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FAVORITE BOOKS RECENTLY READ AND PAST FAVORITES. Last read book at the bottom. Jon Krakaur – Into Thin Air, Under the Banner of Heaven, Into the Wild – all great reads. Jared Diamond – The Third Chimpanzee (about the evolution of man), Guns Germs and Steel (about the rise of civilization), Collapse (about the fall of civilizations, almost always due to environmental degradation), The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies.
Very informative reads, but a slightly repetitious writing style. Touching the Void – Joe Simpson. Probably the best mountaineering book of all time. The Great Influenza. Describes the 1918 influenza pandemic.
Edward Abbey – Desert Solitaire, The Monkey Wrench Gang, Hayduke Lives! (ecoterrorism gone mad). Confessions of a Barbarian (selections of his journals 1951-1989). Conn Iggulden – Conqueror Series 1. Wolf of the Plains, 2.
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Lords of the Bow, 3. Bones of the Hills, 4. Empire of Silver 5.
Conqueror – a 5 part series about Ghengis Khan to Kublai Khan. Great historical fiction. Bill Bryson – Down Under, Walk in the Woods, The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, A Really Short History of Nearly Everything, Notes on a Big Country, and many more. One of the best and most humorous travel writers. Paul Theroux – The Great Railway Bazaar, The Happy Isles of Oceania (about kayaking in the south Pacific islands), Dark Star Safari (hitchhiking from Cairo to Capetown). A good travel writer who opinions are controversial.
Michael Pollan – The Omnivors Dilemna: A Natural History of Food, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto. Dan Brown – The Davinci Code, Angels and Demons, Deception Point, The Lost Symbol. Help – Kathryn Stockett. Great read about a black maid in Jackson, Mississippi.
Born to Run – Christopher McDougall. A fascinating look at the running shoe fraud, the myth of the heel strike, the Copper Canyon Tarahumara (the greatest long distance runners of all time), and humans and how they hunted. The Fate of Africa – Martin Meredith. Incredible book about all African countries from colonial times through independence to the present. Killing Pablo – The hunt for Pablo Escobar, the Colombian drug lord. 1491 and 1493 – Charles Mann.
Excellent nonfiction about the Americas before and after Colombus. The Dirt on Clean. An Unsanitized History – A fascinating history of washing. Nothing to Envy. Ordinary Lives in N Korea and The Aquariums of Pyongyang – both about N Korea.
Both good reads. Marching Powder. About a prison in La Paz, Bolivia. Cutting For Stone – Abraham Verghese.
About an Ethiopian medical family. The Sex Lives of Cannibals. Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific. Hilarious book about an American couple transplanted to a south seas island. Unbroken.
A World War 2 story of survival, resilience and redemption. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – The story behind the first human cell culture, the HELA cell. Vagabonding. An uncommon guide to the art of long term world travel. City of Joy – A true story about living in the slums of Calcutta. Shantaram – About an Australian criminal living in Bombay. Ken Follett – Pillars of the Earth – Historical fiction about the building of a cathedral in England, World Without End – A sequel to Pillars about rebuilding the cathedral.
Fall of Giants – Historical fiction about WW1. Winter of the World – sequel to Fall of Giants about WWII, Edge of Eternity – Third in the Century Trilogy, it follows the same families in the US, England, Germany and Russia from the 60s to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. All great reads. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – An autistic boy in NY city.
The History of the Knights Templars. Jeffrey Eugenides – Marriage Plot, American woman and her manic depressive husband, Middlesex – Pulitzer Prize Winning book about intersex girl.
John Grisham – every book he has ever written including the nonfiction “The Innocent Man” – A true story about wrongly accused people on death row. Ancient Rome: The Rise and Fall of an Empire.
Malcolm Gladwell – Blink, Tipping Point, Outliers – fascinating book about the keys to success. End of Faith – Sam Harris. God is Not Great – Christopher Hitchens. Himalaya – Michael Palin. He is a very good travel writer with obviously a wonderful sense of adventure.
read this when in Nepal which give it a local meaning. James Clavell – Shogun, Tai Pan, Gai Jin, King Rat, Noble House. All great reads.
Recently reread Gai Jin and enjoyed. Memoirs of A Geisha – Arthur Golden. Fascinating. Hiliary Mantel – Wolf Hall*, Bring up the Bodies. Historical fiction books about Oliver Cromwell. The Shipping News – E Annie Proulx. Great book about Newfoundland that won 1994 Pulitzer Prize for fiction.
