Novel Ideas: Three for the Road
The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder
By Rebecca Wells
Small-town girl and aspiring hairdresser Calla moves to New Orleans, where she enrolls in a prestigious beauty school. As she earns her keep at a local diner, she learns that city folk are just like her family back home, at least when it comes to food (Harper, $26).
Don't miss the pecan waffles or the fluffy Chef's Special omelets, stuffed with meat, cheese, onion, and French fries, at The Camellia Grill, a Big Easy standard (504/309-2679, omelet $8).
Italian for Beginners
By Kristin Harmel
Chronic rule-follower Cat decides, on a whim, to vacation in Italy with her ex, Francesco. Soon enough, she's alone and heartbroken, but after zipping through Rome on a Vespa, she realizes that tossing out your plans can lead to the best experiences (5 Spot, $14).
Ride past sites like the Vatican and the Baths of Caracalla on Nerone Tours' four-hour Vespa drive through Rome. Make sure to ask your guide to stop for a gelato break in the Campo dei Fiori (nerone.cc, from $210).
Dreaming in Hindi
By Katherine Russell Rich
Author Rich impulsively ditches her life in New York City to take on a freelance writing assignment in India. She's so enthralled with the country, she stays for a year to study Hindi and pen this memoir on the power of learning a new language (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $26).
Take in this romantic city, known for its four glittering lakes, from the rooftop terrace of Udai Kothi, a lavish boutique hotel with panoramic views of ancient palaces (udaikothi.com, from $95).