A Passage to India
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Balsam Hill Summer Reading List: Books that Take Us on a Journey

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Books have the ability to magically transport readers to both faraway and familiar landscapes. Through beautifully crafted prose, they treat readers to a sensory feast, providing an opportunity to know and fall in love with places they may never get to visit in their lifetime. Through the characters, books shed new light on places. This summer, embark on a journey and rediscover the world with these five marvelous novels:

Photo by mrwalker via Flickr. CC BY-NC 2.0.
Photo by mrwalker via Flickr. CC BY-NC 2.0.

E.M. Forster’s A Passage to India

A Passage to India

One of Time Magazine’s All-Time 100 Novels, this 1924 tour de force focuses on the story of Dr. Aziz, a young Indian physician who works at a hospital managed by the British, and the false accusation made against him by one Adela Quested during a trip to the Marabar caves. This event leads to a captivating trial that threatens to rile up an entire nation and further worsen the conflict between the native Indians and the British colony. Brilliantly written, this novel expertly maps out the vibrant and charmed world of India as it comes to grips with the looming changes brought about by the west.

Paul Bowle’s The Sheltering Sky

The Sheltering Sky

Hailed as one of the most powerful novels of the 20th century and a favorite of the Beat Generation, this 1949 classic follows Port Moresby and his wife, Kit, as they leave New York for Northern Africa. Despite the melancholic nature of their expedition and the existential discourse pursued by the novel on the question of the human condition, the novel successfully brings to life Tangier, a city in Northern Morocco. With its simple and clean prose, it wonderfully entices readers with the bohemian and hedonistic culture found in this quaint paradise by the sea. The likes of William S. Burroughs, Truman Capote, and Henry Matisse have all lived in Tangier and claimed that their decision to move there was because of Paul Bowle’s masterpiece.

Graham Greene’s The Quiet American

The Quiet American

Published in 1955 and inspired by the author’s own experiences when he was a war correspondent, The Quiet American tells the story of Thomas Fowler, an aging British journalist covering the war in Vietnam, and his relationship with Alden Pyle, an idealistic American who seeks to learn more about the politics and culture of the country. Filled with exciting sequences and moving discussions about the immorality of war, this novel succeeds in conjuring up the lush scenery, rich history, and captivating culture of Vietnam as it was on the brink of destruction because of the war. This novel has been met with great acclaim and has been the subject of two film adaptations and numerous stage productions.

Jeanette Winterson’s The Passion

The Passion

This 1987 John Llewellyn Rhys Prize awardee gives its readers a glimpse of the Napoleonic war told from the point of view of two characters: Henri, a chef working for the emperor, and Villanelle, a beautiful circus performer with webbed feet. At the core of the novel is a love story that begins and grows as the two characters escape the ravages of the battlefield and voyage through the snow-covered terrain of Russia and Eastern Europe. After months of travel, they finally reach the country of France where their love faces its greatest challenge. Evocative and filled with rich detail, this novel is a meditation on both love and the heart’s ceaseless need to embark on a journey regardless of the consequences.

Jack Kerouac’s On The Road

On The Road

On the Road is an autobiographical novel detailing the travels of Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty, the fictional personae of Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady, as they travel across America and visit San Francisco, Virginia, Denver, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Texas, and New York over a period of five years. Set against the post-World War II landscape of America, this 1957 masterpiece is a celebration of youth, jazz, art, philosophy, and literature, and a profound reflection on the meaning of existence and liberty in a country radically changed by a global conflict. Critics proclaim that it is truly the great American novel.

Embark on an unforgettable journey and rediscover the world in these five beautiful novels.

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