I have a passion for travel and many of the books I read are related to the writer’s journeys or are novels I have read during my globe-trotting. I think travel expands your horizons and a book is a vignette into countries you aspire to know and wander through its streets.
Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer (1996)
Imagine abandoning everything you know and own, and wandering off into nature to live like a cave man. Anyone’s dream? Maybe not. But in 1992, Christopher McCandless, an American graduate, did just that, abandoning his family and all his possessions to hunt and live in the Alaskan wilderness. Before venturing on his survival journey, he wanders through the US and strikes up friendships. All this time, his parents are wildly searching for him and trying to understand why their son would do such a thing.
The Patience Stone by Atiq Rahimi (2008)
Scene: an Afghan woman sits in a room talking to her wounded husband, who is in a coma because of a bullet to this neck. As she recounts to him her memories and her plight, he turns into the Sange Sabour – a magical Patience stone that absorbs the pain of those who confide in it. Author Atiq Rahimi, a French-Afghan writer, minces no words in this novella: he talks about sexuality and the status of women in Afghanistan.
The Motorcycle Diaries by Che Guevara (1995)
Two Argentinian lads and a motorcycle dubbed the Mighty One set out to discover South America. What could possibly go wrong? Everything. This memoir from the famous Argentinian freedom fighter is more than just a diary. It tells how Ernesto Guevara came of age by experiencing first-hand how South Americans toiled to make a living in a rich continent. The recounting of his journey is peppered with their adventures of flirting, hitchhiking, and exploring the beauty that is South America.
Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts (2003)
Travelling is always an adventure but it takes long rides on trains and buses to get from point A to B. What better way to while away the time than to read a nearly 1000-page book about a journey of self-discovery in India. My travels in India helped me enjoy the book more, whether through the meandering in the crowded streets of Mumbai, chillaxing on Chowpatty beach, or striding through the Dhobi Ghat, the open-air laundry area of the city.
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (2003)
Let me confess. This is a tear jerker for sure. But two kids flying kites in the then-peaceful Afghan capital of Kabul will bring back strange and happy memories of sour cherry marmalade topping naan bread. What could be more delicious? But the reality of Afghanistan sets in, with its twists and turns of a fallen Afghan monarchy, Soviet military intervention, and exodus to the US. The novel talks about a tense father-son relationship, the betrayal of friendships, and the pain of atoning sins.
Dania Saadi is The National’s Deputy Business Editor