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October 19, 2006

Travel reading


(Note: I was going to link to an earlier post I wrote on the subject, but I guess it was at my old blog. Oops.)

As I mentioned, I'm going away this weekend: leaving tonight, coming back Monday. Among other things, this means that about a week ago I started worrying about what I was going to bring to read. I used to have a whole system worked out for trips, involving a book for each day, different genres, and strict mass-market-only format rules. My new One at a Time principle, however, means all that had to change. One book. For the whole long weekend. It was sort of a scary thought, but I knew that I wouldn't exactly have tons of time to read, anyway.

So. One book. My criteria had to be a bit different. Firstly, format wouldn't matter so much. I'd still prefer paperback, but since I'd only be carrying one, I wasn't too worried about weight or suitcase space. The "must belong to me" rule held, though; I've learned, finally, from the time I took a friend's book camping and got it rather damp, and the time I left a book borrowed from the store at my parents' house in Connecticut. Since I was only bringing one, it had to be engaging and fairly long.

The content criteria were a bit more nebulous. Whether we like to admit it or not, it's hard not to consider how the book we're carrying around will make us look to others. And I'm spending the weekend with a bunch of book people, so I felt like my best bet was something very new or obscure or both. (And yes, in case any of you are reading this, I'm aware that no one in this particular group will be judging me based on my reading material. I just think about things too much.) I'm going to be sharing a room with a friend, and spending most of my time with a group, so I needed something that I could pick up and put down and not worry too much about getting interrupted, but that would also hold my attention. Narrative nonfiction seemed to be the way to go.

But what? History? Biography? I flitted from book to book, but nothing seemed quite right. I even bought Jared Diamond's Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, which I've been wanting to read for a while, with the idea that it would work in a pinch. But it seemed so two years ago. (This is one of the hazards of working at a bookstore. I see everything as soon as it comes out - or before - but since I see everything, my reading list is hundreds of books long and I generally seem to be at least a few years behind.)

Then, finally, salvation. Last Saturday, I walked in to the back room at work and found an advance copy of Erik Larson's new book, Thunderstruck. Perfect: non-fiction that would read like a novel. Almost 500 pages. I haven't actually managed to read Larson's previous hit yet (see the above about being a few years behind), but I've heard enough good reviews of it to give him a try. And the new one isn't being released until the 24th, so it can't possibly be passe yet. Right?

Posted by Kat at October 19, 2006 12:21 PM

I hope Thunderstruck is better. Devil in the White City was not a book for me. By the time I got 2/3 of the way through I was dying of boredom. I don't have a better suggestion, maybe bring knitting.

Posted by: beadslut at October 19, 2006 04:34 PM

Thank you for the get-betters this past week; I'm behind, trying to catch up, but I wanted you to know it was appreciated. I hope you enjoy the book; while I was in the hospital, a friend FedExed me "Winterdance," an Itarod memoir, and of course I had to thank him by reading it before I got out (meaning, I had to put down my knitting.) Quite enjoyed it and was glad I did. I would never have known about buffalo deliberately iceskating if I hadn't.

Posted by: AlisonH at October 23, 2006 01:19 AM
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