Shelley: I loved Three Cups of Tea! I read it toward the end of finishing my book. Very inspirational.
For nonfiction books to help a person prepare for traveling to India, there are two totally different ones I would recommend. The first is called Wanderlust and Lipstick, by my writer friend Beth Whitman in Seattle. She’s an India travel fanatic and very talented writer, and her book is an exceptional guide for women traveling to India.
The second is called Holy Cow by Sarah MacDonald. This was passed around during my first trip to India, and it’s a memoir of an Australian woman who visits India once as a college student, vowing never to return (the classical tourist hate reaction) – only to move there with her boyfriend some years later. It’s a really hilarious account of how the country takes non-Indians and makes them Indian. It has a way of making you fall in love with it.
As far as fiction goes, I want to read Shantaram although I haven’t yet. On this last trip there I read The Splendor of Silence, set during World War II, and it was beautiful. But my all-time favorite novel set in India is The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. Set in Kerala, perhaps my favorite place in India, and tells the story of a brother and sister growing up, and the family secrets that won’t let them go. Lyrical, spellbinding, haunting and simply amazing.
Note: Holy Cow stirred up quite a bit of controversy, particularly among Parsis, but also some other Indians who felt it was insensitive. I like the review written by a Lehigh professor. If you visit there, be sure to read the comments.
Do you have comments on any of these five books? I hope you will join the conversation, but at least be sure to add a sixth book– Shelley Seale’s The Weight of Silence, to your traveler’s reading list.