I like this list of "backpackers books," compiled by Bookride.
I am not sure which books backpackers carry with them these days so this list may be a little out of date. The concept of backpacker books goes back to the days of the hippy trail when travellers would carry such classics as the I Ching, the Tibetan Book of the Dead or anything by Herman Hesse. A backpacker classic should have an element of profundity, preferably mystical -if not it should have cult status or be a statement about who you really are. There is an element of self discovery in setting off - the path to enlightenment, the journey inwards...A backpacker book is not a 'beach read'--the book must be worth the weight and space it takes up and should be reverentially handed on to other travellers or left in a hotel or bus station for another seeker to chance upon.
Here's a snippet of the list:
Patrick Suskind. Perfume
Umberto Eco. Name of the Rose (also Foucault's Pendulum)
Virginia Woolf. To the Lighthouse
Irvine Welsh. Trainspotting.
Tolkien. The Hobbit (sometimes seen read until it has fallen apart)
Bolano. The Savage Detectives (heavy)
Dan Brown. The Da Vinci Code (light)
Maldoror & A Rebours (for the decadent traveller)
Shakespeare. King Lear ( a teacher at my school read it every morning or so he said)
The Duke of Pirajno. A Cure for Serpents (for the traveller in Libya)
Di Lampedusa's deathless 'The Leopard' - another book by an Italian duke. Why can't any of our dukes write a decent book?
Tao te Ching
Popol Vuh: A Sacred Book of the Maya
Cormac McCarthy. All The Pretty Horses
A recent mishap sent me scrambling for info on how to dry a wet book. Luckily, Syracuse University Libraries has a handy how-to guide demonstrated by their preservation department.
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