The Hundred Year Old Man Who Crawled out of the Window and Disappeared – Jonas Jonasson. Entertaining but implausible plot. Sir Francis Drake – great read about somebody everybody knows. May be the most historically accurate, balanced view of Drake. The Great Sea – David Abulfia.
Examines the Mediterranean from ancient times to the present. #1 nonfiction book in Atlanitic Books of the Year. Can be tedious reading about all the wars. Aravind Adiga. Between the Assassinations – A series of short stories set in one city in India.
Very entertaining. White Tiger – another book about India. won the Man Booker Prize 2008. Gives more insights into India. Kate Grenville – The Secret River, Sarah Thornhill. Two books in a series about a family in early Australia.
Good historical fiction. Interesting account of aboriginal contact. Good read. Inside Scientology: North America’s Most Secretive Religion – Janet Reitman.
Probably the most authorative book on this cult. Being Indian: Inside the Real India. Pavan Varma. A must read for anyone traveling in India. Explains the Indian psyche that is so different than ours. Will change your view of Indians.
The Sisters Brothers – Patrick deWitt. Story about 2 hired killers and California goldrush. Entertaining but not great.
Damn Few: Making the Modern Seal. Rourke Denver – about the navy seals.
OK read. Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in the Mumbai Undercity.
Katherine Boo – beautifully written book, humerous about a Mumbai slum. Details the corruption rampant in Indian society.
Bel Canto. Fiction about a terrorist kidnapping. One of the hostages is an opera singer. Lovely story. Cormac McCarthy – All the Pretty Horses, The Crossing.
Mexico’s Copper Canyon Country – M John Fayhee. This is a hiking and backpacking guide but he also tells entertaining stories of his advnetures along with a lot of info on the Tahahumara. Kabloona – Gontran de Poncins. This man traveled through the central Arctic (all to towns that I have worked in) over 15 months in 1938-39. The book gives many interesting observations about the Inuit. To read an excerpt I did of this book, go to IDEAS – Inuit. Kootenai Brown, His Life and Times – William Rodney.
One of Canada’s true heroes that nobody has heard about. He worked for the pony express, hunted buffalo, guided, ranched and was the first superintendent of Waterton National Park. I hiked in Waterton for 17 summers and like the previous two books, were places I knew and had a special interest. Girls Guide to Homelessness – Brianna Karp. Young American who loses job and home. This bit not interesting but all the insights into her upbringing as a Jehova Witness fascinating.
Eating Dirt – Charlotte Gill. A well written book about tree planting in Canada especially Vancouver Island and BC. Ronald Wright – Cut Stones and Crossroads (about the Inca), Time Amongst the Maya. Forget You Had a Daughter – Michael Tierney. About a young British woman caught smuggling heroin in Thailand. She spent 4 years in the “Bangkok Hilton” and then was transferred back to British jails – where things got worse. A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry.
Another great book about India – terrifying in showing how bankrupt this country is. Written about the mid 1970s, it is still just as bad today. First They Killed My Father.
A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers – Loung Ung. Written through the eyes of a little girl who survived the Khmer Rouge atrocities 1975-79.
The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine – Illan Pappe. A must read for anybody with an interest in Israel and the Middle East.
Will change your mind if you have positive views of Israel and how they have kept this out of their history books and from the rest of the world. Jeffrey Archer – The Clifton Chronicles: Only Time Will Tell, The Sins of the Father, Best Kept Secret, Be Careful What You Wish For, Mightier than the Sword. An escapist series by the well known British author. Easy reading best for lazy days on a beach. Pacific Rims. Beermen Ballin’ in Flip-Flops and the Philippines’ Unlikely Love Affair with Basketball – Rafe Barhtholomew.
Some insights into Filipino thinking but gets a little boring. Harvest: Memoir of a Mormon Missionary – Jacob Young. Very worthwhile read about Mormon thinking – fascinating. Dervla Murphy.
On a Shoestring to Coorg – An Experience of Southern India (written in the 1970’s, about her trip through the Western Gnats of India). The Luminaries – Eleanor Catton. Won Man Booker prize 2013. Murder mystery set in Hokatika gold fields in New Zealand. Long book with detailed character development. The Big Thirst, the Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water – A must read about the worlds most valuable resource, especially for Australians (the driest continent) and those from the desert SW of the US.
