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What We’re Reading: 9 Noteworthy Reads

Truly Novel Bookstores,” The Wall Street Journal
An increasingly rare breed, independent bookstores are among my favorite shopping destinations when I travel. Writer Jemima Sissons shares my foreign bibliophilia. She highlights five trip-worthy bookshops, from the Book Barge, which peddles unusual titles along England’s canals, to The Monkey’s Paw, whose custom-made Biblio-Mat machine vends vintage works for $2 apiece in Toronto. Check out AFAR’s 2013 guide to Exceptional Travel Experiences for six more vaunted bookstores around the world. —Lara Takenaga

The Melting Ice Road of Zanskar,” Roads and Kingdoms
If you need more evidence that climate change is a real threat, read Daniel Grushkin’s story on how it’s effecting the people of Zanskar in the Himalayas. Grushkin reports on how the only winter road out of this remote former Buddhist kingdom is at risk of disappearing. The photos that accompany the story, shot by Sumit Dayal, are equally  gripping. —Jen Murphy

Cross-Country, by a Road Less Traveled,” The New York Times
I’m bound to read any travel story qualified with “a road less traveled.” This one, by Rebecca Flint Marx, brings readers from Times Square to a park in San Francisco, all along a little-used route known as the Lincoln Highway. If you like vintage Americana as much as I do, don’t miss this piece. —Julia Cosgrove

Who Gets To Love San Francisco?” The Bold Italic
This article is (intentionally?) a bit of a rant, but I can relate to some of the feelings of being a transplant in San Francisco, or anywhere else in the world. At the very least, it stimulates an interesting dialogue (see the comments) about what makes someone a local or a lifelong transplant, and what value—if any—outsiders can have on a city. —Serena Renner

Commencement Address: Five Lessons From the Road,” Gadling
I haven’t met him, but after being introduced to the rather famous travel writer Don George through this month’s “Spin the Globe” and through this reflection for Gadling, I think I would like him very much. Both pieces emphasize the goodness of people, and the kindness of strangers is a trait George not only finds, but relies upon when traveling. In this essay, George is heartfelt without being trite, warming graduation truisms with personal experiences on the road and reminding, comfortingly, “you are the roadmap you seek.” — Kim Fortson

How James Turrell Knocked the Art World off Its Feet,” New York Times
This is a few weeks old, but if you haven’t read it, you should. James Turrell transforms light and location—sometimes in ways that are so disorienting that patrons are actually knocked off their feet. Thus the headline, I guess. Traveling to the Roden Crater is a dream that few can realize (it’s on Turrell’s private ranch, and tours are rare unless you’re Chuck Close). But with three major shows now open, in Los Angeles, New York, and Houston, Turrell is definitely accessible. Do an earth art road trip and stop on the way at the Spiral Jetty! —Davina Baum

When Summer Was Easy,” The Wall Street Journal
Summer is my favorite season because for me it’s all about simplicity. Dinner is cooked on the grill. A perfect day is spent with a frisbee, surfboard, and a good book at the beach. I never thought back to a time when summer was even more carefree, but Dave Shiflett’s piece “When Summer Was Easy” in the Wall Street Journal offers a melancholy nostalgia for summers full of weenie roasts, BB-rifles, and skinny sunbathers at the beach. —Jen Murphy

24 Hours in Cleveland,” Matador
I’m not a proponent of 24-hour visits anywhere, but if you’ve gotta do it, you may as well make the most of it. Matador’s 24-hour stories waste no time to help readers jump right in. I especially enjoyed this ultralocal guide to Cleveland—a place I no longer think is a “shithole” and now want to visit for longer than 24 hours. —Serena Renner

Tequila: Si, Por Favor,” Epicure and Culture
It’s not all about salt and lime. Traditional tequila drinking involves throwing it back from a hollowed out bull horn (there’s no flat edge, so you can’t set it down) and passing it to the next patron in the bar. Writer Jennifer Viloria shares how, along with more fun facts about the Mexican liquor that will provide plenty of fuel for small talk when you buy the next round. —Kim Fortson

Photo courtesy of Charissa Fay/AFAR