What I’m Reading on the Road

You might not know this about me, but in addition to being a travel junkie, I’m also a huge book nerd. I never go anywhere without a book and I’m usually knee deep in a couple of interesting reads.

This used to be a big pain in the butt when I was on the road and lugging 2 or 3 huge tomes around in my backpack. About a year ago I switched to Kindle and never looked back. While other book nerds look at me like I’m a traitor I seriously believe that an e-reader is absolutely essential for a heavy reader on the go. I’ve read something like 30 books since the start of 2012, which I would never have been able to do if I had to poke around english language book shops and pay premium prices for weathered paperbacks.

Anyways, I thought it would be fun to start a quarterly feature where I highlight the best books I’ve read on my travels. I read an eclectic selection of contemporary fiction, sci-fi, classics, memoir, popular nonfiction, true crime etc. The books aren’t necessarily travel-related but they’ll definitely keep you occupied on your next trip.

So here are the best books I’ve read so far in 2012:

The Monsters of Florence– Douglas Preston- A gripping account of the Monster of Florence, an Italian serial killer and the absolute circus that surrounded the investigation of his crimes. This is a must read for anyone fascinated by the Amanda Knox trial as it involves a lot of the same key players. After reading about the absurd and paranoid public prosecutors of Perugia I could not be more convinced of Knox’s innocence. Great, dramatic read.

The Fault in Our Stars -John Green- Earlier this year I went on a YA kick, and this was the best of the bunch. Technically it’s shelved in the teen section but it was so elegantly written that I think it holds up for an adult reading. It’s about two teenagers with cancer who fall in love. Sometimes you really need a nice cathartic emotional novel. Which is to say, only read this book if you want to sob uncontrollably on a bus somewhere in Argentina and have people stare at you.

When She Woke– Hillary Jordan- Margaret Atwood is one of my favorite writers, and this dystopian novel was very Atwood-eque. It describes a future where criminals have their skin dyed to match the nature of their crime- the main character is bright red, meaning she had an illegal abortion. A really interesting set-up, and I tore through this book while sitting on the beach in Montanita, Ecuador.

Heart Shaped Box– Joe Hill- Hill is actually Stephen King’s son, and he apparently inherited his father’s skills at scaring the crap out of people. This book, about an aging musician who buys a ghost over the internet, was gripping right until the last page. I read it on a bus in broad daylight on my way to New York and was still unnervingly spooked. I’ll be reading more from him.

The Age of Innocence– Edith Wharton- Fun thing about the Kindle: all of the classics are free! My device is loaded with DH Lawrence, Charles Dickens and other 19th and early 20th century greats. I remember watching the movie version of The Age of Innocence when I was maybe 14 and being totally swept up by the elegance of 1870’s New York high society and the sexiness of Daniel Day Lewis. I finally read the original and it holds up well and reads surprisingly modern for a novel written in 1920.

Marriage: a History, How Love Conquered Marriage– Stephanie Koontz- I will spare you the boatload of wedding related literature I’ve been reading in the past couple months but this one is interesting for betrothed and normal people alike. It’s a historical look at the institution of marriage- which began in many ways as a business arrangement and has only morphed in the last 100 years or so into an expression of romantic love. Really thought provoking help in understanding the nature of marriage and the way we look and talk about it today.

Feedback time: Do you like hearing my book suggestions? What’s the most interesting book you’ve read lately?

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49 thoughts on “What I’m Reading on the Road”

  1. I’m such a book nerd and greatly tempted to read the Age of Innocence and the Monster of Florence. I love the classics AND any book set in a place I would love to visit…or a place I have visited (like Florence). I’ve downloaded loads of free classics to my iPad and purchased the kindle version of ‘The Travels of Marco Polo’ (the ultimate travel journal). Still working my way through it. Also, just finished two non e-books: ‘Monday Mourning’ by Kathy Reichs and ‘Letters from Paris’ a collection of letters written by the cousin of a friend (Interesting look at life in Paris in 1959 for a family from Texas). For me, one of the joys of travel is spending time in a used bookstore or book market anywhere in Europe. Great places for meeting interesting people 😉

  2. I loved Monster of Florence! Super creepy, though, and gives you a lot of insight into the system there.

    I was in Italy when the whole Amanda Knox trial went down, and all the Italian media was really promoting the devil worship theory at the beginning or whatever insanity it was that Mignini had been purporting. It was almost convincing.

    Fast forward to a couple years later when I read Monster of Florence, and finding out that he was the same inept prosecutor totally affirmed the total craziness of her trial (and it is so creepy that the killer hasn’t been arrested)!

  3. I am dying for a Kindle! My birthday is coming up and I have been dropping major hints to my parents and boyfriend, so I’m hoping one of them will get one for me. I never really saw the need for one but now that I’m traveling I burn through books so quickly and then go weeks before finding a new one. My most recent read was “Tiger, Tiger” which is about a pedophile. Totally creepy but insanely good; I read it in one day.

  4. Ooh, I read Heart Shaped Box when it first came out and loved it. I had no idea it was written by Stephen King’s son!

    I love the Kindle, I’m currently using it on my iphone and saving up for a proper Kindle. The only downside is the amount of “real books” I have that I need to repurchase for the Kindle! Going to cost me a fortune, before I even try anything new!

  5. I completely agree on the kindle thing, while real books are awesome, the kindle is just so much more convenient. I love real books, but they’re heavy to hold (the ones I usually read anyway), it’s annoying in the beginning and end when one of the “ends” is huge and the other is tiny and they’re big to drag around. As well as you have to physically get a book, which takes time and is no fun when you’ve started a new series which is great, and you really want the next book, but you have to wait until you can get it. Kindle solves all this, it’s small, light, you can get books instantly anywhere and it’s just generally awesome! I’ve had mine for 6 months now, and read over 40 books so far, not counting the “real” books I’ve read during that time. In my opinion loving books and reading means loving the story and reading, what the text is printed on is irrelevant.

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