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What We’re Reading

Confronting a Masterpiece,” Roads & Kingdoms
Matt Goulding of Roads & Kingdoms provides one of the most intimate, exhaustive looks at what goes on behind the scenes of the world’s best restaurant in this four-part series on Noma and Nordic cooking. —Jen Murphy

A Dream World, Cracked Open,” T Magazine
My favorite fashion photographer, Tim Walker, has a new book out. His images are whimsical fantasies: bright, colorful, and full of energy. He is a fashion guy who loves telling a story.    What it must be like to be his prop stylist!  —Tara Guertin

The Elephant Whisperer by Lawrence Anthony
I just returned from safari in South Africa, and this story about a herd of wild elephants resonates deeply. Lawrence Anthony shows us that love and kindness reign supreme in our animal kingdom, and all the lessons we need to learn are often taught to us by our non-human friends. The aftermath of this story, following Anthony’s death in May, 2012, is remarkable, mysterious, and heartbreakingly beautiful: the herd travels to his home and keeps silent vigil for two days, a gesture of gratitude and respect for the human who had once rescued them from an imminent demise. —Jill Greenwood

Best in Travel 2013,” Lonely Planet
Lonely Planet’s sparked my wanderlust with their 2013 travel hot list. Check out which cities, countries, and regions are on their radar. —Jen Murphy

World-Class Buildings For The Underserved, At Under $10k,” Fast Company Design
A Norwegian architecture firm just won an award, not for designing the fanciest skyscraper, but for building things like a dormitory for a Thai orphanage for about 10 thousand bucks. This story might be enough to restore your faith in humanity. And it contains this sentence, “The construction crew? Hanstad, Gjertsen, 70 untrained workers, and eight water buffalo.” —Jeremy Saum

On a Bleak River, Seeing Compassion and Beauty,” New York Times Lens Blog
There are very few shooters like Nadav Kander. Few can can live up to his thought-out composition and use of light. The photos from this series were the first images I tacked onto my inspiration board during AFAR’s launch. —Tara Guertin

Let’s Play: 100 Years of Board Games, SFO Museum, San Francisco International Airport, Terminal 2 Departures
For those who arrive early at the airport and find themselves with time on their hands, SFO offers an absorbing array of curated exhibits, including this latest, a survey of board games. I may not be old enough to remember The Game of the Sociable Snake or Ration Board, but I learned just enough about them the online version of the exhibit to appreciate their cultural resonance. The early rendition of Monopoly and the childhood favorite Candy Land, however, brought on pangs of longing for the days of family game-playing leisure time. —Derk Richardson

Mysterious Circumstances,” Blue Summer Nights
I found this story through the awesome Nieman Storyboard series “Why’s this so good?“, which breaks down what makes good stories work. David Grann is a master of the non-fiction narrative mystery and this tale of obsession doesn’t disappoint, especially if you’re a Sherlock Holmes fan. —Ariel Ramchandani

California in My Mind,” New York Times
The New York Times’s Jeff Gordinier does some serious California dreaming in Laguna Beach. Took me back. —Shelley Tatum Kieran

A Home at the End of Google Earth,” Vanity Fair
When he was five, Saroo fell asleep alone on a train in India and woke up in a city where he didn’t speak the language and knew no one. Unable to find his way home, he was subsequently adopted by and grew up with a family in Tasmania. In 2009, technology linked up with his hazy memories of his past, and he logged tons of hours Google Earth trying to locate the town and family he’d been separated from years before. I won’t give away the ending, but it’s a happy one. —Jessica Silber

The New Moscow,” Travel & Leisure
I’ve been making my through The Best American Travel Writing 2012 stories available online (courtesy of Miss Adventures) This gem by novelist Gary Shteyngart gets at his childhood as well as Russia’s future. It makes me want to book a flight to Moscow, with a copy of Snob magazine in hand. —Ariel Ramchandani

Smart Cities, Limited Resources,” SPUR
As the world becomes more urbanized, cities are going to need to be as smart as they can be. SPUR, the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association, does a lot of good thinking about these issues. This story looks at how dynamic pricing—the way they price airline tickets—can be applied to stuff like parking, traffic, and electricity to make cities run more efficiently. —Jeremy Saum