I am Hutterite – Mary Ann Kirby. Fascinating look into Hutterite life.
I was originally from Southern Alberta where there many Hutterites. It was very illuminating to see communal living at its ultimate and the difficulties on leaving the colony. Adventures and Sufferings of John Jewitt. One of the most amazing books. Recently had the chance to reread this in an edition with drawings and annotations. Very enjoyable.
About an English merchant boat where, in 1802, the natives of Nootka Sound on the west coast of Vancouver Island murdered 23 of the crew and took two into slavery for almost 3 years before they were rescued. A unique anthropological study especially improved with all the supplemental information provided by Hilary Stewart. Agatha Christie – Clocks. Probably the first Agatha Christie I have ever read. Short read to discover her “style”. True History of the Kelly Gang – Peter Carey.
Winner of the Booker Prize. True story of Ned Kelly, a true Australian hero. The Doukhobor People – A Tribute to Good Citizens – Ken Morrow. A sympathetic book about the Doukhobors by a man who lived in the West Kootenay in the 50s and 60s.
Honeybee Democracy – Thomas D Seeley. Investigates how honeybees swarm and find a new hive site based on democratic consensus decision making. Sex on Six Legs – Lessons on Life and Language from the Insect World – Marlene Zuk. Explores the fascinating, weird world of insects. Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth – Reza Asian. Examines Jesus the man, not the Messiah.
A must read for anyone interested in Christianity, especially those creationists and evangelicals who take the bible literally (although they probably would not accept any of it, so maybe a waste of time for them). Infidel My Life.
Ayann Hirsi Ali – About a Somali woman raised in strict Muslim society (she was circumcised as a child), lives in Kenya and Saudi Arabia and then moves to Holland as an immigrant. She gets an education, fights for the rights of Muslim women and children and becomes a member of parliament. Fascinating account of Muslim thinking and Dutch society and its acceptance of all societies. Ring of Fire: An Indonesian Odyssey – Laurence Blair / Lorne Blair. Two Brits who made documentary films on Indonesia back in 70-80s. Krakatoa – Simon Winchester.
Besides the volcano, as informative on plate tectonics, evolution and Indonesia. Shadow of the Silk Road – Colin Thubron. One travellers excellent account of his journey from Xi’an to the Middle East. The Tower – Kelly Cordes. About Cerro Torre. Decoded. A Novel – Mai Jia.
About a Chinese genius who breaks ciphers. The Private Life of Chairman Mao – Zhisiu Li. A must-read if at all interested in China and especially Mao. Written by his personal physician of 22 years. Mao was a true whacko: not educated, never brushed teeth or bathed and wiped down with warm wet towels so never washed genitals, sexual monster with 100s (1000s?) of short adventures with nurses, dancers and anyone young.
Details misadventures of Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution. Could care less if millions died as “China had lots of people”. Interesting bit about preserving body forever. ON MY READING LIST – This is so long and eclectic because I ask many fellow travellers what their favourite books are and add them to the list.
I also use the book reviews in Atlantic and Time to get ideas. Louis de Berniere: Corelli’s Mandolin, The Dust That Falls From the Breath. Two novels about WWII. 12 BEST NOVELS OF THE 21ST CENTURY – The BBC Culture Critics Poll (*I’ve read). 12.
*Middlesex (2002) – Jeffrey Eugenides. At 14, Calliope Stephanides discovers she has a rare recessive mutation that renders her a pseudo-hermaphrodite. Claiming her “male brain”, she shifts genders and becomes Cal. Ultimately Cal’s condition gives him a near mythic gift – the ability to communicate between the genders, to see not with the monovision of one sex but in the stereoscope of both. Middlesex bridged the gap between critical and commercial acclaim, as well, winning a Pulitzer and selling millions of copies.
11. White Teeth (2000) – Zadie Smith. Won the Whitbread and Guardian first book awards. Set in London, is chockablock with vivid scenes and characters, a portrait of postcolonial multicultural London. Her continuing work includes two other novels named by critics in the BBC Culture poll – NW, which ranked at number 18, and On Beauty. 10. Half of a Yellow Sun (2006) – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
A serious political novel about love in wartime, the Biafra conflict traumatised her country and her family for three years after the Igbo people of eastern Nigeria seceded in 1967. Adichie’s 2013 novel Americanah also ranked high in the poll, but missed out on a spot in the top 12 by one vote. 9.
