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Traveling in words. January 23, 2010

Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
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Our friend Ben and Silence Dogood always like to pack a few books when we travel, so we’ll have something to read during the endless airport stops between flights and in the late evenings (and often early mornings) in the motel or before our hosts are up and about, or after they’ve retired. We’ll often swing by the library to stock up before a trip, but this time around didn’t get there, so we grabbed the books from the tops of our to-read piles. As it turned out, they were all, in a way, travel books, so in addition to traveling in reality, we’ve been traveling in words.

Silence brought along Peter Mayle’s French Lessons, an amusing look at the specialty food festivals in various regions of France. Since of course we couldn’t resist swinging by the airport bookstore once we arrived, she also indulged in a cooking magazine featuring the foods of Mexico, with gorgeous photos and enticing recipes. So far, we’ve managed to refrain from rushing around trying to find a Mexican restaurant (we doubt that our hosts would approve of this sort of behavior), but are looking forward to making (Silence) and eating (OFB) some delicious moles and salsas (not to mention a trip to various groceries in search of Mexican cheeses) when we return to scenic PA.

Our friend Ben grabbed Frances Mayes’s A Year in the World, a travelogue that takes the reader with Frances and her husband Ed to locations like Morocco, the Greek Isles, the Turkish Coast, Burgundy, and many another place Silence and OFB would like to go (at least in our armchair travels). Last night, OFB joined Frances in the souks (markets) of Fez. And at the airport, we found a book of short stories contrasting the decline of the feudal and rural classes with the rise of the middle and industrial classes in modern Pakistan, Daniyal Mueenuddin’s In Other Rooms, Other Wonders. Since our dear friend Huma is Pakistani, the topic was of great interest to us, so our friend Ben snatched it up and had finished it by the following day. (We’ll pass it along to Huma, if she hasn’t already read it, on our return, assuming Silence has also finished it by then. Get going, Silence!)

One great thing about books like these—besides, of course, their ability to transport you around the world—is how much fun they are to share. When we finish, we simply switch books and start in on a book that we know (based on an always energetic review by the first reader) we’re going to enjoy. Then, of course, there are the hours of enthusiastic discussion that follow. It still fascinates us how we can both read the same book, yet be struck by such different things. To us, these are all good reasons why travel—even armchair travel—is always best shared.

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1. jodi (bloomingwriter) - January 23, 2010

Sigh. I so envy you this. I love my dearly beloved all to small bits and beyond, but he is NOT a reader. He reads bits of the newspaper, bits of the magazines I write for, and that’s about it…and here he is with a writer who reads everywhere–in bed, in bathtub, at meals, in greenhouse, in car when he’s driving…so there’s no great discussion going on about books, sadly. We have lots of other things to talk about, so it balances out, but I do miss that. However, I can’t abide book clubs, so that’s not an option either….

That’s a shame, Jodi! Perhaps you need to start one of those transatlantic literary correspondences that go on for decades and eventually become books (and possibly hit movies!). It could be fun, anyway. Now, while others are napping, I’d better sneak back to Frances Mayes and Burgundy…

2. Dave@TheHomeGarden - January 24, 2010

You’ve reminded me of something I just haven’t been doing enough of – reading. I read blogs, websites, gardening magazines and gardening books but I haven’t picked up a good book to sit down and read for months. Most of the books I’ve read lately involve Curious George or the Berenstein Bears – very entertaining…for 4 year olds!

Ha!!! But just think of how you’re giving your girls a lifelong love of books and reading, Dave. What a priceless gift! Now go get a good one for yourself as a reward, even if you just read five pages a night after the girls are in bed!

3. Daphne - January 24, 2010

I love to read books when I travel, but the travel books I read are always about the place I’m at. Fiction can be anything, but the non fiction needs to be for that area. I especially like history books.

I agree with you, Daphne! Since there’s only so much room for books, generally you *have* to limit yourself to the ones that relate to where you’re going! We were able to indulge ourselves this trip because we were going to a place we know perhaps better than any other rather than exploring new territory.

4. Cinj - January 24, 2010

Wow, you must be brave. I can never bring library books with me because I’m afraid I’ll loose them or leave them behind. I’m such a scatter brain you know, and packing up the kids’ stuff doesn’t help either. I do bring books though and magazines. There’s never a shortage of things I’m behind on reading around here. I buy a lot of books off the shelves of my local Goodwill or off the discarded books at the library. Our library sells their old books of 25 cents a piece or 5 for a dollar. When I’m done reading a book I probably won’t read again it gets donated of course or I’d have to open a library of my own…

Ha! I know what you mean, Cinj! We’re carry-on travellers (never more than one bring-on bag each), so we’re less likely to lose anything (as long as we limit ourselves to a library book each and pack it in our bags). We, too, take advantage of our library’s free books (they have boxes of them in the entranceway, hurray) and $1 selections of more desirable volumes, and we also return the books whence they came after we’ve read them. It’s a great system!

5. Traveling in words. « Poor Richard's Almanac - January 24, 2010

[...] original here: Traveling in words. « Poor Richard's Almanac January 23rd, 2010 at 4:38 [...]

6. Gail - January 26, 2010

I hope you had a marvelous time! gail

Thanks, Gail! Both my brother and OFB were so sick this trip that I have to say that for me, the best part was coming home (and, of course, picking up our Shiloh). But I guess that’s its own kind of gift! And our travel reading certainly inspired me to stop by the library and pick up an armful of books by Peter Mayle and Frances Mayes today!


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