5 Best Travel Books for February 2020
February 01, 2020
“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.”
– George R.R. Martin
2020 is flying by so quickly, and we’re already in the month of February. I hope you’ve achieved the goals that you’ve set for the first month of this year. This article is a continuation of one of my 2020 goals to read more books. If you’ve already finished reading the books that I’ve recommended in January, do check out the following 5 best travel books for the month of February 2020.
#1 – Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi
Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi is the first Arabic novel to win the International Booker Prize. The story follows the lives of three sisters and their families adapting to the drastic transformation of Oman in the decades after it achieved independence from Britain in 1951. What got me so engrossed in the story was this particular sentence – “When we are away from home, in new and strange places, we get to know ourselves better,” Abdallah, the son of a rich merchant, thinks as he gazes out an airplane window. – I’m pretty sure that other than myself, many of you are also able to relate to this sentiment.
#2 – The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay
The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay traces the life of Peekay, a 5 year old boy, in South Africa from 1930 to 1951. Besides giving readers an insight into Peekay’s life journey, the story also talks about how racism and apartheid began to develop in South Africa. Moreover, the book is filled with many descriptions of the African landscapes from the outsides of the rural town of Barberton, to the deserts, to the beauty of the city of Johannesburg. You’ll be enticed to visit South Africa if you haven’t been there yet.
#3 – Falling Off The Map by Pico Iyer
This book might not be relatable at this point of time, especially when it was published more than two decades ago. The countries that Pico Iyer has talked about have changed drastically over the years, but it’s still a good read as it provides a glimpse into how life was like and how the lonely countries were like back then. I was quite surprised by how Argentina is mentioned alongside Iceland although these two places are worlds and oceans apart. The first chapter which explains why certain countries are lonely places and why they are bunched together got me hooked on reading.
#4 – A Fortune-Teller Told Me by Tiziano Terzani
Published in 1995, A Fortune-Teller Told Me by Tiziano Terzani gives an insight into what Asia was like back then. Told by a fortune teller in 1976 that he should avoid flying in the year 1993, Terzani eventually decides to only travel by land or water that year. Don’t you just find the idea of travelling without planes interesting? Luckily, Terzani has understanding editors at Der Spiegel and he’s able to take the extra time required to catch trains, buses and boats to various corners of his beat in Asia. He decides along the way to hunt down local fortune tellers, chiromancers, seers, astrologers and shamans to see what they have to tell him about his future.
#5 – A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle
I realised that I’ve been reading non-fiction books recently as I find the stories more intriguing and somewhat relatable. In A Year in Provence, Peter describes his first 12 months in Provence, after he and his wife have moved from England into an 18th-century farmhouse in the Luberon Mountains. It is entertaining to read about how this couple adapted to life in the rural region – how they mastered the local customs, how they gained partial understanding of their neighbours’ dialect, how they overcome the frustrations of French bureaucracy etc. I like how the story opens with an account of a memorable New Year’s lunch and ends with an appreciation of an impromptu Christmas dinner. The descriptions of other meals eaten during the months in between made me crave for French cuisine. I hope I’ll get to visit Provence with my significant other in future.
Do you have any fascinating travel-related books to recommend? Feel free to comment below and share them with me.