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Fight the winter blues with these great new travel reads. (Photograph by Tyler Metcalfe)

The Best #TripLit This Winter

Winter may be the perfect time for hibernating with a page-turning read. But the seven new books listed below all convey a deep sense of place that just might inspire you to break out of your warm cocoon and explore somewhere new.

Here are my picks for the best new #TripLit stocking the shelves:

  • The Sun and Other Stars, by Brigid Pasulka. The award-winning Pasulka sets her second novel in a seaside village on the Italian Riviera, where Etto, a butcher’s son, is grieving the recent loss of his mother and twin brother. Then a Ukrainian soccer star on the lam sweeps into the soccer-obsessed town. But really, all you need to know is: “set on the Italian Riviera.”
  • Danubia: A Personal History of Habsburg Europe, by Simon Winder. This travelogue turns an enthusiastic and irreverent eye on the Habsburg Empire (Winder at one point compares it to the more efficient—and more evil—Galactic Empire of Star Wars). Anyone traveling through central and eastern Europe should find this insightful background reading.
  • Bingo’s Run, by James A. Levine. Teenager Bingo Mwolo is, by his own admission, “the greatest runner in Kibera, Nairobi, and probably the world.” A drug runner, that is, and a bit of a Kenyan Artful Dodger, who is sent to live in an orphanage after witnessing a murder, and then finds himself involved in a multimillion-dollar art deal.
  • The Bird Skinner, by Alice Greenway. It’s not every day you come across a novel that connects a Maine island with one of the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific, in a story that weaves together World War II, ornithology, Robert Louis Stevenson, regret, and ultimately, love.
  • The Housemaid’s Daughter, by Barbara Mutch. The author vividly conjures up life in the mid-1900s in the Karoo, “the great semi-desert of South Africa,” where the Irish-born mistress of an estate forms a closer bond with the housemaid’s daughter than with her own daughter—until one day the young woman disappears.
  • Paris Letters, by Janice MacLeod. An ad agency writer in Santa Monica, California, saves enough money to quit her job and head to the City of Light, where she meets the man of her dreams. Needing to finance her extended stay abroad, she launches a business on Etsy that provides subscribers with an illustrated letter from Paris every month. Aspirational fiction? No, a true story to inspire similar dreamers out there.
  • Radiance of Tomorrow, by Ishmael Beah. The bestselling author of A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier returns with this novel about a Sierra Leone village trying to rebuild and heal after the decade-long civil war. As one character says, “They must find a way to repair their broken hearts by relighting the fire that is now dull within them.”

Amy Alipio is an associate editor at National Geographic Traveler magazine. Follow her story on Twitter @AmyTravels and on Instagram @amyalipio.

What are you reading right now? Share your recommendations with the Intelligent Travel community in the comments section below or on Twitter by using the #TripLit hashtag.