For most travelers, 2020 has been a complete dud. Due to Covid-19’s strict travel restrictions, countries around the world have closed their borders to visitors, and airlines and cruise ships have grounded part of their fleets. The closest for many of us to the real journey is to live vicariously through social media accounts and perhaps a quick (and safe) journey here or there. Fortunately, one of the good developments of 2020 is the large number of published travel books that will help ease the reader’s urge to travel. We’ve rounded up ten of our favorites for the coming months. Art Lurks in New York City: An Illustrated Guide to the City’s Secret Masterpieces Getting fired is something most people hope to avoid throughout their careers, but for Lori Zimmer, it was a blessing in disguise. Suddenly, the art curator had time to explore her adopted hometown of New York. “I didn’t know what else to do with my time, so I started walking all the streets of Manhattan and started noticing the city’s abundance of art,” she says. at Smithsonian. “I would go home and research each piece.” His curiosity resulted in a blog titled Art Nerd New York, and ultimately led to this book on the city’s hidden art scene. Released this fall, Art Hiding in New York showcases works of art hidden in plain sight, from a Soho loft filled with 280,000 pounds of dirt to a World War II memorial along the Hudson River, hidden by the daily tides. The book couldn’t have been better timed, highlighting public art, much of it outdoor and accessible, as so many art institutions have faced closures due to Covid-19. Each item is associated with a colorful illustration by artist Maria Krasinski. Spirit Run: A 6,000 Mile Marathon Through The Stolen Lands of North America As the son of working-class Mexican immigrants, 19-year-old Noah Álvarez knew he could easily follow in his parents’ footsteps and work alongside them in an apple. packaging plant. But when he heard about Peace and Dignity Journeys, a Native American First Nations organization that hosts ultramarathons, he jumped at the chance to change that course. The result was an epic four-month, 6,000-mile journey across North America on foot, from Canada to Guatemala, crossing deserts and mountain passes alongside a group of runners representing nine Native American tribes. In Spirit Run, Álvarez tells the story of his journey and comes face to face with the same country his parents left behind in search of new opportunities in the United States. By accident Wes Anderson As a filmmaker, Wes Anderson has an instantly identifiable aesthetic. His penchant for a vivid color palette, symmetry and nostalgia, as seen in The Royal Tenenbaums, The Grand Budapest Hotel and Moonrise Kingdom, has won him legions of fans. One superfan, Wally Koval, created an Instagram account in 2017 called @accidentallywesanderson where he and his wife, Amanda, solicit and present photos of other fans from places around the world that eerily resemble the settings of the Anderson films. The effort turned out to be so popular (1.2 million subscribers) that they recently created a book featuring 200 color-saturated photos taken from their social media account, with sites that include a fire station in pink plaster in Marfa, Texas, and a sandstone and marble fort. in Rajasthan, India. The Whale Museum you will never see: and other excursions to Iceland’s most unusual museums Despite being one of the least populated countries in Europe, with a total population of around 330,000, Iceland has an unprecedented number of museums covering a range of subjects, ranging from the expected (the National Museum of Iceland, the National Gallery of Iceland) to the less obvious (the Icelandic Phallological Museum, the Icelandic Punk Museum) . In total, the country is home to 265 museums containing millions of objects. In a treasure hunt for the singular, author and artist A. Kendra Greene (she is currently a guest artist at the Nasher Sculpture Garden in Dallas) visits the abundance of Icelandic institutions in search of the country’s strangest artefacts. She discovers a number of objects that are truly scratchers, including a chastity belt designed for rams, a dried bull penis shaped into a whip, and a sculpture of the body of Christ made from a pile of dried fish. . Lost Pianos of Siberia Covered in snow and ice, Siberia is a land better known for its harsh environment than its connection to piano music. In her first book, author and journalist Sophy Roberts shines a light on the desolate region’s fascination with the instrument by venturing into the freezing cold to hunt down pianos since their peak of popularity in the 19th century. During her three-year adventure through the snow-capped tundra, she discovers how the piano was part of a strong cultural push to westernize the region