Over my year here in Thailand I have devoured 14 amazingly delicious and juicy books. Full of adventure, life, challenges, cultures, and magic. Most of my books are about Westerners moving to the East, each with a different reason or purpose and each has greatly influenced my experience in Thailand. Here are my favorites:
- Nine Hills to Nambokanah by Sarah Erdman :: This is about a Peace Corps Volunteer who was placed in rural Ivory Coast to be a health worker. She discusses her trials and errors, her challenges, and her successes (big and small). This book helped me so much during my first few months here, Sarah was like a friend helping me cope with my own challenges of integration and belonging in a new culture.
- Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson :: This book is very well known and despite the controversy that surrounds his work, he has amazing perseverance and dedication. I applaud him for building so many schools in Pakistan and empowering the young women in these areas to find their strengths and further their education.
- Dune by Frank Herbert :: Patricio has been asking me to read this book for probably 4 years… After several unenthusiastic starts, I finally picked it up with the resolution that I would read it to completion. It is about a royal family in a futuristic landscape where many worlds reign and fight over resources, there are “witches” who use the power of intuition and the nuances of societal interaction as their weapons, there is a magic powder that helps you see time more quickly and clearly. Full of prophecies, magic, power, and war. The hardest part is getting past the first 200 pages, gotta keep reading to get to the good parts!
- Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell :: Wow did I love this book. It follows several seemingly different narrators through many different time periods. This book deals with love and loss; death, suicide, and birth; religion, reincarnation, faith, and changing your ideals; right, wrong, and how our decisions shape and mold the future. It’s amazing. Read it. Love it. And if you must, watch the movie only after you read the book. It was a good movie but it would make no sense without reading the book beforehand.
- Vagabonding by Rolf Potts :: The traveler’s holy book. Full of information on how to travel safely and respectfully. But I found the most important part to be the philosophy of travel Rolf holds, to travel with wide eyed wonder, to hold onto your travel books but not to rely on them, to go with only a few items trusting in the universe and the truth that you really don’t need more than 2 pairs of shoes, to go by the seat of your pants and rolling with the punches because all of life is a great adventure.
- House of Spirits by Isabel Allende :: Isabel’s ability to weave a story and bring a character to life has wooed me. She is my new favorite author (sorry Steinbeck!). Her descriptions are tangible, full of magic, characters that you love instantly, and lots of magic, which, in my opinion, always makes a story better. This story is about 3 generations of women in a family and their life adventures, trials, and the magic they hold to persevere.
- 7 years in Tibet by Heinrich Herrer :: Heinrich as a political prisoner in India during WWII escapes, using his mountaineering knowledge he escapes several times, eyes always on Lhasa, Tibet. Gruelingly he manages to make it to Lhasa, make a home there, and befriend the young Dalai Lama! It’s just an awesome book on integration into a new culture and insight into this nation that has been invaded by China.
- Escape from Camp 14 by Blaine Harden :: A young man somehow escapes from a political prison in North Korea and has lived to tell his story. I will leave it at that. Everyone needs to read this and educate themselves on the reality of North Korea’s horrendous and warped political structure.
- Three Weeks in December by Audrey Schulman :: This book weaves between two seemingly unrelated stories. One is of a young woman with aspergers who is an ethnobotanist. She travels to Rwanda to find a vine that could save lives and hangs out with gorillas! The other story is of a young man at the turning of the century who travels to East Africa to begin the construction of a cross-continental railway. But soon lions begin attacking and eating his crew.
I am currently reading these two gems
- Eva Luna by Isabel Allende :: I am only still in the beginning of this book but it is about a young girl in South America who has a penchant and talent for telling stories. Again, I am in love with Isabel’s writing, it’s an amazing book and I already and trying to savor it and not read it too quickly.
- Courage by Osho :: Osho always gives the best advice. This is my slow read, bedside good feelings book. It guides me when I am feeling a little lost or despondent.