Sri Lanka is known for its rich, full-bodied Ceylon tea, fishermen on stilts, and staggering beauty. If you want to visit an elephant sanctuary, trek to a mountaintop monastery, or swim (and surf) in crystal-blue waters, this teardrop-shaped island in the Bay of Bengal is the place to go.
In contrast to its warm, soothing climate is its long history of civil war. The conflict that raged from 1983 until 2009 between the mostly-Sinhalese government and the insurgent Tamil Tigers had a profound and lasting effect on the population.
But none of that has curbed Sri Lankans’ welcoming temperament nor the island’s natural charms. There’s world-class street food — all manner of crunchy, savory fried things, spicy curries, and tropical fruits like nothing you’ve ever seen before. There are sparkling waterfalls, whale watching and leopard sightings, and an iconic train ride through lush green jungles dotted with colorful flowers. All giving truth to the name Sri (Resplendent) Lanka (Island).
In this episode, we explore Sri Lankan legend, get nostalgic about Duran Duran, hear the details of a remarkable airplane adventure, and get very curious about wood fruit. Then we recommend five great books that took us to Sri Lanka on the page, including an adventure memoir by the world’s best travel writer, an unusual crime story, a colorful cookbook, and two dream-like novels set during the civil war years, one of which Mel clutched to her chest in a hug.
Here are the books about Sri Lanka we recommend on the show:
For a complete roundup of all the books we recommend, plus a full transcript and the other cool stuff we talked about, visit the Episode 49 show notes.
Subscribe to our podcast so you never miss a must-read book or thrilling destination!
If we're not available on your favorite podcast-listening platform, send us an email!
Top image courtesy of Athikhom Saengchai/Shutterstock.
Want to keep up with our book-related adventures? Sign up for our newsletter!
Can you help us? If you like this article, share it your friends!
Strong Sense of Place is a website and podcast dedicated to literary travel and books we love. Reading good books increases empathy. Empathy is good for all of us and the amazing world we inhabit.
Strong Sense of Place is a listener-supported podcast. If you like the work we do, you can help make it happen by joining our Patreon! That'll unlock bonus content for you, too — including Mel's secret book reviews and Dave's behind-the-scenes notes for the latest Two Truths and a Lie.
This is a weekly email. If you'd like a quick alert whenever we update our blog, subscribe here.
We'll share enough detail to help you decide if a book is for you, but we'll never ruin plot twists or give away the ending.
This 30-page Reading Atlas takes you around the world with dozens of excellent books and gorgeous travel photos. Get your free copy when you subscribe to our newsletter.
Content on this site is ©2023 by Smudge Publishing, unless otherwise noted. Peace be with you, person who reads the small type.