7 Books To Read Before Travelling To Asia

Now’s the time to start thinking about your travel plans for 2020. And, whether you intend to backpack solo through Europe or fancy taking a trip to Asia in pursuit of tasty food and a life-changing spiritual experience, reading during your journey can help to enhance your trip.

CarRentals.com did a study regarding the quest for wanderlust and how literature plays a role in modern-day adventure. And, they found that while travel guides and even online publications like ours exist, when you’re on the ground, there are few better ways to immerse yourself in the local culture than by talking to locals about their national literature or diving straight into one of the country’s most famous books.

These are the seven books that you should read before travelling to Asia. All of them are written from a native’s perspective and will help you understand the culture from their eyes. Get ready for a whole new wave of literary travel.

For more literary travel recommendations, check out the full list and map of World Travel Through Literature.

Books To Read Before Travelling To AsiaHow do these rankings work?

1. A Strange Kind of Paradise

Best to read before travelling to: India

What it’s about: “An exploration of India’s past and present, from the perspective of a foreigner who has lived in India for many years. Sam Miller investigates how the ancient Greeks, the Romans, the Chinese, Arabs, Africans, Europeans and Americans came to imagine India.”

Books to Read Before Travelling to Asia

2. The Rainbow Troops

Best to read before travelling to: Indonesia

What it’s about: “Indonesian author Andrea Hirata recalls his childhood on the island of Belitong, off the coast of Sumatra. The narrative captures some undeniable social facts of Indonesia: poverty, social injustice and education in remote villages.”

Best Books for Travelling to Indonesia

3. A Woman of Angkor

Best to read before travelling to: Cambodia

What it’s about: “A historically accurate and a very imaginative telling of the history of World Heritage site and famous temple, Angkor. Told through the eyes of mother Sray, who lives a typical rural life of that era. One day her family is invited by the King to the palace because he heard Sray’s husband is a master of making silk parasols.”

Books to Read Before Travelling to Asia

4. The Art of War

Best to read before travelling to: China

What it’s about: “An ancient Chinese text about military strategist Sun Tzu, various aspects of warfare and how it applies to military strategy and tactics. Highly revered as a manual for business success and guide to boardroom battles and achieving success.”

Books to Read Before Travelling to China

5. I Am a Cat

Best to read before travelling to: Japan

What it’s about: “I Am a Cat is the chronicle of an unloved, unwanted, wandering kitten who spends all his time observing human nature – from the dramas of businessmen and schoolteachers to the foibles of priests and potentates.”

6. The Sympathizer

Best to read before travelling to: Vietnam

What it’s about: “The story of a man whose political beliefs clash with his individual loyalties. In dialogue with but diametrically opposed to the narratives of the Vietnam War, this novel offers an important and unfamiliar new perspective on the war: that of a conflicted communist sympathizer.”

Books to Read Before Travelling to Asia

7. In Our Image: America’s Empire in the Philippines

Best to read before traveling to: Philippines

What it’s about. “Traces the history of the Philippines, discusses the influence of Spain and the United States, and looks at the problems facing the Philippines today.”

Elizabeth Thorn

Elizabeth has lived and worked in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia, all of which have contributed to her passion for travel writing. When she's not writing, you can find her exploring little hideouts in Colombia or watching photography tutorials on YouTube.

Contact: [email protected]

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