Here’s a selection of some of my favorite books that pair well with travel.
- Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino — This is a brilliant work about our perception of place and storytelling through language barriers.
- The Quiet American by Graham Greene — For anyone interested in Vietnam before the Vietnam War officially began.
- The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen — This is probably the best book I’ve read in a long time. For anyone interested in a great, complex story and/or Vietnam. I couldn’t put this book down (and I hate that cliche line).
- 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami — This is a journey through time, reality, and personal relationships.
- Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami — All of Murakami’s work is about a journey through life and breaks with reality. In this case, it’s about the choices characters make along the way.
- Oracle Bones by Peter Hessler — This, along with his first book River Town, provides some of the best insight into China.
- Circle K Cycles by Karen Tei Yamashita — I read this book in grad school and it fascinated me. It’s a work of varying styles to tell the story of Japanese migrants to Brazil who a generation later found themselves foreigners in Japan.
- Gratitude by Sam Hamill — One of my teachers during a summer in grad school, though I never had class with him. Hamill’s poetry is beautiful and calming, taking inspiration from classic Japanese and Chinese poets.
- Night Sky with Exit Wounds by Ocean Vuong — I hate how good this book of poetry is. It’s so good that it makes me feel inadequate as a writer.