The travel category does not lack for quirkiness. Below, our picks for the 10 most intriguing forthcoming travel books, in order of publication:
Title: The Magnetic North: Notes from the Arctic Circle
Author: Sara Wheeler
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Feb.
Terrain Explored: After describing Antarctica in 1998's Terra Incognita, British travel writer Sara Wheeler visits the flip side of the globe and ruminates on the Arctic Circle.
What Makes It Worth the Trip: The landscape is sublime; the ice is melting; and the people who work in places like the Arctic Circle are unconventional: "Polar environments attract the type of support staff that used to be called ‘alternative,' and at Summit you could barely move for ponytails swishing in the Arctic breeze (that was the men). The carpenters met for yoga in the recreation tent before going on shift."
Title: Radio Shangri-La: What I Learned in Bhutan, the Happiest Kingdom on Earth
Author: Lisa Napoli
Publisher: Crown, Feb.
Terrain Explored: Napoli writes of traveling to the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan to help launch the country's first youth-oriented radio station. Cultural misunderstandings abound.
What Makes It Worth the Trip: Bhutan, a country about the size of Switzerland, stands as a kind of alternate universe to our technology-obsessed culture: it has no television and measures Gross National Happiness rather than GDP.
Title: The Ragged Edge of the World: Encounters at the Frontier Where Modernity, Wildlands, and Indigenous Peoples Meet
Author: Eugene Linden
Publisher: Viking, Mar.
Terrain Explored: Name an exotic place and chances are that Linden has been there: New Guinea, Borneo, and Siberia feature here.
What Makes It Worth the Trip: Linden specializes in locations at environmental risk, so you'll want to visit the places he discusses before they disappear. For some of them, such as the wildlands around Jane Goodall's Gombe Stream Reserve in Tanzania, it's already too late.
Title: A Million Steps: Discovering the Lebanon Mountain Trail
Author: Hana El-Hibri
Publisher: Interlink, Apr.
Terrain Explored: The author gives new meaning to "off the beaten path" by walking a 440-kilometer trail through the mountains of Lebanon, traversing the country from north to south.
What Makes It Worth the Trip: Despite the fatigue, in El-Hibri's journallike account the experience—both the rural places seen and the humble people met—sounds incredible. Norbert Schiller's photographs are breathtaking.
Title: Wonders of America
Author: Elizabeth Heath
Publisher: White Star (dist. by Sterling), May
Terrain Explored: Color photos (392 of them) and text depict the land that lies from sea to shining sea in this 6.5-in.×6.5-in. hardcover.
What Makes It Worth the Trip: Stunning photographs and informative text inspire a new appreciation for the vast size and geographical variety of the U.S.
Title: Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time
Author: Mark Adams
Publisher: Dutton, June
Terrain Explored: The author follows in the footsteps of Hiram Bingham III, the young Yale professor who "discovered" Machu Picchu in 1911.
What Makes It Worth the Trip: Not only is Machu Picchu awe inspiring, but in late 2010 Yale agreed to return the artifacts that Bingham smuggled out a century ago, making this title as topical as it is fascinating.
Title: Route 66
Author: Tom Snyder
Publisher: St. Martin's Press, June
Terrain Explored: This 20th anniversary edition follows the so-called "mother road" that crosses the continental United States like a belt across its waistline.
What Makes It Worth the Trip: Suggested pit stops include picturesque Doolittle, Mo., "named for former air-race winner Jimmy Doolittle, who once bolstered sagging morale in the United States by coaxing a flight of sixteen standard-issue army B-25 bombers off the pitching deck of the U.S.S. Hornet for a raid on Tokyo, just a few months after the attack on Pearl Harbor."
Title: Seven Seasons in Siena: My Quixotic Quest for Acceptance Among Tuscany's Proudest People
Author: Robert Rodi
Publisher: Ballantine, June
Terrain Explored: Italy's famed Tuscany region—need we say more?
What Makes It Worth the Trip: Chicago writer Rodi offers a front-row view of Siena's Palio, an event that pits the various neighborhoods of the city against each other and sends horses hurtling around the city's famous shell-shaped piazza at hair-raising speed.
Title: The Sportsman
Author: Dhani Jones with Jonathan Grotenstein
Publisher: Rodale, June
Terrain Explored: Jones—now in his 11th season with the NFL and host of the Travel Channel series Dhani Tackles the Globe—makes both an internal and an external journey, the latter to places as varied as Singapore and Philadelphia.
What Makes It Worth the Trip: Jones is an affable host who excels at making his point and moving along deftly and quickly, as when he writes without rancor, "The first thing I realized about Switzerland was that there weren't any black people."
Title: Bike NYC
Authors: Ed Glazar, Marci Blackman, and Michael Green
Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing, June
Terrain Explored: All five boroughs are traversed on two wheels.
What Makes It Worth the Trip: There are 236,000 New Yorkers scooting around the city on cycles every day, and for good reason—a bike allows you to cover a lot of ground, but still see the street scenes and sights that make the city great. The book maps 10 rides. Be sure to wear a helmet!