5 Books to Break Up Your Next 12-Hour Bus Journey
There are a few essential items for any trip away: passport, money, sun cream and a really good book. A good read can act as a companion to single travellers on Med cruises or a diversion for backpackers with hours to kill in airport lounges. Here are my five favourite books that have kept me company on my travels so far.
South of the Border, West of the Sun
by Haruki Murakami
Reading any of Murakami’s books means stepping into a dreamlike world filled with an array of colourful characters and off-the-wall scenarios. The narrative leads you on a magical journey as his random tale unfolds. This is a book about past loves and the inability to commit to the here and now, which perfectly captures the feeling of being unsure of which of the many paths before you to take. It is a brilliant read and offers the reader true escapism inside its pages.
Things Fall Apart
by Chinua Achebe
This book marked the beginning of African literature being available globally. At its core, the book focuses on family dynamics, how these change and shift and the impacts this has on the characters involved. On a wider level, it looks at the spread of Christianity and the encroachment of Western culture in Nigeria and the African continent. This makes for a story that is both engrossing and challenging. Incidentally, legendary hip hop band The Roots used this book title as the name of their 1999 album.
Half of a Yellow Sun
by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Set to the backdrop of the Nigerian civil war, it tells the story of two couples, their passions, ideals and doubts about the new Republic of Biafra in the south-east of their country. It follows the characters as they fight to turn their ideals into reality. It touches on issues of race, morality and independence, but never loses sight of the love stories at its centre. Adichie writes in a simple and unfussy style which is nonetheless beautiful and allows the reader time to digest the many elements of the tale.
The Kite Runner
by Khaled Hosseini
Now a Hollywood blockbuster, this is the captivating story of Amir and his childhood in Afghanistan set against the background of the Soviet invasion. In a heartbreakingly honest portrayal, Amir (our narrator) is a flawed character, which makes the challenges he faces seem all the more real. The book draws you in as you follow the interweaving lives of the characters and the brutality they are sometimes subjected to. Hosseini’s following book, A Thousand Splendid Suns, is equally brilliant and I would recommend them both highly.
In Cold Blood
by Truman Capote
The ground-breaking book tells the story of the real-life murders of the Clutter family in 1959. Capote spent years researching the crime, conducting extensive interviews to ensure an accurate recording of the events that took place. The result is a psychological study of the two criminals involved and, as a result, the book is a reflection on the complexity of human nature. Though the fates of the Clutter family are known from the outset, Capote manages to create a book full of suspense and mystery, which makes for a fascinating read.
I loved all of these books, the different styles they are written in and the stories they tell, so would strongly recommend that you make room for at least one of them in your backpack.