Some books that I really enjoyed this year were:
Shantaram - Gregory David Roberts
- autobiographical fiction about one man's escape from Australia and finding life, love and adventure in Mumbia's slums.
The Road - Cormac McCarthy
- beautifully written, disturbingly bleak tale set in a post-apocalyptic world.
Outliers - Malcom Gladwell
- lots of successful people attribute their success to talent and hard work - Malcom Gladwell points out that while both are needed there is a whole lot more to being in the right place at the right time.
Any you want to share?
I really enjoyed Lonely Planet's The Kindness of Strangers
, a collection of about 25 short stories from different travel writers about the people they have met on their travels, and how they have made the journey more enjoyable or memorable.
If you're at home needing inspiration for where to go next, or love learning about people and cultures, it will be a really fun and enlightening read.
I'm currently reading and very much enjoying Three Cups of Tea
by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin, after it had been recommended to me by numerous people. It details Greg Mortenson's failed attempt at K2 and subsequent life in the mountains of Pakistan, building schools for the locals who had been so kind to him and nursed him back to health. So far, a remarkable story.
I picked up a second hand, but pristine, copy of 'Slowly down the Ganges' by eric newby. it was a mellow and a mad travel read and i gently savoured every word - the book is still pristine!
but a book called 'The Black Swan' by Naseem Nicholas Taleb blew me away as its not just an explanation and also a destruction of the world around you, its almost a suggestion of a philosophy for life and embracing randomness and preparing for happy accidents. Its a bit heavy going about economics and philosophy, but well worth the time and your brain will be zinging afterwards!
oh, and the diary of Karl Bushby's record breaking attempt to walk around the world!
I loved The Boat
by Nam Le, a young Aussie author whose family were vietnamese immigrants to Aus in the late 70s. The book is a series of beautifully written short stories about displaced people around the world, some of which were inspired by his own family's experience. And David Sedaris is always hilarious - his latest book When you are engulfed in flames
is great. Note though that you will laugh out loud frequently while reading this and that that may not always be appropriate when reading in public places...
I also read Shantaram this year, and it was great. It really gives you a great insight into Maharashtra. I'm now in the process of putting together a 2010 journey to India.
Just purchased Catch A Fire, the biography of Bob Marley, which I've heard great things about. Saving it for the beach life in Belize just a few short weeks away!
One of the books I read was The Lemon Tree
by Sandy Tolan
. It's about the Israel-Palestine situation, from the points of view of two families, one Jewish and one Arab. A lot of information about the history of the area and the conflict is woven into the stories of the lives of the two families, and their surprising common history. It tells both sides of the story, and is a good read for people who only know one side of what's going on there, or who don't know very much about it at all.
I started reading Nightmare in Laos by Kay Danes at the end of 2008 and am still reading it. It is about an Australian woman who spent some time in prison in Laos. It is not pleasant and relaxing to read, but it is very informative.
I dont know how anybody puts up with something like that prison in Laos. It seems like pure hell.
The Best Travel Writing of 2008
is a fabulous collection. It's not necessarily your typical newspaper travel section writing, it's much, much more. Very good writing!
> but a book called 'The Black Swan' by Naseem Nicholas Taleb
blew me away
Just read Fooled by Randomness
by Taleb as well - a prophetic look at the role of randomness in the markets and how successful traders are often down to the fact that if you put enough monkeys at enough typewriters one will write something that makes money. (Very very apt at the current time)
I'm building a 2009 reading list from the suggestions here 😊 fingers crossed for the next book swap!
by Carl Zimmer. You can't go wrong with anything by William Dalrymple though, for travel related material. City of Djinns
, The Last Mughal
, and From The Holy Mountain
are all good reads.
Miracle in the Andes
- Nando Parrado (2006) -
The tale of a rugby team stranded on a glacier at 4000 meters in the middle of winter...and the 2 men who walked for 9 days to get help.
Told first hand by the man leading the charge to find help, Nando Parrada. He shares his story with emotion and detail as only someone who was actually there is able to do. My obsession with Chile kept me at strict attention. The mountain hermit in me marvelled at their will to survive. The Backpacker in me was astounded at the route they travelled. The human in me felt their pain. The traveller in me wants to visit the place where it happened!
The Long Emergency
- James Howard Kunstler (2005) -
A exhaustive treatise on the effects of Peak Oil. What can you put in a tea cup that will lift 3 people up 1000 meters? Gasoline. The effects on Industrialized Society's when the Cheap, Abundant Fossil Fuels turn into Expensive and Scarce commodities.
All human cultures will live and die, from Catal Huyuk to Ancient Rome. I've always wondered how the modern industrialized world of over 6 Billion people would be kept in check: Nuclear Winter? Disease? Crop failure? Lack of Water? Climate Change? Finally I've heard the answer in this book: when the Petroleum runs out! In 150 years we have used 50%!o(MISSING)f the worlds oil, with demand growing exponentially each year. How long will it take to go through the next half? Large scale use of Plastics, Lubricants, Diesel fuel, Gasoline Jet Fuel, Heating Oil, Asphalt, Pharmaceuticals, Fertillizers will all be gone in 100 years? We will switch to Hydrogren, optimists say. Hydrogen Engines can power tractors on farms and mines? Hydrogen can power Commercial Airliners? Skeptics say "We didn't switch from wood to coal because we ran out of wood! We didn't even switch to petroleum from coal because we ran out of coal." True, but this book lays the foundation for a different 21 century society, one where the oil ran out before the society could find an alternative.
I just finished Paul Theroux's latest, "Ghost Train To The Eastern Star" - it seems the most pointless of his books - a recap over most of the places he visited on 'Great Railway Bazaar', plus a few other places. Still it's great stuuf, typical Theroux, I can't get enough of his travel books, though obviously his style isn't everybody's cup of tea.
I second the book Three Cups of Tea
by Mortensen. I read it previous to my travels and is one of those books that I will take with me. It is the story of a vision of good triumphing in a more turbulent part of the world. Also, a good perspective and insight on the pakistan/afghanistan region.
I am also a teacher and interested in children, the book written through an autistic boy's perspective is a pretty short and engaging read, the curious incident of the dog in the night-time
by mark haddon. Check 'em out!