Sunday, January 17, 2016

Gathering Reading Material for a Trip

As usual when planning for a trip, one of my very important preparations involves choosing what to bring to read. As I have mentioned here before, it is a delicate balancing act to make sure I have enough to read, and yet not so much that my bags will be completely weighed down. And no, I still haven’t converted to e-readers. Also, I prefer a certain type of reading material for trips: good writing, but not too demanding. This is especially important for long plane flights, such as the ones I took on the trip to Italy from which I have just returned. So I usually take several paperback novels, along with a selection of magazines and newspapers. Then as I read each book or periodical, I jettison it along the way, to make room for more reading material if needed, or if I am at the end of my trip, to make my bags lighter. When I am at my destination(s), in order to “top up” my reading material, I watch out for bookstores that sell books in English, and I usually find them. It is fun to browse bookstores in other countries, and of course I always feel at home in bookstores. A bonus, in Europe, is that I sometimes find books that have not been published in the United States, or at least not to my knowledge. During my 12-day Italy trip, I read six novels, one short story collection, several magazines, and newspapers in English (usually the New York Times International) as often as I could find them. Among the books, most were enjoyable but not memorable, which was fine; they served the purpose I chose them for. The exceptions, the two that were at a higher literary level and more memorable, were the esteemed writer Elizabeth Spencer’s 1967 novel, “No Place for an Angel,” and the also esteemed writer Rose Tremain’s “The American Lover and Other Stories.” The former had the added attraction of being partly set in Italy. But my favorite reading on the trip was the latter, the Tremain collection, one which I definitely recommend. Oh, and Italy was, of course, amazing!
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