Great Travel Literature

World Travel Blog

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I spend quite some time in the travel section at book stores so, I thought it would be appropriate to share with you a list of travel literature that I highly recommend:

Holy Cow! An Indian Adventure
By Sarah MacDonald

After backpacking her way around India, 21-year-old Sarah Macdonald decided that she hated this land of chaos and contradiction with a passion, and when an airport beggar read her palm and insisted she would come back one day - and for love - she vowed never to return.

But twelve years later the prophecy comes true when her partner, ABC's South Asia correspondent, is posted to New Delhi, the most polluted city on earth. Having given up a blossoming radio career in Sydney to follow her new boyfriend to India, it seems like the ultimate sacrifice and it almost kills Sarah - literally. After being cursed by a sadhu smeared in human ashes, she nearly dies from double pheumonia. It's enough to send a rapidly balding atheist on a wild rollercoaster ride through India's many religions in search of the meaning of life and death.

From the 'brain enema' of a meditation retreat in Dharamsala to the biggest Hindu festival on earth on the steps of the Ganges in Varanasi, and with the help of the Dalai Lama, a goddess of healing hugs and a couple of Bollywood stars - among many, many others - Sarah discovers a hell of a lot more.

Jungle, A Harrowing True Story of Survival
By Yossi Ghinsberg

When Marcus, Kevin, and Yossi agree to accompany Karl to Indian villages deep in the South American rainforest, the three backpackers think they are embarking on a dream adventure. Setting out from La Paz, Bolivia, the group flies to the most remote area of the rainforest accessible by plane to begin their off-the-map expedition.

Days into the journey the foursome begins to unravel under the duress of travelling through the dense undergrowth. Yossi soon finds himself lost and alone for three weeks- no weapons and with few survival skills- in the heart of the Amazonian rainforest. What follows is his tale of fortitude and physical endurance in one of the most dangerous and unpredictable landscapes on the planet.

The Kite Runner
By Khaled Hosseini

Taking us from Afghanistan in the final days of the monarchy to the present, The Kite Runner is the unforgettable, beautifully told story of the friendship between two boys growing up in Kabul. Raised in the same household and sharing the same wet nurse, Amir and Hassan nonetheless grow up in different worlds: Amir is the son of a prominent and wealthy man, while Hassan, the son of Amir's father's servant, is a Hazara, member of a shunned ethnic minority. Their intertwined lives, and their fates, reflect the eventual tragedy of the world around them. When the Soviets invade and Amir and his father flee the country for a new life in California, Amir thinks that he has escaped his past. And yet he cannot leave the memory of Hassan behind him.

The Kite Runner is a novel about friendship, betrayal, and the price of loyalty. It is about the bonds between fathers and sons, and the power of their lies. Written against a history that has not been told in fiction before, The Kite Runnerdescribes the rich culture and beauty of a land in the process of being destroyed. But with the devastation, Khaled Hosseini also gives us hope: through the novel's faith in the power of reading and storytelling, and in the possibilities he shows for
redemption.

A Thousand Splendid Suns
By Khaled Hosseini

A Thousand Splendid Suns is a breathtaking story set against the volatile events of Afghanistan’s last thirty years�"from the Soviet invasion to the reign of the Taliban to the post-Taliban rebuilding�"that puts the violence, fear, hope, and faith of this country in intimate, human terms. It is a tale of two generations of characters brought jarringly together by the tragic sweep of war, where personal lives�"the struggle to survive, raise a family, find happiness�"are inextricable from the history playing out around them.

Propelled by the same storytelling instinct that made
The Kite Runner a beloved classic, A Thousand Splendid Suns is at once a remarkable chronicle of three decades of Afghan history and a deeply moving account of family and friendship. It is a striking, heart-wrenching novel of an unforgiving time, an unlikely friendship, and an indestructible love�"a stunning accomplishment.

Eat, Pray, Love
By Elizabeth Gilbert

Gilbert (The Last American Man) grafts the structure of romantic fiction upon the inquiries of reporting in this sprawling yet methodical travelogue of soul-searching and self-discovery. Plagued with despair after a nasty divorce, the author, in her early 30s, divides a year equally among three dissimilar countries, exploring her competing urges for earthly delights and divine transcendence.

