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August 13, 2018 | by  | in Books |
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Books to Inspire Your Travels

I struggled to find time to write this article, because I’m moving back in with my parents this weekend. I recently spent all of my savings on tickets to Japan and then, upon checking my bank account, promptly bid my flatmates goodbye. Although this experience proves that I am unqualified to dish out financial advice of any kind, it lends me a certain credibility in compiling this list of books.
Books can endlessly feed your travel-hungry mind. When your bank account is low and your feet remain firmly on the ground rather than in a plane bound for South America, reading can keep the wanderlust at bay.
Then, when you manage to bankrupt yourself by booking a trip like I’ve done, it’s crucial to use all of your luggage allowance on unnecessarily large novels. It’s rare to find a long stretch of time that you can dedicate to reading just for the sake of it, and travelling provides the perfect opportunity. If you’re a solo traveler and feel daunted by eating in restaurants alone, take a book. A lone traveler eating a bowl of ravioli is sad and desperate, but a lone traveler reading a book over the same ravioli is sexy and intriguing. Multiple encounters with beautiful strangers have been initiated by their questions about what I’m reading — this tip is legit.
Finally, when you arrive back home, rereading the books that you read while you were away is like smelling the same Lynx bottle that your ex used to use: get ready for nostalgia. When I was a homesick 15 year old exchange student in Madrid, I bought a copy of The Great Gatsby from my local bookstore. Now, every Christmas, I reread it and remember curling up by the heater with a plate of Roscon from the bakery next to my apartment.

Berlin Now: The City After the Wall by Peter Schneider

Anyone who’s anyone is in Berlin right now. Trust me: I took a music studies paper in first year, and I also have two tattoos. In this non-fiction ethnographic account of the city, we hear how Berlin became the hub of youth culture today, with tales from the 1970s artist movement to the emergence of the rave scene. Any trip you might be planning to Europe would be wasted without a stopover in the German capital.

Sanshirō by Natsume Sōseki
We’ve all seen Downton Abbey. Victorian-era Europe is old news, but what do you know about 1800s Japan? When naïve Sashirō migrates from his tiny hometown to Tokyo for university, he encounters a city grappling with modernism and burgeoning western influence. The book depicts life in Japan during an era of rapid urbanisation, but is also a coming of age story. Sanshirō must now navigate an unfamiliar metropolitan world of scholarship, politics, and romance. Sōseki’s lyrical and introspective prose is the icing on the cake.

How (Not) to Start an Orphanage by Tara Winkler

Westerners volunteering in Majority World countries (let’s stop saying “developing”, please) can get problematic as fuck. Save yourself a case of white savior complex and read this book before you book your next trip to build houses in Vietnam. Written by a Australian woman who started an overseas orphanage before realising she was helping to disenfranchise entire generations of children, this semi-autobiographical book should be required reading for anyone who wants to use their travels to better the planet.

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