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52 Books For the ‘Word’ Traveler

Have you noticed that Bali as a holiday destination seems to be trending these days? With the rise of low-cost international airlines taking travelers further for less everybody is jumping on whatever the latest holiday fad is, and many end up in the same spots!

Venice, Barcelona, Berlin, and Santorini are working to manage the ever-growing stream of visitors while still making it possible for locals to survive and thrive in their cities. Americans are traveling more than ever however, it is still just a fraction of the overall population that is able to indulge in the luxury of travel. Let’s be honest! The lack of paid time off, personal obligations, and the high cost that prevents most of us from leaving home for a few days of rest and adventure.

Luckily there are other ways to discover the world accessible to everyone. From the comfort of home, we can vicariously swipe through other people’s holidays on Instagram, envying their large floppy sun hats, and flapper dresses as they saunter their way along empty beaches, through ancient temples or riding ATVs through the jungle. Implicit with Instagram is the suspicion that many of the images presented are the rosiest of viewpoints but it’s fun to dream.

Just dreaming is a good strategy for traveling in the mind. It takes some practice but, your mind is packed with memories of trips already taken: a beach holiday with parents when we were kids, a camping trip as a teenager with childhood friends, a canoe ride on a mountain lake. Tapping into these fond memories is a great way to enjoy past trips over and over.

For those less practiced in focusing the mind on travels past, reading books can provide endless hours of interest, intrigue, and inspiration. Selecting literature with an eye towards foreign destinations can open up countless hours of mind travel with none of the inconvenience inherent with physical transportation from one place to another. Consider a weekend away with more than half of your time taken up with transportation and sleep. A good selection of books could take you on a longer and more inspiring journey. To say nothing of the cost!

To get you started on your “word” travel our team has gathered 52 book-based journeys, one a week to travel in your mind for a whole year. From Korea, Sweden, England, Australia, France, Singapore, Germany, and Scotland, we chose writers and chefs sharing stories about places they know, landscapes, people, their lives and food. Bon voyage!

1. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen): One of the most universally loved and admired English novels, Pride and Prejudice was penned as popular entertainment. However, the consummate artistry of Jane Austen (1775–1817) transformed this effervescent tale of rural romance into a witty, shrewdly observed satire of English country life that is one treasure of English language.

In a remote Hertfordshire village, far off the good coach roads of George III’s England, a country squire of no great means must marry off his five vivacious daughters. At the heart of this all-consuming enterprise are his headstrong second daughter Elizabeth Bennet and her aristocratic suitor Fitzwilliam Darcy — two lovers whose pride must be humbled and prejudices dissolved before the novel can come to its grand conclusion.

2. Three Men in a Boat (Jerome K.Jerome): A classic masterpiece of British humor since its first publication in 1889. The funny boating trip of three men – Jerome and his two friends Harris and George and their dog Montmorency – along with the River Thames in Oxford, crossing the absurdities and traditions of late XIX century England.

3. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte): Wuthering Heights is a wild, passionate story of the intense and almost demonic love between Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff, a foundling adopted by Catherine’s father. After Mr. Earnshaw’s death, Heathcliff is bullied and humiliated by Catherine’s brother Hindley and wrongly believing that his love for Catherine is not reciprocated, leaves Wuthering Heights, only to return years later as a wealthy and polished man. He proceeds to exact a terrible revenge for his former miseries. The action of the story is chaotic and unremittingly violent, but the accomplished handling of a complex structure, the evocative descriptions of the lonely moorland setting and the poetic grandeur of vision combine to make this unique novel a masterpiece of English literature.

4. The Travels of Mirza Abu Taleb Khan in Asia, Africa, and Europe: In 1810, the Orientalist scholar Charles Stewart translated and published an extraordinary travel narrative written by a Persian-speaking Indian poet and scholar named Mirza Abu Talib Khan. At the turn of the century, Abu Talib traveled from India to Africa, and on to Ireland, England, and France, where he recorded his observations of European culture with wit and precision. The narrative’s essential and controversial account of British imperial society is one of the earliest examples of a colonial subject addressing the cultural dynamics of metropolitan Britain, and its complex critique of empire challenges many preconceptions about intercultural relations during this era. Following his European sojourn, Abu Talib’s remarkable Shi’ite pilgrimage through present-day Turkey and Iraq further enhance his meditation on the encounter between Islam and European modernity.

