5 Books for a trip to India


In 15 minutes I’m hopping in a car and driving to the airport, where I will catch a series of planes and, days later, end up in Kolkata, India for three weeks.  My wife, Ashlee, has been there for a month already doing language studies.  Like the huge nerd that I am, the first thing that I did after buying my plane ticket months ago was begin to look for what books I would bring on my journey.

Here are the 5 books that I take with me:


 The Wealth and Poverty of Nations – David S. Landes

Two months ago I was in Austin, Texas and asked Gideon Tsang of Vox Veniae for reading recommendations for my trip. He walked into his bedroom and came back with a copy of The Wealth and Poverty of Nations.  This thick 650 plus page book is Harvard Professor David Landes’ attempt to decipher what has caused some nations to thrive economically, while others have not.  This book is not supposed to look in depth at India, but my hope is that the ideas Landes sets forth will still provide a lense through which to encounter India’s developing economy.

brothers karamazov

The Brothers Karamazov – Fyodor Dostoevsky

There are few chances in my life to attempt to take down a monstrous 1,000 page plus book…and a long flight to India might be a good starting point.  I’ve had my eye on this book for years, but after reading Under the Unpredictable Plant by Eugene Peterson last month in which he talks at length about the The Brothers Karamazov, and after receiving the book as a gift from my wife, it may finally be time to get started.


The Heart of God – Prayers of Rabindranath Tagore

Rabindranath Tagore is by far the most well-known author of Kolkata, comparable to William Shakespeare in terms of his cultural influence and his vast output as an author, composer, playwright and poet.  Tagore’s ideas and writings are so prevalent in Bengali society that there seems to be a saying of Tagore or almost any situation – functioning almost as Bengali proverbs.  His humble and earnest prayers are said to be “like the Psalms of David.  They transcend time and speak directly to the human heart”.


We Drink From Our Own Wells – Gustavo  Gutierrez

For  years I’ve read about Gutierrez. It seems like every book I was reading in college would include a quote of his or contained a footnote to one of his books. As a Dominican priest, Gutierrez dedicated his life to helping the poor, oppressed and marginalized in Latin America, and his theology reflects this:

But the poor person does not exist as an inescapable fact of destiny. His or her existence is not politically neutral, and it is not ethically innocent. The poor are a by-product of the system in which we live and for which we are responsible. They are marginalized by our social and cultural world. They are the oppressed, exploited proletariat, robbed of the fruit of their labor and despoiled of their humanity. Hence the poverty of the poor is not a call to generous relief action, but a demand that we go and build a different social order – Gutierrez

Pastor Stacee recommended this book in particular to me, and it’s perhaps the one I’m looking forward to the most.


The Scandalous Gospel of Jesus – Peter Gomes

I honestly have no idea here this book came from.  I was looking through my stack of books yesterday as I was beginning to pack…and there it was.  I’m sure someone lent it to me to read at some point, but, I don’t know who, and I don’t know when.  As I begin quickly leafing through the pages, I found that I couldn’t put the book down!  What started out as a quick flip through ended with me halting my packing so I could begin reading.  I know I’m not saying much about what this book is actually about, and honestly, I can’t really even tell you! But there’s something about it that drew me in and it has found its way into the my backpack.


  1. Those are some big ol’ books, my friend. A lot of intellectual ground to cover while you cover miles and miles of the planet’s gracious girth. Go in peace. Read with attention. Come home full. We love you two.

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