Travel Reading 10 Comments

Travel Reading

The Voiceworks demographic, that is all you peeps under 25, is generally also the demographic that picks up and goes overseas for long stretches at a time. I just bought a ticket to Europe myself! So I’ve been thinking about reading materials to take overseas and thinking about how you decide what to read.

The last time I went overseas was a few years ago and one of the books I happened to pick up in Thailand was Robert Jordan’s The Eye of The World, which is the first book in his Wheel of Time series. Yes, I admit it, I love a long, involved, super-detailed fantasy series. And I was so excited to find out that the Wheel of Time series goes for 12 books! (Actually, Robert Jordan died while writing the 12th, Brandon Sanderson has taken over the helm and is extending the series to 14 books.) These books became my perfect travelling companions, they are rollicking adventures stories and they are long! And due to their popularity, I was able to find the next book in the series pretty much every time I perused a second-hand book stall.

This year, I’m thinking of travel books a little differently. Inspired by Estelle over at 3000books who wrote about reading Michael Ondaatje’s Running in the Family while travelling in Sri Lanka, I’m now thinking why don’t I read fiction that is set in the places I’m to visit?

So I went to Camberwell Market and picked up Dead Europe by Christos Tsiolkas. But now I’m looking for books set in England, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and the Czech Republic. I’m also interested in what you’ve read while travelling and what you would or would not recommend?

  • http://www.expressmedia.org.au/vwblog/ Johannes Jakob

    Oh, and with regards to the actual post, Daniel Kehlmann’s ‘Ich und Kaminski’ was one of the best things I read last year, and about travelling in Germany. Can’t vouch for the English translation though.

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  • Rosie

    I took D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterly’s and The Gipsy and the Virgin to Japan with me, thinking they’d contain some profound social commentary. I’d certainly recommend them if you’re wanting to admire the invention of the Mills and Boon. Certainly read Chatterly if you’re after a book that makes pasty men read like sinewy, skinned rabbits when they’re taking a bath outside, or if you like the idea of pathetic, trembling, melodramatic lovemaking (so many adjectives, so little time).

  • Ainslee

    on a recent road-trip i read joan didion’s ‘play it as it lays’ and was frightened by all the motels we passed.

  • SamC

    I just read Dead Europe. So effin good.

    For Germany, I would recommend Anna Funder’s Stasiland. And if you can, pair it with the German film The Lives of Others.

  • Jodie

    Read ‘A Room with a View’ in Florence. Although it’s set there it’s far too English to really suit. Also read ‘Prague’ in Prague. It’s not a bad read but it’s actually set in Budapest, so another fail there. Generally I found myself reading whatever I could find that was cheap and in English.

    My best travel reading experience was devouring ‘The True History of the Kelly Gang’ whilst a little homesick in Cambodia. But I still hold on to the hope of reading ‘The Motorcyle Diaries’ in situ. That is what I think of when I imagine good travel reading.

  • Kate

    The problem with reading while travelling is lack of backpack space. I was just on a two month trip and brought four books with me, thinking they’d last the distance. I ended up buying three more, and was given another (and a graphic novel) for Christmas. There were plenty of opportunities to offload them to second hand bookshops … but I just couldn’t do it, and spent a lot of time groaning under their weight. So my recommendation is for small books with small print, and nothing hard cover. Or a kindle … which I know is joining the electronic book dark side, but unlimited books in a light package is very tempting.

  • http://www.lesstalkrecords.com/canoe Daniel Hogan

    While traveling South-east Asia, my backpack became pregnant with “Anna Karenina.”
    To reduce this small-unborn-child-sized burden in my backpack, I tore out pages as I read it. Unfortunately, I had to throw the book away as it became an unbound tragedy with missing pages, leaf litter.
    However, before I wrecked it, it did come in handy when I used it to brain damage a fish I caught in Laos.
    I read Kenneth’s Cook “Frilled Neck Frenzy” while crossing the Nullarbor. It was fun/ny.

    • http://www.expressmedia.org.au/voiceworks/ Johannes Jakob

      I really like the idea of ripping out pages as you go. A pretty neat spin on the reading experience, to remove your access to the past and making everything really immediate but temporary. I imagine the feeling of ripping out each page, just as you’ve read it, would be either really cathartic or really traumatic – or both.

  • http://www.lisadempster.com.au lisa

    The Ground Beneath Her Feet by Salman Rushdie SHOOK MY WORLD when I was bumming around Europe at the tender age of 20. Not (all) European based, but the themes of change and personas fit in with the kind of intense self-awareness I was experiencing.

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