5. The Fatal Shore, The Epic of Australia’s Founding (Robert Hughes): In this bestselling account of the colonization of Australia, Robert Hughes explores how the convict transportation system created the country we know today.

Digging deep into the dark history of England’s infamous efforts to move 160,000 men and women thousands of miles to the other side of the world in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Hughes has crafted a groundbreaking, definitive account of the settling of Australia.

Tracing the European presence in Australia from early explorations through the rise and fall of the penal colonies, and featuring 16 pages of illustrations and three maps, The Fatal Shore brings to life the incredible true history of a country we thought we knew.

6. The Wonderful Adventures of Nils (Selma Lagerloef): In this classic Swedish folk tale, Nils is shrunk to a tiny size by a dwarf and carried across Sweden by a flock of wild geese to their summer home in the far North. Through many perils and exciting adventures, Nils wins respect and love of the geese and finally returns home.

7. Overbooked, The Exploding Business of Travel and Tourism (Elizabeth Becker): Elizabeth Becker describes the dimensions of this industry and its massive effect on the world economy, the environment, and our culture.

In 2012 the number of tourists traveling the world reached one billion. Now everything can be packaged as a tour: with the high cost of medical care in the U.S., Americans are booking a vacation and an operation in countries like Turkey for a fraction of the price at home.

Elizabeth Becker travels the world to take the measure of the business: France invented the travel business and is still its leader; Venice is expiring of over-tourism. In Cambodia, tourists crawl over the temples of Angkor, jeopardizing precious cultural sites. Costa Rica rejected raising cattle for American fast-food restaurants to protect their wilderness for the more lucrative field of eco-tourism.

8. The Joys of Travel (Thomas Swick): The Joys of Travel awakens readers to pleasures that, as travelers, they may be taking for granted, and shows non-travelers what they’ve been missing. It offers tips on how people can get the most out of their trips, including strategies for meeting locals, and examines how various modes of transportation affect a traveler’s experience. Throughout this enlightening memoir, Swick also supplies readers with the titles of travel classics that will not only prepare them for the places they visit but make those places more meaningful once they arrive.

9. At Home in the World (Tsh Oxenreider): Americans Tsh and Kyle met and married in Kosovo. They lived as expats for most of a decade. They’ve been back in the States—now with three kids under ten—for four years, and while the home is lovely, they are filled with wanderlust and long to answer the call.

Why not? The kids are all old enough to carry their backpacks but still young enough to be uprooted, so a trip—a nine-months-long trip—is planned.
At Home in the World follows their journey from China to New Zealand, Ethiopia to England, and more. They traverse bumpy roads, stand in awe before a waterfall that feels like the edge of the earth, and chase each other through three-foot-wide passageways in Venice. So all the while Tsh grapples with the concept of home, as she learns what it means to be lost—yet at home—in the world.

10. The Kindness of Strangers (Jan Morris, Tim Cahill, Simon Winchester, and Dave Eggers): A timely collection of 26 inspiring tales, The Kindness of Strangers explores the unexpected human connections that so often transfigure and transform the experience of travel, and celebrates the gift of kindness around the world. Featuring stories by Jan Morris, Tim Cahill, Simon Winchester, and Dave Eggers.

11. Discovering Main Street (Foster Church): Small towns punctuate the landscape of Oregon and Washington. They burrow in crinkles of hills, sit alongside mighty rivers, survive in desert canyons and sagebrush plains, dot the fertile Willamette Valley, and perch at the edge of the Pacific Ocean.
In Discovering Main Street, Foster Church reveals the unexpected and unique pleasures of exploring small towns, what he calls “the last frontier of American tourism.”

12. The Agrarian Kitchen (Rodney Dunn): When former Australian Gourmet Traveller food editor Rodney Dunn moved from Sydney to Tasmania, he and his wife Severine set about transforming the 19th-century schoolhouse into a sustainable farm-based cooking school. Nestled in a misty valley outside Hobart, The Agrarian Kitchen struck a chord with people seeking respite from fast-paced lives and a meaningful connection with the food we eat and the land that produces it. This collection of recipes from the phenomenally popular cooking school celebrates the simple pleasures of cooking and eating in tune with the seasons, and the rhythm of a life lived close to the earth.

