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What to Read on Vacation

Selections from the five most enticing reads of the summer. Plus: Twelve bonus recommendations!

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1. Twisted Travelogues

Bangkok Days
By Lawrence Osborne (North Point Press)
Having come to Thailand for work on his teeth, Osborne, a middle-aged journalist, becomes an accidental expat, and recounts the darkly amusing results.

EXCERPT: “There was a knock on the door, and then two small girls dressed as traffic cops came in, their thick leather belts jangling with handcuffs, whistles, and plastic pistols. They announced their names, and although I was used to the fanciful names of Bangkok working girls—girls called Air, Pinky, Gift, Sand, and Ma—the fact that my teerak were called Bum and Cartoon did not make it any easier. The one called Cartoon strode into the room with a cheeky grin, laid her black accessories box on the bed, and put her hands on her hips.

‘You go me!’ she shouted in English.
‘I what?’
‘I go you. You go us.’
Bum was close behind. ‘You go me. We go you.’
‘I’m going,’ I said.”


An Irreverent Curiosity: In Search of the Church’s Strangest Relic in Italy’s Oddest Town
By David Farley (Gotham Books)
Farley malingers in Calcata, an Italian village roiled by the disappearance of Jesus’ foreskin— a relic so embarrassing to the Vatican that some suspect its involvement in the theft.


Between the Assassinations
By Aravind Adiga (Free Press)
Short stories from the Booker-winning author of The White Tiger. Gritty realism contrasts with cheekily bland excerpts from an imaginary guidebook to an imaginary Indian city.


The Ramen King and I: How the Inventor of Instant Noodles Fixed My Love Life
By Andy Raskin (Gotham Books)
Raskin, who can’t seem to stop cheating on his girlfriends, tries to seek advice from Momofuku Ando, the titular noodle master and Japanese cultural hero.


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