I am not sure which books backpackers carry with them these days so this list may be a little out of date. The concept of backpacker books goes back to the days of the hippy trail when travellers would carry such classics as the I Ching, the Tibetan Book of the Dead or anything by Herman Hesse. A backpacker classic should have an element of profundity, preferably mystical -if not it should have cult status or be a statement about who you really are. There is an element of self discovery in setting off – the path to enlightenment, the journey inwards…A backpacker book is not a ‘beach read’–the book must be worth the weight and space it takes up and should be reverentially handed on to other travellers or left in a hotel or bus station for another seeker to chance upon.
Some of the books that appear on this list include :
Joseph Heller. Catch 22
Herman Hesse. Siddhartha (also Glass Bead Game, Magister Ludi, and Steppenwolf)
Yann Martel. Life of Pi
Pirsig- Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
J. D. Salinger. Catcher in the Rye
Vikram Seth- A Suitable Boy (for a very long journey)
Milton. Paradise Lost
The Holy Bible (King James version)
Paulo Coelho. The Alchemist
Alex Garland. The Beach (backpacker’s novel about backpacking– a great read)
Gabrial Garcia Marquez. One Hundred Years of Solitude
Irvine Welsh. Trainspotting.
Umberto Eco. Name of the Rose( also Foucault’s Pendulum)
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