13. Queer City, Gay London from the Romans to the Present Day (Peter Ackroyd): Peter Ackroyd is our preeminent chronicler of London. In Queer City, he looks at the metropolis in a whole new way – through the history and experiences of its gay population.
Ackroyd takes us right into this hidden city, celebrating its diversity, thrills, and energy on the one hand; but reminding us of its very real terrors, dangers and risks on the other. In a city of superlatives, it is perhaps this endless sexual fluidity and resilience that epitomize the real triumph of London.

14. Cruising Panama’s Canal (Sunny and Al Lockwood): Who would have guessed that it would have taken an almost fatal car accident to motivate Al and Sunny Lockwood to take a cruise ship vacation to the Panama Canal? 

Their near-death experience rivets them. This charming couple decided to make their bucket list dream cruise vacation come true, and now they want to share it with you!

Come along with them as they share intimate details of their 17-day odyssey from San Francisco to Fort Lauderdale via the Panama Canal. Sunny provides the facts. Al adds good humor. A perfect recipe for cruise travel fun!

15. A View of the Empire at Sunset (Caryl Phillips): Caryl Phillips’s A View of the Empire at Sunset is the sweeping story of the life of the woman who became known to the world as Jean Rhys. Born Ella Gwendolyn Rees Williams in Dominica at the height of the British Empire, Rhys lived in the Caribbean for only sixteen years before going to England. A View of the Empire at Sunset is a look into her turbulent and unsatisfactory life in Edwardian England, 1920s Paris, and then again in London. Her dream had always been to one day return home to Dominica. In 1936 a forty-five-year-old Rhys was finally able to make the journey back to the Caribbean. Six weeks later she boarded a ship for England, filled with hostility for her home, never to return. Phillips’s gripping new novel is equally a story about the beginning of the end of a system that had sustained Britain for two centuries, but that wreaked havoc on the lives of all who lived in the shadow of the empire: both men and women, colonizer and colonized.

16. Warlight (Michael Ondaatje): In a narrative as beguiling and mysterious as memory itself–shadowed and luminous at once–we read the story of fourteen-year-old Nathaniel, and his older sister, Rachel. In 1945, just after World War II, they stayed behind in London when their parents move to Singapore, leaving them in the care of a mysterious figure named The Moth. They suspect he might be a criminal, and they grow both more convinced and less concerned as they come to know his eccentric crew of friends: men and women joined by a shared history of unspecified service during the war, all of whom seem, in some way, determined now to protect, and educate (in rather unusual ways) Rachel and Nathaniel. However, are they really what and who they claim to be? So what does it mean when the siblings’ mother returns after months of silence without their father, explaining nothing, excusing nothing? A dozen years later, Nathaniel begins to uncover all that he didn’t know and understand in that time, and it is this journey–through facts, recollection, and imagination–that he narrates in this masterwork from one of the great writers of our time.

17. American Eden (David Hosack): The untold story of Hamilton’s―and Burr’s―personal physician, whose dream to build America’s first botanical garden inspired the young Republic.

18. The Good Son ( You-Jeong Jeong): Early one morning, twenty-six-year-old Yu-jin wakes up to a strange metallic smell, and a phone call from his brother asking if everything’s all right at home – he missed a call from their mother in the middle of the night. Yu-jin soon discovers her murdered body, lying in a pool of blood at the bottom of the stairs of their stylish Seoul duplex. He can’t remember much about the night before; having suffered from seizures for most of his life, Yu-jin often has trouble with his memory. All he has is a faint impression of his mother calling his name. However, was she calling for help? Or begging for her life?

Thus begins Yu-jin’s frantic three-day search to uncover what happened that night, and to learn the truth about himself and his family finally. A shocking and addictive psychological thriller, The Good Son explores the mysteries of mind and memory, and the twisted relationship between a mother and son, with incredible urgency.

19. New York (Edward Rutherfurd): Edward Rutherfurd celebrates America’s greatest city in a rich, engrossing saga, weaving together tales of families rich and poor, native-born and immigrant—a cast of fictional and real characters whose fates rise and fall and rise again with the city’s fortunes. New York: The Novel gloriously captures the search for freedom and opportunity at the heart of our nation’s history.

