Wor(l)d Wanderers: 6 Books From Women Writing the World

From travel writing to memoirs and even exploring life in myth — fantastic tales by female writers. These are not just escapist entertainment either, all have insightful connections to the conditions of the world, importance of myth and the process of self discovery. Caution: the books listed below are so good you may never need to travel again!


Educating Alice: Adventures of a Curious Woman

by Alice Steinbach

Inspiring your sense of adventure to do what you love and love what you do, this book is a trip of learning around the world. Each chapter is a new educational adventure in a different country — for example, a cooking school in Paris and a writing workshop in Prague. As each of the chapters ends I found myself longing for a whole book to continue the story, but then just as the final sentence rolled off my tongue I would be thrilled by the title of the next adventure (Geisha School in Kyoto?!). This book really made me understand the term 'living vicariously' and I hope to do more of it.


Iran Awakening: One Woman's Journey to Reclaim Her Life and Country

by Shirin Ebadi, Azadeh Moaveni

I have a process by which I decide what book to take with me on a vacation. This ordeal must be completed well before the trial-run of the suitcase packing as both book weight and size are critical factors. First I do a trip assessment: adding up flight time, lounging time, waiting time and subtracting museum hours, eating hours, sightseeing hours and sleeping hours. Then I rush to the book shelf to sit and stare at it for awhile until *bam* I suddenly find myself with five options on the floor in front of me. Luckily this title made the cut not too long ago for a lounging vacation with a serious tone. Iran Awakening took my hammock time into the realms of inspiration, education and passion. This portrait of women in Iran is not only moving and engaging, but an eye-opening account by a daring (Nobel Peace Prize-winning) woman. It'll make your ten days away like a beautiful crash course in how history shapes our current world.


The Electrical Field

by Sakamoto Kerri, Kerri Sakamoto

I am likely THE worst book-returner (libraries excluded) ever. I relish in being able to take as much time as necessary to read, re-read, reflect and simply feel every book without a deadline to be read. As such, I'm still ashamed to say that I've had this novel on loan from my father for over four years... but yet it took me only four days to read it. I was instantly drawn in to the small neighborhood and their individual, interwoven stories of shared experience and then struggle to reconcile many layers of what it means to be a community. These vivid first and second generation Japanese Canadians after World War II have an idiosyncratic realness as they all try to find their sense of place in the midst of strange and dramatic events. I'll probably never be able to return this book to my dad.


Holy Cow: An Indian Adventure

by Sarah Macdonald

Some books you "just read" and with others you have relationships. You check in on them throughout the day, can't stop thinking about them, and cuddle under the covers every chance you get. I met this book in a bookstore (how typical!) and it's bright, almost too flashy cover caught my eye so I couldn't help to get to know it better. The well-placed details and sarcasm hooked me and the fling began. My lust waned briefly after a disagreement over religious views and cultural skepticism, but the captivating personality in the pages kept me from making any rash decisions. My infatuation grew to love as the book challenged my values and made me consider my future plans. One day, in a sudden plot-twist of fate I knew my love would never end. However, this dear book had other plans and as the back cover drew near I knew our departure was eminent. I'll never regret the time we spent together though — moments of sublime grace and well-timed hilarity mixed in with a depth that snuck up on me and will make this a read that I'll always remember.


A Complicated Kindness

by Miriam Toews

My initial skepticism on this book grew from a warning from a friend. The friend told me that the book holds a bleak and unflattering view into a tight-knit faith community. I thanked my friend and promptly checked out the book — and I'm glad I did. The world depicted was so close to me that it transcended the age of both the reader and narrator. The coming-of-age tale made me reflect on new beginnings all over again. I think the best of world wandering can often come from right next door... from trying to understand and respect a nearby place so close that it feels foreign.


The Mists of Avalon

by Marion Zimmer Bradley

Okay, really... who doesn't like the Knights of the Round Table and King Arthur? Well, if you've always loved it or never cared for it — this is still the book for you. For me, something was always missing in the traditional tale... but this version solves the problem. Told from the point of view of the women of Camelot, I was so enthralled with this book that I actually felt offended when a friend commented that "I don't read that kind of fiction, I want books to mean something real." To me this book, although set in mythical place and time, spoke to such real human urges — the struggle for power and the quest to find oneself — that I nearly shouted "it's one of the most meaningful things a person CAN read about."