Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Reading and Travel

by Skald

I often find that reading and travel are an ideal combination. Specifically, I find that reading helps me shift to a more "intentional" mindset. Reading encourages me to examine my inner and outer travels and mine them for significance.

For example, when travelling in India the first time I read many books about India. Some prefer to read up on a country BEFORE travelling there... but I find its more powerful to do this WHILE travelling.

In India I read India: A Million Mutinies Now, No Full Stops In India, Midnight's Children, The Inscrutable Americans, Karma Cola, and several other books on the country. I found the experience of reading these books while in-country to be very thought-provoking. I didnt have to use guesswork... I could easily imagine the scenes the author's described.

I also gained deeper insights into India and its culture. I experienced my travels much differently as a result. I observed and thought about the Indian religions and social system. I considered its history. I compared these to my American experiences and my American prejudices.

I highly recommend this approach. Next trip, hold off on reading about the country until you get there.... then read like crazy.



Steve Sherlock said...

I agree. I usually read up before hand but it makes sense to read while there, assuming you have the time for it of course.

But then one needs to make the time anyway, otherwise it would not happen. I am finding I am reading less books since I started blogging, spending more time reading items on the net rather than hard bound traditionally written.

And when I do travel, that is when I can resort to books or magazines, trying to catch up.

matt said...


There's no better way to learn about a place by traveling there AND reading about it while in the country.

I am currently reading 'Song of the Dodo' by Quammen, a book about island biogeogrpahy. It makes a lot more sense to me know that I live in SE Asia and have traveled to Java, Bali, Lombok and Australia. I don't think it would have as much sense to me before.

Since I like to travel around natural history itineraries.. it's pretty cool to actually see first hand what the authors are describing with text.