Wednesday 11 November 2015

Off Backpacking? The Ultimate Travelling Reading List

So, you’ve booked your ticket, brought a Lonely Planet and invested in a lifetime’s supply of DEET. That’s the essentials covered, now all you need to work out is what the hell you’re going to read whilst lying on that beautiful beach or, waiting for hours for that bus that’ll likely break down.

In today’s post I have put together a list of my favourite travelling reads, the one’s you’ll see a stranger reading on their hostel bunk, immediately bond over and end up travelling the rest of the country together vowing to be friends forever (that really is how it works!)

I’ll say it first, books are heavy. You might want to invest in a Kindle. If you’re like me and can’t bear not to display your cultured taste on your bookcase, you can always buy the ”real thing” once you’re back. You’ll need the space in your backpack for all that DEET after all…

This is my ALL TIME favourite book. It’s wordy and long but SO beautiful. If you are travelling to India read this. If you have ever travelled to India, read this. If you aren’t planning on travelling to India, read this, then, book that ticket to India.

Amazon says: A novel of high adventure, great storytelling and moral purpose, based on an extraordinary true story of eight years in the Bombay underworld.”

This is a must read for any backpacker who is in search for the “I’m so thoughtful and profound” feeling. It’s perfect sunset reading and, unlike Shantaram, you can finish it in a few sittings upgrading your feeling to “I’m so thoughtful, profound and productive!”

Amazon says: “Paulo Coelho's masterpiece tells the mystical story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who yearns to travel in search of a worldly treasure. His quest will lead him to riches far different—and far more satisfying—than he ever imagined. Santiago's journey teaches us about the essential wisdom of listening to our hearts, of recognizing opportunity and learning to read the omens strewn along life's path, and, most importantly, to follow our dreams.”

3.       Backpack – Emily Barr

This one is slightly different. I love a psychological thriller and this is up there with some of my faves. Something not so intense and profound (see above) but, an easy engaging read. Perfect for long bus journeys!

Amazon says: “Like a lot of travellers on the Lonely-Planet-led Asian Grand Tour, Tansy is intensely irritating at first. Always on the look out for the "real" Vietnam--the one in which she can walk around "like a model, fanning myself gently, strolling into ancient temples and learning about inner peace"--she is opinionated, narrow-minded and remarkably naive (for a supposed media luvvy). Once she has shrugged off her addiction to lines of coke, skinny lattes and Nicole Fahri jumpers, she becomes more appealing. So by the time she's fallen for Max, a fellow traveller, she'll have won you over and you'll be just as worried as she is about the serial killer who appears to be on her trail.”

This is another that’s set in India (I’ve really had to restrain myself here by choosing just two!). It manages to be an easy read without loosing any beauty or character connection. It’s just lovely. Did I mention it’s set in Southern India?

Amazon says: The White Tiger presents a raw and unromanticised India, both thrilling and shocking - from the desperate, almost lawless villages along the Ganges, to the booming Wild South of Bangalore and its technology and outsourcing centres. The first-person confession of a murderer, The White Tiger is as compelling for its subject matter as for the voice of its narrator - amoral, cynical, unrepentant, yet deeply endearing.”

You’ll find “expertly” photocopied versions of this on every corner of backpacker Asia, and for good reason. Download this to your Kindle before you go so you don’t have to risk buying a cheap copy that turns out to be the same chapter photocopied over and over…

Amazon says: “Mariam is only fifteen when she is sent to Kabul to marry Rasheed. Nearly two decades later, a friendship grows between Mariam and a local teenager, Laila, as strong as the ties between mother and daughter. When the Taliban take over, life becomes a desperate struggle against starvation, brutality and fear. Yet love can move a person to act in unexpected ways, and lead them to overcome the most daunting obstacles with a startling heroism.” 

There are SO many other great reads that I could recommend, but, in an effort to be concise I’ll stop here. Do you have any recommendations of great backpacking reads?

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