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The books we carry, boiled down to the essence

Imagine you were going on a 100 day pilgrimage throughout Europe, and of course, you were traveling light. What is the one book you would carry to inspire and massage your sensibilities along the way?

Posted by
5149 posts

I'd bet it's just a fun question. I don't bring it when I go to Europe, but when I travel in the States, usually 2-3 week camping trips, I always take "Bird by Bird" by Anne Lamott. It purports to be a book about writing, but it's full of life lessons, as well. It's also laugh-out-loud funny in places.

Edit to add: The post that I was just ahead of mine has been deleted. It asked what the purpose of the original question was. That's why I started out my post the way I did.

Posted by
963 posts

'Journal of a Journey to the Outer Hebrides' by Samuel Johnson and James Boswell is the book that has travelled with me around the world, first thing in the bag every trip. Carry it like a talisman now. Thing is, to get to James Boswell's gossipy, somewhat bitchy, account of the trip you have first to get through Johnson's worthy, but slightly dull account, and in my book you can't cheat by skipping Johnson to get to Boswell. Closest I came was when I was laid up in a French hospital for a week after a fall in the Alps. However, I was distracted by the TV and the ongoing Rugby World Cup, so only got halfway through Johnson's section. So back in the rucksack it went for further travels where it's remained unread.

I'm sure I'll read it in it's entirety one day, but for now I'm almost afraid to read it, in case it means an end to my travels. But because of its aforementioned talismanic qualities, it remains the first thing I pack...in fact it lives in my rucksack!

Ian

Posted by
247 posts

These are each, wonderful responses. It’s not a trick question at all. It is sincere wondering about travelers’ chosen companions than enrich the contemplative nature of travel, honoring the potential and wonders of our potential humanity, opening our eyes, hearts and minds to one another here and now, there and then. Hoping each and all enjoy the diversity and insight blended into responses.

Posted by
13682 posts

"The More than Complete (Hitchhikers) Guide to the Galaxy."

It's sort of a bulky thing but usefully irreverent.

Posted by
228 posts

Shogun, by James Clavell, or perhaps The Covenant by James Michener.

Or a Ken Follett, or Wilbur Smith ...

Aaaaagh!

Basically any huge, epic, sweeping and well-researched work of historical fiction. That's in answer to your question. In reality, I take about 150 books with me, all on my Kindle, on which I have many of the aforementioned works, plus everything written by Louis L'amour, not including his short stories. I particularly like his 'Sackett series' which, when added together, form that epic story I love so much.

Posted by
2540 posts

Spike Milligans War Diaries.of course many Americans will have no idea of who his is but a real hero of mine growing up and his books can make you cry and laugh out loud in the same sentance, a constant reminder that we all have good friends around us and can make many more on our travels no matter how good or bad the times are.

Posted by
1199 posts

Whatever I find before I leave that connects to my area of travel (this time I am saving re-reading Outline by Rachel Cusk, as we are going to Greece and I love Cusk). Also, always some Rumi and Rilke. All on my kindle

Posted by
247 posts

I was inspired to ask this question by the film, The English Patient. I was an English teacher, and once an English teacher, always an English teacher. I won’t correct your grammar, but I will recommend a book to complement wherever you are in your life’s journey. My husband was an athlete, a baseball player, a coach and an administrator, a reader, and there were times when a teammate or two would hide the books he had set on his seat on the bus before stepping off to give me a kiss goodbye, only to return them at the end of the road trip. Our lives have been graced by a great deal of travel. I can’t help but pack more books than clothing, and in each and every city, we find the best local book store, giving them some business and requiring another book bag to make my growing library portable. My appreciation of iBooks grew with our shared, on the road again read aloud of 11-22-63. But if a book is really deeply good, I can’t help but note places that resonate, places where I want to return and maybe even share in conversation. Those notes will be my legacy to my family. If a book is not published with end pages, I realize that must be evidence of pulp fiction. So I make sure I check before I invest, I say with a smile. And I read with a good pen in hand. Over the years, rather than scripting margin notes, I have come to respect the next reader by penning my notes on those precious end pages. We just purchased our tickets to see Les Miserables in London, and then I found my paperback copy, languishing over notes written 30 years ago. The noted quotes definitely still resonate.
So what will be my travel companion? My daughter-in-law just loaned me Bird by Bird, so it was fun to find it among your recommendations. I learned of “the best book store in the world” in Ennis, Ireland, our first place, and there, no doubt, I will add to my traveler’s library. I’ll buy a book bag there as well, no doubt. Shakespeare&Co, here we come.

Posted by
3079 posts

Art of the Deal -- Donald Trump

Posted by
247 posts

“Want to get away?” A sense of separation to higher ground, through travel together and a literary companion, to remind us of our best selves, of our humanity. Coming back after 100 days, 2 years too early, will be the hard part.

Posted by
1260 posts

The Winds of War by Herman Wouk. I've read it many times, and I'm sure it helped fuel my love of travel. I won't give away any spoilers, but the plot of the book follows a family around the globe from before the outbreak of World War II until Pearl Harbor.Off the top of my head, there are scenes in Germany, Italy, England, Portugal, Switzerland, Poland, and Russia.

The book was also made into a very successful and excellent miniseries.

Posted by
3244 posts

Dale, after our trip to Lisbon last summer, my husband is happy that he has been to all the places in the book, except the Philippines.

Posted by
1678 posts

"Innocents Abroad" by Mark Twain. He travels in Europe, Egypt, and the Holy Land. Funny and observant, and remarkably current given it was published in 1869. Currently a free Kindle book.

Posted by
247 posts

Thank you to all for your tried, true and thoughtful recommendations. I have narrowed my selection down, and ultimately I realized that based on the purpose of this journey of ours, I will continue a dear task I began a little over a year ago, interrupted by by husband,s rather sever health episode from which we are still in the process of recovery.
We met and began our lifelong relationship when we were 16. Over the course of our love we have experienced too much time apart, for good reasons. He was a college Athelstan and eventually a pro baseball player, leading him to a dedicated carreer as a college baseball coach and ultimately an athletic administrator in university development. We have yet to experience 100 days without time apart.
During our college days, I chose to transfer from our small private Jesuit’s university to a state university in a neighboring state, and over the course of my quarter away he wrote to me at least once and often twice and occassionally three times a day. I have each and every one of his letters, and recently, anytime he had to be on the road, I began rereading them, writing a new reply in a journal I purchased for that purpose. When he became ill a year and a half ago, I paused, and now, as we embark on this 100 day journey, this elebration of life, this search for inspiration and hope through renewed faith in our fellow human beings, I will resume my reading and writing in reply to my first and forever love.
Recently he and I read a book he found, Paris in the Present Tense by Mark Helprin. I recommend this to each and all, in appreciation for your responses to my inquiry. Wishing you wellbeing and peace as you continue your own quests through life, reading and good travel.