Books I've read on my year long travels around the world

I'm currently in SE Asia, about eight months into a year long trip through Europe and Asia. These are the books I've read so far.
  1. For the damned of me I can't remember the book I grabbed off my "to be read" shelf at home when I left. I just remember it was one of the ones I was fine with leaving behind somewhere.
    Got me through Norway and Sweden
  2. "Twenty-seventh City" by Jonathan Franzen
    I traded in the forgotten book from home at an English language second-hand book store for this plus a couple kroner. I picked it because of name recognition and liked The Corrections. Did not enjoy this one though, too muddled. Got me through Denmark and most of Germany.
  3. "The Brethren" by John Grisham
    Picked up from a free book exchange box outside a church in Dresden. I've never been a Grisham reader but I can't resist a free book. This was an engaging and interesting quick read. Got me through eastern Germany and Poland.
  4. "Tête-à-Tête: The tumultuous lives & loves of Simone de Beauviour & Jean-Paul Sartre" by Hazel Rowely
    Bought at the fabulous book store Massolit in Kraków. Although I only got a few zloty for the Franzen, I bought this (and another book) new which made me feel a bit guilty. So far I love it! "The Second Sex" was an important literary moment for me late in my high school years. Clearly written by a passionate and well informed author, it's just great as long as you don't mind realizing a person you look up has faults. Also, makes me want to be an avid letter writer. Czech Republic and Austria
  5. "Gone Girl" by Gillian Flynn
    Found on the bookshelf of our Airbnb in Budapest. I needed a small break from "Tete-e-tete" and realized I had never read this even though everyone else had. It was a quick, engrossing read. Although I couldn't decide if knowing the ending beforehand made it less interesting. Got me through 8 days in Budapest.
  6. "Skippy Dies" by Paul Murray
    Picked up from the book exchange shelf of a campground in Slovenia. The story of unrequited adolescent love and unfulfilled adult potential. I enjoyed this human-driven novel. It wasn't groundbreaking but it certainly kept my attention. Got me through Croatia and Montenegro.
  7. "Kingdom Under Glass" by Jay Kirk
    Also purchased at Massolit in Kraków. This is about the man behind the African Hall at the Museum of Natural History in New York, which happens to be one of my favorite places. Impressively immersive story of Carl Akeley's life, obsessions, and work. At times gruesome, the book captures the attitudes of popular science at the turn of the century. I love a natural history book. It certainly made me question my own admiration for natural history museums. Got me through Turkey.
  8. "Purity" by Jonathan Franzen
    I'm a Franzen fan, I love a big sweeping story. I enjoyed this one. Franzen's novels always force to examine the relationships in my life because he write his so well. Got me through Japan.
  9. "blink" by Malcom Gladwell
    This was my first time reading one of Gladwell's books. I was drawn to this one because I have trouble trusting my own decisions. "Blink" explores the effectiveness of our unconscious reasoning. This was a good blend of personal experiences and clinical studies written in an approachable way. I wish the book had come to a more helpful conclusion than a person well versed in a particular subject can make snap decisions very well. Got me through Hong Kong and northern Vietnam.
  10. "Gold Fame Citrus" by Clair Vaye Watkins
    Probably one of the better dystopian future novels I've read. I'm from California so the environmental disaster that over takes the western US interested me. This book was a more introspective, character driven version of this book trend. I liked it. The characters survival made me nervous so I guess I was involved from the beginning. Got me through parts of Vietnam.
  11. "The Girl on the Train" by Paula Hawkins
    Found at my hotel on Cat Ba Island, Vietnam. Another everyone-has-read-this-but-me book. It was fine, I got through it quickly. It was certainly suspenseful and I liked the twist ending. There were parts I found not quite believable but I guess that's not necessary for this type of fiction. I'm happy to have read it which is all I ask of quick fiction.
  12. "My Life on the Road" by Gloria Steinem
    While I've read a lot of of Gloria's work, I've never read one of her books. This one about her life-long travels seemed appropriate. I was pleasantly surprised (but maybe shouldn't have been) that while certainly fashioned around traveling it was more of a narrative about people she's met on the road that helped her formed her political and moral compass. It felt good to be reading/thinking about feminist during Trumps inauguration and the Women's Marches in which I wasn't able to participate.
  13. "The Girls" by Emma Cline
    Traded at a book store in Bangkok. I had been wanting to read this. It takes place in the town next to my hometown. It's a solid debut novel, wistful yet serious like the teenage girls it portrays, I could feel the hot wind coming off the browned summer hills while I read. I'm interested in how much we rewrite our own history, how different are the stories we tell ourselves from the ones we tell others. I'm looking forward to reading more from Cline. Got me through several southern Thai islands.
  14. "Evita: The Real Life of Eve Peron"
    Grabbed from a bookshelf on Koh Chang. I was obsessed with the Madonna version of the musical in 5th grade. When I saw this book I realized I didn't know much about her. I mostly appreciated the historical/cultural context of Peron-era Argentina detailed in this book. It makes me want to beef-up my South American history knowledge. Got me through several southern Thai islands.
  15. "Dear Mr. You" by Mary-Louise Parker
    Each chapter is a letter to a different man in her life. Having heard about this book, I mistakenly thought they would all be written to past romantic relationship and felt like a bad feminist when I was proven wrong. Funny, often heartbreaking and heart-affirming, and smart. I've only know Parker as an actress but I want her to write more. I examined many of my own relationships through her words. Got me through several southern Thai islands.
