LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:
Whether your summer plans involve hopping a train, jetting to parts unknown or toddling to the backyard with a cold beverage, NPR Books has your summer reading covered. Book Your Trip is a virtual travel agent featuring every kind of literary journey imaginable. NPR Books editor Petra Mayer stopped by to tell us more.
PETRA MAYER, BYLINE: Hi.
WERTHEIMER: How exactly does Book Your Trip work?
MAYER: Well, you might remember our brook concierge from last year, this is a more traditional kind of list. It lives on our website. We called out to all our reviewers and we asked them what are your favorite books from any era that featured trains or planes or weirder stuff like dragons and time machines, anything as long as it featured some mode of travel. And the result is this really cool book discovery tool. It is a list, but it's definitely not NPR's 100 best travel books ever - it's much more idiosyncratic. Our only criteria were that each book feature some kind of mode of travel and that it be really, really good.
WERTHEIMER: So how did you decide on categories?
MAYER: We were focused on the idea that people go on vacation in the summer and at first we were thinking, you know, maybe the categories would be like beach or mountain or city. And then we thought it's really not the destination, it's how you get there.
WERTHEIMER: What kind of books made the cut?
MAYER: All kinds of things. You know, the lists are like car, horse, balloon, plane, dragon, time machine. On the train list we have "The Little Engine That Could" and "Anna Karenina' because, you know, they both have trains right...
MAYER: ...There you go.
WERTHEIMER: So did you make any amazing discoveries?
MAYER: I did, actually. We were trying to fill out the hot air balloon list, and I was just casting around and I came across this book called "The Ice Balloon." This particular balloon was hydrogen and not hot air, but it's the story of a Swedish explorer in 1897 who thought it would be a great, easy idea to take a hydrogen balloon and sail to the North Pole and back. He was planning that it was going to take six days and he was going to go in comfort and Victorian splendor in this beautifully outfitted balloon and he was going to plop down on the other side of the pole and he was going to be a hero and it sure didn't turn out like that. So, Linda, I have a question for you - do you have a favorite travel book?
WERTHEIMER: I do read books in which people travel like - Lee Child has written a series of books about a man named Jack Reacher.
MAYER: Oh, I know. I know you're a Lee Child fan.
WERTHEIMER: He's a thriller writer and this guy doesn't have a home so he travels all around mostly hitchhiking.
MAYER: I'm sorry to say we don't have any Lee Child on the list, but we do have an honorable mentions category, we could add him there. We'd actually like to invite listeners to send their own honorable mentions in. You can go to the list and add them in the comments or you can tweet them to us with the hashtag #bookyourtrip. We've actually also got some radio stories coming up. We're going to hear from Eric Deggans, he's doing a piece on a great book called "The Watsons Go To Birmingham - 1963," which is about to be a TV movie.
WERTHEIMER: OK, Petra. Happy summer reading.
MAYER: Well, thank you very much.
WERTHEIMER: Petra Mayer is an editor at NPR Books. And you can start planning your journey at NPR.org/bookyourtrip. This is NPR News.