Find out which books can make your vacation an unforgettable adventure – Culture

Now that some of us are planning to travel again, albeit temporarily, it’s time to consider the delightful matter of holiday reading. Everyone has their own idea of ​​what it should be like. Mine was formed at the end of a high school weekend in the 1970s, when my friend Michelle and I boarded her parents’ truck for a long, monotonous drive from Massachusetts to New York.

The end of the holidays is a cause for sadness. There were no cell phones to entertain us at the time, and the darkness kept us from flirting with cute guys in other cars. We were surrounded by boredom like the sisters of The search for lovein Nancy Mitford, speculating endlessly on what time represented. What she saved us was the only book Michelle pulled out of her bag: The silver crownby Robert C. O’Brien.

Reading that book in that car at that moment turned one of the worst parts of the journey – the actual journey – into an interlude of pleasure. The silver crown is the story of a girl who receives a glittering crown on her 10th birthday and is chased by mysterious figures with nefarious intentions. This moved us and made us uncomfortable. We took turns reading with a flashlight: Michelle would read a chapter, then it was my turn to flip the book back and forth as we lay among the luggage and shopping bags in our car.

I don’t remember what we did the rest of the weekend, but it was the best road trip I’ve ever done, and it forever cemented in me the idea that a holiday book has nothing to do with where you are – it can. be a destination in itself.

Relaxing your head in those in-between moments – waiting at the gate to board the plane, getting in the back seat of the bus, lying in bed during your first night of jet lag-induced sleeplessness in a distant country – the book can refresh you, because heals your boredom, soothes your anxiety and provides stability and consistency.

Not everyone thinks of a book as a security blanket. My husband feels that his vacation reading of him – ideally done lying on a cot – is the only time he can truly immerse himself in a guilt-free book. Other travelers like to combine material with travel. I applaud them and, if I were less casual, I would too. What better way to enhance your trip to Morocco than to see it through the expert eyes of Paul Bowles, and what better opportunity to understand the origins of modern Italy than to read the leopardin Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa?

Anyone who thinks of hiking in the wilds of Western Australia, or any woman who wants to make the journey on her own, will only be inspired by the reading first. trails, by Robyn Davidson, on the epic hike from Alice Springs to the coast, accompanied by a dog and four camels. Travel to London after reading Carlo Dickens It’s a lot of fun, not just because of its writing, but because of its geography – how exciting it is to walk down the real Chancery Lane after reading it so memorably portrayed in The dark house.

Then there is the writing of the journey itself. The works of classic travel writers, people like Jan MorrisRyszard Kapuscinski, Patrick Leigh Fermor, Paul Theroux, Rebecca West and herodotus take readers on two trips at the same time. One is the physical and intellectual journey, of course, the journey through Poland or Greece or Venice in Italy and the history of those places.

The second is the emotional journey. “The best travel writers don’t write about travel,” Jan Morris noted. “They are recording the effects of places or movements on their particular temperaments, recording the experience rather than the event, as they can make literary use of a love affair, an enigma or a tragedy.”

Morris distinguished between “the creative and treacherous quagmire called fiction” and the heightened realism of travel writing, “the alliance between knowledge and sensation, nature and intellect, vision and interpretation, instinct and logic”.

This is a way of saying that the best travel writers do what even the best fiction writers do: they make things better the way they describe them. When I visit London and find myself at an extravagant dinner filled with complaining and intellectually intimidating people, I relax by imagining I’m in the middle of a Jane Austen novel.

What books do you read on your travels? I usually choose mine as a bride arranges her accessories: “this is old, this is new”. So, a contemporary book that I have kept as a reward – at this point, it could be The candy houseand, by Jennifer Egan – or a book I wanted to read but couldn’t read – maybe The transit of Venusby Shirley Hazzard.

Plus: a gripping thriller. And then a comforting old friend, often like a children’s book Charlotte’s web or The Golden Compass. and I’ll take mine Turn onwhich is not fun as a literary delivery mechanism, but it has the advantage of putting the library of the world at your fingertips.

If you do it right, get off the plane so enamored with your book that you will want to continue reading in the customs queue, then continue waiting for your bags, and then back to the hotel to help you calm down before bed.

And that brings me back to my second favorite reading and travel memory, after that car ride in my youth. It was June 1985 and I had just graduated. I had no job or prospects, and didn’t feel well as I prepared for a life-changing train adventure across Europe.

I had booked a cheap seat on an overnight flight to Paris and was too anxious to sleep. It didn’t really matter which book I brought, The Paradine case (a 1933 legal thriller written by Robert Hichens about an honest married London lawyer who falls in love with a client accused of poisoning her husband) was not, by the most objective standards, a great literary work. It’s a great story – Alfred Hitchcock turned it into a movie, agony of lovewith Gregory Peck.

I was captivated by the first line of text: “Sir Malcolm Keane, KC, donned his fur-lined coat in the Cleveland Club locker room on the corner of Pall Mall, grabbed his soft black hat, sheepskin gloves and umbrella dress , rolled up and went out into the great hall where a great fire was burning in the great hearth. ”It was filled with description, intense drama and endless emotions, perfect for my feverish mood. When I arrived the next morning, still reading, with And she was, by Talking Heads, connected to my Walkman, I was exhausted and excited. The perfect way to embark on a vacation into the unknown.

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