I am changing things just a little for today’s Top Ten Tuesday. The topic is Top Ten Books that feature TRAVELLING in some way. I’m choosing books that I think travelers would like. Whether you are traveling, have actively traveled, or dream about traveling, these books are all set in foreign countries and are great to read (whether you’ve been to the countries or not). And since they transport the reader to another world, I’m thinking it’s not too much of a cheat ;).
1. Shanghai Girls by Lisa See
If you have been to Shanghai (or other parts of China) this one will resonate with you especially. The story of two privileged sisters in pre-WWII Shanghai, and what happens when their father loses everything and they have to travel to the USA. A beautiful emigration story, that exposes a lot of what happened in two separate corners of the world at this turning point in history. Poignant, striking.
2. The Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh
Spanning several generations and across Burma, India and olden-Malaya, this book is an EPIC work of art. The history in this novel is amazing, and the struggles of the characters real. My only suggestion is to keep notes and make a family tree as you read because as I said: epic.
3. The Prophet of Zongo Street by Mohammed Naseehu Ali
A series of short stories set mostly in a fictitious Ghanaian street. I loved these for their colour and tone. The rhythm of life in West Africa is perfectly captured. Such an easy read, and one I never regretted.
4. The Moon, Come to Earth: Dispatches from Lisbon by Philip Graham
Sigh, I didn’t really LIKE this travelogue. I thought that Lisbon was very nicely described, but maybe the fact that I knew little of Lisbon to begin with made it difficult to connect with this book. I found myself referring to the book a lot when I met someone FROM Lisbon, so it must have stuck in my mind. The book also addresses some important aspects of living in a foreign country for an extended period, and the effects it may have on one’s accompanying family.
5. Railsea by China Mieville
This book features traveling by rail, but reminiscent of traveling by ship. It is wonderful! Set in an Earth very different from the one we know. The prose is stunning, the world-building intriguing because it happens subtly, and keeps you discovering. And then there’s TRAIN TRAVEL (I said that already).
6. The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng
Set mostly in Malaysia (but with some flashes to South Africa and Japan) this book travels between eras and experiences. Really a beautiful piece of work. I feel like I have a picture of Malaysia in my head, and it made me want to travel to Malaysia even before I met Nazirah.
7. Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
Pulitzer Prize-winning short stories set mostly in India. Tells you more about the people than the country, but what is traveling if not meeting people?
8. Willard Price’s Adventure Series
If I have to trace my desire to see the world, I would probably arrive at these books, which I started reading when I was about seven years old. Hal and Roger went everywhere, guys! The Amazon, Africa (yeah, didn’t say where in Africa, sigh), volcanoes, the Arctic… and they had awesome adventures. I don’t know if these books are still in print, but if I ever manage to pick them up somewhere I will buy them ALL.
Set in Apartheid South Africa, ten friends meet at a beach house once a year. They discuss matters of politics and person, they grow together and apart. An intense but amazing book. Also, the kind of book that reminds you that traveling to a local destination can still be awesome (in my case, it’s local).
10. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
I read this because I was on a ship, and it is a tiny book, and I figured I should read some Hemingway. I didn’t think I enjoyed it very much, but I can’t get it out of my head, and I think that is the magic of a good story, isn’t it? The old man does not travel very far, but maybe his travels are more metaphorical. Also, it is set in Cuba. I like that.