Another year is nearly over and the rotating door for books that is my night stand is sporting a lovely and mostly new crop. A few of them are travel guides recently borrowed from the library and some of them were on the night stand last year, but are at least started. Some from last year’s list were never read but instead moved to the ‘maybe next year’ pile on the bookshelf. And others still are purely for reference and have ben returned to their place in the cabinet.
Those in the ‘maybe next year’ pile have no inherent faults. It’s just that some books need to be saved for the right occasion, like reading on long airplane trips. Such books need to be not too big to carry around on a trip of 4 or more weeks, but big enough to last the holiday. If, like me, you like to catch up on the year’s films while on a long flight, a moderately long book is sufficient even for the gruelling 12 and 14 hour trips from Australia to North America or Europe. And if, like me again, you don’t have holidays where you sit around by the pool in a lounge chair reading books, but instead walk for several hours a day and just want to close your eyes and put your feet up when you get back at night, you’ll know that outside of planes and airports, not a lot of leisure reading actually gets done. My on-ground reading tends to be of the travel boos and local information guide variety.
Really big books like Barbara Kingsolver’s La Lacuna (512 pages) need to be savoured over time. I needed to have a few days break and go back a page or two to catch up and really understand where I had left off while reading this one. It was worth the effort and a very enjoyable and thought-provoking read.
Smaller books like the Bruce Chatwin’s The Songlines (293 pages) are good for reading on the tram or bus to work as they can be chucked into the handbag or lunch box quite easily, and held with one hand while dangling from the commuter strap waiting for some young punk to give up their seat for the nice grey haired lady (fat chance). I enjoyed the writing in this book but did not get a sense of a strong narrative, rather many well written threads.
Try as I may, I still only manage 3 or 4 books a year. So, between studying Italian, work at the documentation factory, volunteering for the Fringe and enjoying summer and the festival season, here’s the list I will work with this year (subject to change without notice).