stack20of20books20leatherbound-9229275Since deciding to ‘step out’ and travel around the world, we have read quite a few books. Except for Rolf Potts’ Vagabonding book, none have been about the ‘how to’ of long term travel. Rather, the books we are reading, and have read, offer smatterings of insight into other cultures, languages and lifestyles. Some provide inspiration or context for culture or religions, others provide language training or humour – all have been worth reading.

Here is the list of books we have read (in no particular order):

Vagabonding. By Rolf Potts

As I said here, this is the one book that inspired us to step out and make the decision to travel. It’s a mixture of travel philosophy, how-to and inspiration. A must-read for anyone thinking of long term travel.

All The Fishes Come Home To Roost. By Rachel Manija Brown

A memoir of the authors’ time growing up in an Indian ashram. She gives a humorous bent to what appears to have been a difficult childhood.

Tiger Ladies: A Memoir of Kashmir. By Sudha Koul

A memoir of the author, her mother, and grandmother in Kashmir. It showed me the depth and interweaving of culture, custom, tradition and religion.

A Cook’s Tour. By Anthony Bourdain

With Jason’s background in the restaurant industry, and our combined love of food, this book was a must read. The author is quite the adventurous eater and tells a hilarious story. Anyone who has seen any of the televised version of the book will not only recognize some of the stories, but be able to hear him narrating as they read.

The Alchemist. By Paul Coelho

This book reminds me of James Redfields’ The Celestine Prophecy. It has a ‘new age philosophy’ feel to it that just doesn’t resonate well with me. I understand, and appreciate the inspirational messages it contains but it all just seems a little too ‘touchy feely’ for me. I’m much more pragmatic than that and I think I am better inspired by real people who step out and try something new because they recognize they can, rather than by characters who believe they are aspiring to their own ‘Personal Legend’. Having said that, I also think that inspiration is inspiration, and who am I to judge what makes someone step out?

The Trouble With Islam Today. By Irshad Manji

I picked this one up because I had heard her speak and thought she was well spoken and forward thinking – and because we will be traveling in Muslim areas and I need to learn more about it. I admit that there was much of the book that I didn’t understand, but it gave me a small (albeit biased) view of the Islam world and some context around Islam, Judaism and Christianity. Religion is, obviously, a very deep and controversial subject steeped in culture and history – I am slowly trying to grasp the history and anthropology of religion, but have a long, long way to go.

Does anyone have any ‘must read’ travel related books to recommend?