the struggles and successes that led to the realization of what was deemed a far-fetched dream—and resulted in a new Manhattan landmark.
If You’re ... a Gastronaut
Read ... The Table Comes First: Family, France, and the Meaning of Food by Adam Gopnik (Alfred A. Knopf; $25.95)
Because ... Gopnik takes a philosophical approach to food on his quest to understand our gastronomic obsessions. From tracing the origins of the restaurant as we know it back to mid-19th-century France to describing revolutionary approaches to culinary arts at Spain’s recently shuttered El Bulli, no dish is left unscraped in this witty treatise.
If You’re ... a Treasure Hunter
Read ... The Grand Bazaar Istanbul by Serdar Gülgün (Assouline; $250)
Because ... You’ll lose yourself in the sumptuous pages of this glossy tome, which spotlights can’t-miss boutiques at one of the world’s liveliest markets.
If You’re ... a Fiction Fiend
Read ... Noon by Aatish Taseer (Faber & Faber; $25)
Because ... Given his unique pedigree—raised in Delhi by an Indian mother and estranged from his father, a Pakistani political figure assassinated earlier this year—Taseer’s novel offers an insider’s perspective on the realities of high-society India and Pakistan.
Photo by Lars Klove
you’re sentenced to the middle seat on an airplane, are you entitled to both
armrests? For this answer (along with answers to a range of etiquette
quandaries) consider Emily
Post’s Etiquette, 18th Edition, by Peggy Post, Anna Post,
Lizzie Post, and Daniel Post Senning. In this revamped 736-page volume, which is
on-sale today, the authority on American manners tackles a range of issues—from tweeting and texting to online dating and adventure traveling.
Long after the meal is eaten, the china remains. Dish: 813 Colorful, Wonderful Dinner Plates (Artisan Books; $35) by Shax Riegler, a former Travel + Leisure editor, is a revealing portfolio of porcelain spanning centuries and continents.
What happened when the quintessentially Parisian photographer Brassaï turned his lens on New York and New Orleans? Brassaï in America 1957 (Flammarion; $49.95), an album of 150 photos (some unpublished) that shows the beauty and eccentricities of these cities—and the spell they continue to cast.
The colorful, annotated paintings collected in Paula Scher MAPS (Princeton Architectural Press; $50) offer a world informed by the graphic designer’s poignant and incisive commentary.
With more than 3,000 paintings from the 13th to the 19th century, the Louvre’s collection of European art is unparalleled. Each and every work is reproduced in The Louvre: All the Paintings (Black Dog & Leventhal; $75).
Jean Govoni Salvadore, a former public relations executive with TWA and Italy’s Villa d’Este, has been something of a Zelig in postwar Europe. Her photo-illustrated memoir, My Dolce Vita (Glitterati Incorporated; $30), recounts six decades of shoulders rubbed during her travels around the globe.
Photo by Lars Klove
We all have fantasies of what we'd rather be doing. Me, I'd like to run a beachside beer shack down Mexico way. I don't know what you're doing right now, but wouldn't you rather do it in, say, Bora Bora? The question is how to go about it. For some answers, consider one man's experience in On the Other Guy's Dime: A Professional's Guide To Traveling Without Paying, by G. Michael Schneider.