Robert Reid is the U.S. Travel Editor for Lonely Planet. In a column written exclusively for BookPage, he highlights terrific travel books, both old and new. This month, he selects some of the best books for choosing your 2013 destinations.
Every year Lonely Planet’s world-traipsing authors and editors produce travel recommendations for the year to come, and this year is no exception with Best in Travel 2013. The picks for top destinations—the 10 cities, regions and countries that are the must-visits for travel enthusiasts—are always fiercely debated. Some are on the brink of discovery, others capture the zeitgeist, and some are already well known but worth a fresh look. For book lovers, here are three new books that transport the reader to some of Lonely Planet’s must-visit destinations for the new year.
Yes, Chef: A Memoir, from celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson, hits two top under-the-radar destinations: the rapidly changing Addis Ababa in Samuelsson’s native Ethiopia, as well as Gothenburg, the Swedish city where he was raised after being adopted by a Swedish couple. Gothenburg is a Lonely Planet pick for one of the best value destinations for 2013—not cheap by some standards, but the most Scandinavia you can get for your krona. Samuelsson’s memoir is about more than just food; it’s a personal and thought-provoking trip through multiple cultures, weaving in discussions of family and race as well as cultural and culinary identity.
What’s closer to New York: San Francisco or Reykjavík, Iceland? (Hint: it starts with an R.) The success of Stieg Larsson’s Dragon Tattoo series cast a spotlight on the dark world of Nordic crime fiction and brought about a rush of new translations for English readers. Iceland, one of the top travel destinations for 2013, is also riding the wave, notably with the much-lauded Arnaldur Indridason, who added Outrage to his Inspector Erlendur series this year. The books are chock-full of Icelandic cultural detail.
With big changes coming to San Francisco’s storied waterfront in anticipation of the 2013 America’s Cup, the city was a shoo-in for a must-see slot. But one great reason to visit the Bay Area isn’t even in SF itself: It’s the vibrant food and arts scene flourishing across the bay in Oakland and Berkeley. For an intro to the area, read Michael Chabon’s novel Telegraph Avenue, which takes place between the two adjacent East Bay cities in a neighborhood he calls “Brokeland.” Locals will revel in the hyper-detailed depiction of the area, and unfamiliar readers will walk away feeling like they know the innermost secrets of an evolving cityscape.
Robert Reid is the U.S. Travel Editor for Lonely Planet and is still upset that other editors vetoed his Oklahoma pick as a top destination for 2013.