by Lee Cross
I decided to take holiday, the reasons? “who needs reasons…when you’ve got heroin” – one of my favourite ever lines.
To be clear, reading is my drug of choice, which is fortunate because (and aside from the numerous health issues) it’s a lot easier to transport literature over international borders; and I don’t think I have the stomach for a condom full of Irvine Welsh.
So here I sit, at the Dublin port terminal, waiting on a re-booked and delayed ferry, which will take me to Wales (famous for Tom Jones – Infamous for endorsing that whole “Brexit” lunacy) and a train down to London, and the beginning of shenanigan.
Before leaving my house, at an ungodly 5-AM, I took inventory of the essentials: passport, money, travel tickets, hotel confirmations, accursed charging devices, spare money (always essential to fellows, such as myself, who are forgetful), and BOOKS.
How many books to take on holiday? that is always the question. Given that I’m one fellow with a backpack, carrying an unread book (or several) about the place is an extra weight that my bones don’t need as they get older.
I once asked a friend how many bikini’s she was taking on holiday, not for any perverse reason (although she is very attractive young lady), it was simply a way of asking, “how many days on the beach are you planning?”, because that’s how she likes to relax. So while the sun-lover packs their swimwear, I pack my books.
Part of me wishes I was the sun-loving type, because the paraphilia is much lighter. But it’s probably for the best – given that I’ve never looked great in a two-piece.
Anyway…books….and for this trip I have packed:
Moon Over Soho, by Ben Aaronovitch: I am new to this author, having picked the first book of this series, ‘Rivers of London’, out of a staff recommended section, but he writes entertainingly and I figured I’d try the second book.
For the sake of disclosure, I’m about two-thirds through now (my ferry has been delayed quite a while alas), and the book is fine; but it feels more like a next episode, rather than a genuine standalone novel, which I suspect might be a weakness in the writers’ style.
Still, I’m going to hold fire on judgment until I finish the book, and then I’ll decide whether I fancy reading on (right now, I’m leaning towards no, but who knows what the ending may bring).
Republic, by Plato: I’ve been meaning to read this for a while, I’ve just been waiting for an opportunity. Obviously, a two-thousand year-old book deserves maximum respect (such as a missed departure or cancelled connection), so holiday going to plan – it won’t be read. However, if the shit does decide to coexist with the fan; the Republic will be what deflects my attention from it.
The House of God, by Samuel Shem: I know nothing about this book. I’ve never heard the name before, nor heard of the writer; the plot is a complete mystery to me, and I haven’t even bothered reading the synopsis on the back.
Why I am taking it on holiday (or did I buy it)? Well, the cover was green. I saw it in a staff pics section, and the scrawl underneath said that it reminded the reader of Catch-22 – which was good enough for me.
Even if it turns out to be crap, which it may well do, it’s worth a punt.
And that’s it. Just the three books this time, I’m only away for 11 days, and I also plan on visiting as many bookshops as I can find in London, Paris, and Amsterdam… so I’m leaving myself plenty of room in my bag.
At least I plan to, I’ve half a dozen extra books at the moment, which I’m dropping off to some friends in London; with, The History of Bees, by Maja Lunde, and Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, by Robin Sloan, being the best of them.
(I suppose I could write reviews: but I’ll simply say; Bees might be a great book, and Bookstore is a really fun read).
I’ve packed three books to read, choosing to sacrifice physical comfort, for intellectual stimulation. It seems like the right decision now as I sit at the ferry port, I wonder if it will feel the same way 11 days from now, sitting in Amsterdam; after carrying my bag around northern Europe for a couple of weeks.
Well, here’s my ferry, and I have some reading to do.