Thanksgiving is great for so many reasons: lots of food, family, football—and some actual downtime to catch up on your reading. Here, six of our staff editors share favorite stories from past issues of AFAR—all of which make great reading for your holiday travels.

1. Spin the Globe, Sri Lanka: The Two Faces of Paradise, by Leslie Jamison

Jamison, author of the acclaimed The Empathy Exams, few to Sri Lanka on 24 hours’ notice and came back with a story that is both poignant in its detailed observations of life after wartime and challenging in its perspective on unplanned travel—brilliant thinking and beautiful writing. —Derk Richardson, senior editor

2. The Other Paris, by Frank Viviano

The veteran foreign correspondent surveys the ethnic neighborhoods of Paris and paints a multicultural portrait that is especially timely now, four years after he reported it. —Derk Richardson 

3. Playing by Heart, by Emma John
I can’t imagine I’m the only AFAR staffer to submit this piece, but I think all readers and travelers should spend time with Emma John’s “Playing By Heart”. It’s a beautifully written piece about hopping over cultural and musical barriers: Emma, an English fiddler, travels to North Carolina to find the heart of bluegrass.  —Aislyn Greene, associate editor

4. Into the Vines, by Gabrielle Hamilton
Chef Gabrielle Hamilton of New York City’s Prune restaurant wrote one of my all-time favorite food memoirs, so when AFAR commissioned her to explore the genre-busting vineyards of Sicily, I knew we’d get a good story. In fact, it turned out to be such a strong story it won AFAR’s first James Beard Award! —Julia Cosgrove, editor in chief

5. Varanasi: India's Soul City, by David Farley
By his own admission, contributing writer David Farley was in a dark place when we sent him to India to report on Varanasi’s rituals of death. His story—included in the new collection of Best American Travel Writing—is one of AFAR’s most personal and most enigmatic. —Julia Cosgrove

6. Beyond Belief: A Journey to Antarctica, by Chris Jones
Jones does an incredible job describing the eerie remoteness of the southernmost continent. Plus, the art that accompanies this piece is just as beautiful as the writing. —Danielle Walsh, associate editor

>>Next: Five Quick Reads for Long Holiday Travel