1. The New York Times: 36 Hours USA & Canada, Southwest & Rocky Mountains by Barbara Ireland I'm a huge believer in these slim, colorful books for more than their aesthetic appeal. Only recently, and thanks to Ruby, I've started to rely more on the Times as a planning tool for new destinations. Sites like Yelp and Google are great in a pinch, but I've yet to be lead astray by the NYT. Also, I think these books make the perfect gift, especially for dropping the hint you're serious when you mentioned that road trip last week to your friend.
2. South and West: From a Notebook by Joan Didion My favorite memory from my time in Texas was the afternoon Ruby and I spent laying in ZIlker Park, reading this book next to each other. It's hard to put into words the influence Didion has in my life, in many people's lives, really. This book was the ideal travel companion, compact and easy to pick up. Not that I wanted to put it down, of course. The material is different and intimate, made captivating in a way only Didion can.
3. On Writing by Stephen King Embarrassingly, I've never read any of Stephen King's other books. I guess it's because they always seemed so intimidating, in size and in content. Reading On Writing, I was shocked by the down to earth tone that made reading it feel like a conversation with a professor more than anything. There's no doubt King is a genius and a great of our time; and hearing him speak to his struggles and his doubts helped make his work feel more personal, less intimidating. I'm excited to pick up The Stand and The Shining.
4. I'll Tell You in Person by Chloe Caldwell During coffee with Ruby and Arielle on my last jaunt in New York, the two of them could not stop gushing about Chloe Caldwell. Arielle generously gave me this book and I finished it on the flight home. It's everything you want from a memoir, especially as a young women. Vulnerability in writing is something I've come to identify as important to me in my reading. Caldwell speaks truthfully and beautifully in this collection of essays. My favorite was "Hungry Ghost."