Love, sex and travel: a book logList of books I’m taking with me for the up-coming trip:
1. Steven Pinker’s The Blank Slate. Book blurb: In the past century, many people have assumed that we are shaped by our environment: a blank slate waiting to be inscribed by upbringing and culture, with innate abilities playing little part. The Blank Slate shows that this view denies the heart of our being: human nature. We are prepared for sex, aggression and jealousy – and also love, compassion and reason. Violence is not just a product of society; male and female minds are different; the genes we give our children shape them more than our parenting practices. To acknowledge our nature, Pinker shows, is not to condone inequality or callousness, but ultimately to understand the very foundations of humanity.
I’ve been reading this lately and so far, it’s pretty engrossing. It’d be hard to write a book review that would do it justice, considering the wealth of information that Pinker puts across. Right now, I say… two thumbs up! Go read some Steven Pinker!
2. In the Empire of Genghis Khan: A journey among nomads by Stanley Stewart.
Yep, yet another travel book because these days, I can only journey within the memoirs of another traveller. This time, it’s set in the distant homeland of the Mongol Hordes. “Crossing desert and mountains of Central Asia, battling through the High Altay, and the fringes of the Gobi, to the wind-swept grasslands of the steppes and the birthplace of Genghis Khan.”
3. Mosquito by Andrew Spielman and Michael D’Antonio.
How could I live in a tropical island of swaying coconut trees and green mangoes and sweltering heat and not read this book?
4. Globalization and its discontents by Joseph Stiglitz
Globalization! What is it good for?
5. Brief encounters: Stories of love, sex & travel (Lonely Planet Journeys)
Received this through a bookcrossing trade. It’s a lot less tantalizing than one would hope. Actually some of the stories that I’ve read so far are boring or cliché. Example: American tourist sleeps with native guide. Gives him her camera and money when she leaves, yet wishes that she could give him more. Dreams of being pregnant with his child… err…. Ok.
Reminds me of the time I stayed in a longhouse lodge a couple of months ago. The locals didn’t think I was one of them. The young men kept exclaiming, “Japanese! Japanese!” (…… right..). One grabbed my hand and whispered, “I love you”.
The guide later told me that a drunk local man tried to sneak into the room one night where a Japanese female tourist was staying. But he was caught before he had reached the room.
I didn’t sleep well that night, because I kept imagining some enamored local would come bursting into my room and I had better be prepared with my fists of fury. The problem was that they didn’t have actual doors, instead the doorway was covered by flimsy curtains. It’s a beautiful lodge, with a nice view of the river but obviously, it was built by short Iban men. My main beef was the shower rooms where the walls were only 5’5” tall, I swear. I was taking a shower once and this 6’2” Swede walks past and PEEKS IN. I yelped and huddled my neked self to the farthest corner. It was kinda traumatizing to take showers after that.
It's my birthday today!