Five Books to Take Traveling
by a contributor
from Michelle Donahue, author of the contest-winning story an asp with no [AS]s:
- Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino – This book satisfies cravings for both poetry and prose and really is a perfect travel book. As you explore new cities you’ll feel much like a new age Marco Polo and perhaps this book will persuade you to look at the cities you visit as magical places with intense possibilities.
- Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood – Apart from Atwood’s always fantastic prose and dry wit, this end of the world dystopia will make you appreciate the people around you. Even if they’re loud and drunk at 3 in the morning and you’re trying so desperately to sleep, Oryx and Crake will make you appreciate their company. Added bonus: even if you’re tired (because you had to wake up at 5 am and those around you were loud until 3), and your shuttle didn’t come, and you’re lost, and you’re hungry…at least your life isn’t as bad as Snowman’s.
- Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand – Now I’m sure you’re arching your eyebrows in disbelief and thinking really, Rand? But hear me out. Whether or not you’re an Objectivist (I’m not) or really like reading 50+ page speeches (I don’t) Atlas Shrugged is the ideal book to bring with you on a long journey. Why? What if your locker in your 12-person shared dorm is a little out of reach? Atlas Shrugged makes the perfect stepping stool. Or what if a man is coming at you with a machete? Chuck this long book at him and it’s sure to concuss him. This book is both a weapon and a tool. And who knows, during a 9-hour bus ride you might grow bored enough to start reading it.
- East of Eden by John Steinbeck – I always look for long, paperback books to take with me while traveling, and this fits the bill. But more importantly, it’s a fantastic read, and in my opinion, Steinbeck’s best work. Plus it’s a classic, but not too literary—people will think you’re smart but not pretentious if you’re reading this book.
- A Guide Book to Wherever You’re Going – Frankly, this is optional. I’m the kind of traveler that does a lot of research about the culture/history of the places I’m going and almost none about where I’ll be staying and how I’ll get from A to B. But even so, I’m not convinced you need a guide book. Nearly every hostel has one and almost every traveler does too, so it’s always easy to take a quick look at one if you need to. Plus without one, sometimes you stumble onto magical places few tourists go.