28 April 2010

Holiday reading

Everyone loves a holiday (don't they?). And this year it seems that several Onions have decided 2010 is the year for adventures abroad, which means plenty of time for holiday reading on planes, trains, automobiles and mountainsides. And, depending on the size of the suitcase, it means decisions, decisions, decisions about which books to pick off the pile.

Of course, a user-friendly e-reading device* would considerably ease the decision-making process as it could be loaded up with all manner of holiday reading material. However, some places in the world are incompatible with even the most user-friendly of e-reading devices, due to their reliance on, you know, a power source. For example, if one were to choose the Himalayas as the destination a (lightweight) printed book is still the most practical option.

So, in the spirit of helping others to select satisfying reading materials to accompany them on their adventures, here is a list of books that accompanied this Onion almost to the top of the world.**

1. Breath by Tim Winton
A surfing book about much more than surfing, set in a coastal Australian logging town. The allure of the spirit of surfing, and the ocean as a powerful all-consuming force of nature, the fragility the human condition and (the fraying) of personal limits. The Australian ocean setting might seem an unlikely companion for the reality of tackling Himalayan peaks, but it was unexpectedly complementary. And so beautifully written. Effortless (much unlike the actual mountain-climbing).

2. The Keeper by Mal Peet
A football book, about much more than football, set in a South American jungle logging town. The allure of the spirit of football, and the jungle as a powerful all-consuming force of nature, the agility of the spirit and the nature of personal triumph and the fates. And compelling. Recommended to be read by head-lamp in the dark nights in the Nepalese jungle with a thunderstorm closing in.

3. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows***
Oh! A book of letters! Set in the post-war period as the Channel Islanders recover themselves and their sense of the world after the lows (and unlikely highs) of the German occupation during World War II. Charming, with a hopeful and courageous spirit despite the undertow of atrocity and despair. A lovely change of pace for a mountain-weary trekker.

4. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Survival-of-the-fittest as a truly life-or-death reality show contested by 12-18 year olds who are selected through a lottery system. Oh my goodness this book is good. A page-turner that leaves you breathless (so not ideal to be read at altitude) and desperate for book two (not ideal when book two hasn't hit the shelves of Kathmandu yet). Get your hands on it. Read it.

5. In lieu of being unable to acquire Catching Fire (book two of The Hunger Games), it seems likely that another book may have been purchased instead. However, I am sadly unable to reveal what it was because of literary lies I may have prepared earlier.

What books on your pile would you take on your trip?

*And May isn't far off now so perhaps help is almost at hand.
** This was the view from my Yak herder's hut.

*** This one had been on the pile for a goodly while and I am grateful to my fellow trekker for bringing it along (and, of course, to our porter for, you know, lugging it up those steep, steep mountain trails) so it was at hand to read when the need arose.

1 comment:

miss elise said...

My extra-special holiday reading pile likes to include Margaret Atwood, Margo Lanagan & Albert Camus. Oooh.