*Atonement (2001) – Ian McEwan. McEwan’s haunting and beautifully crafted novel opens with Briony witnesses her 15-year-old cousin Lola being assaulted in the darkened woods.
Her testimony implicates Robbie, her sister Cecilia’s boyfriend and he is jailed. In a second section, McEwan gives a panoramic account of the harrowing evacuation of Dunkirk in 1940, with Robbie among those saved. Briony works as a nurse during the Blitz in a third section. As McEwan follows these characters through six decades, Briony’s search for redemption evolves into a meditation on the power of art. 8. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (2012) – Ben Fountain. Winner of a National Book Critics Circle award, is about eight rookies from the US army’s Bravo squad, fresh from a firefight with Iraqi insurgents.
Dubbed war heroes by the Fox News cable channel, their two-week stateside victory tour ends with a halftime salute at a Dallas Cowboys game. Fountain captures the excesses of Texas, American football, business and war. 7. A Visit from the Goon Squad (2010) – Jennifer Egan. Won the National Book Critics Circle and Pulitzer awards.
A narrative around a punk rocker-turned-music producer, his sticky-fingered assistant and a circle of wannabes, has-beens and hangers-on. Juxtaposes timeless literary themes, most notably the inexorable journey from youth to age, with an exploration of the ways in which a rapidly changing world reshapes the human experience. 6. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (2000) – Michael Chabon.
Pulitzer Prize winner. Joe Kavalier, a Houdini-like escape artist, smuggles himself out of Nazi-occupied Prague in 1939 and ends up in New York City. With his Brooklyn cousin Sammy Clay he invents a superhero character called the Escapist and launches the golden age of comic books. 5. The Corrections (2001) – Jonathan Franzen.
Winner of a US National Book Award, this big, sprawling, fat, edgy multigenerational family saga touches on some of the most important themes of the early years of this millennium – economic uncertainty, the conflicts between parents and their drifting middle-aged children and the enormous issues of an aging society past its prime. He does it with great storytelling and a lot of humour. 4. Gilead (2004) – Marilynne Robinson. The Rev John Ames, a small-town Iowa minister, describes his life and anti-slavery heritage to his young son in dazzling lyrical language in this first installment of Robinson’s trilogy (along with Home and Lila).
Few living novelists write more seriously and profoundly about religious faith. 3. *Wolf Hall (2009) – Hilary Mantel.
Won the Man Booker and National Book Critics Circle awards, was adapted to the stage and has been filmed as a new BBC miniseries. Told from the perspective of Thomas Cromwell (with Henry VIII as a supporting character), it brilliantly retells an oft-told tale. Mantel’s flawless examination of power completely catapults the reader into the character’s mind. Mantel’s sequel, Bring in the Bodies, also gathered votes.
2. The Known World (2003) – Edward P Jones. Set in 1855 on the plantation of Henry Townsend – born a slave, now a slave-owner – this is a triumph of empathy, immersing readers in a complex moral time without making simple judgments.
Facing an early death, Townsend ponders the future of his 50-acre Virginia plantation and the slaves he treats the way his former owner, now his mentor, taught him. This may be the best American novel published in the 21st Century – a stunning work about humans experiencing and surviving American slavery – an epic, complex, unflinching and engrossing view of America’s messy history. 1. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007) – Junot Díaz. Winner in this BBC Culture critics’ poll and the Pulitzer Prize in fiction.
About New Jersey ghetto-nerd Oscar, it reaffirms the strong connections Latinos maintain with their ancestral homeland’s culture, language and history. It re-energised these questions: Who is American? What is the American experience?”. More Books on North Korea:. 1. Under the Same Sky: From Starvation in North Korea to Salvation in America – Joseph Kim. One of the most famous defectors. The best of these 4.
2. The Girl with Seven Names: A North Korean Defector’s Story – Hyeonseo Lee. 3. A Thousand Miles to Freedom: My Escape from North Korea – Eunson Kim. 4. The Orphan Master’s Son – Adam Johnson.
