Reading is Traveling is Reading

Oi. You. You with the eyebrows. Yeah, you.

You’re reading a travelling blog, aren’t you? T’would be futile to protest otherwise, my friend. Well, since you are here, perusing my site, I do believe it is safe to assume that you have at least a passing interest in travelling. Hey, me too! OMG we have so much in common.

I’ve been grounded here in rainy England for a while due to the fact that I have that tedious and tiresome constraint called a job. But I’ve found a way to feel free, to learn and live, albeit vicariously through others, and that is through an oft maligned practise called reading. Reading is cool.

Wait, come back!

Reading is cool, and if you sneer at those three words you can go and boil your head, oaf. If you’ve time to sit here and read me insulting you, you great mucky Philistine, you can bloody well sit and read a book. A book, I’ve found, offers the same level of worldview-altering, mind-expanding goodness that travelling does. I wouldn’t advocate one over the other, though. In fact they go together pretty well, like cookies and milk, or a bottle of wine and another bottle of wine.

So, because I’ve spent a, for lack of a better word, fuckload of time searching for decent books to read this year, I’ve decided to gift you, dear sweet reader, with the list of books I’ve read these past twelve months. These books have a similar theme – that is, they’re pretty view-altering. You’ll read these and find yourself thinking a little differently. Whether their words stay glowing within you forever or haunt your dreams for a week, these are books that are worth every second you invest in them.

 

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

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A tale of a big tough man and a bigger tougher fish.

 

On The Road by Jack Kerouac

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Jack Kerouac races around North America and Mexico with the incorrigible Neal Cassady stealing cars and raving to jazz and falling in and out of love and being generally brilliant.

 

Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac

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Jack Kerouac explores Buddhism with his friend Gary Snyder, climbs a few mountains, meditates a lot, has wild parties, reads poetry, partakes in a few orgies and whatnot, all in the name of the search for enlightenment.

 

Lonesome Traveller by Jack Kerouac

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He’s my favourite author, okay?

Jack Kerouac roams from North America to Mexico via New Orleans, crosses the ocean, meditates in Tangiers, crosses French countryside to Paris, and finally arrives in London.

 

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S Thompson

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Hunter S. Thompson and his attorney head to Vegas to write an article for Rolling Stone on a motorbike race, spend their budget instead on an absolute fuck ton of drugs and get very wild and very, very weird. Bad craziness!

 

The Motorcycle Diaires by Che Guevara

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Ernesto Guevara, before he was Che, was a 23 year old Argentinian doctor who just wanted to see the world, drink wine and get laid. And that’s essentially what he did on this nine month tour of South America by motorbike – until he witnessed the abject poverty that was rampant in Chile and Peru, and took the first steps on his journey as a revolutionary.

 

Dubliners by James Joyce

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Fifteen short stories tracing the lives of priests, nuns, maids, undertakers, alcoholics, politicians, sailors, schoolboys, fathers, daughters, mothers and sons, all set in early twentieth century Dublin. Sounds bleak as hell and, not gunna lie, it is, but it’s spectacularly vivid.

 

Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

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Anne Frank was a 15 year old Jewish girl killed in the Holocaust in 1945.  She was also a fantastic writer, an incredibly complex and inspiring person, and her diary is the most stomach-punchingly heavy testament to the horrors of racism and hatred I’ve ever read. Read her diary and you’ll feel like her friend. You’ll understand and relate to this fierce, brave and intelligent girl. This book should be mandatory reading for every single person in the world.

 

Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

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Siddhartha is a young religious man who sets out to find enlightenment in fourth century India. He finds it in various forms, though never exactly where he’s looking for it.. Everyone will take something different away from this book, but everyone will take something away. It’s stunning.

 

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

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Holden Caulfield is a 17 year old school kid who hates everything and everyone and speaks in a unique youthful vernacular that was considered outrageous at the time and got this book banned everywhere. Caulfield is frustrated and disappointed and shocked by the goddamn ‘phony’ adults he sees all around him. Booted out of goddamn school, he runs away to New York. We have all been Holden Caulfield at some point in our goddamn lives, I really mean it.

 

Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut

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Between the 13th and 15th February, 1945, Allied forces bombed the German city of Dresden into dust, killing some 25,000 civilians in one night. Kurt Vonnegut was an American soldier held captive in the city at the time, and witnessed the destruction. This book tells the tale with a science fiction spin, through the eyes of accidental time traveller Billy Pilgrim. Okay, I’ve made it sound shit. It’s good. Harrowing and deeply unsettling, but good. Hmm. Good might not be the word. Important.

 

Next up, I want to read:

Kim by Rudyard Kipling

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Not too sure of the story, but from what I’ve read about it, it gives amazingly vivid descriptions of India, which makes me giddy with excitement because I’m dying to travel to India this year or next.

To be honest, there are as many books I want to read as there are countries I want to visit. Hmm. Every book and every country in the world. That should keep me occupied for the time being, at least.

 

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