When travel is curtailed, books with a wandering theme take readers on inner journeys to far-flung places. Here are five books I enjoy.
1 Snow In May by Kseniya Melnik
I dipped into these scintillating short stories during a Trans-Siberian rail journey. As our train rolled across the birch forests and grand cities of Russia, the fictional lives of the people of Magadan, once the gateway to a Stalinist gulag and now home to engineers and artists living alongside their former guards, evoked a complex country both epic and intimate.
2 Through Painted Deserts: Light, God, And Beauty On The Open Road by Donald Miller
This road-trip memoir, about crossing the United States in a souped-up Volkswagen van, has accompanied me on global journeys and local cafe jaunts. The writer dives into the deepest human questions and surfaces with epiphanies. The book fortified my conviction as a traveller that we leave home to experience it afresh and love it for new reasons.
3 The Narrow Road To The Deep North by Matsuo Basho
While retracing the foot journey of feted poet-wanderer Matsuo Basho in the isolated north of Japan, I read his travelogue, a blend of prose and haiku. Evoking the Japanese sense of beauty and transience, his classic doubly awakened my senses as I traipsed through whispering cedar forests in misty rain and cruised past the longevity pines of Matsushima Bay.
4 Maxine, Aoki, Beto + Me by Wena Poon
This book of globetrotting short fiction is playful and on trend, with its youthful cosmopolitan protagonists grappling with supply chain disruptions, natural disasters and political calamity. Its Singapore-born author, a friend from our days in the United States, suggested that I read it on the plane.
5 The Pilgrim’s Progress: From This World, To That Which Is To Come by John Bunyan
Reading this 1678 Christian allegory as a teen, and later Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes, I began framing life as a journey. The Slough Of Despond, a deep bog into which the pilgrim falls, seems like a description of the world now. But a man named Help comes his way.