Fiction, won 2012 Pulitzer Prize. Red Justice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder and One Man’s Search for Justice – Bill Browder. About Russia and how it got rid of this financier. All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr. Novel about blind French girl and young German boy. Mary Roach: Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal, Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex, Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife (2006).
Wheatbelly. So this is my problem. Freedom Climbers – Bernadette McDonald. Polish climbers in the Himalaya. Hard core.
No Way Down – Graham Bowley. 11 people die on K2. Reads like an Agatha Christie novel. you know that 11 will die, but you dont know who is next, or how they will die.
Gripping. The Villain – Jim Perrin. Bio of Don Whillans, famous British climber late 50s to 80s or so. Good climbs, bad behaviour. So, Anyway – John Cleese. Should be a good read as it deals with his approach to comedy. The Imitation Game – About Alan Turing, the Brit who solved the Enigma Code in WWII and invented the computer, but was gay, put in jail for his sexual beliefs and committed suicide.
Now made into a movie released in 2014. All Days are Night – Peter Stamm. Sonic Boom by Joel Beckerman. Everything you ever wanted to know about sound.
Cleopatra: A Life – Stacey Schiff. Won the Pulitzer Prize in 2010. Isabella, The Warrior Queen by Kristen Hauney.
The queen of Spain who with her husband, Ferdinand, expelled the Moors in the Reconquista. Woman Who Would be Queen: Hatshepsuts Rise to Power in Ancient Egypt by Kara Cooney. Victoria: A Life by A N Wilson. Also wrote On Duty With a Queen. Gone Girl: Mystery but really about dark side of relationships.
Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. Ruluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid. The Greenlanders by Jane Smiley. Power of Hubris by Charles Dihigg. One Year Off (travel log book). Penelope Lively – any books by. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail – Cheryl Strayed.
The Penguin History of Europe – 1. The Birth of Classical Europe 2.
The Inheritance of Rome, Dark Ages 400-1000 3. Europe in the High Middle Ages 4. Renaissance 5.
Christendom Destroyed 1517- 1658 6. The Pursuit of Glory 1645-1815. All great reads. Jonathan Franzen – The Correction (2001), Freedom (2010), Purity (2015). In the Kingdom of Ice – Hampton Sides. A great read about the ship Jeanette and its ill-fated voyage to the Arctic.
The Super-Organism: The Beauty, Elegance, and Strangeness of Insect Societies – Bert Holldobler and E O Wilson. The Ants.
Same authors as above. Won the Pulitzer Prize.
The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer – Siddharta Mukherjee. Won the Pulitzer Prize. In the Kingdom of Ice – Hampton Sides.
Chronicles the USS Jeanette’s 1879 journey to the Arctic. Land of Love and Drowning. About US Virgin Islands. The Emperor Far Away. Travel on the Fringes of China. Edward St. Aubyn – Melrose Books: Never Mind, Bad News, Some Hope, Mother’s Milk, At Last.
On the Edge. A Clue to the Exit. Lost for Words.
Yi Yun Li – The Vagrants. Gold Boy, Emerald Girl. A Thousand Years of Good Prayers. Kinder than Solitude. The Extreme Life of the Sea – Steven R.
and Anthony R Palumbi. Nadine Gordimer (15 novels about apartheid S Africa, won 1991 Nobel Prize for Literature). Peter Matheison: At Play in the Fields of the World, The Emerald Forest. Books on Russia. It Was a Long Time Ago, and It Never Happened Anyway – The truth about Soviet Russia.
Doctor Zhivago – Boris Pasternak. A rich novel spanning events from tsarist Russia to the birth of the Soviet Union. Peter the Great, His Life and World – Robert Massie. Prince of the Princes – Simon Sebag Montefirore. The life of Grigory Potemkin, lover of Catherine the Great.
Catherine, Empress of all the Russias – Vincent Cronin. A sympathetic portrait rather than as a scheming, power crazed sexpot.
A Journey from St Petersburg to Moscow (1790) – Aleksandr Radishchev. A passionate attack on serfdom. 1812: Napoleon’s Fatal March on Moscow – Adam Zamoyski. War and Peace – Tolstoi. About the recovery after the Napoleonic wars. East of the Sun – Benson Bobrick. The conquest of Siberia.
To Kill Rasputin – Andrew Cook. A People’s Tragedy: The Russian Revolution, 1891-1924 – Orlando Figes. Vivid picture. Gulag: A History – Anne Applebaum. Won the Pulitizer Prize.
