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Reading List: 9 Things to Keep You Entertained This Week

Chris Blackwell’s Jamaican Retreat,” WSJ Magazine
I spent the weekend engrossed in WSJ Magazine’s Destination Issue. Writer Rebecca Wallwork’s piece on music mogul-turned-hotelier Chris Blackwell offered a fascinating portrait of a man who continues to reinvent himself and innovate the hospitality industry. Blackwell shares details on his newest passion—agritourism. Pantrepant, his 2,500-acre farm in Jamaica, will soon welcome guests who can pick their own callaloo or enjoy a farm-to-table dinner. —Jen Murphy

Nat Geo Found
National Geographic is celebrating its 125th anniversary and along with it comes an amazing Tumblr that displays incredible photography from its archives, some of which has never been published or seen by the public before. This is such an inspiring blog! —Jason Seldon

The Paris of Berlioz and Liszt,” Deep Roots
Heinrich Heine, the German poet who wrote the Book of Songs and died in Paris in 1856, regularly reported to German periodicals on life in the City of Lights. Here he discusses the music of Berlioz, Liszt, and Chopin, adding, as noted in the introduction, some fanciful “facts” for the sake of a good story. Seven audio and video files (Horowitz, Bernstein, and others) enrich the reading experience. —Derk Richardson

Wild, Cheryl Strayed
I recently finished Wild by Cheryl Strayed. It ties in elements of wanderlust and the grappling with emotional pain in exchange for physical, all told through the narrative voice of a woman struggling to find herself after losing everything. I loved it. —Leah Atkinson

Lucky Peach, Issue 7
Lucky Peach’s Travel Issue has hit newsstands and is full of hilarious travel tips from the likes of Aziz Ansari (he’s obsessed with the fresh-baked cookies in first class on American’s NYC to LA flight) and Jonathan Gold (apparently packets of Singaporean bak kwa can be disguised as boxes of candy to get through customs). There are also great reads including Anissa Helou’s story on eating camel hump in Syria and Jason Polan’s piece on the most beautiful Taco Bell in the world. —Jen Murphy

Traveling Solo: A Manifesto for the Modern Woman,” New York Magazine
At the end of this column, Ann Friedman writes, “A travel magazine sent me to Osaka for a week.” That magazine is AFAR, and it turns out the trip was only the second solo international journey she’d ever taken. Of her first, 10 years earlier, she writes:  ”I didn’t really know how to have fun alone. I was too scared I’d sound like an idiot ordering at restaurants, so I just bought bread and cheese from the grocery store and ate in public parks. I didn’t make friends with other travelers. I walked until my feet felt like they were going to fall off, then walked some more because I wasn’t sure how and where to relax. I probably would have had a better time if I’d just owned up to being the naive American girl that everyone else saw.” What a difference a decade—and a feminist context—makes. Friedman’s Spin the Globe story will appear in a forthcoming issue of AFAR. —Derk Richardson

The Serpent and the Rainbow, Wade Davis
Voodoo, zombies, hallucinations—Wade Davis’s personal tale of his time spent in Haiti delivers on all fronts. Davis, a biologist cum anthropologist cum ethnobotanist, tells a spellbinding tale of his quest to penetrate this exotic culture and uncover a mysterious sedative that could potentially change the U.S. pharmacological landscape forever. —Jill Greenwood

On Coming Home,” Aviators and a Camera
We tend to think travel is all about the getting there. Here, AFAR Ambassador Kirsten Alana shows that sometimes, it’s just as important to come home. —Kim Fortson

Learning to Breathe: One Woman’s Story of Spirit and Survival
From the publisher: “While traveling in Laos on a winding mountain road, the bus that award-winning journalist Alison Wright was riding in collided with a logging truck. As she waited fourteen hours for proper medical care—in excruciating pain, certain she was moments from death—Alison drew upon years of meditation practice and concentrated on every breath as if it would be her last. Despite countless surgeries and a grueling recovery, Alison set herself the goal of achieving a new dream: to one day climb Mount Kilimanjaro—and she reached the summit on her fortieth birthday. Gasping for air once again, she stood at the highest point in Africa, determined to never again take a single breath for granted. Perfect for readers who love spiritual authors traveling abroad, such as Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love) and Greg Mortenson (Three Cups of Tea), this memoir is an amazingly inspirational tale of how a life-changing accident transformed one woman’s faith.”Joe Diaz 

Photo courtesy of Sam Nulton/AFAR