Books

When I quit my job, I naively assumed that I would automatically have time for doing long neglected things as reading books. What I found out that without a right motivation these things just do not happen. On the other hand, travelling is filled with moments that provide no entertainment whatsoever, such as sitting in a bus for 12 hours, so a good book is a god send. Furthermore there were beach / hammock moments, where reading was the only activity I could bring myself to doing.

Then there was this factor of mystery, I never knew what book I was going to read next. At times I devoted my time to hunt a book by systematically checking nearby resorts/hotels. Stieg Larson and Marian Keynes were everywhere, but something more substantial was much more challenging to find. Sometimes I found a book I wanted to read, but could not agree on the price (bookshops on Koh Tao charged outrageous prices for used books for example). Other times I stole borrowed books from hostels as a form of redistribution of wealth (and then left the book in another hostel). Finding a next book to read became an adventure itself.

Below is the list of the books that accompanied my journey.

Howard Rheingold “Smartmobs”
Jules Verne “20000 Leagues Under The Sea”
Charles Dickens “Oliver Twist” (heavily abridged edition with a Chinese translation on every page)
Mary Shelley “Frankenstein”
Zachary Mexico “China Underground”
Игорь Станович “Гоанские хроники”
Stephen Dubner & Steven Levitt “Freakonomics”
Yann Martel “Life of Pi”
Neil Stephenson “Snow Crash”
William Shakespeare “Othello”
Ken Kesey “One Flew Over Cuckoo’s Nest”
J.D. Sallinger “Catcher in The Rye”
Catherine Taylor “Once Upon A Time In Beirut”
Henri Charriere “Papillon”
Philippe Cornwell-Smith “Very Thai: Everyday Popular Culture”
Том Вульф “Электропрохладительный Кислотный Тест” (Tom Wolfe “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test”)
Paulo Coelho “Alkemisti”
Jack Kerouac “On The Road”
William Golding “Lord Of The Flies”
Hermann Hesse “The Journey To The East”
Jules Verne “The Journey To The Center Of The Earth”

My favourite one is Jack Kerouac’s On The Road. It literally blew my mind. This is how you write a travelogue and this is how you travel. Amazing language, amazing read. Throughly enjoyed Paulo Coelho’s Alchemist too, it resonated very well with my own life at the moment. Papillon is brilliant, a proper adventure. Many great books and no dreadful reads apart from “Smartmobs”, the only book I could not finish. Interesting ideas, but the language is just miserable. “Othello” was hard to finish too, but due to the fancy language (it is Shakespeare after all). I kind got the general idea, but the subtleties of the language were lost on me. It was worth a try though.

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