City life, to put it mildly, doesn’t have the appeal that it used to. It’s hard enough to stay at home and avoid crowds. It’s harder still when home is a one-bedroom on a crowded street. But for an urbanite who hasn’t fled to the countryside to wait out the pandemic, home base may be the only travel destination within reach. Some new and forthcoming U.S. city guides uncover gems—including isolation-friendly outdoor spots and street art—that even locals might not know about. Other titles present armchair views of city life for those currently unable to enjoy it. Such books, says Mary Albi, v-p of sales at ACC Art Books, offer “an opportunity to look at your city or hometown in a different way.”

111 Places in Palm Beach That You Must Not Miss

Cristyle Wood Egitto, photos by Jakob Takos. Emons, Dec.

ACC Art Books is distributing 111 Places guides to several cities in the coming months; others include Houston, in October, and Boston, in December. Highlighted attractions in Palm Beach include one that feels appropriate for the moment: Heau, a public artwork by muralist Sean “Hula” Yoro, depicts a 30-foot woman partially submerged under the area’s Royal Park Bridge; the work’s Hawaiian title loosely translates to trapped.

Art Hiding in New York

Lori Zimmer, illus. by Maria Krasinski. Running Press, Sept.

The city’s museums may be closed for now, but some of its most interesting art, according to curator Zimmer, lives beyond the walls of the Big Apple’s traditional exhibition spaces. Among the works the book spotlights, some of which are no longer around, are a sculpture by Alexander Calder in Gramercy Park and subway installations by Roy Lichtenstein. Rather than traditional guidebook photography, entries are accented by Krasinski’s colorful illustrations.

Chinatown Pretty

Andria Lo and Valerie Luu. Chronicle, Sept.

This street photography book by writer and pop-up restaurateur Luu and photographer Lo grew out of their blog and Instagram account of the same name. In what PW’s review called a “charming compilation,” portraits of pòh pohs (grandmothers) and gùng gungs (grandfathers) in Chinatowns in Chicago, New York, San Francisco, and elsewhere celebrate their subjects’ fashion sense and creativity. Short essays offer biographical details and glimpses of life in Chinatowns across North America.


Cool Is Everywhere

Michael Arnaud. Abrams, out now

Photographer Arnaud, whose work has appeared in Architectural Digest and other publications, provides an image-rich, architecture-focused guide to 14 American cities. They include Buffalo, N.Y., with its Frank Lloyd Wright–designed Darwin D. Martin House Complex, and Richmond, Va., and its Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia.

The Deepest South of All

Richard Grant. Simon & Schuster, Sept.

Grant, a journalist and the author of Dispatches from Pluto, writes about Natchez, Miss., a city built on slavery that, in Grant’s telling, encapsulates the many contradictions of the South. The book, which PW’s starred review called an “entertaining and informative travelogue,” showcases the city’s singular characters, including a madam who informed on the KKK and a West African prince who was enslaved there before regaining his freedom. The book also illustrates the tension between the city’s allegiance to its Confederate past and its surprising progressivism: the current mayor, for instance, is a Black man who was elected with 91% of the vote.


Spirits of San Francisco

Gary Kamiya, illus. by Paul Madonna. Bloomsbury, Oct.

Salon cofounder Kamiya’s 2013 book Cool Gray City of Love focused on 49 spots in his hometown of San Francisco. Here he returns with another look at the city, taking readers to Lombard Street, known as “the crookedest street in the world,” and providing a history of Dumpville, a 19th-century community that was located on a garbage dump, among other sites of interest. Madonna’s photographic pen-and-ink drawings accompany the text.

Street Art Guide to Paris

Stéphanie Lombard. Lannoo, Sept.

Few cultural attractions are more social distancing–friendly than street art. Those waiting out the pandemic in Paris, or who want to be taken there virtually, can turn to this book by blogger Lombard, who provides 10 walks, complete with maps and pictograms, that guide readers toward the city’s notable outdoor installations. A guide to London’s street art, by Laurent Jacquet, follows in December.

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