One of the nice things about travel is the extra time we have to read. There is always downtime while traveling and having something to read makes all the difference. There are usually book exchanges at hostels other backpackers make use of since carrying books just adds weight to our already overloaded packs. If you have suggestions on things we should read about the places we are going please drop us an email.
Along the way we’ve read:
The Forever War by Dexter Filkins WS: An inside look from Iraq on the ground with the marines. Man… what a mess.
The Arabian Nights translated by Andrew Lang. WS: An Arabian classic and very fun read. All the stories you grew up on but never read the source of.
The Tipping Point by Malcom Gladwell. WS: Malcom’s big hit. He really has some interesting ways of looking at things we thought we already had figured out.
The Story of Edgar Sawtelleby David Wroblewski. WS:Well written story but not really my preferred type of reading. Another Oprah recommended read–how very exciting.
How Starbucks Saved My Life by Michael Gates Gill. WS: An interesting story of a former powerful executive whose mistakes in life lead him to working a job at Starbucks. He finds plenty of time for deep self-reflection and sometimes a bit to much self-flagulation. Soon to be a movie starring Tom Hanks–won’t that be special. WD: While this book was interesting, by the end, or midway really, I was tired of all his “a-ha!” moments. Either this guy was as introspective as he claimed to be, or he kept referring back to his title so that you never lost sight of how Starbucks saved him.
The Memory Keeper’s Daughter WD: This book is a heart tugging story of how a split second decision made by one man affects four lives forever, including his own. An intersting look at how disabilities were viewed and treated in the past as well.
The Girls: A Novel WD: Okay, I picked this book up as a desperate trade-a story about twins conjoined at the head. But I ended up really enjoying the story. The chapters are written back and forth between the two girls, giving their perspectives on life as one body, but two different people at heart.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon. WS: A fun quick read found on the hostel bookshelves somewhere. Makes you realize how difficult life would be if you were unable to filter out the unimportant. WD: The boy in this book is Autistic, written from his perspective on the world. I enjoyed trying to see from his point of view what a normal day was like, which is nothing that I could relate to.
Yoga School Dropout WD: Picked this one up in India, as it was everywhere in Rishikesh. A story of Lucy, who goes to India for 6 months in search of enlightenment and pose perfection. What she ends up finding is herself, and who she truly is versus what she hopes India will transform her into. Casual yogis will enjoy her quest.
The Age of Kali: Indian Travels and Encounters by William Dalryample. WS: This book was recommended to me by the owner of a couch I surfed in Delhi. I really like this author and hope to read some more of his work. The book is a series of small essays on Indian history, politics, and personal experiences of living there the last 8 years. Great stuff. WD: I did not finish this book. A few of the stories I read were interesting, but I just could not get into it, and gave it to a fellow traveler who was heading to India.
Long Way Downby Charlie Bormann and Ewan McGregor WS: I’m a big fan of the first trip (both the series and the book) as I felt it really captured the essence of long term travel (it’s not always fun). This journey was interesting as well but lacking a bit… you can never go back and have the same experience. I’m sure there will be a third journey though. WD: A trip around the world with a backup team making all your arrnagements on the road-I could use one of those!
Fat,Forty,Fired by Nigel Marsh. WS: Fun read. One man’s story about a year off at home… interesting idea instead of traveling. Pretty funny too.
Rain Fall by Barry Eisler. WS: The first in the Rain series and the film is coming out soon. Very fun to read while here in Tokyo.
The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga. WS: Another one of the great new storytellers on the market. I read this story in a day or so.
Obama: From Promise to Power by David Mendell. WS: Another Obama book? Yes, but nice to read something from an outside perspective.
The Pilot’s Wife WD: This was an Oprah recommendation. I finished it in a day. It was a pretty good read, a bit of a twist to the plot. Take it on a long flight.
Life of Pi WD: This was a great book. Part fact, part fiction, almost a fable. It is about a young man who is stranded on a lifeboat with a tiger and how he survives.
Rachel’s Holiday WD: To me, Marian Keyes is hit or miss, and this one was a miss for me. It is another book about a member of the Walsh family, but the humor found in some of her other books just is not there.
The Bodyguard’s Story: Diana, the Crash, and the Sole Survivor WD:Okay, I admit it. I liked this book. But I was also interested to hear his story. I read this in two days, quick read.
Cocktails for Three WD: Ah, more chic lit. Another quick read, good airplane book. British humor like Keyes (although she is Irish).
Watch My Back By Geoff Thompson. WS: Recommended by a friend of mine, this was a bit heavy on the war stories but still an interesting take on real violence–much different than fighting for sport.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo By Stieg Larsson. WS: A great, great story. Evidently this has been a huge hit in Europe for a few years but has only been released recently in the States.
