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What We Dig in Print: Travel & Adventure Picks

By Brad Roe with image by Clive Pursehouse

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“I read voraciously online but when I really need to engage with something, I need it in print. I can still remember weird details of books I read decades ago. I can remember precisely where I read them—for example, Michael Chabon’s “Mysteries of Pittsburgh,” found in a hotel, on a beach in Puerto Ángel, Mexico—but also the typeface, the colophon, the yellowish tint of the pages, the bookstore price tag, the order forms that used to be in the back of paperbacks. I have already forgotten yesterday’s internet.”

—American writer Tom Vanderbilt, interviewed on velocio.cc

“THE ODYSSEY.” Maybe the consummate travel/adventure story in the form of an epic poem written in the 8th century B.C., “The Odyssey” recounts the adventures of Odysseus and his return home from the Trojan War. This book has it all—father and son drama and the transitory idea of home and adventure and war. powells.com

“PASSAGE TO INDIA.” This novel by E.M. Forster, written in 1924 and based on his experiences as a secretary to a maharajah and working for the Egyptian Red Cross in World War I, “reflects his experience of British imperialism.” powells.com

“SHANTARAM.” If you haven’t read this novel by Gregory David Roberts about his purportedly true adventures escaping from an Australian jail (he was a convicted bank robber and heroin addict) and fleeing to Bombay, stop everything you are doing and start reading it. It is so full of adventure and fights and near escapes you will feel like a complete bore and then want to read it again every year. powells.com

“THE MEMORY PALACE OF MATTEO RICCI.” In 1577, Matteo Ricci, a Jesuit priest, left Italy and went to China during the Ming dynasty, where he become part of an elite circle and ended up writing a book in Chinese about the art of memory. If you’ve ever wondered about the limitations of learning new languages and our brain’s ability to memorize huge amounts of information, check this book out. powells.com

“SEVEN STORY MOUNTAIN.” American priest Thomas Merton, who died in 1968, is well known for his poetry, his contemplative life and his adventures to bring Eastern and Western spirituality together, but the “Seven Story Mountain” was his first book and autobiography that included the story of his travels and his conversion to becoming a contemplative. powells.com