Summer is upon us, and if you’re nerds like us, travel means adventure and new books! We thought we’d put together a list of some of our favorite reads in case you’re looking for a good book on your upcoming travels, to far away places or just to the backyard!
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Quick but good reads
1. Tattoos on the Heart by Greg Boyle. Easily the most inspiring AND funny book I have read! It’s a quick read, and a good one. Greg Boyle created Homeboy Industries to help gang members get off the street. His storytelling style is one of a kind and the book will have you crying one moment, laughing the next.
2. Sh!t My Dad Says by Justin Halpern. His debut book will make you “that guy” on the plane or by the pool. One moment, dead silence, the next, you’re roaring with laughter. Justin recounts growing up with an eccentric father whose advice and commentary is sure to force some giggles and have others shaking their head at you.
3. I’m a Stranger Here Myself by Bill Bryson. My bible when I returned from living in South America, Bryson documents his own experiences moving back to the United States after living abroad. A must read for anyone who has lived or traveled abroad, or just anyone else who is curious: Why does my tooth floss have a 24 hour 1-800 number to call?
4. The Art of Non-Conformity by Chris Guillebeau. Not to be read sitting at your boring desk job. Actually, scratch that. 100% you should read this if you’re unsatisfied with your career and wondering if there is something better out there. Chris is the author of one of our favorite blogs, and his book is sure to inspire you to re-think how you think about your career and the way you live your life.
For the Longer Flights
1. Shantaram by David Gregory Roberts. A top three book for me, the first lines of the book start off with a bang: “It took me a long time and most of the world to learn what I know about love and fate and the choices we make, but the heart of it came to me in an instant, while I was chained to a wall and being tortured. I realized, somehow, through the screaming in my mind, that even in that shackled, bloody helplessness, I was still free: free to hate the men who were torturing me, or to forgive them. It doesn’t sound like much, I know. But in the flinch and bite of the chain, when it’s all you have got, that freedom is a universe of possibility. And the choice you make, between hating and forgiving,can become the story of your life.” When you learn the book is a semi-biographical account of a man who escapes from prison in Australia to live in India, your curiosity gets the best of you.
2. Anything by Dave Eggers. Dave is one of the most creative writers in America. He’s also heavily invested in education, creating the zany nonprofit 826 to help students improve their writing skills and fall in love with reading and writing. Laura and I both enjoy his work. The Circle is his latest book and it’s a haunting “1984-esque” account of what happens when we say goodbye to privacy and hello to social media. Zeitoun, based in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina and What is the What, the semi-biographical account of a Sudanese Lost Boy are the books that will grip your heart while simultaneously highlighting Eggers talent. But if you’re going to dive into Eggers brand new, we’re going to make two suggestions. Go to where it all started, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
If you’re more the early adapter type, join us in reading his soon to be released Your Fathers, Where Are They? And the Prophets, Do They Live Forever?
1) A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving. This is hands down, my favorite book (followed closely by Eggers’ A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius). It follows two boys growing up in a small New Hampshire town in the 1950s, and provokes significant thought on the power of friendship, faith, and fate.
2) Mountains Beyond Mountains, by Tracy Kidder. A biographical look at the life of Dr. Paul Farmer, co-founder of Partners In Health. The book follows his work to treat infectious diseases like tuberculosis in Haiti, Peru, and Russia.
3) Me Earl and the Dying Girl, by Jesse Andrews. This is Andrews’ first book, and it captures the story of two awkward high school boys who are forced to befriend a female classmate who is dying of leukemia. Lots of profanity and laughter in this book, and although it has been often compared to The Fault in Our Stars, it stands alone.
4) How Children Succeed, by Paul Tough. Tough, a journalist with The New Yorker and The New York Times, reports on how children growing up in poverty can come to achieve amazing things with the support of some innovative interventions. The book provides a whole new perspective on how we talk to children, and raise and educate them.
5) Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, by Cheryl Strayed. Reeling from the death of her mother and the collapse of her marriage, the author recounts her personal journey to hike the Pacific Crest Trail on her own–1,100 miles from the Mojave Desert in California through Oregon. This book appeals to nature lovers, to those with an itch to hike something, and to those relating to Strayed’s emotional roller coaster.
We asked for help on our Facebook page and our Twitter feed and we got back a few great suggestions.
First, it’s the World Cup and two readers couldn’t help but suggest soccer related books. Soccer in Sun and Shadow. NPR called it “the most lyrical sports book ever written” and this reader couldn’t agree more! Another reader suggested for the academics by the pool read How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization.
If you’re a fan of The Kite Runner or A Thousand Splendid Suns then no doubt you’ll enjoy the newest book from Khaled Hosseini- And the Mountains Echoed. Two different people suggested one of Patrick’s favorites listed above- Shantaram! Anyone who has perhaps been re-reading some Gabriel Garcia Marquez books after his passing this year might enjoy The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón, a book called “a love letter to literature” and in line with the magical realism we loved Garcia Marquez for!
Travel classics like On the Road were thrown out, along with some new travel books Laura and I will be checking out like Love With a Chance of Drowning (a woman overcomes her fear of the ocean to sail across the Pacific with her boyfriend), and Paris Was Ours ( a book for anyone who loves Paris showcases 32 authors who moved to Paris as they talk about the city they love and how they learned to live a Parisian lifestyle). Thanks to everyone who contributed ideas!
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