Here I present some of my favorite books of 2012 (and a few from before). You’ll notice they are mostly travel/history books in one form or another, often about places outside of my home country. Reading for me often opens up the mind, and I tend to gravitate towards travel as this opens up the realms of history and prehistory for the writer, something I’m particularly keen in. However I am keen on a good novel, so please let me know if you come across any, and I am always open to reading about travel writing, no matter where in the world. I’d heavily recommend you take a look at the blurbs of the books as they are awfully interesting, and I’m happy for any suggestions to add to my pile. I’ve put ‘Anna Karenina’ by Leo Tolstoy on this list, but I’ve only just managed to hunt down a copy from my local library after having to hand back in my University copy unfinished. Rest assured though that Oblonsky, Levin, Vronsky and Anna will live long in my imagination. Click the links to learn more about each book.
- ‘Roads To Berlin: Detours & Riddles in the Lands & History of Germany‘ (2012 updated hardback edition), by Dutch novelist, poet and journalist Cees Nooteboom.
- ‘Viva South America! A Journey Through A Restless Continent‘ (2009) by the British journalist Oliver Balch.
- ‘The White Rock: An Exploration of the Inca Heartland‘ (2002) by British explorer and writer Hugh Thomson.
- ‘And Quiet Flows the Don‘ (1978, USSR 1920) as the first part of the Don Epic by the Russian Nobel Prize winning novelist Mikhail Sholokhov (I think the Melekhov family will be with me always).
- ‘The Don Flows Home to the Sea‘ (1978, USSR 1940) as the second part of the Don Epic by the Russian Nobel Prize winning novelist Mikhail Sholokhov.
- ‘In Europe: Travels Through the 20th Century‘ (2008) by Dutch journalist and historian Geert Mak.
- ‘Germania: A Personal History of Germans Ancient and Modern‘ (2010) by the British writer and editor Simon Winder.
- ‘Anna Karenina‘ (1995, serial installments 1873-77) by Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy (not pictured).
- ”The Philosopher and the Wolf: Lessons from the Wild on Love, Death and Happiness‘ (2008) by the British philosopher Mark Rowlands (not pictured).
- ‘The Periodic Table‘ (2000) by the Italian chemist and writer Primo Levi (not pictured).
- ‘To Your Scattered Bodies Go‘ (1974) by the American science fiction writer Philip José Farmer (not pictured).
- ‘A Single Swallow: Following the Migration from South Africa to South Wales‘ (2010) by the British travel writer Horatio Clare (my favourite travel book) (not pictured).
- ‘Love in the Time of Cholera‘ (1988) by the Colombian novelist Gabriel García Márquez (not pictured).
- ‘Timequake‘ (1997) by the American novelist Kurt Vonnegut (not pictured).
- ‘The Stranger‘ (also known as The Outsider, or L’Etranger in the original French version) (or.1942) by the French author and philosopher Albert Camus (not pictured).
Of course this is just a selection of some of my favourite recent books that I have come across. Every time I enter a library I feel honoured to share the same space as so many great works of literature and art. The beauty of the written word never ceases to amaze me, whether it is from a novel, a poem or a piece of travel writing. It can open up new ways of thinking about every day events, or provide new views on events or people you thought you knew. It can move you to the edge of tears, or terrify you to point of horror. The sign of a truly great book is one that keeps you hooked, long after you should have been asleep after a busy day.
I shall forever have treasured and fond memories of volunteering in a Oxfam book and music store, and mulling over which book I should buy next when my shift ended. One of the pure joys of books is passing them onto friends once you have finished it to lend it out or give it to someone else to enjoy. I haven’t included any brief synopsis’ of the books here because I want you to take a minute or two to click the link and have an explore, and see what you think is interesting.