It’s Ramadhan here in Indonesia, and internationally, this is one long summer break. Two words: Vacation season. Where are you flying off to this summer?
Throughout my whole career as a student, I’ve spent countless hours collecting miles to see my family back home and to go to school. This has shaped me into the way that I am now, that whenever I fly, I’ll always pick one book to fill my carry-on. In-flight entertainment can only do so much, and for someone with an overly active imagination, books are quintessential to me.
If you’re as much as a book nerd as me, then today’s your lucky day. On this post I’d like to share a few great stories to choose from, straight from my library to your carry-on (you’ll notice these picks are really light, a.k.a. travel-friendly). You can always get digital copies for convenience’s sakes, but why not indulge in the bookish smell of the printed word once in a while?
My Horizontal Life by Chelsea Handler
When you’re on the go, you need something fun, something lighthearted, something adventurous and if possible, something 10 times raunchier than a teen rom-com. Well, Chelsea Handler’s My Horizontal Life is the epitome of it: Tales of everything from fun flings to tragic one night stands condensed in one handy 256-page book, beginning from her not-so-innocent introduction to sex. Trust me, you’ll keep turning the pages.
The Teenage Textbook + The Teenage Workbook by Adrian Tan
These 2 are probably the funniest books I’ve ever read in my entire young adult life. I grew up in Singapore for a while during my childhood, and I beg you, if you’re remotely familiar with the Lion City culture, then you must. get. these. books. asap, SERIOUSLY. They made a movie out of Tan’s Textbook & Workbook back in 1998 (starring Melody Chen and Caleb Goh), but it was too crappy to compare with the books. Now looking back, I think secondary school life would be incomplete without having Tan’s duo as part of your Singlish Literature’s required reading. I guarantee, you will laugh and cry and smile all in one sitting.
A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers by Xiaolu Guo
Honestly, I didn’t like the second half of the book as much as I did with the first half. But it’s definitely worth the read to see just how contrasting the Western mind works from that of Asian’s. I know most people would argue that relationships can still work even if your partner’s upbringing is very different from yours, but this book shows just how wide the gap is, and that leaves a lot of room for miscommunication. Like most travel stories, the plot of Dictionary is pretty simple: A Chinese woman moves to London with zero knowledge of the English language. She meets an English man, dates the man, falls in love, and then lives with the man. Throughout the time she keeps a journal of what she’s learned about English words, sentence structures, how certain phrases can mean one thing to a person and another thing to another … and exactly what does the word ‘proper’ mean in every possible context (a.k.a. life and love). Grab this book while you’re on the road for a deep self-discovery journey.
Brida by Paolo Coelho
Another deep story, though it doesn’t sit at the top of my Coelho favorites. Growing up enchanted by the many different facets of magic, young Brida is determined she wants to become a witch. So she sets out on a pilgrimage to find sages who’d guide her into mastery and in the process, she finds herself. What I like about Coelho’s books these days is that he attempts to make his craft relevant for today’s society and culture, even though he’s not always successful IMO. But for the deeply spirituals out there, you’ll know it’s difficult to balance even the most important relationships in our lives with the nature of our individuation process – this book shows how Brida does it, chapter by chapter. If you’ve read any of Coelho’s books, you know you’ll find themes encompassing love, passion, lots of spirituality from ancient wisdom plus a fine share of mystery.
This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women by Jay Allison and Dan Gediman
We come across how-to articles everyday on the Internet, some written by well-known names who’ve made it in life, work, and art. But what most people miss is the essence of these step-by-step guidelines: What makes people like Bill Gates (founder of Microsoft), Albert Einstein (physicist and basically genius), Carl Sandburg (3-time Pulitzer prize winner), John Updike (Pulitzer-winning novelist), and Robert A. Heinlein (author of the best-selling Stranger in a Strange Land) tick? Well … here’s NPR‘s written compilation of the titular radio series. You’ll come across some of the most challenging belief systems and worldviews in this book – some easy to grasp, others difficult to accept, but each and every one timeless. This challenge is a good thing because when you travel, you open yourself up more to the new and unfamiliar, and that’s the best kind of escape from the staleness of the daily grind.
Totto Chan: The Little Girl at the Window by Tetsuko Kuroyanagi [CLASSIC]
This is one of my favorite books of all time, possible THE favorite. I enjoyed each and every chapter of the book because of the unbelievable amount of freedom the children in the story gets to play around with in school, and I recall finishing each one with an affirmation in my heart that that’s how I’m going to raise my children one day. I also remember feeling relieved when I found out that author Tetsuko Kuroyanagi, now a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF, wrote the entire 232-page book based on episodic memories. That’s right – just about every bit of this story was never made-up. The school was real, the teachers were real, the headmaster was real. It’s an endearing, beautiful, inspiring reminiscence but, well, something happened and things become heartbreaking at the end (no worries, no spoilers). With her having written this book, however, the legacy of her then school headmaster, Sosaku Kobayashi, also simply an extraordinary man, lives on. Every parent should read this IMO.
The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J. K. Rowling [CLASSIC]
If you’re vacationing to Universal Orlando, then you should bring this book along the ride, and that I’m a bazillion times jealous of you. Non-Harry Potter fans, if you exist, The Tales of Beedle the Bard is essentially a collection of folk tales and legends in the wizarding world of Harry Potter, complete with Hermione Granger’s new translation from the ancient runes and massive footnotes by Professor Dumbledore. It’s like Norse mythology to the Germans and dragon tales to the Chinese in the Muggle world – it’s almost as important as your history class. So don’t call yourself a Harry Potter fan yet until you’ve read every tale in this Hogwarts classic.
So, which one of these books are you planning to bring along with you?