7 New Books We Recommend This Week

Today is the first day of summer, and what better time to read a handful of books about adventures — or misadventures? Our recommended titles this week include Kevin Fedarko’s “A Walk in the Park,” his good-natured romp about encountering bad nature on a trek through the Grand Canyon, along with David Nicholls’s novel about a happier hiking trip, Nicholas Kristof’s memoir of life as a roving reporter and Kassia St. Clair’s look at an epic intercontinental car race in the early days of the automobile. (You can’t even call it a road race, because along much of the route roads were nonexistent.)

On a more sober note, we also recommend Kim A. Wagner’s meticulously researched history of a forgotten military atrocity and Steven Johnson’s reconstruction of an era when anarchists and police forces duked it out in a battle of wits (and dynamite). In fiction, don’t miss Morgan Talty’s rich debut novel, “Fire Exit,” about a man exiled from the only land and culture he has ever known. Happy solstice, and happy reading. Gregory Cowles

Two friends — the adventure writer Fedarko and the photographer Pete McBride — decide to walk the length of the Grand Canyon. What could go wrong? As this wildly entertaining book demonstrates, everything you can imagine, and then some. Fedarko takes us for a ride that’s often harrowing, frequently hilarious and, always, full of wonderful nature writing.

From the 1880s to, roughly, 1920, anarchists were considered America’s greatest terror threat. And in telling the stories of Emma Goldman, Alexander Berkman, Peter Kropotkin and the policemen who pursued them, Johnson makes it clear that his real protagonist is dynamite itself. While this functions as a lively history of an era in its own right, it’s also a timely meditation on the nature of violence, protest and American society.

Crown | $32

Talty’s first novel follows a white man who was raised on and then later evicted from a Penobscot reservation. When the book opens, he is deciding whether or not to tell his estranged daughter the truth of her heritage and also figuring out how to care for his dying mother, both familial and cultural reckonings that open complicated conversations about heritage and identity.

Tin House | $28.95

Kristof has traveled to 170 countries and this lively memoir packs in mentions of about half them. Alarming stories from Tiananmen Square and Darfur sit alongside behind-the-scenes scuttlebutt at the offices of The New York Times, giving the full scope of the Pulitzer Prize winner’s storied career.

Few popular novelists spin romantic dramedies with as much shambolic charm and wit as Nicholls (whose 2009 touchstone “One Day” recently colonized Netflix). There is more than starry eyes and meet-cutes, though, in his disarming latest, about two fortyish single Brits — each battered by a bad divorce and the quotidian disappointments of midlife — who find love on a soggy hiking trip through the British countryside.

Harper | $27

Few Americans today have heard of Bud Dajo, a volcanic mountain in the southern Philippines. But as Wagner recounts in this impassioned book, in early March 1906, American soldiers attacked an enclave of Muslim Moros on Bud Dajo and killed, by some estimates, nearly 1,000 people — a death toll that exceeded Wounded Knee and My Lai combined.

St. Clair’s story of the 1907 Peking-Paris rally is a vivid re-creation of an epic auto race, in which motorcars — still a novelty — were driven by larger-than-life figures across a landscape mostly unmarked by roads. The story is appropriately propulsive, but the author never lets us forget that, as her characters hack through a mountain pass or traverse a steppe, they are heralding the change that would alter these landscapes forever.

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