Stalin: The Court of the Red Czar, Young Stalin – Simon Sebaf. Finland Station (1940) – Edmund Wilson. Recounts the development of socialism and communism in Russia. Red Plenty – Francis Spufford. Part novel, part social history focuses on real people in the 50s and 60s. The 900 Days: The Siege of Leningrad – Harrison Salisbury.
Harrowing account. Stalingrad – Antony Beevor. Night of Stone: Death and Memory in Twentieth Century Russia – Catherine Merridale. Enthralling read oolong at its bleak recent history through psychology and philosophy.
Afgantsy: The Russians in Afghanistan. 1979-1989 – Rodric Braithwaite. Robert Service has written celebrated biographies of Lenin, Stalin, and Trotsky plus the Penguin History of Russia, from Nicholas II to Putin. Yeltsin: A Life – Timothy J Cotton.
A sympathetic look. Putin’s Russia – Anna Politkovskaya. A searing indictment of the country and its leaders from a fearless journalist who was murdered in 2006. The Oligarchs: Wealth and Power in the New Russia – David Hoffman. The rise and fall of the robber barons.
Russia History – Masha Holl. Russia and the Russians – Geoffrey Hosking. Definitive one volume of 1000 years of Russian history.
A History of Russia – Nicholas Riasanovky. One of the best through to the end of the Soviet Union. Russia: A 1,000 Year Chronicle of the Wild East – Martin Sixsmith. A very readable sweep of Russia’s history and a 50-part radio series for BBC. Inside Putin’s Russia: Can There Be Reform without Democracy? – Andrew Jack, the Moscow bureau chief of the Financial Times. A Taste of Russia – Darra Goldstein.
200 recipes and essays on local food culture. Running with Reindeer – Roger Took. Vivid account of travel in Kola Peninsula and wildlife there. The Russian Far East: A Reference Guide for Conservation and Development.
Presents work by 90 specialists from Russia, UK and US. Vodka Politics: Alcohol, Autocracy and the Secret History of the Russian State – Mike Lawrence Schrad. Books about Mongolia :. Encyclopedia of Mongolia and the Mongol Empire – Christopher Atwood. Genghhis Khan and the Making of the Modern World – Jack Weatherford. The Secret Life of the Mongols – Written in the 13th century, made public in the 20th century.
Modern Mongolia, Reclaiming Genghis Khan – Paula Sabloff. Imperial Moongolain Cooking: Recipes from the Kingdom of Ghenghis Khan – Marc Cramer with food from all lands once part of the Mongol empire. The Narrow Road to the Deep North – Richard Flanagan. After building the ‘Death Railway’ in Burma, 1000 were transported to Japan working as slave labor in coal mines.
Books on LDS Church. 1. Secret Ceremonies 2.
I’m (No Longer) a Mormon: A Confessional 3. Standing for Something More: The Excommunication of Lyndon Lambar (sp?) 4. Mormaon Diaries. Sofia Stone 5. Monmonism: A Life Under False Pretences – Lee Baker.
6. No Man Knows My History. Failed State – Noam Chamsky. Going Through the Slaughter. About jazz. Haruki Murakami – many good books on Japan. The Wind Up Bird Chronicle.
Edge of Eternity – Ken Follet. Due Sept, 2014 – third in series. William Dalrymple (a travel writer who specializes on India) – in Xandu (about Silk Road), Nine Lives: In Search of the Saved in Modern India.
Decoded – Mai Jia. A new great Chinese novel written in 2002 with a great translation. An orphan who is a math genius is recruited into the elite code-breaking unit of China’s secret services.
An absolute joy to read. Storm of Steel – Ernst Junger. Written in 1920 about a German soldiers experiences in WWI, it charts the evolution of trench warfare and is a war classic. War simply happens, and when it does, it is neither good or bad, but “the great, the overwhelming, the hallowed experience”. The first translation from 1929 was poor, but this from 2004 is much better.
(Penguin Classics). Indonesia Epic: Exploring the Improbable Nation – Elizabeth Pisani. Travel book (she spent 1 year in Indonesia) devotes large parts of the book to even most Indonesians know nothing about. Java and Bali receive scant attention. 13,466 islands, 360 ethnic groups, 719 languages held together by a national language and 32 years of dictatorship now decentralizing itself but with Islam, strong family, clan, village and island ties.
