I sometimes see books as a “hold-me-over,” a supplement to enjoy until I get to my next adventure. To me, they’re sort of like the methadone that subtly satiates you until you get your true fix. It’s kind of like reading the bible before passing on. You get to know the words, the messages, and this is enough until you get to the grand divine experience you’ve been awaiting.
Here’s a diverse list of four. One’s a novel, one’s a light reference, one’s a thrill guide, and the last is sort of an anthropological text.
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The Reading List
“Boys and girls in America have such a sad time together; sophistication demands that they submit to sex immediately without proper preliminary talk. Not courting talk—real straight talk about souls, for life is holy and every moment is precious.”
Way before “wanderlust” was a trending hashtag and blogging was a concept in anyone’s head, Jack Kerouac was exploring the continental United States and sharing his travels on paper. This novel expertly captures the beauty and vastness of two beautiful countries (U.S. and Mexico).
America was already settled in the 1950’s, but Kerouac’s unique lens and wild fervor was a brand new angle. In the novel, he meditates on adventure, appetite, the sanctity of human life, and the magnificence of jazz music. A truly beautiful memoir, this book is an essential work within the Beat Generation canon.
“We live in fortunate times. The world is more accessible than ever before.”
This is a light, fun read. Some of the adventures are aspire-worthy, experiences to live and long for. Take, for example, #302: Mountain Biking in Chi Phat, Cambodia. The description mentions the “backdrop of mountains, waterfalls and, if you’re lucky, grazing elephants” that you’ll cycle past. Some “adventures” fall flat. I’m not really sure how remarkable paddle boarding in Wisconsin is. Nonetheless, the book is a perfect antidote to any sort of “traveler’s block” or stickiness you may have.
“And remember, the most dangerous thing in the world is still ignorance.”
Robert Pelton is a bad ass. He’s a writer and interviewer who has risked his life more times than you can comprehend. Pelton has spent times in places where journalists were being evacuated. This book explores the war-havoced depths of Chechnya, some of the notoriously gang-infested streets of Colombia, Uganda, North Korea, Sudan, and many more. The only common criticism of this book is some of its outdatedness.
“The people of Tibet, even today, can be best understood through an understanding of their past…”
In this revealing book by Thubten Jigme Norbu and Colin M. Turnbull, a vast history and fascinating culture is taught. The writers detail Tibetan history, religious beliefs, customs, food, and various subcultures.
Tibet used to be a grand enigma, a mystical land cutoff to most visitors. Tibetans, though generous in nature, were extremely averse to tourists and researchers. This book, published in 1970, provided ample insight into the beauty and simplicity of Tibetan life.
Norbu was the eldest brother of the current Dalai Lama. His pride in his culture and his personal transparency make for an enjoyable read. He mentions the secret rituals of Tantra and Bon practitioners, explains how Tibet was once full of fierce warriors, and tells of the complicated relationship between Tibet, the Mongols, and the Chinese.