(quoting Susan Sontag in the title)
I travel a lot for work. So In 2016 I decided to collect snow globes from every place I travelled to (if they were available of course).
I have also been a voracious reader and the various flights have in fact given me even more time to read. There is so much to read and so little time! The news of the gigantic new library opened in China recently gave me nightmares. How can one possibly read even the best of the best books in one lifetime?
So, for the year end, here is a photo journal of my journeys in the last 2 years—both physically and through books.
The places I visited over the last 2 years were Amsterdam, Bangkok, Belfast, Colombo, Dubai, Hanoi/ Ha Long Bay, Kuala Lumpur, London, New York, Oxford, Phoenix, Singapore, Stockholm, Washington DC.
I also visited Bali and Dhaka which do not do snow globes and ironically neither do Kathmandu or Iceland!
I do plan to write short posts on most of these places and my travel experiences later.
For the books round up, some of the best non- fiction books I read and can recommend highly are here, with a short review explaining what they are about and a hyperlink if you want to know more.
- A slim powerful book by Grayson Perry—The Descent of Man, in which he unpacks and unpicks the toxic masculinity that ties us down to patriarchy.
- Another slim book that packs a punch—Why I am not a Feminist by Jessa Crispin.
- What money can’t buy by Michel Sandel is a brilliant analysis of the moral limits of markets.
- The Pirates Dilemma by Matt Mason talks about how youth culture is reinventing capitalism. If you have ever wondered how the invention of disco by a Nun is related to low cost HIV drugs in Africa and whether 3 D printing of branded shoes will be the next threshold of digital piracy, then this is the book for you !
- Falling off the Map by Pico Iyer was a present from my daughter and I loved the chapter on Iceland so much that we visited it last year. This book talks of places that are geographically isolated and therefore also become culturally unique. If you love Bill Bryson’s travelogues, these are much calmer and more reflective but just as enjoyable.
- I have also been re-reading Devi by Mrinal Pande which is, on the face of it, a simply written story of the goddesses worshipped in the hilly regions of north India but a deeper reading shows up the persistent questioning of the patriarchy and the devaluing of the female gods.
- I don’t know if Margaret Atwood’s Good Bones would be fiction or non- fiction? They seem to be stories but they are bitingly real. Stories like Let Us Now Praise Stupid Women, Men at Sea, The Female Body, Little Red Hen Tells All.
- I also found a gorgeous little alphabet book after my own heart which says A is for Activist 🙂
Some of the most engaging fiction I read turns out to be exclusively thrillers and murder mysteries !
- Fiona Griffiths: what a unique detective! She is a young Welsh woman, and if that doesn’t make her hugely unique in the male dominated detective world, then she also has a rare condition which adds to the intrigue. She is innocent and on her own planet while also being one of the bravest and most compelling police investigator. Thank you Harry Bingham for creating this one !
- I also enjoy JD Robb and her futuristic badass young woman detective Eve Dallas who has a steamy romance going on by the side of her gruesome and complex murder mysteries.
- Then there is Jack Reacher—the super heroic Military Police who treats women as equals. For me, that alone makes him a real superhero.
- The Expats by Chris Pavone—phenomenally plotted with twists that you will never ever see coming. Read this and the next one—the Travellers.
- After the Crash by Michel Bussi is a fascinating read with a twisted mystery and a tangled web of two families inextricably linked by a crash.
- Another author I always enjoy reading is Deon Meyer. The stories are set in South Africa and the various murders take place against a backdrop of racial politics, corruption, trafficking, poaching and a myriad other very real problem.
- Christopher Walker writes a series about Bryant and May of the Peculiar Crimes Unit. Set in London, it has two semi- retired detectives, taking the help of witches and soothsayers, full of jaw dropping historical details about the city. This one you have to love!
- Deborah Crombie also writes about murder set against the backdrop of Scotland and England in her novels about Duncan Kincaid and Gemma Jones. The first book I read was called Necessary As Blood and was about a mysterious disappearance, human trafficking and the dark underbelly of London.
- I have also read some books by Neil Gaiman. Genuinely enjoyed Neverwhere which is set in the London Underground and displays an awe inspiring imagination. Trigger warning is simply brilliant and each story is astonishingly different from the other. What a marvellous collection!
- Most of these books were discovered at airport bookshops and some at the second-hand books sold at Oxfam and such similar shops in London. The Deon Meyer was recommended by a friend from South Africa and JD Robb by a fellow activist who also reads murder mysteries in her spare time. I don’t know if there is a deeper psychological reason as to why we advocate for social justice during work hours and then enjoy reading about murders being solved in our spare hours but maybe that is a tale for another time 🙂
Wishing you all relaxing and enjoyable travels in the physical world and mind bending and challenging travels in your book journeys!
Have a wonderful New Year 2018 !