During the weeks after the holidays, I always feel a bit blue. The house, stripped of lights and stockings, seems bare. My calendar fills with work meetings and kids’ activities, uninterrupted by any vacations or time off. In mid-January, spring break seems so very, very far away. I’m fortunate that I can find some solace in books.
A bit of armchair travel–whether to a distant time period, unfamiliar location or both–can do wonders for my mood. If you also need a little escape, check out our history & travel staff picks book list. Here are just a few books this list highlights, along with their publishers’ descriptions.
“Country Driving: A Journey Through China From Farm to Factory“
by Peter Hessler
In this penetrating narrative account, Hessler investigates China’s lurch into modernity as he survives the advent of the nation’s uniquely terrifying car culture, probes the transformation of village life, and explores China’s frantic industrialization.
“The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris“
by David McCullough
McCullough mixes famous and obscure names and delivers capsule biographies of everyone to produce a colorful parade of educated, Victorian-era American travelers and their life-changing experiences in Paris.
“The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration“
by Isabel Wilkerson
In this beautifully written masterwork, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Isabel Wilkerson chronicles one of the great untold stories of American history: the decades-long migration of black citizens who fled the South for northern and western cities, in search of a better life. From 1915 to 1970, this exodus of almost six million people changed the face of America.
Want more suggestions? See all of our staff picks lists.