Books

A week from tonight, Kristine and I will be on our way to Delhi to meet up with Sacha. As I run last minute errands and agonize over what to actually pack and take with me, I’m trying to decide which book I want to take. It’s a tough decision. The book you choose to start on the plane has to be good. It has to keep your attention, but it can’t be too easy of a read. You want it to last the whole flight plus some. And it’s got to be one that your traveling companions want to read so you can trade books. It’s a tough choice!

I love to read, I always have. One of my favorite things about reading is that books can take you to places you’ve never been or back to places you loved. As with music, the title of a book can bring me back to the place I was when I read it. So, as I try to decide which book to read on the plane, I’ll share some of my favorites having to do with India, travel or something in between. I love to read, but I am by no means a critic so I’ll keep this simple, in no particular order:

1. The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

I loved this book. I enjoyed reading about the stuggle between the son, born in America and his immigrant parents, from India. It was a struggle that I will never fully understand, but it being a struggle between a child and his parents is something everyone can identify with. She is a lovely writer and I would recommend her other books as well, Interpreter of Maladies and Unaccustomed Earth.

2. Honeymoon with My Brother: A Memoir by Franz Wisner

This guy’s fiance calls off the wedding a few days before it’s supposed to take place so he and his brother go on his “honeymoon,” which turns into a new life for both of them. They quit their jobs and travel around the world for 2 years. It’s a great story of the relationship between him and his brother, what he learns about himself and what he learns about the world.

3. The Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean

I read this book after I visited the Hermitage Museum in Leningrad (St. Petersburg) so it was so fun to be able to imagine what these women went through during WWII. The main character was a tour guide at the museum and ended up living there for a while during the war.

4. The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien

I read this book after I had visited Vietnam. Having visited Ho Chi Minh City and crawling through the Chi Chi Tunnels, I was able to imagine a little bit of what these men went through during the war.

5. The Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda

This book gave me an insight into what life could be like for women and girls in India. The author did a great job of weaving two stories together, one of an American couple and one of an Indian couple.

6. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

This book weaves the history of Vlad the Impaler, Count Dracula and the story of 1970s professor and his 16 year old daughter in the quest for Vlad’s tomb. I read this book when I was traveling for 6 months after I had visited Dracula’s castle in Romania. It was fun reading the history, both factual and fictional, of some of the places I visited.

7. The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World by Eric Weiner

I read this book because I wanted to know where the happiest place on earth was and why. He writes about India and the yoga gurus, about Bhutan and the King making Gross National Happiness a national priority, about Qatar and the relationship between happiness and money, and several other places. I enjoyed the author’s stories and observations. The book is about, in the author’s words, “How place- in every aspect of the word -shapes us, defines us. Change your place, I believe, and you can change your life.”

There are so many more books I could tell you about. I hope you travel soon, by plane or by book. Either way, travel.

Jen

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