Requiem For An Assassin By Barry Eisler. WS: The latest in the “Rain” series and another entertaining read. They should be releasing a film for the first Rain book soon.
Hot, Flat, and Crowded By Thomas Friedman. WS: An amazing, eye-opening, and challenging book. It’s a dose of hard reality that I hope we choose to confront NOW.
Dreams from My Father By Barack Obama. WS: Much different than Audacity of Hope. Surprising to learn of his struggle with race and identity in his earlier years. An intelligent, honest look at our new president as a young man. WD: I enjoyed this book as well. It was interesting to have an honest perspective from the new president, with all his shortcomings and history in plain view without a nice coating of sugar.
Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking By Malcom Gladwell. WS: I’ve heard so much about his first book but have not found it out here just yet. This was interesting although it did drag a bit in places. I gave it away to a friend.
Nineteen MinutesBy Jodi Picoult WD:Another great book by this author. The end of the book is a bit of a surprise. I would recommend this one.
Second ChanceBy Jane Green. WD: I liked this one, good airport chic lit.
The Other Side of the StoryBy Marian Keyes. WD: Good chic lit.
White Oleander By Janet Fitch. WD: A fellow traveler recommended this book. A sad story of a relationship between mother and daughter.
Voices from S-21: Terror and History in Pol Pot’s Secret Prison By David Chandler. WS: An attempt to analyze the dark, dark history of the S-21 prison camp in Phnom Penh.
First They Killed My Father By Loung Ung. WS: A personal account of a little girl’s life under the Khmer Rouge. Horrifying. WD: This book is a must read for visitors to Cambodia.
The Girl in the Picture By Denise Chong. WS: The story of Kim Phoc’s life as a propaganda tool of the Vietnamese government after the war. You have seen the famous photo of the little girl running down the street screaming as she is burned by napalm–this is the story of her life afterward. I found myself infuriated and frustrated as she explains her story. Very good read. WD: Read this book if you are interested in Vietnam and the war. Period. Interesting to hear the perspective from someone who was not involved in the war politically, but ended up being involved that way as a propaganda tool.
A 1000 Splendid Suns By Khaled Hosseini. WS: Another amazing book by Hosseini. One of the greatest authors of our time–he is a true writer and storyteller. WD: I read this before we left. Highly recommend.
The Audacity of HopeBy Barack Obama. WS:I don’t agree with everything our future president says (inheritance tax for example) but overall his vision is light years from where we are at the moment. There is some hope. WD:This guy gets it. I enjoyed reading his views on policy before he was elected President. He is definitely a forward thinker-and isn’t that what got a man on the moon?
A Fortune-Teller Told MeBy Tiziano Terzani. WS: This is a really fun read for anyone traveling in South East Asia–or any lover of travelogues.
Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six M.I.T. Students Who Took Vegas for Millions By Ben Mezrich. WS: Another really fun read from Mezrich… his first I think? I devoured it during one long day on the bus. WD: Loved it! Could not put it down.
Fieldwork: A Novel By Mischa Berlinski. WS: This is the author’s first book. He is a great writer but I just didn’t enjoy the story much. WD: I abandoned this book after the first chapter.
My Story By Schapelle Corby. WS: 300 pages of whining. I understand her situation, but it doesn’t take 300 pages to explain it. I still don’t know what to believe after reading her story but I’ll be doing my best not to unknowingly smuggle drugs anywhere in Asia. WD: Unlike WS, I really liked this book. Her story is pretty unbelievable, and whether you believe her or not, you will strongly consider shrink wrapping your baggage.
Long Way RoundBy Ewan McGregor and Charlie Borman. WS: We watched this entire BBC series before leaving home and loved it-it really captured the true essence of travel. The book reveals a bit more about the headaches to achieve such a goal. Highly recommended. WD: I really enjoyed this book. I can’t help think how much different a trip would be with sponsorship and a backup crew, but I think they found the trip was much better when it was just them and the open road, meeting new people. Highly recommended.
WaldenBy Henry David Thoreau. WS: A classic on simplicity. Not light reading but really enjoyable.
Love in the Time of CholeraBy Gabriel Garcia Marquez. WS: A really long read for me… old romance is not my thing.
The Best American Magazine Writing 2007 WS and WD: A good read to pass the time.
Further Under the Duvet by Marian Keyes. WD:Not my favorite book from this author. It is a collection of short stories. Some of them I really liked, others were not as good.
The Valkyries By Paulo Cohelo. WS: Another book by one of my favorite authors but this one is a bit to new age for me, I didn’t really care for it. Amazon has some pretty mixed reviews as well.
Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time By Greg Mortenson, David Oliver Relin. WS: Incredible story. I can’t believe some people can be so selfless… Thankfully. WD: Inspirational story of how one man can do so much.