led by Catherine the Great in the late 1700s. Soon, piano music was introduced. which has become ubiquitous in Siberia and appreciated by all members of society, from the nobility to average citizens living in remote villages far from the modern world. The result is a book that describes the important roles that surviving grand and upright pianos, distributed everywhere from sleepy villages to forced labor camps established during Stalin’s reign, played in Siberia’s past. Wild Feast: In Search of the Last Untamed Food Foraging and hunting for food was the norm in North America 200 years ago, and people’s diets consisted mainly of foodstuffs resulting from labor. physical. Fast forward to today and hunting and gathering is like a trip to the supermarket or a drive-through. In this travelogue, author and geographer Gina Rae La Cerva travels the world in search of some of the last truly wild foods on the planet. Her journey brings her to a cemetery in Denmark, where she searches for wild onions shoulder to shoulder with the country’s renowned chefs, and to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where she investigates the “bushmeat” trade which is running through the region’s rainforests and resulting in the illegal poaching of wildlife to please the palates of the European elite. World of Wonders: to the glory of fireflies, whale sharks and other astonishments For her first book, an illustrated collection of essays on nature, Aimee Nezhukumatathil recounts how, throughout her life, of a writer and mother , she often sought advice in the natural world. With each tale, the award-winning poet conveys the lessons she learned from peacocks, red-spotted newts, whale sharks and other creatures, and how she applied them in her daily life. About the peacock, she writes: “What the peacock can do is remind you of a home that you will flee and come back all your life.” She also has a fondness for the axolotl, or “Mexican Walking Fish”. The amphibian has a wide, sweet smile, which encourages the perpetrator to smile even when the going gets tough. The Address Book: What Street Addresses Tell About Identity, Race, Wealth and Power In real estate, everything revolves around “location, location, location” and The place you live often defines your place on the socio-economic scale. (Concrete example: Park Avenue in New York automatically sums up notions of luxury.) Author Deirdre Mask presents this case in his book on the history of addresses and what they all mean. From the roads of modern Germany named after Nazi soldiers to urban America with streets dedicated to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., she tells the stories behind the addresses, while examining the growing global epidemic of homelessness. shelter and what it means to have no address at all. Refuge: America’s Wildest Places While America’s 62 national parks receive most accolades (and for good reason), it’s the country’s national wildlife sanctuary system that deserves a closer look. . These natural expanses, of which there are 567, are among the most pristine and unspoiled territories in the country – and they also don’t draw large crowds like, say, the Grand Canyon and Yosemite. (Read: you can actually be one with nature there.) Author and nature photographer Ian Shive makes his point in a new coffee table book featuring over 300 color images of over 40 shelters, including the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge near the tip of the state archipelago, the National Elk Refuge in Wyoming, and the Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. After leafing through this book, you will ask yourself: “Yellowstone who?” Roadside Americans: The Rise and Fall of Hitchhiking in a Changing Nation At one point, seeing someone walking alone along an open road with their thumb pointed at the sky was a thing current. For many, even, disappointing a stranger’s walk was a rite of passage. But these days, it’s a rare sight. Jack Reid, an expert on American culture, takes readers on a wild journey through the history of hitchhiking, from its beginnings at the turn of the 20th century, when car ownership was becoming more and more common, until ‘to the hippie, feminist and racial movements of the late 1960s, which saw the “thumb stumbling” as an act of liberation that literally thumbed its nose at the status quo. It also offers hypotheses as to why the mode of transportation collapsed right after the rise of the Reagan era. (Plot twist: Reagan was a well-known hitchhiker himself.) Having trouble seeing our list of books? Turn off your ad blocker and you’re good to go. By purchasing a product through these links, Smithsonian magazine can earn a commission. 100 percent of our profits go to supporting the Smithsonian Institution. Like this article? Subscribe to our newsletter.