Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Bookish Bits & Bobs: Holiday Reading

It's that time of year again - that time when bibliophiles everywhere try to work out just how many books they can squash into their suitcases for a few weeks' holiday.

As someone who's been known to get through 8 books in a week on holiday before, this problem is something with which I very much empathise and sympathise. However, it's become far less of a problem for me in recent years, and I suspect for many others, due to the following reasons (and if you're still grappling with the bibliophile's yearly dilemma over which books to take and which to leave, you may even learn something here! yay!):
  1. I have, in the past three years, mostly holidayed to destinations where books are available for free and in plentiful supply - mainly the respective houses of my parents and my fiancé's parents. I will also never forget the hotel in Requiècourt where they actually left books in the hotel room for guests to read, nor the gîte near Fontainebleau that opened the family bookshelves to the guests. Equally in the past I have stayed in many a French and Italian campsite that has offered a book exchange programme.
  2. Taking one or two weightier tomes rather than several lighter reads may not cut down on weight, but it does cut down on space in your case and you still have plenty to read. Plus, you get that satisfying feeling when you come back of having read a few classics during your hols rather than just liquefying your brain with issues of Heat magazine.
  3. Bookshops do exist! If you are holidaying in an Anglophone country, just perhaps pack one book for the journey and buy others as and when you require them (although I admit this does pose problems on the way back that you managed to avoid on the way there). If you holiday in one particular place with any sort of regularity, you could also join the local library (when my grandparents still owned a holiday flat in Dover, we were members of the local library there as well as being members of the one at home. BOY was that a good move.). If you are holidaying abroad, kids' books provide rich pickings if you're wanting to improve your command of the language, and if you are already fairly proficient in the language, then well...the world is your huître, or your ostra, or your Auster (or whatever the word for oyster is in the country that you're in).
  4. Technology is an amazing thing, and while I can't really see any significant everyday use for something like the Kindle, I can definitely see how it would help come holiday time. The ability to load tens or even hundreds of books onto one handy lightweight device? YES PLEASE. (Which is all fine and dandy until this expensive bit of kit gets nicked, I suppose.)
  5. Audiobooks are also pretty marvellous for travel if you're that way inclined: just dump a load onto your MP3 player and you're set for the flight, the hours in the car, the days on the beach, and whatever else your holiday might bring. Simples.
However, should you choose to just stuff your suitcase full of books and leave behind all your clothes (you can go for two weeks just in the clothes you're stood up in, right? And you can buy clothes when you get there, yes?), there should certainly be no shortage of ideas of what to read: the broadsheets in particular at this time of year turn out summer reading supplements with a predictability that you could set your watch by. Even just buying one broadsheet's summer reading special should provide plenty of inspiration: the FT's summer books special alone contains 92 suggestions, covering everything from general fiction and kids' books through to business, food and travel books.

As for me, I'll be continuing to tackle Proust (in English) as well as some contemporary French fiction (of course, in French). I'll probably also throw in a few wildcards from my bookshelf that I've not yet got around to reading. But naturellement, feel free to leave any suggestions that you might have here too. Bonnes vacances!

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