20. The Travels of Marco Polo (Marco Polo): Marco Polo was the most famous traveler of his time. His voyages began in 1271 with a visit to China, after which he served the Kubilai Khan on numerous diplomatic missions. On his return to the West, he was made a prisoner of war and met Rustichello of Pisa, with whom he collaborated on this book. The accounts of his travels provide a fascinating glimpse of the different societies he encountered: their religions, customs, ceremonies, and way of life; on the spices and silks of the East; on precious gems, exotic vegetation, and wild beasts. He tells the story of the holy shoemaker, the wicked caliph, and the three kings, among a great many others, evoking a remote and long-vanished world with color and immediacy.

21. Alone in Berlin (Hans Fallada): Otto, an ordinary German living in a shabby apartment block, tries to stay out of trouble under Nazi rule. However, when he discovers his only son has been killed fighting at the front, he’s shocked into an extraordinary act of resistance and starts to drop anonymous postcards attacking Hitler across the city. If caught, he will be executed. Soon this silent campaign comes to the attention of ambitious Gestapo inspector Escherich, and a murderous game of cat-and-mouse begins. Who loses, pays with their life.

22. The Kites (Romain Gary &Miranda Richmond Mouillot): Now in English for the first time, Romain Gary’s final masterpiece begins with Ludo coming of age on a small farm in Normandy, under the care of his eccentric kite-making Uncle Ambrose. Ludo’s life changes the day he meets Lila, a girl from the aristocratic Polish family that owns the estate next door. In a single glance, Ludo falls in love forever; Lila, on the other hand, disappears back into the woods. So begins Ludo’s adventure of longing, passion, and steadfast love for the elusive Lila, who starts to reciprocate his feelings just as Europe descends into World War II. After Germany invades Poland, Lila and her family go missing, and Ludo’s devotion to saving her from the Nazis becomes a journey to save his love, his loved ones, his country, and ultimately himself.

23. Driving Hungry (Layne Mosler): Adrift in Buenos Aires, Layne Mosler was hungry—for an excellent (and cheap) meal, for a great story, for a new direction. A chance recommendation from a taxi driver helped her find all these things and sparked a quest that would take her to three cities, meeting people from all walks of life, and seeing an array of unexpected flavors. A story about following your passion, the pleasures of not always knowing your destination, and the beauty of chance encounters, Driving Hungry is a vivid and inspiring, read from first to last.

24. Last Stories (William Trevor): With a career that spanned more than half a century, William Trevor is regarded as one of the best writers of short stories in the English language. Now, in Last Stories, the master storyteller delivers ten exquisitely rendered tales—nine of which have never been published in book form–that illuminate the human condition and will surely linger in the reader’s mind long after closing the book. Subtle yet powerful, Trevor gives us insights into the lives of ordinary people. We encounter a tutor and his pupil, whose lives are thrown into turmoil when they meet again years later; a young girl who discovers the mother she believed dead is alive and well; and a piano-teacher who accepts her pupil’s theft in exchange for his beautiful music. This final and exclusive collection is a gift to lovers of literature and Trevor’s many admirers and affirms his place as one of the world’s greatest storytellers.

25. Go, Went Gone (Jenny Erpenbeck): Go, Went, Gone is the masterful new novel by the acclaimed German writer Jenny Erpenbeck, “one of the most significant German-language novelists of her generation” (The Millions). The book tells the tale of Richard, a retired classics professor who lives in Berlin. His wife has died, and he lives a routine existence until one day he spies some African refugees staging a hunger strike in Alexanderplatz. Curiosity turns to compassion and an inner transformation, as he visits their shelter, interviews them, and becomes embroiled in their harrowing fates. Go, Went, Gone is a scathing indictment of Western policy toward the European refugee crisis, but also a touching portrait of a man who finds he has more in common with the Africans than he realizes. Exquisitely translated by Susan Bernofsky, Go, Went, Gone addresses one of the most pivotal issues of our time, facing it head-on in a voice that is both nostalgic and frightening.

