Passionate readers have the unique luxury of leading many lives. Whenever I am feeling a bit geographically claustrophobic, I throw myself into a good book. Whether you are too busy to travel, or on a tight budget, picking up a book is the next best thing to hopping on a plane. Here are the books I recommend reading this spring that will take you distant lands:
A Moveable Feast by Earnest Hemingway
“Paris was always worth it and you received return for whatever you brought to it. But this is how Paris was in the early days when we were very poor and very happy.”
This memoir by Hemingway will put you right in the middle of 1920’s Paris. This short read is fantastically straight-forward, and captures just what it meant to be a starving, poor American writer in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
The Dream Life of Sukhanov by Olga Grushin
“In anyone’s life there can be only a few such moments – moments when a long, ringing hush fills your hearing, the world stands still as if under a magic spell…”
Set in the 1980’s, this abstract yet politically fueled novel will take you to the devastatingly complex world of the Soviet Union. This intense and fast paced novel shifts between reality and surrealism, and follows the inner life of an artist trying to survive.
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
“She wore flowers in her hair and carried magic secrets in her eyes. She spoke to no one. She spent hours on the riverbank. She smoked cigarettes and had midnight swims…”
Set in 1970’s India, this read is beautifully heart-wrenching. Though the novel is constructed around the emotional ties between a set of twins, it captivates the political tone of India at the time, and how it was to be living during a time of communism and the caste system.
The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera
“A single metaphor can give birth to love.”
This poetically existential novel is set 1968, right in the middle of the Soviet Union regime. Kundera does a remarkable job at illustrating the nature of romantic relationships, and how terribly disastrous they can be. For those that are interested in the philosophies of Friedrich Nietzsche, this is your book.