Asia Travel Summer Reading List

Jul 16th, 2010, 03:27 PM
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Just started a new (well, 2009) Dalrymple: "Nine Lives: In Search of the Sacred in Modern India". Looking good - preface says it's going to concentrate on the nine subjects rather than the author.
thursdaysd is offline  
Jul 16th, 2010, 03:39 PM
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Marya, I know, I wish I hadn't tagged the thread just India. But glad you found it anyway! If anyone knows how to change the tags, please feel free!

I'm probably one of the few who haven't read this, but I'm wondering about Life of Pi. I'll eventually read it in any case, but for my pre-trip preparation, is there a lot of "India" in it?
Nutella is offline  
Jul 16th, 2010, 04:27 PM
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The "India" in Life of Pi is mostly restricted to the first few chapters, tho' in general I admire it greatly. Atmospheric and gently humorous, through a boy's eyes.
A Fine Balance, or one of Rohinton Mistry's other novels, would be a good bet. I really liked White Tiger too.
WillJame is offline  
Jul 17th, 2010, 04:16 AM
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A book I have very much enjoyed is THE SPACE BETWEEN US by Thrity Umrigar set in Bombay. An of Rohinton Mistry's novels
of course
Nywoman is offline  
Jul 17th, 2010, 06:57 PM
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I love this thread!

For light summer reading: East of the Sun by Julia Gregson. Young English women in India in the days of the Raj.

If you are going to Rajasthan & Agra: Indu Sundaresan's books are good background - The Twentieth Wife and Feast of Roses. She has a new one out entitled Shadow Princess that I haven't read, but also set in the Moghul period in Rajasthan & Agra.

Other books: White Tiger. Very powerful. Provides a view and perspective on India that few tourists have.

The Weight of Heaven by Thrity Umrigar. I loved this book about an American couple living in South India. It is beautiful and touching, but quite sad.

Arranged Marriage by Chitra Banarjee Divakaruni. Really liked these short stories about marriage and relationships, including mother-daughter relationships.
CFW is offline  
Jul 17th, 2010, 07:12 PM
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Forgot - Rohinton Mistry's Family Matters. I liked it even better than a Fine Balance, which was very good.

520, I just finished reading Stieg Larsson's Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, and I think it was the best of the three, though they are all great, can't-put-it-down reads. The characters are incredible, but I'm off topic...

Back to India. Kathie, Agree about Shantaram. Couldn't put it down either, except the section on Afghanistan which was too long and a bit irrelevant to the rest of the book.
CFW is offline  
Jul 18th, 2010, 05:03 AM
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How could I forget this book; it belongs in the "can't put it down" category:
ekscrunchy is offline  
Jul 24th, 2010, 07:53 AM
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Not a book, but I just watched the movie "Outsourced." Very cute and enjoyable.

And it made me realize that maybe I've been doing waaaaay too much research on my trip. Everything that happened in the film, I though to myself "Yeah, it really is like that in India." Then I remembered that I haven't yet been there!
Nutella is offline  
Jul 24th, 2010, 06:56 PM
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Thanks for a good chuckle, Nutella!

You may want to revisit some of the best of those research materials after your trip. I just watched THE YEAR OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY, which takes place in Jakarta in 1965. The film really came to life for me in a way that it hadn't when I saw it before making a first trip to Jakarta. (I plan to read the book as well given marmot's recommendation but the film showed up first in the inter-library loan queue.)

Enjoy your planning.
marya_ is offline  
Jul 25th, 2010, 06:12 PM
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Bharati Mukherjee, an English prof at Berkeley from Calcutta, has a number of novels set in India. I've read Jasmine and The Tree Bride--both excellent and highly recommended. Some of her work is about Indian adaptation to America, giving the other side of the encounter.
WillJame is offline  
Jul 26th, 2010, 12:00 AM
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Two non-fiction winners:
Three Cups of Tea about Greg Mortenson's adventures in setting up girls' schools in Pakistan. (He's just come out with a follow up about the same experience in Afganistan.) More journalism than good writing, but a gripping account. So timely and pertinent.

Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded by Simon Winchester. Winchester, who is a compelling writer, portrays the Main Event and everything and anything leading up to it and affected by it -- geology, biology, politics, religion, history, gossip, and lots of arcane and fascinating details.

Marya,Glad you liked Year of Living Dangerously. How we wish Mel had quit while he was ahead!
marmot is offline  
Jul 26th, 2010, 12:03 AM
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I'd recommend anything by Rohinton Mistry. I also enjoyed 'A Suitable Boy' by Vikram Seth.

Another one that gets a tick is 'Finding George Orwell in Burma' by Emma Larkin (a pseudonym).
silverwool is offline  
Jul 26th, 2010, 03:48 AM
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Another interesting read:

Glad to hear more recommendations for Bharati Mukherjee. I read her "Wife" many years ago and remember enjoying it very much.
ekscrunchy is offline  
Jul 26th, 2010, 03:53 AM
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I think it was due to reading The year of Living Dangerously 20 years ago that I first became entranced with SE Asia. - I own and I've watched the movie a dozen times since. Billy Kwan was a captivating character.
There are many interesting books about Kalimantan in Indonesia, but they are rather specific to that area.
ArtsyJudi is offline  
Jul 28th, 2010, 02:45 PM
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Yes, I know that Yemen is not in Asia, but I just started this and it has potential:
ekscrunchy is offline  
Jul 28th, 2010, 02:46 PM
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ekscrunchy is offline  
Jul 28th, 2010, 06:21 PM
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Before we migrate back from southwest Asia/Arabian Peninsula to more mainstream Asian destinations, let me slip in a comment. If you are interested in Yemeni culture, be sure to see this film:
marya_ is offline  
Jul 28th, 2010, 08:11 PM
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Thursdays, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet is on the long list (13 books) for the 2010 Booker. I still don't know anyone who's read it, but it continues to get excellent reviews...and I'm very interested in reading the Dalyrimple. Have you finished it yet?

Marmot, I'm almost finished with The Girl Who KIcked The Hornets Nest and far prefer it to the 2nd--not sure if I like it as much as the first, though.

I found Mortenson's THREE CUPS OF TEA v. moving, informative, and inspiring. Have heard very good things about the new one; Mortenson was on Charlie Rose last night and impressed me, once again, with the authenticity of his commitment and the depth of his understanding of the Afghani culture. Supposedly the military is now requiring his books as reading for the leadership.
520 is offline  
Jul 29th, 2010, 03:11 AM
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I will now officially downgrade The Woman who Fell From the Sky to the category of "supplemental reading." She is not a great writer and so far the book is holding me, but not gripping me.

Another book in the supplemental category is this one:

I did not like it nearly as much as I liked her earlier book, THE SPACE BETWEEN US:

Am I the only one here who could not finish one of the Steig Larsson books? (I tried the first two and even when marooned on Pandaw, I could not see the appeal; thankfully, they had a good library onboard)
ekscrunchy is offline  
Jul 29th, 2010, 03:13 AM
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And now let's mention one of the greats who deserves more coverage here; I actually think that this author walks among us under an animal-derived alias:
ekscrunchy is offline  

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