How often do you actually have time to sit down and read a book? I’m guessing not that often. At home I try to make as much time as possible to read, but it feels like there’s always something else that I need to do. So on holiday, I tend to motor through books. There’s nothing like spending the day wrapped up in an amazing story, and the memory of a good book you read on a trip can easily take you right back there years down the line. Here are my top 5 books to take with you on your next travels.
This is one of the classic traveler’s books and you’ll often find it in bookshelves at backpackers and hostels around the world. A true epic in every sense, it tells the story of an escaped Australian convict who makes a new life for himself on the run in India. The colorful and in-depth descriptions of India and her people are what prompted me to visit the country- that’s how good it is. And the tales of love, war and the Indian underground will suck you in so deep you might surface not even knowing where you are. What’s even crazier is that it’s all based (some say very loosely) on a true story.
2. The Mountain Shadow
The long-awaited follow up to Shantaram, this book felt like re-connecting with old friends. If you’re going on a long trip, these two books are all you’ll need, since they are both pretty big reads.
3. The Beach
As always, the book is much better than the movie. And I loved the movie. The Beach is perfect holiday reading, as it tells the story of a British traveller, Richard, in search of a destination untouched by tourism. And let’s be honest, I think we can all relate. Richard is handed a map to a so-called Eden on a hidden beach in the gulf of Thailand by a madman in Bangkok. He sets off to find the beach, along with a hot young French couple. The book is much darker than the movie, and gives a much better insight into the character of Richard, who you’ll most likely love and hate in equal measures. It’s a must-read.
4. The Rum Diary
I think that this book is Hunter S. Thompson at his best. The story follows an American writer who travels to Puerto Rico during the 1950’s to write for a local newspaper. What follows is a love story, a story of betrayal, of hedonism, alcoholism and a vivid picture of San Juan in the 50’s. There is also a lot of talk of rum on ice and hamburgers in the courtyard of a fictional bar I would love to visit in real life. I can’t even count how many times I’ve read this book. Oh, and if you haven’t read the book, don’t bother.
5. The Handmaid’s Tale
If you don’t know any of Margaret Atwood’s work, you’re in for a world of treats. This is my favourite Atwood book, set in a dystopian future, where a group of young woman are kept as reproductive slaves in a society where birth control and sexual diseases have lead to a rapid decrease in fertility. The story is told from the perspective of Offred, a woman whose financial freedoms and family have both been stripped, and who now lives only to produce babies for wealthy and elite sterile families. The book touches on gender equality, academia and the potential problems we could face in a future where our lives are recorded and stored digitally. It’s an excellent read and one that will probably get you hooked on Atwood.
Have you got any recommendations for something to read on holiday or while travelling?