In this article, we talk about books for travel lovers. However, we would like to say this isn’t focused only on a touristy travel, but also on a more immersive and cultural journey.
On January 1st, I was hanging over my bed while reading some articles on my phone. Suddenly, I found one which managed to grab the attention of my scattered mind. The article was about the British writer Ann Morgan who, in 2012, developed a personal project called “A Year of Reading the World”, which she set out to read one book of every country in the world over the period of one year.
It all began when she realised that the majority of her books from her extensive private library were from authors of the English language. During her TED’s talk, she even said she was an “uninformed literary xenophobe”, and that’s how she decided to diversify her reading material. To do that, she created a blog, asking for advice for authors and book titles for people from all over the world. At the end, she turned all the comments and suggestions in this wonderful list.
Coincidentally, I found this article at the moment I was reading the most of my life. At this second stage of our lives here in Parma, Italy – we split our time in here between “before” and “after” our Bike Trip to Slovenia – we moved into a house with no internet connection. What was initially a torment, became a huge opportunity to face our bad habits.
Over those three months we lived with no internet, Tiago and I talked more, enjoyed better the flavour of our meals as well as the company of each other, have been discussing more deeply about our ideas, philosophies and thoughts, going to sleep earlier and, most importantly, we are reading a lot more. Over those 90 days living in a house without wifi, we read ridiculously more than the past 6 months we lived in our apartment with internet connection.
The books we borrow – quite unpretentious as the Parma’s public library’s collection of English books isn’t that big – have been allowing us to carry on travelling and exploring different cultures and ideas without even have to leave our sofa.
The last literary works we read, all by authors from different parts of the world, have been testing our convictions and pre-concepts as well as introducing to us new realities. In fact, many stories showed us new perspectives about countries, cultures and historical facts which, so far, we thought we knew quite well.
It might sound like a cliché, but the truth is you don’t always need to leave your house to travel. Go with me here, what experience is more reasonable, going to another side of the world, but not allow yourself to accept anything different than what you know, eat what you always eat back home, lock in a resort and doesn’t talk to anybody who doesn’t speak your language or think different than you do, don’t open your eyes to see what is new, judge everything based just on your experiences;
Or, try to understand a different reality than yours from the point of view of an author or a character who has references and a culture completely different than yours? Truly, I would say the second option will be a much richer and enhanced experience.
If only I would have read Shantaram before travelling to India…
I am positive that I would have enjoyed that trip a hundred times more. By the way, here it goes the first tip to anyone travelling to India – or not, it’s a good read regardless.
Anyway, back to the Ann Morgan and her project, that article made me realise, even though we are in Italy for a certain time – well, after two years travelling the world, we had finally stopped somewhere – we carried on travelling around through our books. They help us to satisfy our daily crave for the new.
So without further ado, here it goes the list of works, not just from the writer, but also from the ones we read over the last weeks:
Books for travel lovers:
Sultana’s Dream: from the Muslin writer Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain, Indian from the state of Bengal. The book brings a feminist utopian tale about a city called Ladyland. It’s considered the first feminist sci-fi literature work in the world.
Pradmarag: also written by the feminist Rokeya Sakhawat, in 1924, it brings the story of Indian women pursuing their emancipation.
The Reluctant Fundamentalist: a romance written by the Pakistani Mohsin Hamid. It tells the story of a young Pakistani man who was brought up in the USA and goes through a process of disconnectedness with the American culture.
Animal Farm: a classic literature by the Brit George Orwell.
Homage to Catalonia: also written by George Orwell, where he portrays his personal experience fighting in the Spanish Civil War alongside the POUM (Workers Party of Marxist Unification), a communist anti-Stalinist party.
Children of the JacarandaTree: written by the Iranian Sahar Delijani. The book tells the story of young men and women who fought during the Iranian Revolution of 79 and ended up being persecuted by the Ayatollah Regime, once the revolution took a fundamentalist course.
A Hundred Years of Solitude: another classic literature work by the Colombian Gabriel Garcia Marques.
Love in the time of Cholera: also by Gabriel Garcia Marques.
The Master of Petersburg: by the South African and the Nobel Prize Winner in Literature John Maxwell Coetzee. The book has as a main character Fyodor Dostoyevsky, who has just returned to Russia after the alleged suicide of his stepson.
Waiting for the Barbarians: also by John Maxwell Coetzee, it goes about tortures, wars and the conflict between the “oppressor X oppressed”, “colonizer and colonized”.
White Nights: written by Fyodor Dostoyevsky in 1848 before his imprisonment.
This is a rather personal list, but if you have any other suggestion of books for travel lovers, leave in the comment below for us and other readers too 🙂
Suggestion by Giancarlo Ceccon:
Invisible cities: “If my book Invisible Cities still being for me the one I think to have said more things, it could be, perhaps, because I managed to concentrate in one single symbol all of my reflections, experiences and conjectures.” That’s Italo Calvino himself saying.
Thank you and safe travels – better still, safe readings 😉