26. Baron in the Trees (Italo Calvino): Cosimo di Rondó, a young Italian nobleman of the eighteenth century, rebels against his parents by climbing into the trees and remaining there for the rest of his life. He adapts efficiently to an existence in the forest canopy—he hunts, sows crops, plays games with earth-bound friends, fights forest fires, solves engineering problems, and even manages to have love affairs. From his perch in the trees, Cosimo sees the Age of Enlightenment pass by and new century dawn.

27. The 100- Year Old man who climbed out the Window and disappeared (Jonas Jonasson): After a long and eventful life, Allan Karlsson ends up in a nursing home, believing it to be his last stop. The only problem is that he’s still in good health, and in one day, he turns 100. A big celebration is in the works, but Allan isn’t interested (and he’d like a bit more control over his vodka consumption). So he decides to escape. He climbs out the window in his slippers and embarks on a hilarious and entirely unexpected journey, involving, among other surprises, a suitcase stuffed with cash, some unpleasant criminals, a friendly hot-dog stand operator, and an elephant (not to mention a death by elephant).

28. A Tramp Abroad (Mark Twain): “A Tramp Abroad” is Mark Twain’s non-fiction European travel book. As Twain travels with this fictitious friend Harris through Germany, the Alps, and Italy, many humorous situations and reflections upon those situations are detailed. A classic work of travel literature, “A Tramp Abroad” shows Twain at his satirical best.

29. The Kimchi Cookbook ( Lauryn Chun): Following traditional kimchi-making seasons and focusing on produce at its peak, this bold, colorful cookbook walks you step by step through how to make both robust and lighter kimchi. Lauryn Chun explores a wide variety of flavors and techniques for creating this live-culture food, from long-fermented classic winter kimchi intended to spice up bleak months to easy-to-make summer kimchi that highlights the freshness of produce and is ready to eat in just minutes. 

30. The Dogs that made Australia ( Guy Hull): The selfless exploits of our heroic dogs are writ indelibly in our nation’s heritage and identity. The Dogs That Made Australia is a vivid and meticulously researched history of Australia told from the perspectives of the dingo and of the dogs that were imported and developed here, as well as the humans who loved, feared and worked them.

31. The Odysee (Homer): The Odyssey is literature’s grandest evocation of every man’s journey through life.

32. In Tasmania (Nicholas Shakespeare): The author first went to Tasmania having heard of the island’s exceptional beauty, and because it was famously remote. He soon decided that it was where he wanted to live. Shakespeare explores the island’s colorful history, inhabitants and ancestors, among whom he discovers some of his own.

33. The Thames the biography (Peter Ackroyd): Peter Ackroyd once again delves into the hidden byways of history, describing the river’s endless allure in a journey overflowing with characters, incidents, and wry observations. Thames: The Biography meanders gloriously, rather like the river itself. In short, lively chapters Ackroyd writes about connections between the Thames and such historical figures as Julius Caesar and Henry VIII and offers memorable portraits of the ordinary men and women who depend upon the river for their livelihoods. The Thames as a source of artistic inspiration comes brilliantly to life as Ackroyd invokes Chaucer, Shakespeare, Turner, Shelley, and other writers, poets, and painters who have been enchanted by its many moods and colors.

34. Cibi (Meg& Zenta Tanaka): Cibi – meaning ‘a little one’ – is a book on home-style Japanese cooking inspired by the eponymous Melbourne café and design space created by Meg and Zenta Tanaka. It contains 80 seasonally relevant recipes across vegetables, fish and seafood, meat, grains and noodles, and sweets, plus small features on elements of Japanese cooking and food culture, accompanied by beautiful photography and illustrations. The recipes, many designed for sharing, strongly reflect Meg and Zenta’s ethos – a fresh approach to simplicity using quality produce. CIBI incorporates elements of Japanese design culture and glimpses of their young family’s worlds in Collingwood, Tokyo, and Meg’s birthplace, Okayama, alongside snapshots (in words and pictures) of the CIBI-feel: an enjoyment of food, community, and sharing.

35. Once upon a River ( Diane Setterfield): Once Upon a River is a glorious tapestry of a book that combines folklore and science, magic and myth. Suspenseful, romantic, and richly atmospheric, the beginning of this novel will sweep you away on a powerful current of storytelling, transporting you through worlds both real and imagined, to the triumphant conclusion whose depths will continue to give up their treasures long after the last page is turned.

