Burmese Days, George Orwell. Awesome book!
Love to see Orwell getting some love for his non-dystopian gems!
I was reading Desert Solitaire by Ed Abbey when I was road tripping through the desert. He was the first park range there when it was officially designated a N.P. Too, too cool.
I stumbled on a copy of Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London at a thrift store while I was waiting on laundry to be done. It’s the most impressive, funny, tragic book about class, labor, and poverty I’ve read.
A couple of book + destination combos that I havent done yet but would like to do in the future would be:
“Of heroes and Tombs” by Ernesto Sabato - Buenos Aires , Argentina
“Storm of steel” by Ernst Junger - The French first world war battle field site of the Somme
As an avid reader, I’m always looking for fiction books, often historical fiction, set in the places I’m visiting. Reading about characters, their challenges and lives in general, enriches traveling exponentially. I’d love to hear about any favorites y’all have and where they were placed.
I’m headed to Argentina shortly and am having a bit of a tough time finding good Argentinian literature that isn’t necessarily considered “classic literature.” Any suggestions?
Have lots to offer about other locations around the world!
I can’t help with Argentina, but I highly recommend everyone read Lindsey Faye’s Gods of Gotham before their next trip to NYC. Then make sure to take a walk around Chinatown.
Hey chicosalt! This is a great question, and there’s actually already a similar discussion thread going that might be of more help, so I’m going to move your comment to this thread:
Thanks, Eric! Sometimes it hard to find other threads.
I think you’re best bet is to read some of the classic Argentinian authors , they are hard to beat on both a national and international level.
Jorge Luis Borges : Basically anything by him is good but in particular “Labyrinths” , “Ficciones” and “The Aleph”.
Many of these short story collections have tales set in Argentina whether in Buenos Aires , the Pampas , the border regions, or Patagonia and they often dwell on National folklore and myths. Usually they are set in either the opera houses , libraries or cafes of high society or far more seedier settings such as brothels , tango dance halls or saloons etc.
A word of warning, there are typically a lot of knife fights and blood in a Borgesian short story set in Argentina. Some people can find that theme a bit obsessive and morbid but back in early to mid 20th century Buenos Aires when Borges was writing those kind of fights were common occurences.
For what its worth , my favourite story by Borges is “The House of Asterion” , check this out if you have time , it’s performed exceptionally well.
Ernesto Sabato : I absolutely love this author and one of his books is one of my favourite books of all time. A lot of people who have read Sabato say that “The Tunnel” is his masterpiece and it is very good, but in my opinion his magnus opus is “On Heroes and Tombs”. Both of these books are set in Argentina by the way and are written in a way which reveal quite a lot of aspects of Argentinian culture.
"On Heroes and tombs" set in the Buenos Aires of the 50’s and centres around one troubled young man and his very complex muse. Its a very haunting and hallucinatory novel and is a tour de force. Honestly, this book has a special place in my heart and I often find myself thinking about it. I guess the story has never truly really left me after I read it , which to me is the mark of a writer of astounding abilities.
Julio Cortazar : Julio Cortazar is another one of Argentina’s literary geniuses and he was a bit more versatile than Borges in the sense that he tackled both short stories and novels. A lot of his works are magical realist in style and deal with similar themes as Borges , a couple that I reccomend are “The Axolotl” (Very dear to my heart as I worked in the conservation of that species), " The Idol of the Cyclades" (neither of which are set in Argentina) and especially “End of the Game” which is a very powerful tale set on the outskirts of Buenos Aires.
Then of course there is his novel “Hopscotch” which is a masterpiece and that moves between Paris and Buenos Aires , it can require a bit of patience to read as it needs to be read in a particular way , but once you get into Cortazar you will never regret having read it.
Wow, thanks so much!! Will read your post many times and check EVERYTHING out. Was just reading about On Heroes and Tombs- looks great!
No problem man , I think “On heroes and tombs” might well be the best option to begin with as its set in Argentina and deals a lot with the history , politics and culture of the country not to mention the National psyche.
Its dark though with very dark themes, if Borges is like LSD then Sabato is more like mescaline spiked with datura.
I’ve read it in both Spanish and English , but funny enough I preferred the translation, the Penguin classics translation is amazing , check it out.
Dark? Oh, I’m so in….
For those interested in Croatia, there is a very nice and funny book called “Chasing a Croatian Girl”. It is super nice and interesting, tells a lot about the Croatian culture and fun facts for foreigners. Its in English, wrote by a American so it can suits everyone who speaks
Nine Lives by Dan Baum + New Orleans
I read Cathedral of the Sea based in Barcelona. It was so cool going to the church when I visited the following year.
I re-read A Moveable Feast a few summers ago while traveling through Europe to Paris, and I’m in my 40’s. I don’t think you’re ever too old for that. Don’t forget to stop at Shakespeare and Co for a hardback copy of The Sun Also Rises or A Farewell To Arms.
For our trip to Iceland last year, I read The Big Bad Book of Bill Murray because we were seeing him perform at the Harpa.
I just love this question. It’s a habit of mine to read a book connected to a place before traveling there. Sometimes if I time it just right, I finish it shortly after arrival. I just read Orwell Homage to Catalonia in preparation for a trip to Barcelona. (yea, it’s great to see Orwell being appreciated for all of his work). I also liked Zola’s The Belly of Paris during a recent trip to Paris.