On our recent holiday in Bali, I had finished the book I was reading and wandered out to the hotel lobby to see if they had any books there. To my delight I found a book I had never heard of called The Little Paris Bookshop: A Novel by Nina George. It was a fascinating book about life, love and of course France.
It made me think of the times while travelling when I have discovered amazing books in hostels, B&Bs and hotels that other travelers have finished and left behind for people like me to discover. Sometimes there is a choice but often there is one English book so I am confronted with either not reading (this just is not possible) or reading something I would not normally read. To be perfectly honest I have never been disappointed in any book I have found and have often ended up searching for more by the same author……on this vein I decided to ask other bloggers if they had discovered books on their travels in the same way. Below is the first selection that has been submitted:
I Married A Bedouin – Marguerite van Geldermalsen
Elaine & David from The Whole World is a Playground
Arriving back at our hotel after a challenging sunrise hike up to the incredible Monastery in Petra we were exhausted and covered head to toe in red dust but the excitement of our early morning exploits was still fresh in our mind. We chatted easily with a couple relaxing by the hotel pool, swapping stories and questions about the iconic rose red city and describing our fascination with the Bedouin, a tribe who inhabited the caves and tombs of Petra, a few of whom remain today.
The couple handed us a copy of Marguerite van Geldermalsen’s Married to a Bedouin, a story of a young New Zealand lady who was hitchhiking around the Middle East with her friend when she fell in love with a Bedouin and never left. My morning nap plans were quickly replaced by a reading session and, suddenly, the ancient city sprang to life within the pages of the book. Each page provides a fascinating insight into life in Petra through the eyes of a person who, having lived in New Zealand, was immersed into an extraordinary culture far removed from the regular lives we know so well.
We discovered that Marguerite still has a store in Petra and we stopped by to meet her and her children. It’s incredible to think that our chance discovery of the book led to an encounter with someone who had lived and experienced life within the ancient city, no longer just ruins in our minds but now a city and community still very much alive today.
Sweetness In My Belly- Camilla Gibb
Amanda from MarocMama
Whenever I’m in an English speaking country it’s a guilty pleasure to seek out a bookstore. Last summer I was visiting my best friend in Phoenix when she suggested stopping into her favorite used book store. It was massive! She and I spent hours looking and reading. I came across a cart that was marked as bargain books, only $1 and my eyes set on a book called Sweetness in the Belly
A girl is born to wanderlusting, hippie parents who die in an accident leaving her orphaned in Morocco. She comes under the protection of a Sufi teacher and spends her childhood in a shrine in Morocco. Later she makes a pilgrimage to Ethiopia in the lead up to the civil war. Her journey comes full circle as she returns to the UK, her parents homeland. The details in between make the story come to life.
The prose and storytelling of this book made it impossible to put down and I’ve reread it twice already. It’s become an absolute favorite and one I’ve recommended multiple times.
Tracks- Robyn Davidson
Meg from Meander With Meg
I’m one of those stubborn dinosaurs that refuses to jump on the eBook bandwagon, preferring to hold an actual book in my hands. Perhaps this is because I am the daughter of a librarian and my childhood was spent checking out 10 books at a time, but it’s also because I love taking part in book swaps when I travel. Take a book, leave a book: it is such a simple, fulfilling concept.
A beautiful book I discovered on a random hostel shelf in Perth, Australia, was the heavenly written Tracks by Robyn Davidson. In 1977, Robyn walked 1,700 miles through the outback, from Alice Springs to the coast of Western Australia, by herself – except for four camels. From an outsider’s perspective, the journey is nothing less than astonishing. However, Robyn recounts her experience in a gorgeously matter of fact way that helps the reader understand that, regardless of the spotlighted interest she garnered from the press, she simply wanted to do it for herself. A truly inspiring read for any solo female traveller.
A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
Jayne from Girl Tweets World
Although I’ve stayed in countless guesthouses whose names escape me I remember the name of the place I stayed in Goa in 2010 for 2 distinct reasons. Firstly, because it was named after the owner, Ciaran, who had the most mesmerising Scottish meets Indian accent and secondly, because it was the place I first discovered A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry. Not only is the story of family and love in extreme hardship spell-bounding but India was the perfect place to read it. I turned the final pages of that heart-breaking novel on a train just outside Mumbai and it’s a moment in time that’s long stayed with me.”
Wilder Shores- Various Authors
Iris from Mind of a Hitchhiker
I was visiting a friend in Edinburgh, Scotland in cold December and I was desperately looking for a new book to read. When I finally found a cute and stuffy bookshop in an otherwise dull and forgettable street, it didn’t look like a great place at first to find stuff by women travel writers. Without any help from the guy who ‘organized’ the creative mess that was this shop, I found a gem in a box on the floor. “Wilder shores” read the title, “women’s travel stories of Australia and beyond”. Sold. In just five minutes I was out of the shop and just £2 poorer than before.
The book traveled with me from Edinburgh to the Netherlands, USA and finally Mexico during the early days after quitting my studies to hitchhike full-time. While the book is made up of short stories of (not only white) women traveling to, from or within Australia, I haven’t made it to that side of the globe yet. It’s kind of tough to find a hitchable boat that far away.
I finished reading the book in the public gardens of some university in Monterrey, Mexico. It was a confusing time in my life. The stories helped me get my act together and think more about what it is I wanted to be next, so now I write, too.
What is your favourite amazing book discovery? Let us know below –