How the Light Gets In by M J Hyland. WS: The blurb in this book compared it to the story “American Beauty”–one of my favorite movies. It was not that good but still an enjoyable well written story.
Riding the Iron Rooster by Paul Theroux. WS: Probably one of the best known travel writers, a great tale of traveling China by train in the 1980′s. I’ve passed this book along to some friends headed to China.
In Patagonia (Penguin Classics) By Bruce Chatwin. WS: I read this classic because I intended to go to Patagonia on this journey. Unfortunately it’s now winter time and I don’t have the gear or the experience to make it down there.
The Viceroy of Ouidah By Bruce Chatwin. WS: I’m trying to read some of the classics and better known authors on this trip, but I really can’t get into Chatwin. I’m probably to just dumb to follow along, but his tendency to write phrases in French and Spanish as if all his readers should know the language grates on me as being pretentious.
Rabbit, Run By John Updike. WS: A fellow traveler gave me this book–good read.
Anybody Out There? WD: I loved it! Funny and sad all at the same time.
The Falls: A Novel (P.S.) WD: I found this book good, but disturbing at the same time.
Summer Sisters by Judy Blume. WD: I got this just because I read all her books as a kid. I finished this in 2 days–good read.
THE COMPLETE SHORT STORIES OF ERNEST HEMMINGWAY. WS: It’s Hemmingway–who the hell am I to review?
The Other Side of the Story WD: Another good chic lit book. Funny read.
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. WS: The best book I have read on this trip. I haven’t seen the film–I’m sure it’s not as good (they never are). WD: Read it before we left-awesome book.
Killing Rainby Barry Eisler. WS: I read this because the author is big into BJJ and works martial arts into his stories. Fun read.
Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life WS: Given to me by my good buddy Alex, this is everything you wanted and didn’t want to know about Che. I read it because his face is plastered everywhere in Latin America and I wanted to know a little more about the “rock star” on the t-shirts. The man had many admirable qualities and was a visionary–but his proposed solutions were very utopian. The Cuban experiment is now a failure (Fidel’s power hungry fault–not Che’s). Anyone who glorifies his image should read this book before sporting the trendy clothes–bit ironic really. I shipped this book to my friend in Panama–hope he enjoys it.
Ugly Americans Great Story–we both read this one. WD‘s favorite of the trip so far. We gave it away to some friends–hope they enjoy it.
Travelers’ Tales Brazil: True StoriesBy various authors. WS: Numerous travel stories that cover all of Brazil–not just Rio and the Amazon. I liked this book. Dawn didn’t and traded it for a crummy airport novel.
What Am I Doing Here?by Bruce Chatwin.
Discovery Road by Andrew Brown and Timothy Garratt. We both thought this book was a bit weak for such an amazing journey spent mountain biking around the world within a year’s time. Still better than some of the crap we have read.
Eleven Minutes by Brazilian author Paulo Coehlo. WS: One of my favorite all time authors you can’t go wrong with most of his stories. This one is good but everyone should read his biggest story The Alchemist (I think I’ve seen it in half a dozen languages in various hostels while wandering).
“I, Safiya” by Safiya Hussaini Tungar Tudo. WD: This is the true story of a woman in Africa who was convicted of adultery and sentenced to be stoned to death. Excellent, excellent.
Angelsby Marian Keyes. WD: If you like Jane Green, or British humor, you will enjoy this book. I laughed out loud at times.
Salon.com’s Wanderlust This is a great compilation of travel stories by travel writers from all around the globe. We both enjoyed this one.
Pompeii: A Novel by Robert Harris. WD: I really enjoyed this book (thank you Dr.Huffman!!). It is a fictional story set in the non-fictional time of a few days before, and including, the eruption of Mt Vesuvius.
One Hundred Years of Solitudeby Gabriel Garcia Marquez. WS: The famous Colombian author’s epic story is well worth a read. I’d like to see the Love in the Time of Cholerafilm out now, but will probably find the book first. Hell, even Oprah approves.
“The Truth” by Osho. WS: Looked like an interesting philosophy book.. but to me it seemed like a bunch of nutty personal utopian ideas. Communes don’t work Mr. Osho.
Skinny Dip by Carl Hiassen. WS: This is a NY Times bestseller?! What a mindless bunch of crap–seems to be written with the hope of being made into a cheesy movie that won’t last in theaters more than a weekend. Again, I read it when I was starving for something to occupy myself.
Catch Me If You Can by Frank Abingale. WD: If you liked the movie, you will love the book. I laughed out loud at some of his antics. There is a question/answer section with the author at the end.
Deception Point by Dan Brown. WD: This was a good book, especially if you liked DaVinci Code. Definitely a page turner.