holiday reading

I love travelling, hate packing. I don’t mind the whole clothes, shoes, toiletries part; I’m fairly scruffy low maintenance, and I can get that done in ten minutes or so. It’s choosing which books to take along which gets me, every time. I’ve been known to take longer deliberating over what to read on holiday than I spent arranging the holiday in the first place.

Earlier this year, I bought myself a Kindle. One reason was the hope it would make packing easier. People get so very opinionated over e-readers. If I had a pound for every time someone has said, “Oh no, I couldn’t do that, I love books too much,” or a similar sentiment… well, let’s just say I’d be using the proceeds to buy myself more bookshelves…

I love books. Very much indeed. So much so that I have hundreds of the things, and no space left on my bookshelves. I’m slowly working my way through current stock, and forcing myself to make harsh decisions about what I’ll ever want to reread. Charity shops are doing well out of me this summer, but there’s still a houseful. The trouble is that we’ve spawned three more readers and book collectors. Short of a tardis-style bookroom, I don’t know what we do about the shelf space crisis.
I’m still buying books, but far more selectively. Secondhand books, found books, old out-of-print favourites from long ago. Books where the illustrations matter as much as, or even more than, the words. Books I have such a deep and meaningful relationship with that I need to have that physical contact. (I’ve realised- I rarely buy a book these days which I haven’t already read. It takes a little of the fun out of bookshops, but it saves a bloody fortune.) So I’m downloading too, and it’s working for me. Free classics, self-published bargains, more stories to feed my craving.
NB. The one true downside of a Kindle is that you need self-control to resist the lure of Amazon and their one-click purchasing. Knowing you have the potential for instant gratification at the end of your mouse hand is a terrible thing…

I was reminded of this book in the most timely way just as I packed to go to Anglesey. I’d bought it, read it, and loved it a few years back on a trip to Colonsay. But somehow I’d forgotten about it, and it was sitting dustily on a shelf, until Helen reminded me with a poem.
Kathleen Jamie was the perfect holiday companion for the mood I’m in these summer days. A few of her pieces echoed so closely things I’ve been thinking lately that I found myself double-checking they were her words, not my own thoughts. After a long day of beachcombing, reading Jamie’s delight in her own Findings took my own enjoyment to another level (and made me long for someone to present me with a gannet skull as a gift*) Briefly, I felt less lonely; there was someone who understood. Other chapters had me planning my own midwinter trip to Orkney, driving the length of the Outer Hebrides right to the very end of the road, and pondering an atheist substitute for prayer.
This weekend I have another travel reading dilemma. What shall I read while I walk from Alnmouth to Lindisfarne? Or on Tiree, or anywhere else for that matter… Recommendations welcome, please. (Bonus points if it’s available for Kindle, to keep my rucksack portable!)
*Big Girl says I should not be greedy. She reminded me that I have a sheep’s skull of my very own, which she found for me when we got lost on a short walk round the back of Mallaig last year, and I should be grateful for that…



Filed under books, favourite places, memories, travels

5 responses to “holiday reading

  1. dawn

    I’m just packing for a weekend at a small folk festival where the weather forecast is for rain. so far it’s about 8 books, 1 lot of spinning (for when sat in pubs) and 3 lots of knitting – might have to rationalise it a little as it does seem slightly excessive for 3 days!

  2. I found the kindle app on my phone so useful on holiday (even if it was used mainly for reading Elsie books) and am now seriously considering going the whole hog and getting a kindle…apart from the fact that it is on my phone and only one thing to carry round and so easy is actually a big part of the usefulness.

  3. Ah, I just plugged it in to charge every night, often while I was still reading. Not as easy to do while camping.

  4. I’ve just finished The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver – sure I’m late to the party and you’ve probably read it before, but I loved it – great antidote to the modern ‘possessions’ culture.

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