Books have always been valued for their power to take you on a journey and show you a different world. Not everyone has the ability to travel and experience other cultures or drastically change their career, so books provide a chance to truly see a different side to the world. Here are some excellent books that give you a glimpse into unique walks of life and periods in history.
The Biggest Bluff, Maria Konnikova
Maria Konnikova has come a long way on the poker scene. From a complete beginner to a well-respected pro, she has grown quite the fan following on the tournament circuit. Before she wrote this book she had no experience in the game of poker, but she decided to use her Harvard-educated mind to see if she could excel in such a male-dominated world.
The author has a PhD in psychology and so, unsurprisingly, is fascinated with the way the mind processes the world around us. She initially had a growing interest in the phenomenon of luck and how we perceive its action in our lives; from this point, she eventually found her way to the poker tables. She quickly gained a knack for the game, and eventually decided to disband her novel idea revolving around luck and instead decided to write about her experience. The Biggest Bluff is an excellent book and, along the way, the reader gets a detailed glimpse into the world of high stakes tournament poker as well as the hidden side to professional poker players.
Life on the Mississippi, Mark Twain
This classic memoir by the famed author Mark Twain gives us a fascinating look into the history of the Mississippi river and the people and communities that were centered around it in the late 1800s. The novel begins with a description of the area, before Twain goes into the details of his personal relationship with the river.
From the time that he was a young boy, Twain became infatuated with the steamboats of the era and wanted to be a captain of one of these majestic vessels. Though his first plan was to travel to the Amazon river and begin his journey there, he eventually decided to stick closer to home and found his way to the Mississippi river.
What follows is a coming of age story for the soon-to-be legendary American writer. Notably, this memoir also reveals how Mark Twain got his famous pen name. Born Samuel Langhorne Clemens, he adopted the name Mark Twain from one of the old steamboat captains he trained under. The name is actually a nautical term that means “two fathoms.” Fans of historical literature, especially early Americana, will find this to be a fascinating and engaging read.
Into the Wild, Jon Krakauer
This nonfiction story documents the extensive two year journey of American youth Chris McCandless that ultimately ended with his untimely death in the Alaskan wild. Author Jon Krakauer spent over a year tracing the footsteps of McCandless and collecting accounts from the people that McCandless met along the way.
In May 1990, McCandless graduated from Emory University in Atlanta feeling lost and disenfranchised with the world around him. Wishing to completely drop out of society, he donated his life savings to a local charity and began traveling across the US. He rarely stayed in one place for more than a few weeks at a time while he did odd jobs, hitchhiked and lived in the woods. Eventually he decided to venture into the unknown Alaskan wilderness where he took shelter in an abandoned bus. Through a combination of starvation, illness, and poor living conditions, he eventually died there in August 1992. The bus he stayed in for his last days has become something of a holy site, with people making the pilgrimage to visit this iconic bus every year.
The biography eventually spawned a well-received film in 2007, and the film and book together have made McCandless into something of a cult hero. When a screen adaptation can build upon the success of the book it’s based on, the story can reach an even wider audience than before. Into the Wild is a classic story that reaches the audience and gives them a heartfelt look into a world of isolation, loneliness, and the struggles that we go through as we venture out into the unknown.