  16. "The Remains of the Day" by Kazuo Ishiguro
    I loved "Never Let Me Go" and had no idea that Ishiguro wrote the novel of my favorite Merchant/Ivory film (Anthony Hopkins is amazing). While this is a rare instance of liking the movie marginally more than the book, the tragic trap of Stevens duty is still heart breaking and compelling. His world is simple but more complicated than it needs to be. I root for him yet just want to scream at his decisions. Ishiguro is masterful at single character stories and I love him for it. Thai islands again
  17. "The Golden Ass"
    Given to me by a friend. Unfortunately I cannot remember the translator of the version I read. Which is a shame because it was a fantastical readable translation of this classic Roman story. Got me through southern Myanmar.
  18. "The Art of Thinking Clearly" by Rolf Dobelli
    Traded at a guesthouse in Myanmar. This consists of 98 very short chapters, each highlighting and describing a logical fallacy. The gol is that perhaps once we're aware of these cognitive errors, they may never cloud our judgement again. The best part of this book for me was all of Dobelli's funny, harmless prejudices against celebrity, sports fans, and mainstream media. He's Swiss so his candor and very unAmerican political-incorrectness made me laugh.
  19. "First they killed my father" by Loung Ung
    Required reading when visiting Cambodia as everyone is selling bootleg copies to tourists.
  20. "I'm Traveling Alone" by Samuel Bjork
    Traded at a jungle resort in Sepilok, Borneo. I love a compelling, spooky Scandinavian murder mystery/police drama. While not as good as the Larson series this genre will always be compared to, I really enjoyed it. Got me through a flu in Borneo.
  21. "The Time Traveler's Wife" by Audrey Niffenegger
    Traded at a hotel book shelf in Sandakan, Borneo. A competently written but fairly uninteresting book. I was mostly turned off by the one-dimensional woman waiting around for the interesting leading man dynamic. Got me through 5 days of camping in the Danum Valley, Malaysian Borneo.
  22. "What a Plant Knows" by Daniel Chamovitz
    While not particularly engaging, I learned a few interesting facts from this book. This certainly wasn't my favorite science book and it had a lot of issues. However, I do love anthropomorphizing science so I appreciated the spirt of this book. Chamovitz does try to stay in the scientific research world and it certainly lends credence to his hypothesis. Got me through Sabah state, Borneo.
  23. "Barbara the Slut and Other People" by Lauren Holmes
    I enjoyed this collection of short stories. It reminded me of Seinfeld, they were stories about nothing. Most didn't follow much of a traditional beginning middle end formula. I appreciated the look into a sliver of each character's life. Short stories are a complicated format and few people do it well. Holmes has written an okay group of them. Got me through Sarawak state, Borneo.
  24. "when She Was Good" by Philip Roth
    This was my first Roth novel. The unlikeable but (for me) sympathetic female protagonist kind of highlights the issues I have with some "great American" male novelists. Each female character in this book is weak, and the one who isn't is a shrew. Each is also dependent on the men around them. However, like the themes of many American novels, it provides an insight into daily lives of people simply trying to get on. I've always appreciated that kind of storytelling. Got me through Bako Nat'l Park
  25. "Avenue of Mysteries" by John Irving
    Found in a hostel in Kuching, Borneo. I'm a big Irving fan yet had never seen this 2015 book. Set in the protagonists present and future, it felt like I was reading two compelling novels. A bit fantastical like many of Irving's books with a mixture of religious miracles, ghosts, and al forms of faith. Highly readable and absorbable. Got me through Singapore and Bali.
  26. "Sapiens" by Yuval Noah Harari
    Picked up in Kuching, Borneo. I loved this book so much and feel smarter having read it. It is extremely well written. While some ideas were a bit obvious, it's full of interesting factoids and observations. I can't stop recommending it to everyone I meet. Got me through a 4-day boat from in Indonesia through the Maldives.
  27. "When You Find Out The World Is Against You" by Kelly Oxford
    I mostly know this author from Snapchat where she's funny so I thought I would try her second collection of non-fiction short stories. Entertaining and easy, I'm happy I read it. Got me through Bulgaria.
  28. "What Belongs to You" by Garth Greenwell
    Recommended to me by a friend who knew I would be visiting Sofia, Bulgaria. Insightful and achingly beautiful prose about relationships and where are paths take us. I loved this novel. It reaffirmed my love of the genre. I die for a well constructed sentence that encompasses much more than the words themselves and Greenwell is very very good at them. Got me through most of Bulgaria and some of Romania.
  29. "The Inkblots" by Damion Searls
    Part biography, part cultural history this book was outside my normal reading bubble. While it assumed a level of psychological history knowledge I don't possess, it was smartly written and accessible. I enjoyed the differ levels of exploration, from pop culture to shifts in psychological trends in the US and abroad. I didn't jump up to read this one though so it wasn't the best. Got me through a few weeks in Italy.
  30. "Awful Auntie" by David Williams
    Passes on to me by a fellow educator I met in Romania who also likes to keep up with kids books trends. I watched David Williams on several British panel shows and I enjoyed his book. Dark in a familiar Roald Dahl way with great illustrations and fantastical twists. Got me through a couple French train trips.
  31. "Five Quarters of the Orange" by Joanne Harris
    Given to be by a travel friend. Enjoyable, mysterious, and very good at making you hungry. I've never read Harris before nor do I particularly like reading WWII novels but I liked this one enough. The dynamics of a deeply dysfunctional family and how those patterns follow is into our old age was an engaging aspect of this mystery. The flashbacks through the pages of a long dead mother's cookbook/diary worked well. Got me brought several long French/Spanish bus rides.