As a student for the last 4 1/2 years, working a full-time job, and often a part-time job as well to pay for my education and the “lifestyle” I had grown accustomed to (code for: I can’t -and have no desire- to learn to cook and therefore go out to eat, A LOT!), I often wondered what I would do when I eventually had that beautiful commodity known as free-time. I figured I would spend more time with friends, family, and my sweet boyfriend. And, if I were still in the country I have no doubt that that would be the truth.

My next free-time activity would be to read. Although I read many interesting books and educational articles throughout my years at OSU, I longed to read for pleasure; to read things of my own choosing without homework or timetables. Well, I have definitely made up for lost time. I just wanted to share a list of the books that have accompanied me thus far through SE Asia. Some I gladly purchased, some were given to me by other travelers, and some had to have the dust and cockroaches shaken off of them, pulled out of neglected piles called book exchanges. Some were great, some just filled time, but whether they were good or not I have devoured one after another and feel that there may be no squelching this insatiable need to read, read, read!

The first books I read, though not necessarily for pleasure were the PADI Advanced Open Water Manual and Rescue Diver Manual required for my courses for scuba diving. While the diving is really gratifying, I’m not sure that the manuals really qualify as pleasure reads.

1. How to Live Without Fear and Worry– Venerable Thubten Chodron
2. Halcones de la Noche– Robert Ampuero (a Spanish translation of the book that lead to film Nighthawks starring Sly Stallone. Given to me by my Chilean friend Vale to help sharpen up my waning Spanish skills)
3. Angels and Demons– Dan Brown
4. Ender’s Game– Orson Scott Card (1st in a series of Ender novels sparking a newly discovered love affair with this Sci-Fi writer. Sci-Fi, who knew, I actually liked it!)
5. Mayor of Casterbridge– Thomas Hardy
6. Chinese Zodiac Animals– Pure fluff and silly entertainment
7. Testimony– Anita Shreve
8. Sold: One Woman’s True Account of Modern Slavery– Zana Muhsen (heart wrenching and infuriating!)
9. Conviction– Richard Patterson
10. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time– Mark Haddon (Love, love, loved it! Interesting, sweet and sad story told from the unique perspective of the books 12-year old autistic narrator)
11. A Spot of Bother– Mark Haddon
12. Deep Descent: Adventure and Death Diving the Andrea Doria– Kevin McMurray
13. 10 Short Stories You Must Read This Year 2009 ed.– Book Alive, Australia
14. Johnny Got His Gun– Dalton Trumbo (one of my favorites to date. A classic that deserves to be read, although once is definitely enough. Heavy for such a small book.)
15. Chasing the Flame: One Man’s Fight to Save the World– Samantha Power (life story of Sergio Vieira de Mello, his rise in the UN and his missions all over the world, really interesting)
16. The Sultan and the Mermaid Queen– Paul Spencer Sochaczewski (short-stories about SE Asia)
17. The Future Just Happened– Michael Lewis
18. Speaker for the Dead– Orson Scott Card (2nd in the Ender’s series)
19. Xenocide– Orson Scott Card (3rd in the Ender’s series)
20. Della’s Web: the Suburban Black Widow– Aphrodite Jones
21. Children of the Mind– Orson Scott Card (4th in the Ender’s series)
22. The Success System that Never Fails– W. Clement Stone (original book that the now popular “The Secret” movie is based upon)
23. A Cry in the Desert– Jed A. Bryan
24. Hungry for You: From Cannibalism to Seduction, A Book of Food– Joan Smith
25. The Outsider– Albert Camus
26. The Time Traveler’s Wife– Audrey Niffenegger
27. Dreams From My Father– Barack Obama
28. The Bell Witch: An American Haunting– Brent Monahan
29. Smoke and Mirrors– Neil Gaiman (such a creative writer, I am keeping my eyes out for more of his stuff)
30. Burmese Days– George Orwell (I was Myanmar bound, had to read this one for sure!)
31. Ideal Marriage: Physiology and Technique– T.H. Van de Velde M.D. (This book was so dry, despite its juicy title. I had a hard time getting though this one at all)
32. how: Why How We Do Anything Means Everything in Business and Life– Dov Seidman
33. 1984– George Orwell (one of my favorite books of all time. It gets better every time I read it.)
34. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer– Mark Twain
35. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn– Mark Twain
And now for a quick quote by Mark Twain that I absolutely love:
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
36. Outliers– Malcolm Gladwell
37. Tuesdays with Morrie– Mitch Albom (made me sob like a baby)
38. Choke– Chuck Palahniuk (a really funny book for those of you who get a sick, dark sense of humor)
39. When You Are Engulfed in Flames– David Sedaris (I love all of this man’s books, hilarious!)
40. Children of Cambodia’s Killing Fields: Memoirs of Survivors– comp. Dith Pran
41. The Killing Fields– Christopher Hurdon
42. Freakonomics– Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner
43. Sushi para Principantes– Marian Keyes (another translation to help keep up on the español)
44. Among Insurgents: Walking through Burma– Shelby Tucker
45. Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief– Rick Riordan
46. Siddhartha– Herman Hesse
47. The End of Poverty: How We Can Make it Happen in our Lifetime– Jeffrey Sachs
48. Animal Farm– George Orwell (I just love this man’s writing)
49. Lord of the Flies– William Golding
50. The Third Day– Joseph Hayes (reintroduced the word “bedraggled” into my life!)
51. The Red Tent– Anita Diamante
52. Bonk: Curious Coupling of Sex and Science– Mary Roach (She has also written a book called Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers that I would recommend over this particular book though it is good too)
53. The Witch of Portobello– Paulo Coelho

And currently reading: The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living– Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler

I welcome any recommendations from anyone who has read something and absolutely loved it, or has read something and thinks that I would absolutely love it. It is hard to find specific titles out here sometimes, but I will be sure to keep my eyes peeled for any and all of your suggestions. And if you haven’t read any good books lately, well, dust off that library card and get to it.

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One Comment

  1. marilynrmoody
    May 25, 2010

    Val – Scotty: I daily check your blog and enjoy so much traveling with you vicariously. You really need to have a published book out of all this – but in the meantime another favorite read of mine (now turned into a movie) is Eat, Pray, Love – this story tells of the author’s (Elizabeth Gilbert) travels and experiences. I couldn’t put it down. Some books on your list I have read and enjoyed also. Thank you for all your sharing!

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