First, pleasure: savoring Italy's buffet of delights -- the world's best pizza, free-flowing wine and dashing conversation partners -- Gilbert consumes la dolce vita as spiritual succor. "I came to Italy pinched and thin," she writes, but soon fills out in waist and soul. Then, prayer and ascetic rigor: seeking communion with the divine at a sacred ashram in India, Gilbert emulates the ways of yogis in grueling hours of meditation, struggling to still her churning mind. Finally, a balancing act in Bali, where Gilbert tries for equipoise "betwixt and between" realms, studies with a merry medicine man and plunges into a charged love affair.

Sustaining a chatty, conspiratorial tone, Gilbert fully engages readers in the year's cultural and emotional tapestry -- conveying rapture with infectious brio, recalling anguish with touching candor -- as she details her exotic tableau with history, anecdote and impression.

Adventure Divas
By Holly Morris

After years of working behind a desk, Holly Morris had finally had enough. So she quit her job and set out to prove that adventure is not just a vacation style but a philosophy of living and to find like-minded, risk-taking women around the globe. With modest backing, a small television crew, her spirited producer-mother, Jeannie, and a whole lot of chutzpah, Morris tracked down artists, activists, and politicos�"women of action who are changing the rules and sometimes the world around them.

In these pages, Morris brings to life the remarkable people and places she’s encountered on the road while filming her PBS series Adventure Divas and other programs. We meet Assata Shakur, a former Black Panther and social activist and now a fugitive living in exile in Cuba; Kiran Bedi, New Delhi’s chief of police, who revolutionized India’s infamously brutal Tijar Jail with her humanitarian ethic; New Zealand pop star Hinewehi Mohi, a Maori who reinvigorates her native culture for a new generation; and Mokarrameh Ghanbari, a septuagenarian painter and rice farmer who lives in the tiny village of Darikandeh on the Caspian plains of Iran, where her creative talents run counter to the government’s strict stance on art.

Along the way, Morris herself becomes a certified Adventure Diva, as she hunts for wild boar with Penan tribesmen in the jungles of Borneo, climbs the Matterhorn short-roped to a salty fourth-generation Swiss guide, and memorably becomes the first woman ever to enter the traditional camel race of the Saharan oasis town of Timia.

Intelligent, phenomenally funny, and chock-full of rich and telling details of place, Adventure Divas is apro-woman chronicle for the twenty-first century. In a pilgrimage fueled by curiosity, ideology, and full-on estrogen power, Holly Morris has paved the way for all of us to discover our own diva within and set out on our own adventures.

A Long Way Gone - Memoirs of a Boy Soldier
By Ishmael Beah

A gripping story of a child’s journey through hell and back.

There may be as many as 300,000 child soldiers, hopped-up on drugs and wielding AK-47s, in more than fifty conflicts around the world. Ishmael Beah used to be one of them. He is one of the first to tell his story in his own words.

In A Long Way Gone, Beah, now twenty-six years old, tells a riveting story. At the age of twelve, he fled attacking rebels and wandered a land rendered unrecognizable by violence. By thirteen, he’d been picked up by the government army, and Beah, at heart a gentle boy, found that he was capable of truly terrible acts. Eventually released by the army and sent to a UNICEF rehabilitation center, he struggled to regain his humanity and to reenter the world of civilians, who viewed him with fear and suspicion. This is, at last, a story of redemption and hope.



Memoirs of a Geisha
By Arthur Golden

In this literary tour de force, novelist Arthur Golden enters a remote and shimmeringly exotic world. For the protagonist of this peerlessly observant first novel is Sayuri, one of Japan's most celebrated geisha, a woman who is both performer and courtesan, slave and goddess.

We follow Sayuri from her childhood in an impoverished fishing village, where in 1929, she is sold to a representative of a geisha house, who is drawn by the child's unusual blue-grey eyes. From there she is taken to Gion, the pleasure district of Kyoto. She is nine years old. In the years that follow, as she works to pay back the price of her purchase, Sayuri will be schooled in music and dance, learn to apply the geisha's elaborate makeup, wear elaborate kimono, and care for a coiffure so fragile that it requires a special pillow. She will also acquire a magnanimous tutor and a venomous rival. Surviving the intrigues of her trade and the upheavals of war, the resourceful Sayuri is a romantic heroine on the order of Jane Eyre and Scarlett O'Hara. And
Memoirs of a Geisha is a triumphant work - suspenseful, and utterly persuasive.




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