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What We’re Reading

Unexpected Offerings On A Return To Bali,” Gadling.com
Don George returns to Bali after 34 years and finds himself still swept into the island’s spell (above). Twenty or so years ago, I had somewhat similar gamelan-at-a-distance experience on the very same, albeit then-unmarked and totally undeveloped, trail along the Tjamphuhan ridge. Pure magic. Go there if you ever have the chance. —Derk Richardson

A Different Hawaii,” Saturday Evening Post
Edward Readicker-Henderson wrote one of my favorite stories for Afar, about taking a cruise in Alaska (“The Inside Passage“). Turns out he has a thing for being on boats in our youngest states. In this story, he sails to four Hawaiian islands, including two of the smaller ones, places “where you have to decide to stay, where it’s better to be who you are than to go off to the big city and try to fit in.” Edward’s not one to fit in. These are his kind of people. For something completely different—no boats, no water, read Edward’s great “Nine Desert Rules.” —Jeremy Saum

A Small Studio in Bamako,” Roads and Kingdoms
A journalist almost literally stumbles across the studio of one of her erstwhile favorite photographers, Mali’s Malick Sidibé, and muses on his work as a West African photographer, the state of the present situation in Mali, and the intersection of beauty, politics, and representation. —Jessica Silber

Alain de Botton Introduces Generation Curious,” High Life
Alain de Botton champions the call of global citizens around the world. He posits that travel begins with a mindset of curiosity, open-mindedness, and a desire to connect with interesting locals. This essay emphasizes the importance of getting off of the tour bus and to the kitchen table with locals who can open your mind and heart. Thanks to Tamara Lohan of Mr. and Mrs. Smith for the link. —Joe Diaz

Better than Fiction: True Travel Tales From Great Fiction Writers, edited by Don George
I just started this new Lonely Planet book—edited by a member of the AFAR family, Don George—and had the privilege to hear readings by some of the contributors a few days ago, including early AFAR writer Joe Yogerst and the great Isabel Allende. While not the most joyous travel story, Allende’s account of the trip to India that inspired her nonprofit foundation that supports women and children around the world was a moving tale of transformation through travel. Hearing the story reminded me of a TED talk that Allende did a while ago that weaves stories of injustice against women with those of humor, passion, and strength. —Serena Renner

The Memoirs of a Model in 1960s Paris,” MessyNessyChic
An excerpt from Grace Coddington’s memoir about, well, being a model in 1960s Paris. Makes me not only nostalgic for the city, but for a time period I never saw and some serious fashion I would never wear (“hard-edged space-age clothes of Courrèges and Paco Rabanne.”). —Jessica Silber

She’s Got Some Big Ideas,” New York Times
Curator extraordinaire Maria Popova steps out from behind the curtain. Her newsletter and Twitter feed are required reading for their sheer breadth of interestingness. —Davina Baum

Best Lunch Ever: Lo Scoglio, Amalfi Coast,” Fathom
Pavia Rosati’s love letter to Lo Scoglio, a hotel and restaurant on the Amalfi Coast that she’s returned to many times, is touching, illuminating, and mouth-watering. —Davina Baum 

Empire of the Summer Moon, by S.C. Gwynne
Shedding light on a part of American history that often goes overlooked, S.C. Gwynne’s Empire of the Summer Moon is a thorough and fascinating look at the development of the American West, and the tribe that dominated it until the 1870s—the Comanches—by means of one of the most effective light cavalry forces the world has ever known, and sheer, terrifying force of will. In many ways, the narrative’s central figure, Quanah Parker—himself the son of a Comanche chief and a white woman—embodies the history of the era along the rugged edge of the Western frontier. —Bryan Kitch 

Empire of the Burning Tongue: How Mission Chinese Food Perfectly Encapsulates Our Post-Locavore Moment,” Grub Street
As a New Yorker living in San Francisco, I read this story about Mission Chinese Food and chef Danny Bowien with interest. In SF we’re in the restaurant’s delivery zone, and I eat his whacked-out, tongue-scorching stoner food almost once a week. I thought I had the good end of the deal, but John Swansburg’s description of the “post-locavore” energy of Bowien’s New York outpost makes me consider braving the long lines on Orchard Street when I’m home for the holidays. Is food better when you wait for it while huddling around a keg? All I know is, the brisket soup noodles are amazing when you eat them on the couch in sweatpants. —Ariel Ramchandani

Kill the Password: Why a String of Characters Can’t Protect Us Anymore,” Wired
I’ve never been particularly concerned about internet security, or particularly interested in the world of hackers, until I read this article. After getting hacked by a 14 year old who goes by the handle “Dictate,” writer Mat Honan began an investigation into our online world that’s built upon easy-to-crack passwords. ”Everyone is a few clicks away from knowing everything,” Honan writes. I guess it’s time to start paying more attention. —Serena Renner

Photo courtesy of Don George.