Traveling immerses us in the world, but sometimes in the less eventful moments in between destinations, we just need to escape. “The Layover” is a weekly roundup of books, music, podcasts, and other forms of entertainment brought to you by your favorite world travelers.

This week, we reached out to Aneesh Kothari, a travel photographer and writer from Houston, Texas. Whether in Venice or Vermont, Aneesh has a keen eye for the details unique to every location. Today, he discusses the entertainment he turns to during travel’s quieter moments.


“The Source” by James A. Michener

I was about to embark on a solo trip to the Holy Land so I knew I would need some good reading material. “The Source” caught my eye as it clocked in at a whopping 1,104 pages.

Michener expertly weaves history and fiction together in this epic tale of a tell (an artificial mound created by generations of people rebuilding on the same site) and the families who live there throughout the millennia — worshipping, struggling, rejoicing, living, and dying. Whether I was strolling among the chaos and wonder of Jerusalem’s Old City, exploring the ruins of the desert fortress of Masada, or floating in the Dead Sea, I was constantly mesmerized both by the sights and Michener’s words as I walked in the footsteps of our collective history.


“Green Hills of Africa” by Ernest Hemingway

It was early morning. The air was still as the predawn light began to color the sky shades of blue and pink. We were driving along the plains of the Serengeti, searching for big game.  

Though my weapon of choice was a camera instead of a hunting rifle, I could see the land as Hemingway had, filled with extraordinary animals and rife with possibility. With his distinct prose, Hemingway vividly portrays a “virgin country” as he waxes poetic about his two loves: hunting and literature. He stalks kudu and his fellow authors, firing viciously at both (figuratively at his peers, of course). Fortunately, these days, the majority of tourists to east Africa are content firing snapshots.


“The Wild Hunt” by The Tallest Man on Earth

It might seem strange that the soundtrack of my week in Paris was an album filled with the cracked pastoral crooning of Swedish troubadour Kristian Matsson.

However, Matsson’s acoustic ballads of wanderlust and solitude were perfect for my sunrise strolls along the Seine. As I explored the City of Lights at first light, I felt rejuvenated. Seeing a city before it wakes up is always an interesting experience, and when that city is Paris, it’s remarkable. As I listened to Matsson sing, “There’s a sign up the hill to see the far of the land/Well the sign will say ‘There’s still a higher one’,” I climbed the steps of the Trocadero and saw dawn break over the Eiffel Tower — a perfect start to the day.