9 Reads Almost as Satisfying as Taking a Vacation
Summer is the season of wanderlust. Even if you’re sprawled on a beach towel under the sun and near a body of water, we’re willing to wager that for the shortest moment, you’ve had thoughts of icicles and cooling northern winds — or, at least, of an air-conditioned room. Here, we’ve rounded up some of T’s most transportive stories for those who need a break from their surroundings, or from the news cycle.
Green and brown moss adorns the towering big-leaf maple trees on the Maple Glade Trail in the Olympic National Park in Washington.Mitch Epstein
“Lessons in Stillness From One of the Quietest Places on Earth” by Meghan O’Rourke
Last year, the poet Meghan O’Rourke traveled to Olympic National Park in Washington, a three-hour car ride from Seattle, but, “it feels much farther, as if you have passed into an otherworldly realm,” she writes. “Within it are volcanic beaches scattered with the remains of massive Sitka spruces, evergreen-crowded mountains, broad, flat valleys and the Hoh Rain Forest,” which is among the quietest places in the country. Read more.
An interior view of St. Victor church in the Catalan village of Saurí. In this section, overlooking the altar, the muralist Santi Moix included verses by the Catalan poet Josep Vicenç Foix.Ricardo Labougle
“In Catalonia, a Church Becomes a Place of Artistic Pilgrimage” by Katie Chang
The Barcelona-born painter Santi Moix recently created his largest work to date: 1,200 square feet of frescoes inside St. Victor church in the Catalan village of Saurí. And traditional Christian art, this is not. Moix imagined a “new Eden” that “abounds with psychedelic daisies, spotted salamanders, beasts with tentacles and copulating sheep,” describes Chang, “all rendered in cloudlike swaths of grass green, cornflower yellow and strawberry pink.” Read more.
The train station at Illiers-Combray, in north central France, which Marcel Proust immortalized in his novel “In Search of Lost Time.”Patrick Tourneboeuf
“In the Footsteps of Marcel Proust” by William Friedkin
Friedkin, the Academy Award-winning director of such films as “The Exorcist” and “The French Connection,” became hooked on Proust by way of his first wife, the actress Jeanne Moreau. She would read from “À la Recherché du Temps Perdu” (“In Search of Lost Time”) every evening and translate it into English for Friedkin. “In the late ’80s, I returned to Paris with the sole purpose of walking in Proust’s footsteps, of seeing the places in which he lived and wrote about,” Friedkin explains. “For the most part I’m intimidated by masterpieces, and not inspired to attempt one.” But it was in Illiers-Combray — two hours from the French capital — that he truly entered the writer’s world. Read more.
Built for Blanchette Rockefeller on a quiet street in Midtown Manhattan, this guest house is one of the best-preserved and least known of all of the architect Philip Johnson’s works. This is the living room, as it looks today.Dean Kaufman
“A Secret Little Glass Home in the Heart of New York” by Sadie Stein
“Walk through the towering door now,” of Philip Johnson’s 1950 Rockefeller Guest House, situated in the East ’50s, “and Midtown falls away,” writes Stein. “The transition is not abrupt; a visitor is met first with a bank of wooden cupboards, easing newcomers off the street and into the vastness of the house itself. Then, space.” Read more.
The view out the window of a train in South Africa’s North West province.Jason Larkin
“The History of Southern Africa, by Train” by Ted Conover
The author and journalist Ted Conover has a thing for trains: “They’re laid out in a way that lets you move around — if you get tired of your seat, your car or your companions, alternatives are close at hand.” And, he continues, “unlike an airplane, trains often tell a story of national ambition, and when you’re on one, you’re a part of that story.” He rode the rails across Africa for T in an attempt to understand the continent’s epic scope, and its bloody colonial history. Read more.
A photography studio is among the few businesses in downtown Jokkmokk, Sweden.Olivier Metzger
“Cold Comfort at the Edge of the World” by Alice Gregory
“With a population of less than 3,000, Jokkmokk, Sweden, is not, for most of the year, a compelling place to visit,” says Gregory. “Three miles north of the Arctic Circle, the town is snowy even in June, and the surrounding lakes remain frozen for up to six months at a time.” But the town comes alive annually for a three-day-long festival where, among other traditions, reindeer meat is served in smoked, dried, raw and grilled forms. Best of all: “With the exception of one couple from Minnesota, I met no other Americans,” Gregory writes. Read more.
It was from the woods of Yakushima that the great Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki found inspiration for his 1997 animated masterpiece, “Princess Mononoke.”Chrystel Lebas
“A Real-Life Enchanted Forest” by Hanya Yanagihara
For our spring travel issue, T’s editor in chief visited the Japanese island of Yakushima — specifically its 1,000-acre Shiratani Unsuikyo Ravine, where some of the trees are an estimated 2,200 years old. It’s a familiar setting, even for those who haven’t ventured there “because it resembles, uncannily, someplace you might have seen,” she writes, “the realm of ‘Princess Mononoke,’ the animated masterpiece that is largely set in a forest thick with ancient trees and ancient gods, where the struggle between nature and man — and for Japan’s very soul — is waged.” Read more.
The artist Andrea Zittel’s “Experimental Living Cabins,” which have no electricity or running water, sit alone in the desolate landscape of Wonder Valley on the edge of the Mojave Desert.Stefan Ruiz
“Sight and Insight in the California Desert” by Kate Bolick
Nearly two decades ago, the artist Andrea Zittel left New York to explore the meaning of solitude on the West Coast, where she started her so-called “life practice.” Bolick explains it as spanning 60 acres, “including permanent sculpture installations, informal classrooms, shipping container workspaces, dormlike guest quarters and a giant studio with rooms for weaving textiles and crafting rustic clay bowls.” She spent a week living in one of Zittel’s “Experimental Living Cabins” in Wonder Valley, California, existing, as she says, “just a few steps outside real life.” Read more.
A carpet of ox-eye daisies leads to a walnut tree by a lake that McEwan created from several small underground springs.Ricardo Labougle
“Ian McEwan’s Enchanted Garden” by Mary Kaye Schilling
The writer Ian McEwan and his wife, the novelist Annalena McAfee, began to tinker with the grounds of their Cotswolds estate when they moved in six years ago, eventually hiring a full-time gardener, the former graphic designer Stuart Panting. “One of Ian’s stipulations,” Panting tells Schilling, “was that he never wanted to see the soil in the flower beds.” Schilling continues: Panting “also introduced McAfee’s traditional cottage garden favorites: poppies, lupines, honesty and sweet woodruff, ‘which comes up,’ she says, ‘like a white haze under the green arches of Solomon’s seal.’” Read more.