Kobo and G Adventures continue our monthly reading lists with the biggest destination of them all – Asia. As always, the stories this month have been selected to get your travel bug buzzing. So, welcome to October! Grab a blanket and your Kobo and order up one of these life-changing reads.
When we asked the G Adventures staff what their favourite books were on the list this month, a huge majority came in for Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts. Based on the life of the author, Shantaram tells the story of Lin, a convict who’s escaped a maximum-security prison in Australia and fled to Mumbai, India, where he can essentially disappear into the city’s underworld of organized crime. With his inner voice, Lin takes us through scenes of war, torture, determination, sex, and despair. The events themselves are anything but common, but the narrator’s perspective, his voice, and his observations make what’s happening feel universal. Shantaram will go a long way in wooing you to India.
Whether or not you’re considering a trip to Southeast Asia, The Beach by Alex Garland is simply a great read. Sometimes referred to as a Lord of the Flies for modern times, it’s a story about a twentysomething English traveller named Richard who, while travelling through Thailand, he hears about a secluded beach where a group of people have established a secret, self-sustaining community of their own. With some difficulty, Richard makes it there and settles in to a new life. Before long though, life in “Eden” reveals itself to be unidyllic after all. What appeals about The Beach, what makes it feel familiar, is that it’s about a kind of traveller seeking a new kind of place the rest of the world doesn’t know about. We should all be so lucky.
Finally, Running in the Family by Michael Ondaatje is another favourite around these parts. Long a hero to Canadian readers, Ondaatje presents a memoir of his family and his return to his native Ceylon (Sri Lanka) in the 1970s. Much of the story is essentially about a man trying to reconnect with a father he barely knows. As a slightly magical and heavily fictionalized account of his very real family, lines are blurred in knowing what to believe as fact, and that’s okay. Ondaatje’s style is so readable you likely won’t care what’s exactly true and what isn’t.
The stories on this month’s list don’t aim to inspire with warm characters or traditional scenes of natural beauty. Instead, they inspire because they invoke you to dream of your own adventures in some of the world’s greatest places. This is what great stories do. We hope you agree this month.
Happy reading. Happy dreaming.