36. All over the Map ( Betsy Mason & Greg Miller): In this visually stunning book, award-winning journalists Betsy Mason and Greg Miller–authors of the National Geographic cartography blog “All Over the Map”–explore the intriguing stories behind maps from a wide variety of cultures, civilizations, and periods. Based on interviews with scores of leading cartographers, curators, historians, and scholars, this is a remarkable selection of fascinating and unusual maps.

37. Restoration Heights (Will Mediaris): Restoration Heights is both a page-turning mystery and an in-depth study of the psychological fallout and deep racial tensions that result from economic inequality and unrestricted urban development. In lyrical, addictive prose, Wil Medearis asks the question: In a city that prides itself on its diversity and inclusivity, who has the final say over the future? Is it long-standing residents, recent transplants or whoever happens to have the most money? Timely, thought-provoking and sweeping in vision, Restoration Heights is an exhilarating new entry in the canon of great Brooklyn novels.

38. The Fashion Chronicles (Amber Butchart): The Fashion Chronicles by fashion historian Amber Butchart, author of The Fashion of Film, is an exploration of the fascinating style stories throughout history.

The history of fashion is a story of style and power, grace and propaganda. Starting with Eve and her fig leaf – via Joan of Arc, Louis XIV and Lord Byron, right up to the modern figures of Amelia Earhart, Frida Kahlo, Malcolm X and Beyoncé – Butchart examines the best-dressed people the world has ever seen, telling the story of their individual style and unlocking the secrets behind it.

Some have influenced the fashion of today, while some have used their clothing to change the world. However, all have a sartorial story to tell, and The Fashion Chronicles is here to tell it.

39. Bonjour Tristesse (Francoise Sagan): The internationally beloved story of a precocious teenager’s attempts to understand and control the world around her, Françoise Sagan’s Bonjour Tristesse is a beautifully composed, wonderfully ambiguous celebration of sexual liberation, at once sympathetic and powerfully unsparing.

40. Willful Behavior (Donna Leon): When Commissario Guido Brunetti first meets her, Claudia Leonardo is merely one of his wife Paola’s students. Intelligent and serious, she asks for his help in obtaining a pardon for a crime once committed by her now-dead grandfather. Brunetti thinks little of it—until Claudia is found dead. Unable to find any living relatives, he visits the elderly Austrian woman who was once Claudia’s grandfather’s lover and with whom Claudia was close—and is stunned by the extraordinary art collection she keeps in her otherwise modest apartment. When she, too, is murdered, Brunetti’s investigation uncovers shocking skeletons in the closet of Nazi collaboration that few in Italy want to be revealed…

41. Cycling Touring Guide (Harold Biercliffe): Harold Briercliffe was the Alfred Wainwright of cycling, and his books provide great insight into cycling in various parts of the UK in the 1940s. Harold’s exciting description of the towns, villages, and roads of Britain at the time is a joy for all those who love these isles and especially for cyclists looking for inspiration. Many roads have changed over the decades and are now too busy for enjoyable cycling, so Mark Jarman, along with Sustrans, have made suggestions for alternative routes in the region for today’s cyclists. The book includes the original photographs taken by Harold Briercliffe and the original illustrations. 

42. The true history of the Kelly Gang (Peter Carrey): In True History of the Kelly Gang, the legendary Ned Kelly speaks for himself, scribbling his narrative on errant scraps of paper in semiliterate but magically descriptive prose as he flees from the police. To his pursuers, Kelly is nothing but a monstrous criminal, a thief, and a murderer. To his people, the lowly class of ordinary Australians, the bushranger is a hero, defying the authority of the English to direct their lives. Indentured by his bootlegger mother to a famous horse thief (who was also her lover), Ned saw his first prison cell at 15 and by the age of 26 had become the most wanted man in the wild colony of Victoria, taking over whole towns and defying the law until he was finally captured and hanged. Here is a classic outlaw tale, made alive by the skill of a great novelist.

43. The History of Food ( Maguelonne Toussaint- Samat): A fascinating one, and Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat covers all its aspects in this classic history.

