Reading As We Travel

books and map

Like many people, I love to travel. The first thing I do after booking tickets is begin considering what book/s to bring with me on the trip. This decision is often fraught with the anxiety of making the wrong choice, particularly when one will be travelling in a non-English speaking country, where buying alternate reading material may be a challenge. Or, when one is heading out on a self-isolating trip, where the nearest bookstore will require multiple days’ travel on foot. I will never forget the time I spent in a tent in Alaska’s Denali national park, lamenting the fact that while I love Dickens’ use of language, Pip’s selfish nature was driving me absolutely crazy.

The length of book one selects for a trip is also essential to consider, even more so when travelling alone. By myself in London, I spent most of a day tracking down the sequel to the book I had just finished. I was finally successful, but the purchase put a bit of a dent in my remaining travel funds.

Many people will probably suggest converting to an e-reader as a solution for my travel-book-selection anxiety. One needn’t worry if hundreds of books are available in the same slim package. But it’s hard for me to imagine an e-reader in that tent in Denali, where we had days of snow and rain and threat of grizzly bear. And even considering my dubious relationship with Pip as a character, I took a great deal of comfort while huddled in our tent from the feel of cover and pages between my fingers.

When you spend much of your time reading, books become your second home. Books speak to you in your native tongue, they make a new place familiar, they give company when you’re alone. When you feel like a stranger in a strange land, even the wrong book can be better than no book at all.

Liz Gillett


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