For the past month and a half I have been traveling through Europe, currently working at the Venice Biennale, Australia Pavilion. So I have had a lot of time on my hands, and have got through a lot of reading material- some good, some trashy and some quite inspirational ( its rare for me to find good books anymore!)
Please feel free to comment with suggestions, as I have 6 more weeks of travel ahead of me….
* Immortality by Milan Kundera
Purchased in Rozelle before leaving at a second hand bookshop on Darling st- the nicest old guy spent ages helping me find the perfect travel book. When I saw this one I knew it was what I would buy (love at first sight?) I’ve read the Unbearable Lightness of Being and I think this is better. An amazing blend of fiction, social insight and philosophy. Almost 2 decades old, but incredibly relevant today.
* Wind in the Shadows by Carlos Ruis Zafon
This book seemed to follow me everywhere, showing up in bookshops before and after I left Sydney. I bought this in the beautiful beach town of Cadaques, Spain and read it on the beach, eventually exchanging it in the English Book Exchange in Amsterdam for not alot of money, given its abundance. A great book, reminded me alot of the James Potter and friends subplot in Harry Potter, this time with a Barca twist. I believe Harry Potter was written first…
* Mr Rosenbloom’s List by Natasha Solomon
I had read reviews of this book while still in Sydney- a novel about the attempts of a Jewish German migrant to fit into post-war English society. Well written and lighthearted. I read this on the way to Berlin, so felt its resonance perhaps more strongly than if read in Australia.
* Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
Oh how I have heard of this book, and now I have read it! I have to confess it was a bit of a let down, but I appreciate the new perspective- a colonial era account of the first Europeans to inhabit Africa. I have previously read Arrow of Gold by Conrad (written 20 years later) and appreciated the style of writing, character development and intense plot- the latter two not a focus of Heart of Darkness.
* Golem by Gustav Meyrink
Purchased in Prague, home of the fabled golem. This book provided a great insight into the real Prague, with a gloomy atmosphere and eccentric, original characters (in the true sense of the word ‘characters’) which are missing from modern day Prague. Everyone was plagued by some aspect of their past or present, and religion played an unusual, omnipresent role in this post-shtetl world.
* Between the Assassinations by Aravind Adiga
A collection of short stories which follow the daily lives of inhabitants of the fictional town of Kittur. Provides a humorous, and realistic (?) perspective into the daily lives of the lower class. An interesting read but a not paeticularly rewarding (had to force myself to finish it….)
* Eat Love Pray by Elizabeth Gilbert
A trashy, indulgent book, which inspired me to eat more gelato and search for the perfect pizza in Italy. Still haven’t found it. Almost written as a diary, it was refreshing to read the thoughts of another female solo traveler, especially as I approached Italy.
* The Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
One of the most frustrating, annoying characters I have ever had to read about! Oddly humorous, at times disturbing, Ignatius J. Reilly is an excellently written character who attempts to impose his outdated, egotistical and purely absurd views onto the New Orleans society around him. A cult worth reading.
* The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky
Thankyou ibooks for publishing books online for free (although only older books whose copyright has passed…) The search and dictionary functions of ibooks makes it easy to stay on top of the many complicated names and odd words in this book. But back to the actual book- I am not even halfway through but loving reading this book. With such a slowly unfolding plot, the novel’s value so far lies in the well developed characters and their intense relationships with one another.