If You Take A Book With You, You Travel Twice Over
July 4, 2002 5:49 AM   Subscribe

If You Take A Book With You, You Travel Twice Over This pleasant essay by Alain de Botton had me thinking what the perfect combination of a book, a destination and a way of travelling would be...
posted by MiguelCardoso (19 comments total)
Mine would be boarding the Orient Express in Paris, bound for to Vienna and armed with a generous selection of Karl Kraus's essays or Thomas Bernhard's Concrete, even though(or because?) they're both Austrian writers who hated Austria. If I hated it too, I'd go on to Istambul, of course...
posted by MiguelCardoso at 5:54 AM on July 4, 2002

Through such choices, we express a small revolt against the place we are travelling through, we hold on to sides of ourselves which our new environment seems unsympathetic to — like reading Emerson at the hairdresser.

As I was reading "The New Yorker" last night in a redneck country and western bar (the atmosphere is terrible, but the crawfish pie is perfect), I felt so embarrassed of my reading choice, that I covered the back of the mag with a menu. I would rather read "Hustler" in a church than "The New Yorker" in a bar. And, yet, that's where I found myself.

Nice link, Miguel.
posted by ColdChef at 6:01 AM on July 4, 2002

Best combination: Any book on any train going anywhere. Worst combination: Any book on any plane going anywhere. Something about a plane militates against the enjoyment of big blocks of text that you would ordinarily enjoy, and makes the reading of People magazine hideously appropriate. (Some people think that an airplane is a good place to read best sellers. But I disagree. There is no good place to read best sellers.)
posted by Faze at 7:17 AM on July 4, 2002

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man while travelling alone on a bus through County Claire, Ireland.

...... ah.. who am I kidding. Red Dwarf on any shitty journey (probably a plane).
posted by Frasermoo at 7:24 AM on July 4, 2002

ColdChef, It occurs to me that maybe a redneck bar is the ONLY place to read the New Yorker. I'm heading nto the former Confederacy tomorrow with a pile of New York Reviews I haven't perused yet, and I'm looking forward to reading them over my grits. Brings to mind the days when, as a laddie at a top Ivy League college, I used to enjoy ostentatiously unfurling my copy of the National Enquirer in the library's periodical reading room.
posted by Faze at 8:34 AM on July 4, 2002

An actual conversation from last night:

Local: What you reading?
Me: Um...The New Yorker Magazine.
Local: That about New York?
Me: Well, there's things about New York in it. It's sort of general interest. There's movies and stuff, too.
Local: You see "The New Guy?" That shit was funny.
Me: Uh, no. I didn't see that.
Local: That shit was funny...Is there anything in there about the terrorists?

Yeah. Next time, I'll be reading "Maxim."
posted by ColdChef at 8:47 AM on July 4, 2002

James Ellroy and Los Angeles.

Or Jack Kerouac's On the Road anywhere, as long as you're going.
posted by jonmc at 9:15 AM on July 4, 2002

After a 3-month road trip across the US I started reading Kerouac's 'On The Road' on the 'plane home. Perfect timing. Finished it off riding the buses & tube around London.

Now does anyone have any recommendations for a 2 week trip to LA & SF later this year?

On preview:
jonmc: SPOOK!

CC: And don't even think of telling anyone there about your butthole ;-)
posted by i_cola at 9:36 AM on July 4, 2002

Re: James Ellroy in LA. I've got to try him still. Right now I'd pick Raymond Chandler for LA.
posted by djfiander at 10:29 AM on July 4, 2002

I read Sexing the Cherry in one sitting on a train from Budapest to Vienna. That was wonderful.
posted by scarabic at 11:47 AM on July 4, 2002

If you hate where you've gone so much that you must read to escape from it, why go there at all?
posted by kindall at 12:32 PM on July 4, 2002

That shit was funny...Is there anything in there about the terrorists?
ColdChef, Maybe I'll stay home. (By the way, nobody should miss Alain de Botton's "How Proust Can Change Your Life", the trade edition of which has -- if I recall correctly -- a blurb from someone whose MeFi name rhymes with "Shmaze" on the back cover or inside. "How Proust..." would make especially good reading on the Boston to New York Amtrack run, but not on the Washington leg of the journey. For some reason, NY to DC makes me reach for something non-literary. A good train ride for Civil War reading.)
Kindall, Reading in different places is like sex in different positions. Hating where you are has nothing to do with it.
posted by Faze at 12:39 PM on July 4, 2002

I read Angela's Ashes in Cancun, Mexico one year. I'm not really crazy about that book, but reading about abject poverty in Limerick, Ireland, while sitting by the pool with the "swim-up" bar was the perfect antidote for all that spring break bullshit they shovel on you down there.
posted by lilboo at 2:57 PM on July 4, 2002

Not that I didn't love the swim-up bar, mind you...
posted by lilboo at 3:23 PM on July 4, 2002

Never having been to the U.S. I know nothing of it other than through the various mediums of books, TV, records and films. Myth ,legend and iconography would have me placing New York, Chicago and San Francisco top of the list of places I would like to visit, until I read Pelecanos. If I had thought of Washington at all previously, I would have considered it deeply unsexy, but I would love to sit in some sleazy Washington bar re-reading any of his stuff. The same could almost be said of James Lee Burke, but I don't think New Orleans could be described as unsexy.
posted by Fat Buddha at 3:46 PM on July 4, 2002

I wasn't traveling, exactly, but I read War and Peace while a seventeen-year-old, spending the summer with my ultra-religious aunt and uncle on the Big Island of Hawaii.

It was either that, or go to church with them. Every night. And twice on Sundays.

I also bought "Amateur Hawaiian Sluts" while I was at the bookstore, but that wasn't for reading per se.

Maybe that's more than I needed to say.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:40 PM on July 4, 2002

I read the second half of James Joyce's Ulysses while backbacking across southern China and Vietnam. I recommend both those experiences (backpacking across Asia and reading Ulysses), though not necessarily at the same time. After I finished reading Joyce, I picked up a collection of sci-fi short stories which is probably the sort of thing I should have been reading all along.
posted by Loudmax at 8:26 PM on July 4, 2002

Kindall, reading oughtn't be an escape - a searchlight, a window, a good friend, a soporific even, whatever, but not an escape!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:38 AM on July 5, 2002

i don't agree superpoulet!

there is nothing better than being transported from the mundane day-to-day to somewhere magical, mystical, and maybe even a little bit special by a book.

Chocks away! a la Stainless Steel Rat / Discworld / and the master.. Roald Dahl

I'll never grow up.
posted by Frasermoo at 7:48 AM on July 5, 2002

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