I love taking books on the road. They’re sometimes cumbersome to pack, but when your kindle dies in the car or a flight attendant makes you switch off your eReader in flight, having a real book in your backpack pays off. Plus, the weight of it, and the real pages, those are nice too.
Nothing beats a good book when you’re in transit all day, or if a flight gets delayed, or while lounging on a beach or in a cabin. It lets your mind wander while your body is idle.
The books you take with you become journeys within your journey, and choosing the right ones can enhance your travel experience.
So, a few of my recent favorite reads for the road…
1. On The Road by Jack Kerouac
How fitting is it, to read “On The Road” while on the road? Too perfect. Plus, Kerouac’s classic is a must read for anyone who’s ever wanted to pack a suitcase and go anywhere on a whim.
Kerouac writes this story in a whirlwind stream of consciousness narrative, and it’s a lot to take in. I sometimes felt like I was trudging through, but then I’d find nuggets of gold that made everything worth it.
Like this, for one, “I was surprised, as always, at how easy the act of leaving was, and how good it felt. The world was suddenly rich with possibility.”
2. Wild by Cheryl Strayed
I’ve been telling everyone to read this book for the past year. I love it. It’s a personal triumph story. It’s nonfiction, a real story of adventure, and Strayed beautifully reflects on her experience.
After the sudden death of her mother, 23-year-old Strayed puts her life on hold and hikes the majority of the Pacific Crest Trail while carrying the physical weight of a gigantic backpack and the emotional weight of her grief.
She loses six of her toenails along the way, but as the subtitle says, she goes from lost to found on the trail.
This book inspires me to hike and to push my physical limits. It also proves that a big journey can change your life, but it may take years of reflection to understand the growth that was chaotic and grueling and momentous while it was taking place.
3. A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit
More of a collection of related essays than anything, “A Field Guide to Getting Lost” was the first book I read in Indonesia.
While trying not to get lost in the bustle of Jakarta, this book gave me many reasons why I should get lost sometimes.
The essays about the ‘Blue of Distance’ are my favorite…
“The world is blue at its edges and in its depths… the color of that distance is the color of an emotion, the color of solitude and desire, the color of there seen from here, the color of where you are not. And the color of where you can never go. For the blue is not in the place those miles away at the horizon, but in the atmospheric distance between you and the mountains… Blue is the color of longing for the distances you never arrive in.”
I thought about this blue of distance while gazing off the coast of Lombok into the ocean where the edge of sky and sea meet in a haze of hues. Because of what I’d read about it, the color and the blurring atmosphere meant more to me at that lookout.