The Book Most Travelled

on Monday, October 11, 2010
One of the most exciting aspects of travel for me is choosing what book I want to read on the plane. And by book, I mean books. And by books, I mean at least ten. I try to make a point of mixing genres and always have a couple of 'light-reading' alternatives or, as I liked to call them, literary sorbet jammed between the wanky highbrow stuff. There is only so much I like my brain taxed at thirty nine thousand feet. My sorbet flavour of choice is usually Terry Pratchett or some cheap airport noir. However, a few trips ago I decided to take it up a notch and go for a slightly more sophisticated sci-fi alternative. Usually that would mean Stanislaw Lem or Iain M. Banks. But quite a few of my bookish friends were raving about China Mieville's The City and The City so I thought I'd give it a go.

Oh well, you know what they say about best laid plans. If books could rack up frequent flyer points, my copy of The City and The City would be eligible for a free trip to Bali by now. Business class. I'm not sure how it would look with its pages braided, but I think that poor piece of pulp deserves a holiday. From the humble Avenue Bookstore in Melbourne, I have schlepped it to Israel twice, Spain twice, England, Jordan, Lizard Island and Thailand. It is now with me in Bangkok. Again.

I have no excuse for not having read it on any of those long haul trips. But I do have an explanation. I err on the side of caution, lest I be left for hours with nary a paragraph to skim and so I always carry more than I could possibly hope to read. Plus, if I pass a bookstore on my travels, I invariably buy a few extras. But it ends now. I have depleted my supply and, for once, gone zen and resisted the temptation to top up. Yes, I still have nine hours of flying to go and only one thing to read. Try as it might to hide behind the Peter Carey, Orson Welles, Fernando Pessoa, Klaus Mann, Howard Jacobson, Salman Rushide, Filip Florian and Hansjorg Schertenleib in my backpack, it won't escape this time. No siree. When I get home tomorrow, I will finally have read The City and The City. And the minute I walk through the door I'll make a beeline for my bookshelf and put it out to pasture where it can live out a relatively undisturbed life. Really, it's the least I can do.


Alison said...

And now you must review it!

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