Read this: On The Road by Jack Kerouac 

On The Road
by Jack Kerouac

One of my favourite books of all time, Jack Kerouac’s semi-autobiographical piece is based on the travels he and his friends took across America which defined a generation, and continues to capture those of us with gypsy hearts even now, almost 50 years after it was published. Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty define the term “free-spirited,” and their adventures in hitch-hiking, drugs, music, poetry and going where ever the road happened to take them is strangely beautiful. It’s also one of the most well-known and written about travel books out there, so I’m not going to write a whole lot more about what it’s all about; if you want to know more about the turbulent brilliance that was Jack Kerouac and the culture changing Beat Generation, just Google it. Instead, let me quickly tell you why I love this book so much, and why I’ll keep reading it over and over again.

“Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.”

That line right there cried out to me. It jumped off the page, and wormed into my soul. How could it not? What I wouldn’t give to feel that kind of freedom… I find the past, what’s behind me, a curious thing. I’d like to think that I have no real regrets in life thus far, being a firm believer in the school of thought that I wouldn’t be who or where I am today without having taken the path I’ve taken, “mistakes” and all. As for having everything ahead of me – what a beautiful idea. Reading that one little line paints such a vivid image in my head. I can see myself, clearly, standing literally in the middle of a dusty, away from the city type road, a quiet road with very little traffic, like the ones you see the truckers driving down to get from city to city in the movies. I see myself standing there in my favourite torn blue jeans and my hooded black and red checkered shirt and my black Chuck Taylors. I see a worn, brown leather overnight bag by my feet, my sunglasses perched up high amongst my messy auburn hair, and a stupid, scared, excited smile on my face. Leaving everything so far behind me and looking ahead. It excites me. It’s something I want.

I’m bogged down in a life of reality and obligation and paying the bills and being a responsible wife and daughter and friend and colleague. What I want, more than anything on earth, more than a fancy house or nice car or brilliant career, is to pack it all in and hit the road. And I think that’s why I love this book so much; for those few hours when I’m reading it, in my mind, I’m free. I may not be into the sex and drugs and rock n roll, but the freedom is intoxicating. And if I ever can work up the courage to just get up and leave and live life unplanned and unexpectedly, I feel like this would be very true as well…

“I was surprised, as always, be how easy the act of leaving was, and how good it felt. The world was suddenly rich with possibility.”

 

If you, too, are a wandering soul in need of escape, pick up a copy here – hopefully it’ll fill that need for the time being until you can get out on the road  : )

 

10 Books Every Traveller Must Read (as published on ThoughtCatalog)

Well this was an exciting email to wake up to – my first ThoughtCatalog article has been published! Hehe yay for small wins  : )

If you’d like to read the full article, please make your way on over to the ThoughtCatalog page, which you’ll find right here. Otherwise, enjoy the slightly quicker version below!

 

With travel being more accessible than ever, more of us are packing our bags and taking off on our own little adventures. Airlines are offering new routes, we’re able to organize every part of our trip on our smart phone, we’re increasingly using travel as an opportunity to connect and learn, and we have the ability to travel faster than ever.

At the same time, though, there’s a push to move back to the travel of yesteryear; moving slowly, spending time getting to know the locals, street food over exclusive restaurants, keeping travel journals and getting off the beaten path.

Whatever your style, it seems most travelers do have at least one thing in common; most enjoy reading about the adventures of other like-minded souls. There are an infinite number of travel tomes out there, running the full gamut from informative and clinical to the imaginative, story-telling styles. The following books are ten of my favorites (so far), and I think worthy of a place on the reading list of anyone else suffering from that incurable case of wanderlust.