44. A Different Sky (Meira Chand): Singapore—a trading post where different lives jostle and mix. It is 1927, and three young people are starting to question whether this in-between island can ever truly be their home. Mei Lan comes from a famous Chinese dynasty but yearns to free herself from its stifling traditions; 10-year-old Howard seethes at the indignities heaped on his fellow Eurasians by the colonial British; Raj, fresh off the boat from India, wants only to work hard and become a successful businessman. As the years’ pass and World War II sweeps through the east, with the Japanese occupying Singapore, the three are thrown together in unexpected ways and tested to breaking point. Richly evocative, this novel paints a scintillating panorama of 30 tumultuous years in Singapore’s history through the passions and struggles of characters the reader will find it hard to forget.

45. The Spirit of Science Fiction (Roberto Molando): This colorful work of strange and tender beauty is a fitting introduction for readers uninitiated into the thrills of Roberto Bolaño’s fiction, an indispensable addition to an ecstatic and transgressive body of work.

46. Modern Caribbean Flavors fresh & healthy recipes (Helmi Smeulders): Modern Caribbean Flavors is thé book about the contemporary Caribbean kitchen with healthy recipes made with fresh and local ingredients. In this colorful and stylish book, Helmi shares her best recipes. Indulge yourself and cook with a dash of tropical passion!

47. The Interpreter (Suki Kim): Suzy Park is a twenty-nine-year-old Korean American interpreter for the New York City court system who makes a startling and ominous discovery about her family history that will send her on a chilling quest. Five years prior, her parents–hardworking greengrocers who forfeited personal happiness for their children’s gain–were brutally murdered in an apparent robbery of their store. However, the glint of a new lead entices Suzy into the dangerous Korean underworld and ultimately reveals the mystery of her parents’ homicide.

48. The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter (David Lear): The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter, also known as The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, was written around the tenth century AD and tells of an extraterrestrial girl found in a bamboo field. This story is the earliest known tale of aliens visiting Earth.

49. Petronille (Amelie Nothomb): With wry humor and a deceptively simple style, Pétronille tells an unusual story about twin abiding passions: one for champagne, and the other for a riotous friendship between her protagonist and Pétronille Fanto, a woman who refuses to drink alone.

The on-again/off-again friendship between Pétronille and the main character in the book, who happens to be a writer by the name of Amélie Nothomb, gives the story its verve and the novel its heart. This is literary Thelma & Louise, with a little bit of French panache and a whole lot of champagne thrown in.

50. A Working Woman (Elvira Navarro): Elvira Navarro here delivers an ambitious tale of female friendship, madness, a radically changing city, and the vulnerability that makes us divulge our most shameful secrets. It begins as Elisa transcribes the chaotic testimony of her roommate Susana, acting as part-therapist, part-confessor as Susana reveals the gripping account of her strange sexual urges and the one man who can satisfy them. However, is Susana telling the truth? So what to make of the story that follows, where Elisa considers her life failures, blending her literary ambitions with her deep need for catharsis? So then, one last surprise makes us question everything we have just read. Masterfully uncovering the insecurity that lurks just beneath the surface of every stable life, A Working Woman shows Elvira Navarro’s strength for mordant storytelling and breathtaking insight into alienation, confirming her status as one of the leading voices of her generation.

51. Exile (Jakob Ejersbo): For the vagabond pack of ex-pat Europeans, Indian Tanzanians and wealthy Africans at Moshi’s International School, it’s all about getting high, getting drunk and getting laid. Their parents–drug dealers, mercenaries and farmers went to seed–are too dead inside to give a damn.

Outwardly free but empty at heart, privileged but out of place, these kids are lost, trapped in a land without hope. They can try to get out, but something will always drag them back–where can you go when you believe in nothing and belong to nowhere?

52. Journeys to England and Ireland (Alexis de Tocqueville): This extraordinary series of observations on England and Ireland complements de Tocqueville’s masterpieces on the United States and France in the mid-nineteenth century. These pages are perhaps the most penetrating writings on the spirit of British politics. In effect, as indicated by John Stuart Mill, de Tocqueville was the Montesquieu of the nineteenth century. This is especially the case if one thinks of the present Irish situation. His political acumen reached into the future -which is now our present.