Reading over the wonderful guest post from writing teacher Jan Cornall, I was lead to reminiscing about the books I have bought while abroad.
I too love visiting bookshops when I travel overseas, and find the assortment of English language books on offer quite tantalising. That way I end up reading things I would otherwise never have purchased. Accidental finds that stick in my mind are Memoirs of a Geisha, The Beach and The Power of Positive Thinking.
I went to my pile (actually, piles) of unread books and pulled out a few that I have purchased overseas recently:
The Truth of Nature by Buddhadasa Bhikkhu - Buddhadasa is one of Thailand's modern Buddhist saints, and his work has always been popular in the English-speaking world. His monastery in Southern Thailand, Suan Mokkh, has attracted Western men seeking to become Buddhist monastics, and Buddhadasa's pared-back reading of the Buddhadharma that emphasised simplicity and ecology made him particularly simpatico to the Western sensibility. I found this nice new edition of one of his English-language books at Kinokuniya in Bangkok, which always has a really interesting selection of books about Buddhism.
Year Zero by Francois Ponchaud - I bought this photocopied edition of one of the most interesting accounts of Pol Pot's Cambodia at a bookshop in Phnom Penh. It is a quite primitive production, but it only cost me $2 and I have always wanted to read the book. Don't hate me. My own book Destination Saigon is sold in pirated editions in Vietnam and I am kind of flattered by the attention.
On Happiness by Kenny Png and Jeremy Fernando - OK, Jeremy Fernando - voted Asia's sexiest philosopher by a Singaporean women's magazine - is a friend of mine, but I did actually buy this. I was at a conference in Singapore recently and this book was for sale at the conference book table. I always like to buy my friends' books, and I hadn't read this one yet.
Autobiography of a Saint by St. Therese of Lisieux - This comes from the Livraria Sao Paulo in Macau, one of my favourite bookshops in the world. Run by the Sisters of Saint Paul, who run bookshops all over the world, this little shop near the Macau Cathedral has an excellent selection of Catholic devotional classics, many of them, like this one, printed in India and offered at a very reasonable price. I have read several of the Saints in editions purchased at the Livraria, as well as the works of the inimitable 1950s Catholic self-help guru Bishop Fulton J. Sheen.
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