Whoa, my wife wrote another blog post. This is the manly disclaimer stating that I did not write this and find reading books “decadent” and “luxurious.” So check out some of her favorite books (and some of mine, too) – Jason
I love reading books! A decadent, luxurious day for me is to curl up with a good book in bed and read all day. A good book can transport me to a different world, time, or place; it can make me laugh out loud, cry, or feel empathy for the injustices of the world. While flying to Hawaii, I just completed reading the book Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosney, a fictional story based in Paris, France. The author intertwines the story of a young Jewish girl during the round up of Jewish French citizens including children into the Vel d’Hiv in July 1942 and a women searching for the truth of what happened during the round up in modern day Paris. It is one of those books that drew me in and I could not put it down. It creates a vivid picture of Paris and the tragedy of Vel d’Hiv. The book provided me a bit of history that I cannot recall learning in school. It also inspires me to travel to Paris to visit these spots and learn more about the tragic history. I have read many other books both fiction and non-fiction that too have inspired me to travel and learn more about a place or a time in history. I thought I might share some of my favorite books that have inspired me to travel.
The Kite Runner by Khalid Hosseini – this story is set in Kabul Afghanistan. Though fictional, the characters live through the fall the monarch, soviet invasion and rise of the Taliban. It helps give a picture of what Afghanistan must have been like before years of war and chaos took over the country. Unfortunately given current instability and anti-American sentiment, I will never probably be able to visit this country. I will have to be satisfied in visiting Afghanistan in my comfortable bed through books. If you like this book, Khalid has another equally good book called A Thousand Splendid Suns. A Thousand Splendid Suns is also set in Afghanistan.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak – The story is set in Nazi Germany and is narrated by Death himself. It is about an orphan girl and her relationships with her foster parents, neighbors and a Jewish prize fighter that her foster parents hide in their basement. Initially this book is confusing. But after the first few chapters, the book draws you in. Once again this book makes a little bit of history more vivid than any text book could.
The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan – This is the first of 2 books with a 3rd book on the way. Though this is found in the young readers section, it was a book that we all liked. The book is about the adventures of a brother and sister (Carter and Sadie) who discover that they are descendants from Egyptian pharaohs. I especially enjoyed learning about the different Egyptian gods. It makes me excited about seeing the pyramids and learning more about ancient Egypt.
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Vergese – The book is set in Ethiopia. It is about twin brothers whose mother dies in child birth and are abandoned by their father. Without giving up much about the book – this is a tear jerker. I know very little about the history of Ethiopia, but helps create a picture of Ethiopia during the time of the emperor. Though in our travels we will probably not see Ethiopia, this book is still an excellent read.
Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan – This is a series of books found in the young reader section. Even though it is classified in young reader section, my 7-year old daughter, Sydney, and I have been enjoying listening to the series on CD. The book is set in modern day New York. It is about a boy named Percy who has learned that his father was the god Poseidon. His birth has broken the pact between Zeus, Hades and Poseidon made after WWII to stop fathering any further half blood children. Admittedly my Greek mythology is a bit fuzzy. I vaguely remember reading about the adventures of Odysseus and Jason has forced me to watch Jason and the Argonauts several times. In listening to the Percy Jackson series, it has been fun relearn some of the mythology.
Coroner’s Lunch by Colin Colterill – This is the first in series of murder mysteries with the main character Dr Siri Paiboun. The stories are set in Laos around 1976 after the communists have taken over and the professional class has fled to Thailand. Siri who has no experience in being a coroner is forced into the role as he is one of the few Dr’s left in the country. This book gives a little history of Laos. Embarrassingly, I had to look up where Laos is located when I read this book. If you are looking for a good murder mystery this is it.
Wide-eyed Wanderers by Richard Ligato and Amanda Bejarano Ligato –This is one of the first travel books I read. It made me realize that anyone can travel and that you do not need a lot of money to just go. The authors decided drive a VW bus through Latin America and parts of Africa. This book had some inspiring and also really funny moments. I could not put this book down
The Diary of Anne Frank – I did not read this but listened to on CD. The person who did the reading was marvelous to listen too. I could just imagine Anne in the throes of adolescents trying to adjust to life in hiding during WWII with not only family but family friends. The Diary of Anne Frank helps reveal the daily fear of the possibility of being discovered and the day to day frustrations living with a group of people. When we travel through Europe, the Anne Frank house is high on my list. I also plan to read this book with Sydney.
Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert – Elizabeth writes about her journey to find herself after her divorce. She took a year after her divorce to travel through Italy, stay in an ashram in India and travel through Bali. Of all the places Bali really captured my imagination and am hoping that this will be one of our stops along the way.
360 Degrees Longitude by John Higham – This is about a family of 4 who took off one year to travel the world. The youngest child is about sydney’s age (7). For part of the journey the Higham family bicycled through Europe. This book has a great list of books for children and the family to read while traveling to learn some of the history of the area. They also help give an idea about budget.
One Year Off by David Cohen – This book is about a family of 4 taking one year off to travel the world. This book made me laugh out loud and was a great read. This book helped me realize that we too had the possibility of living our dream of traveling the world. It is excellently written. I especially love the part where the family is taking a trial run of driving across country before leaving to travel the world. To help prevent fighting between the siblings , David and his wife started out with a large bag of m&m’s. Every time the kids started bickering, they threw out the window a handful of m&m’s.
A Vineyard in Tuscany by Ferenc Mate – This book is about a family who bought a vineyard in Tuscany. It is a great read. Ferenc also talks a lot about the food around Tuscany. One of the things I look forward to while traveling is the food and wine. This book makes me want to travel to Italy not just for the sites, but for the food!
Book Lust to Go by Nancy Pearl – if you are looking for a good book about a place (both fiction and non-fictional) this is a great book. I have found many good reads through this book.
I am interested to hear what books that have inspired you to travel or brought a place or time to life for you.