Despite the fact that it's often a neusiance and I usually don't find time to read them anyway, it's a pretty safe bet that you can find a book in my bag on any given day. It doesn't matter if I'm waiting for a train to Boston or doing some grocery shopping, it's pretty much a garantee that I've thrown a book in my purse on my way out the door.
I've found that reading is one of the best ways to 'get in the zone' so to speak, because, similar to the microvacations I talked about in my last post, it takes me out of my head of a while. I find this extremely important when traveling- taking yourself into a whole new world is a great way to remind yourself to be aware of the one you're in, which is why the books you travel with are so important; their tone, plot, and overall feel can have a huge influence on how you act, think, or feel in the moment.
One book that has had a huge impact on the way I travel is Scar Tissue by Anthony Kiedis, lead singer of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. It's one of the most humbling works I've ever encountered; the way that Kiedis regales his life story while also picking apart his motivations and providing a steady, snarky, commentary makes it impossible not to think about your own decisions, in context. I first read Scar Tissue on a plane and I swear when we landed I was a different person. The book chronicles the birth and life of the RHCP, contains incredible commentary on sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll, and will make you question your personal history at least three times. If you appreciate honesty, this is where you’ll find it- alongside some mild existentialism and a whole lot of inspiration. In sum, this book makes me want to do things. Big things.
Another favorite travel companion is a book of poems by John, The Ghost, or John O'Callaghan of The Maine. I've loved The Maine for years and have grown up with their music and subsequently grown up with John's writing. I first found his non musical works in 2012 in a short video entitled Said & Done which seemed to lay out my own thoughts for the world to see and share in a manner much more eloquent than I ever could. I waited for years for him to release a published work and my patience was finally rewarded last spring with the release of John, The Ghost, an EP and poetry book. Give the music a listen, give his words a read, you'll see things differently. They're words to live by.
One that I hesitate to recommend every time is On The Road by Jack Kerouac. I'm hesitant partially because it's extremely well known, but also because it's Kerouac and a lot of people really don't enjoy reading him, understandably so. Personally, I feel that reading this book is a stepping stone, if you will, towards the ~almost rite of passage of simply not knowing what you're doing next. Whether you've just booked a one way flight to a new city or you're trying to decide what to do after graduation, uncertainty is nerve-wracking; I feel that On The Road portrays the sense of adventure that comes along with it in such a way that makes you feel like it's all well worth it.
The book follows Sal Paradise’s journey across America and back again (and again and so on) and is considered fairly autobiographical, with each character corresponding to someone in Kerouac’s own life. I first read On The Road while on a rainy day flight to Texas and since then it has had a special place in my heart. It’s definitely a special book and has certainly proved it's worth as a travel companion ~if you're feeling lazy there's also a spectacularly rendered film version available on Netflix in the US
If you're looking for some other book recs I've found that, though starkly different, Jonathan Tropper and Kurt Vonnegut can also be fun to travel with. Just about anything you could ever want to read can be found on Amazon, usually for less than $5 and often for as little as a penny (used books aren't old or overworked, they just have character).
I'll end by saying that a book will always the best travel companion you could ask for even if you never read them- I dragged a copy of The Goldfinch around Europe for a month last summer and never got past the first chapter.