Books On The Go (1985/6)

On my travels, I’ve always had a book to hand for those moments when the emotional switchback ride of constant auditory, visual and physical contacts became too much. Also, when the discomfort of travel by plane, train, bus or truck wracked my frame, a book took me out of myself. One of the joys of arriving in a town visited by fellow travellers is that there’s an opportunity to exchange reading material. I stayed for over two months in Ladakh, so there I was instrumental in setting up a book exchange. This also served as a meeting place, and during my further travels I sought out similar places wherever and whenever I could. Singapore was different: at the time a row of secondhand book stores could be found at the bottom end of Orchard Road. These have gone the way of much of the city-state – replaced with a featureless tower. These books are listed in the order I read them. One, Blue Highways, has a whole post on my main site because it was a great source of understanding in the early months of my journey. It’s also the only book I didn’t return to a book exchange and can be found on my book shelves here in Jakarta. The few words I’ve added are taken from the entries in the diary I kept, and which I’m gradually posting here. The places are categories and/or tags in the sidebar on the right. Reading those sections will give some notion of my awareness of who I was at the particular time and place the books were to hand. (Note t&p = ‘easy’ train and plane read, and not one for my bookshelves.) Flight: London to Delhi The Passion of Molly T – Laurence Sanders t&p Ladakh Daughter of Tibet – Rimchen Dolma Taring (1970) A Journey In Ladakh – Andrew Harvey (1981) Christine – Stephen King t&p Blue Highways – William Least Heat-Moon (1983) Mussolini: His Part In My Downfall – Spike Milligan Coils – Roger Zelasny t&p Freedom At Midnight – Larry Collins & Dominique Lapierre t&p The Honourable Schoolboy – John Le Carré The Mint – T.E. Lawrence Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie One for my bookshelf India – ‘on the road’ World According To Garp – John Irving Empire Of The Sun – J.G. Ballard The Seduction Of Peter S – Laurence Sanders t&p The Name Of The Rose – Umberto Eco Kovalum Beach fr. diary 30.9.85 For mental stimulation I have read almost constantly – all train and plane volumes I’ve missed out on whilst training and planing: Robert Ludlum and his ilk. Pure entertainment and escapism, not that I want to be entertained or escape from here – just yet. Aquitaine Progression – Robert Ludlum t&p White Mandarin – Dan Sherman t&p Saladin – Andrew Osmond t&p Second Saladin – Stephen Hunter t&p Night Work – Irwin Shaw t&p Twilight Strike – Michael Stewart t&p Strange Evil – Jane Gaskell t&p Kerala Return Of The Native – Thomas Hardy Singapore Long Voyage Back – Luke Reinhart t&p A long book for people who like short words. Dead Secret – Alan Williams t&p Malaysia Penang Understrike – John Gardner t&p The Nostradamus Traitor – John Gardner t&p Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy Penang to Bangkok train Claudius, The God – Robert Graves (Noted that Robert Graves had just died aged 90) Thailand Mixed Company – Irwin Shaw Well crafted, dour short stories about World War II Family Trade – James Carroll t&p The Dancing Dodo – John Gardner t&p The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe – Douglas Adams An alternative Lonely Planet book. The Retreat of Radiance – Ian Moffit Very fine thriller, descriptive narrative of the ‘new’ China. A Small Town In Germany – John Le Carré (a reread) Black Heart – Eric Von Lustgarten t&p 750 pages of pap, sex and violence. Green Ice – Gerald Brown t&p Witty account of emerald heist interwoven with love affair Heritage – Peter Driscolles t&p 570 pages, family saga set in OAS Algeria. Baraka – John Ralston Saul t&p Deftly written tale of arms smuggling – oil companies Sideshow: Kissinger, Nixon and the Destruction of Cambodia – William Shawcross Horrifying account of arrogance, blind militarism Angel Of Death – Thomas Perat t&p Absolute crap. Appalling plot, poorly told. Slapstick – Kurt Vonnegut As usual, humane and humorous Year of The Golden Ape – Colin Forbes Action filled thriller, excellent t&p and lazy afternoon read. The Queen’s Gambit – Walter Tevis t&p A compelling read of a girl chess prodigy. Other Women – Lisa Alther. Sharp sympathetic characterisation of two modern women in need of reinforcement. The sort of book that makes you nod in acknowledgement. Empires Of The Sky – Anthony Sampson Account of growth of international air travel, cartels and politics Thailand > Malaysia The Water-Method Man – John Irving Clever writing, sharp, bizarre, astute, familiar Malaysia The Case of Lucy Bending – Laurence Sanders t&p His familiar engrossing read of human frailty Singapore & Fiji The Fourth Deadly Sin – Laurence Sanders t&p Another comfortable detective story, Love Songs – Laurence Sanders t&p Psychological thriller of sexual emotions, better than the blurb indicates. Good characterisation is Sanders forte. Ride A Pale Horse – Helen MacInnes t&p USA v KGB Death Beam – Robert Moss t&p Ditto. The Sweetheart Deal – Robert Rosenblum t&p Law & order v. the mob & morality, with a good sting ending. Original Sins – Lisa Alther Good sense of character and generations Schindler’s Ark – Thomas Keneally Booker prize winner and deservedly so. Real life history of flawed anti-Nazi hero The King’s Commissar – Duncan Kyle t&p Cross referencing fall of Tsar in 1917 and merchant bank in 1983 The Dream Traders – E.V. Thompson Good narrative of early Hong Kong and background to Chinese Opium War


About Jakartass

A Brit Abroad
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