1. “Nine Lives” – Dan Baum

2. “Away From It All: An Escapologist’s Notebook” – Cedric Belfrage

3. “Wanderlust: An Affair with Five Continents” – Elisabeth Eaves

4. “The Snow Leopard” – Peter Matthiessen

5. “A Fortune Teller Told Me” – Tiziano Terzani

6. “Gumbo Tales: Finding My Place At The New Orleans Table” – Sara Roahen

7. “The Tao of Travel” – Paul Theroux

8. “On The Road” – Jack Kerouac

9. “Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel” – Rolf Potts

10. “The Idle Traveller: The Art of Slow Travel” – Dan Kieran

Shop here: Argosy Books, New York City

Argosy Books
116 E 59th St, New York
http://www.argosybooks.com/shop/argosy/index.html

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Ohh my goodness, how much I adored this place!! Argosy Book Store was founded way back in 1925, making it the city’s oldest independent bookstore. As they say on their website, they have so many books they literally fill a 6-storey building, which is no mean feat in New York City! They specialise in books of the antiquarian and out-of-print varieties, and their store is like walking into the most perfect, old, well loved library where you can actually take the books home to keep! I picked up a few books, a gorgeous old copy of My Fair Lady for my sister and A Treasury of Great Mysteries for myself, and would have purchased quite a few more if my poor suitcase could have managed! The prices were fantastic, the range better than you could possibly imagine – it’s somewhere every bibliophile should visit in New York!

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My favorite book: The University of Hard Knocks by Ralph Parlette

The University of Hard Knocks
by Ralph Parlette

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I found this book years ago on the shelves of the Grub Street Bookshop on Brunswick Street. To this day, I cannot tell you how I came to own it. I don’t know what drew me to it – it wasn’t on a shelf at eye level, I had to crouch down to find it. It was tattered and torn and faded and old. It had no blurb to pique my interest, nor pictures. But as soon as I saw it’s broken spine and gently pulled it from the shelf, I knew it was mine. Is that weird, to feel a connection to a book? Probably. But I am a bit weird, so I’ll own it.

I took it to the counter and paid $5.00 for it. How could I have known then that $5.00 note would change my life, would change my soul, irrevocable and irreversibly? How could I make such a huge investment in myself and my life for only $5.00? Is that fate? Do you believe in fate? Do I?

It took me all of about 2 days to read it cover to cover. I was completely transfixed. This was the book I needed. The universe knew I needed it.

This first page, these first few lines, had me hook, line and sinker. Not long after reading and re-reading and re-re-reading the book, I ended up getting that line tattooed on my arm: “Every bump is a lesson.”

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Basically, this book came to be from Ralph Parlette’s lecture “The University of Hard Knocks.” This is, as far as I’m concerned, the ultimate users guide for life. There’s no other way to describe this book, and it’s almost impossible to summarise or review. Instead, let me show you some of my favourite quotes from this book (it’s damn near impossible to select a few, the entire book is one perfect quote) that’ll open your eyes, heart and soul, and teach you a few things about really living your life…

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I used to say, “Nobody uses me right. Nobody gives me a chance.” But if chances had been snakes, I would have been bitten a hundred times a day. We need oculists, not opportunities.

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As we get bumped and battered on life’s pathway, we discover we get two kinds of bumps—bumps that we need and bumps that we do not need. Bumps that we bump into and bumps that bump into us. We discover, in other words, that The University of Hard Knocks has two colleges—The College of Needless Knocks and The College of Needful Knocks. We attend both colleges.

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“Ralph Parlette,” I said to myself, “when are you going to learn to see as well as that blind man? He learns his lesson with one bump, and you have to go bumping into the same things day after day and wonder why you have so much ‘bad luck’!”

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All over America are fathers and mothers who have struggled and have become strong men and women thru their struggles, who are saying, “Our children shall have better chances than we had. We are living for our children. We are going to give them the best education our money can buy.” Then, forgetful of how they became strong, they plan to take away from their children their birthright—their opportunity to become strong and “prepared”—through struggle and service and overcoming.

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Trust me, if you read not a single thing more for the rest of your life, you do need to read this book. It should be compulsory reading for every single human being. If you can’t find a magic copy like I did, you can buy a newer one here, or alternatively thank the good people at Gutenberg.org for recognising how completely important this text is and providing a free copy you can read online.