Monday, July 16, 2018

Traveling, Reading

Book and Plane

By Lisabet Sarai

I am writing this two weeks ahead of time because on the day it posts, I’ll be far away from my home and my computer. I’ll be traveling for twelve days, and I won’t be able to access the blog, even to reply to comments.

So far in advance, I’m not sure what I’ll be reading, but I know I will be reading. Indeed, reading is one of the joys of being on the road. A fourteen hour plane trip provides a lot of opportunities to lose oneself in a book—not to mention the hours waiting to board or to make connections. I may be doing an all-day train ride as well. Meanwhile, since I’ll be in a rural area at least part of the time, I expect that there will few activities in the evenings to compete with reading.

What will I bring with me? Well, my tablet, of course, stuffed with at least two dozen titles, many of them erotica. Thank heavens for e-books. They definitely lighten my luggage!

I’ll also be carrying George R.R. Martin’s A Dance with Dragons, the last (so far) volume in the Game of Thrones series. I’ve been rationing my consumption of that series, saving it for long journeys. I read the first half of this volume (five hundred plus pages) on my last international odyssey. I’ll finish it on this one, then feel frustrated, I’m sure, because just like real life, these books never tie up the loose ends.

That won’t be enough, though. After a while, I get tired of reading on a screen. I’m sure I’ll want to bring at least a few more print books, even with our limited luggage allowance (low cost airlines... argh!) But which ones?

At the moment, there are all sorts of candidates on my bookshelf. Riven Rock by T.C. Boyle. Sweet Caress by William Boyd. Books by Umberto Eco and John Crowley, Thomas Pynchon and Salman Rushdie, not to mention half a dozen titles from Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series and (as a stark contrast) Arundhati Roy’s The Ministry of Utmost Happiness. Lots of less well known writers, too—we have access to some excellent used book stores!

One needs to use special criteria choosing books for travel. They need to long enough to justify carrying them, but small enough not to take up too much space. I look for books that will really hook me and pull me in, to distract me from delays, backaches, hunger, bad smells, and other inevitabilities of travel. At the same time, for me at least, a travel book can’t be too intense, complex or intellectual. I’d rather read those books at home, where I have a wider selection and can put them down to pick up something else.

Anyway, I really can’t tell you in any detail what I’ll be reading as you read this. Very likely, though, I’ll be enjoying it.


  1. Do you ever find that you can do certain kinds of writing (or editing) while you're traveling? I haven't done it on planes--I'm too interested in watching the tops of clouds or the distant earth beneath--but I do get some work done on train rides. Or even bus rides, but the discomfort does distract me.

    1. I've never been able to write or edit while I'm actually traveling. On long plane trips, I'm usually too spaced out and exhausted. On short trips, it's not worth the effort to get out the computer--plus there's usually not enough room in economy class.

      On train trips, I'm usually too interested in the scenery.

      I have occasionally written when I've already arrived. I remember one particular afternoon in Bali, perched on the porch of our bungalow, working away at some novel (but right now I can't recall which one) and another afternoon doing the same in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

      That's pretty rare, though.

  2. The only way I travel is by car, and most often, I'm the driver. I'm a crabby-ass passenger, always criticizing anyone else's driving. I don't really trust anyone else to be in charge...maybe that's why I don't like to fly? So most, including my husband, just let me drive. Yay!

    And while I'm driving, I "listen" to the voices in my head. I've written the beginnings of books ("For the Love of His Life"), the middle of many, and the ends of some. Whenever I get writers' block, I just drive somewhere, for at least a few hours. Then the words just begin to flow, as the story writes itself in my mind. Then I can't wait to get to my laptop to finish the story.
    I've also written short stories while behind the wheel.

    My husband thinks that's kind of scary...that it means I'm not paying attention to the road. But I am. I'm just also writing conversations, arranging for erotic encounters, even planning HEA endings. I think having my body and part of my mind occupied with driving, frees up the creative part of my mind, now unshackled by my normally stoic and logical thinking. My muse has free reign, at that point, and she can spin a great yarn in a matter of hours...or even minutes! Highway driving is the best!

    1. I have to agree with your husband... But whatever works for you!

  3. By the way, I did finish A Dance with Dragons, and I'm working on John le Carre's The Russia House and Cory Doctorow's Walkaway. I was sufficiently busy (and tired after my days) that I didn't read as much as I'd expected I would.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.