Traveling did not just happened within my consciousness. It wasn't a case of waking up one morning and deciding I wanted to see more of the world. It has been a forever-long transgression of images and narratives which works of literature have bestowed upon me. Reading books that were written by great writers who pulled out thought provoking stories and kick ass prose from their own experiences. Experiences that were a by-product of the world around them. They never attained that level of creativity by just sitting at home for most of their life, rather they achieved the ultimate bursts of writing creativity by virtue of living life to the fullest. In most cases, their own travel experiences have played a big role in shaping their minds to produce a literary work, which eventually reached the hands of readers, who like me was able to channel the influence of their stories, into a curiosity directed at the world around me, thus traveling just became the most ordinary thing to do.
Here are some books that have imparted an urge to pack my bags and head out on the road.
1. On the Road - Jack Kerouac
Kerouac wrote of his own experiences through the book's narrator Sal Paradise, in this highly charge tale of discovering one's self and freedom across the vast frontier of the high and low grounds of America. Accompanied by Dean Moriarty (based on Neal Cassady) the duo takes off from New York hitchhiking their way towards Denver, Chicago, San Francisco, New Orleans, Los Angeles and even into Mexico City. In probably one of the best thing about traveling, they in turn meet a number of unforgettable characters along the way. Punctuated by killer prose and that famous "mad people" quote (which I'm sure you're all familiar with already), It's a book that will pull you out of your room and make you pack your rucksack in a hurry, running towards the door and out into the road.
2. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas - Hunter S. Thompson
Hunter S. Thompson wrote about his drug fueled trip to Las Vegas in the character of Raoul Duke and his attorney Dr. Gonzo (based on Oscar Zeta Acosta). The story originated from real life events when Sports Illustrated sent Hunter to Las Vegas to cover the annual Mint 400 motorcycle race which also became the center plot of the novel. Raoul Duke and Dr. Gonzo, upon reaching the deserts of Las Vegas has already taken a large dose of drugs and soon after, hallucinations of bats and other creatures hollowed their mind, they ended up abandoning the real purpose of their trip and what happens next was a slew of riotous events that up to this day sucker up everyone's imagination as read through the magnificent prose of Hunter S. Thompson. A real cosmic blueprint for anybody out there with passion for both traveling and writing.
3. Dance Dance Dance - Haruki Murakami
Images of a romantic Japan with haunting settings ignites your mind upon reading this metaphysical tale from one of Japan's renowned novelist. The protagonist whose name is withheld, returns to a place where he once slept with a woman he think he loves. The mysterious Dolphin hotel and an uncanny events and casts of characters that includes the Sheep Man forces him into a world of deepening mystery. This novel presents more of an intriguing tale, but the setting of the surroundings adds up to my hope of at least experiencing such out of this world mystery that only a far away place could provide.
4. Into the Wild - Jon Krakauer
Originating from an article written by Krakauer for "Outside" magazine in 1993 about the death of Christopher McCandless in an abandoned bus deep in the frontiers of Alaska. Krakauer, then penned his story by tracking Chris' early youth, his fascination on the writings of Jack London and Henry David Thoreau. He also traced the origins of McCandless ensuing estrangement with the world around him. The book is heart wrenching enough to know that it happened in real life, but one cannot deny the courage of Chris McCandless to turn his back from a convenient and widely accepted norms of living, to test his spirit and become free from debts, cash and other material things that consumes most people. After 119 days in the brutal Alaska wilderness and Krakauer's own theory that Chris died by root poisoning, McCandless concluded his life into the wild.
Before "Lost" there was this book about a group of kids who got stuck in a deserted island. At first they quickly gathered their wits and created a scenario that will govern their own ranks. But as power turns into a necessity for survival, the group soon finds its way towards an unavoidable clash with each other. A study on human nature and symbolism of power (through the "Conch") It was an elaborate tale towards a clear study of human beings when push comes to shove reacts to certain aspects of being threatened. In a way, with traveling you don't always experience everything you expected in the first place, certain things will test your resolve and the sometimes brutal journey can take its toll, but what would life be if we don't ever experience these things hey?
6. The Stranger - Albert Camus
"I knew i had shattered the harmony of the day, the exceptional silence of a beach where i'd been happy. Then i fired four more times at the motionless body where the bullets lodged without leaving a trace. And it was like knocking four quick times on the door of unhappiness". - Cold, ruthless and unrepentant. This is what Albert Camus' book's main protagonist Meursault has become after without reason, killing an Arab in the sun drenched Algiers beach. A philosophical tale from one of the finest writers in Camus, his theory of the "absurd" clearly in display with the meaningless crime committed by Meursault. Though the whole story was not the point of this being an influence in my passion for traveling. However, Algiers city in Algeria has succeeded in getting my fascination as a place to visit before I die.
7. The Beach - Alex Garland
The book that introduced Khao San Road to my consciousness. The start of the Banana Pancake trail in Asia and a backpacking culture that further inspired me to travel. Alex Garland's tale of adventure of finding that idealic paradise on Earth. A cast of other gregarious characters all contributes to the appeal of the novel and the thousand what if and probable scenarios that one could engage in while on the road. Reading this book has since influenced me greatly to plan a lengthy backpacking trip across Asia in the next few years.
8. Satori in Paris - Jack Kerouac
"Somewhere during my ten days in Paris (and Brittany) I received an illumination of some kind that seems to've changed me again, towards what I suppose'll be my pattern for another seven years or more: in effect, a satori: the Japanese word for 'sudden illumination,' 'sudden awakening' or simply 'kick in the eye."
Aren't we all after this? an awakening to wake us from the trivialities of life and further embrace the world with delight and new found fervor. Traveling to a new city could bring you that opportunity. The romantic side of Jack Kerouac was in fine form brought about by his brief 10 day stay in Paris. Images of myself walking in the streets of Paris and having my own moment of "satori" is ever present in my mind.
9. Stamboul Train - Graham Greene
Though this being a mystery thriller set in the Orient Express, it was the setting itself that got my attention. The Orient Express is definitely a ride one should take in their lifetime. The original route from Paris to Istanbul is like the mother of all train rides. A great novel that romanticize the trains and with today's re-emergence of the PNR train from Manila to Naga, riding trains has gotten cooler once again.
10. The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
This serves more as an inspiration for writing narratives than doing actual traveling, as Holden Caulfield isn't really a hardcore traveler. What he is was an alienated young man in distrust with the people around him and not shy in expressing himself in a highly subjective manner, for which the reader might wonder if he gets things right or further confuse himself. That's were the must to travel sets in, if only Holden was able to visit other places and met other people from different upbringing, then his view of the world would probably lighten up. In the end though, a feeling of optimism is reached and that's how people who travels always felt even when on the tail-end of their trip.