May 09, 2013

Reading in trains


Sorry everyone for leaving the blog a bit abandoned. I was half busy, half out of town and half without ideas.

Speaking about traveling, I had a very difficult decision to make on my last trip - what book to read on the train.

It might seem a banal decision but it’s one I take seriously. Even though technology helps passing the time while on a train or an airplane, you can’t trust technology or an airline taste in movies.

I learned my lesson when on my last plane ride I watched School of Rock (for the tenth time) and ended up hating it for good.

It’s just like that “what book would you take to a desert island” game. In both scenarios you are stuck in a place with nowhere to go, nothing to distract you and a cannibal sitting next to you. 

So before boarding any type of vehicle that requires the use of the verb ‘board”, I think about the book I’ll read. The most practical choice is the book I’m reading at the moment. 

I wish it were that simple.

I was reading the library’s copy of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet and I wouldn't risk something happening to it. I know from experience that losing the book is not the worst that can happen to it. I once had to buy my college’s library another copy of Paul Auster’s The New York trilogy because my dog peed on it. In his defense it was on the floor and in my defense I didn’t keep the peed book to myself.

Another issue is weight. Art through the ages is too heavy and C. S. Lewis' The Abolition of Man is too light.

The subject of the book is something else to consider. Many people read in trains so that no one will bother them, but the thing is: you don’t want to talk to a strange stranger.

If you have a strange stranger sitting next to you, you just want to bury your head in a book and give the impression you are a medieval scholar. But if you have a tall dark stranger type sitting next to you, I bet you’d be kicking yourself for not being the type of girl who packs lipsticks instead of books.

So a trip book must be multi-action: interesting and not embarrassing.

At last, I took Shadowplay, a non-fiction book about the works of Shakespeare.

It’s the book I’m reading at the moment, it’s medium size, neither embarrassing nor a conversation killer. It’s also mine so if anything happened to it, I wouldn’t look like a careless punk in the librarian’s eyes.

What books do you read when you travel? 

Image via National Railway Museum

4 comments:

  1. Definitely something light and entertaining as well, easy to focus. And of a practical size too, knowing that such book would return on the shelf, possibly with some new "friends". Biography of an interesting artist/monarch, adventure novels, monographies...
    Choosing a book sometimes depends from a travel destination, time of the year, etc
    I don't really think one would like to read about something "cold" when traveling to a tropical island right? ;)
    And as I've mentioned this before - I'm the kind of a guy who actually keeps certain books for certain travels, like those that I'd love to read when I'll finally have a chance to visit USA again :)

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    1. I haven't thought about the weather factor! You are so right, it's good if the book matches the feel of the destination. I'll keep that in mind next time. xx

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  2. Oscar Wilde once said : “I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.” I have to find something special, for I will have a 6 hr train travel myself & I have ants in my pants ... Last trip I was reading "To marry an English Lord". Who knows what will be the next ....

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    1. Wilde is always so funny! Unfortunately I don't keep a diary anymore, just can bring myself to do it... But I do have a little notepad with me at all times so I agree with him. I'm sure you'll find something nice for your train ride, specially since you bought so many interesting titles recently. xx

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