Personal networks are so strong that corruption holds the country together – patronage is the price of unity. Conn Iggulden: Emperor Series: The Gates of Rome, The Death of Kings, The Field of Swords, The Gods of War. Salamon Rusdie: Midnight’s Children, Shame, Satanic Verses, Joseph Anton. The Monk Who Sold his Ferrari – Robin Charma. Bacardi: A History. Heroes – Joh Pilger. Australian journalist writes about Vietnam and Cambodia.
An Evil Cradling – Brian Keegan. About Lebanon. Rohinton Mistry: Such a Long Journey, Family Matters.
The author of A Fine Balance. Indian lives in Canada. Sacred Rage. Foretells the rise of terrorism. Francisco Orellana. An account of the first man to travel the Amazon. The Dirty War – Jeremy Scahill.
Also wrote Blackwater. Me Against My Brother.
The Open Veins of Latin American. The Bang-Bang Club.
South Africa’s Apartheid Era. The History of God – Karen Armstrong. A nun’s experience in the Catholic church. Asia Overland: Mark Elliot and Wil Klas – alternative way to travel in Asia. Books on Myanmar: The River of Lost Footsteps, The Glass Palace, Burmese Days by George Orwell. On the Trail of Ghengis Khan. Who Discovered America – Gavin Menzies, Ian Hudson.
And the Mountains Echoed – Khaled Hosseini. Tudors – A History of England from Henry VIII to Elizabeth I. David and Goliath – Malcolm Gladwell.
Lahiri – The Lowland -The Namesake. The Evolution of God – Robert Wright. Ronald Wright – A Short History of Progress, A Scientific Romance, What is America, Stolen Continents: Conquest and Resistance in the Americas. A Canadian travel writer with an anhropological bent.
Dervla Murphy – Wheels Within Wheels (autobiography), Full Tilt: Ireland to India by Bicycle, The Island That Dared: Journeys in Cuba, Where the Indus is Young: A Winter in Baltistan, In Ethiopia with a Mule, A Month by the Sea (about Gaza), Silverland: A Winter Journey Through the Urals, Through the Embers of Chaos: Balkan Journeys, One Foot in Laos, South Across the Limpopo: Travels Through South Africa, Muddling Through Madagascar, The Ukimivi Road: From Kenya to Zimbabwe. An Irish travel writer who often travels by bicycle and with her family. The Monk who Sold His Farari – Robin Sharma.
North Sea Archaeologies – Robet Vande Noort. Humboldt – Life on Americas Marijuana Frontier. Brady.
Nine Lives – Dopplemeyer. Times Shadow- Arnold Bauer. About Kansas in the 1930’s to 50’s. The Elephant, the Lion, the Tiger and the Cellphone. About India. Holy Cow – Sarah McDonald Traveling in India.
Mark Tulley. Many books about India.
A Thousand Pardons. Jonathan Die. The God Of Small Things. Cormac McCarthy. The Road. In the Shadow of the Silk Road – Thurston.
Moscow 1937 – Karl Schlogel. Good Behavior – Molly Keane. Iron Curtain – Anne Applebaum. Far From the Tree – Andrew Soloman. About parents and children.
NW – Zidie Smith. About NW London.
Dion Meyer – Crocodile In the Sun, Mukwai (both recommended by a S African woman. Dinner With Mugabe, Heidi Holland. A Queer and Present Danger. Exposes Scientology. Michelle Wrong – any book by her. Number: The Language of Science, Tobias Hantzig.
Abraham Verghasse – In My Own Country, The Tennis Player. Kabloona in the Yellow Kayak, Victoria Jason. Igloo Dwellers Were my Church. Atanaijirat, The Fast Runner. In Search of the Lost City of Zee. D. J.
Taylor – Pegasis, any other books by him. Evening Empire: A History of the Night in Early Modern Europe, Craig Koflifsky. Beyond Love, Domminque Ladriro? About Aids.
Fairness and Freedom: A History of Two Open Societies, New Zealand and the US. An Economist Eats Lunch: New Rules for Everyday Foodies. Memphis Under the Ptolemies? Dorothy. Sir Walter Raleigh – Mark Nicholls and Barry Williams. The Map Thief, Heather Towell.