At the “House of Miles” – the home of Frequent Flyer Services, the company that brought you BoardingArea, FlyerTalk, Milepoint, SeatExpert, etc, etc – there is a library filled with travel guidebooks and novels that make for good, light in-flight reading.
But as is pointed out in this thread on the Lonely Planet forums, in which cdamarks is seeking advice on a good guidebook for India, there is another genre of literature that is popular with many travelers – namely, tales that are set in the location to be visited. This can include both fiction and non-fiction – the main criteria being that the story includes extensive descriptions of the geography, destinations and the culture of the region.
Some examples related to India from the thread:
‘Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity’ by Katherine Boo
‘A Passage to India’ by E.M. Forster
‘Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found’ by Suketu Mehta
‘Shantaram: A Novel’ by Gregory David Roberts
‘City of Djinns: A Year In Delhi’ by William Dalrymple
‘The God Of Small Things’ by Arundhati Roy
‘Midnight’s Children’ by Salman Rushdie (all recommended by MeatIsMurder)
V.S. Naipul “An Area of Darkness” and “A Wounded Civilisation”
Eric Newby “Slowly Down the Ganges”
anything by William Dalrymple
Geeta Mehta, “Karma Cola” (all recommended by merantau)
I’m a newly minted convert to this particular practice of trip preparation, but I’m a devout believer. Prior to my trip to western China I stumbled upon “Forgotten Kingdom” by Peter Goullart, and found that my reading of it added to the enjoyment of the vacation.
What about you? Do you seek out books set in the region to which you are planning a trip? If so, please share your favorites in the comments section below.
Read the Lonely Planet thread in its entirety: Best book for preparing to travel in India