India is an incredible, awesome country – but it’s also incredibly different from any other. I love immersing myself in books to have a way to connect with and learn more about the countries I’m visiting or want to visit.
India has some of the best books!
My recommendations for books to read when visiting India:
Fiction Books About India
This book is set in Kerala, so I highly recommend it if you’re headed to southern India. Even if you’re not, it’s still a book that deeply examines family life in India. I liked the interplay between the brothers, and the overall family dynamics. It’s also got great scenes to visualize Kerala!
Egypt. The word alone conjures up so many thoughts and ideas. From the Pyramids to Cleopatra, everyone knows some stories about ancient Egypt. The mythology of Pharaohs, the annual flood of the Nile, and so much more leave ancient Egypt as somewhat mysterious.
If you’re going to Egypt, or just interested in learning more about the country, these books will let you imagine life as a Pharaoh – or a commoner!
Italy. It’s the place of pasta and Puccini, and hundreds of stories. If you’re visiting Italy, you should be reading books about Italy and books set in Italy! Here are a few to consider:
Non-Fiction Books About Italy
If you want to understand modern Italy, start understanding the Medici family. The great patrons of many of the arts, this book brings much of Tuscany to life. You’ll look at Florence with new eyes, and see Siena anew, not to mention Milan! If you’re headed to Rome, you’re also going to be surrounded by the papacy – and understanding the Medicis is great for seeing the art in Rome too!
A new biography by Walter Isaacson, he looks at the life of Leonardo da Vinci. If you want to understand Italy, look at one of its most favorite sons. This is also a great book to read alongside the Medicis – da Vinci was able to share his genius with the world because of the support of the Medicis.
I love reading. And I love traveling. One of my favorite things to do is combine the two and read books set where I’m traveling. Here are some of my favorite books for vacationing in Southeast Asia (or when you’re dreaming of vacationing!).
One thing that struck me as I was thinking about books for this list is how, while I consider myself to be reasonably well-read, I haven’t read just a ton of books set in Southeast Asia. I realized this before my trip, and have definitely added more than a few to my to-read list!
- Burmese Days by George Orwell
I love Orwell in general, and I love classics – Burmese Days is a perfect read to understand some of what has made Southeast Asia what it is today. It’s hard to read some of Orwell’s descriptions of “the natives” but it’s hugely insightful as to Myanmar’s (and so much of Southeast Asia’s) colonial past.
I decided for the most part to try to get books that are set in the areas where I’m going for my trip. There’s something fun about having a fictional account of a place and then seeing it in person! For me, it adds a lot more context. And then I’ve been reading books about other people traveling, and catching up on some recent stuff I haven’t read.
Thank goodness for the invention of the Kindle. And the part where you can rent Kindle books from the library! I’ve got about 15 books with me at any given time, so there’s lots of reading to do!
Here are the books I’ve read so far on the trip (and yes, some of them are not set where I’m going)