Books are hugely important but also heavy, and when you’re carrying around every material possession that you have, weight becomes an issue. With this in mind we decided to bring a few books and buy more as we traveled. While most hostels have book exchanges and most cities have an (expensive) foreign book store, it became really hard to find the books that we wanted to read. So we bought a Kindle.
Be smart, do this before you leave. We had a hell of a time finding one in Asia. So here are our travel reads, from books we bought and loved, to books we borrowed and wondered why we were reading at all. Enjoy!
Not Country Specific
Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies. Vinnie is currently reading, November 2010
The year of the Flood: A Novel by Margaret Atwood
All Elevations Unknown: An Adventure in the Heart of Borneo by Sam Lightner Jr.
Dragon Hotel, by John Ball
Aquariums of Pyongyang: Ten Years in the North Korean Gulag by Chol-hwan Kang and Pierre Rigoulot
Vinnie: The Aquariums of Pyongyang is an excellent biography of a North Korean who escaped to China then South Korea after being unfairly imprisoned in a gulag for 10 years at the age of nine. The story of his family moving from Japan and their demise, and their treatment in the prison camp shined a whole new light on North Korea for me.
China A History by John Keay
Country Driving: A Journey Through China from Farm to Factory by Peter Hessler
Lost Horizon by James Hilton
The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II by Iris Chang
Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China by Leslie T. Chang. (Kristine)
Wild Swans: Three daughters of China, by Jung Chang
Vinnie: This is an amazing book that follows 3 generations of politics, war, and unrest in china throughout the entire 20th century. Reading this book while travelling in China really helped put our trip into perspective – why most cities don’t have any cultural relics or historic sights, what the cult of Mao was like, and it gives a better understanding of the culture of today that you see in China. Kristine and I couldn’t put this book down – it tells true history along a storyline.
Yet to be read Chinese Reads:
River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze, by Peter Hessler
The Party: The Secret World of China’s Communist Rulers by Richard McGregorr
White Tiger, by Aravind Adiga
Random book exchange books:
Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang, by Chelsea Handler
Tale of Two Cities (Free on the kindle!), by Charles Dickens
Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Duma
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Juliette Naked by Nick Hornby
High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War
(I recommend the audiobook version as the voices add much character to the story). This is the oral history after a worldwide zombie invasion and war that happens slightly in the future. The audiobook is hilarious and even has some political commentary that is relevant for today. It is great for passing time on long bus or train rides. The voices are some famous comedians, and it covers the commentary from a few dozen nations around the world.