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Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Desert Island Books for travellers.

Forget about sitting on a desert island.  I am about to rack up 34 hours of air-travel and layovers as I zigzag to Zagreb from Sydney, by way of Hong Kong and Paris.  I want something that will sustain and amuse me in flight, and I'm not sure how fully I can recharge my Android tablet that I use to read e-books on the go, so I need a few books of the paper variety.

The problem with a new book is that it might not be what you hoped for, and an old book, well, it might not be as much fun the next time around.  It also needs to be compact.  The best thing about e-books is that they weigh almost nothing.

One advantage of approaching advanced middle age (as I soon will be) is that you forget who done it in a murder mystery, at least if it's a murder of quality, the sort that P. D. James writes, the sort George Orwell was hankering for when he wrote The Decline of the English Murder.

Ah, now there's a possibility: Orwell's essays, or one of his social memoirs, but they're all a bit depressing.  They are all a bit gloomy, a bit intense, a bit like today, in fact.

Down and Out in Paris and London still shapes one of my habits: Orwell said that the person handing out leaflets has to stay until they are all gone, so always take one he said, whatever they are.  It appeals to my tastes as a conservative anarchist (we're the ones that don't believe in blowing people up).

Not that violence is Out.  I have a few murders on the tablet, which has readers for every sort of e-book known, and I have some J B Priestley social essays, so strike those.

I am tempted to take T. E. Carhart's The Piano Shop on the Left Bank, which was recommended to me by a bookshop manager who knew my tastes.  Forget The Decline of the English Murder, somebody needs to write The Decline of the Quality Bookshop, the sort where the staff actually read some of the books and make mental notes about who will like it, based on what else they like.

I took it down off the shelf: it appears to have been overseas with me once before, because the bookmark in the book is a ticket from the Wiener Riesenrad, that Ferris wheel sort of thing that is always showing up in films set in Vienna.  Well, I know I liked the book last time, it's compact, so it's on the short-list.
Roughly where we expect to be annoying the rocks
over the next two months.

The other tension is that when you are travelling, books tend to be discarded, and that means taking a Really Good Book isn't good, either.  Maybe what I need is one lightweight, compact, loved book that will last and some fat Airport Book.  Carhart weighs in at 240 grams, most of the other contenders are about 400 grams.

One of the books I am working on at the moment has the working title Not your usual rocks. It's one of a series that I am writing, most of them using up research that is left-over, but this one requires fresh material, so I am heading for mountains, caves, coasts, volcanoes, and with luck, some obsidian in situ.

They talk about things being stone dead, we hear of stony silences, but the funny thing is that rocks mostly tell interesting stories.  Hopefully, I will get some interesting new stories from my travels.

Anyhow, there may be a somewhat geological cast to my mutterings over the next two months.  I may even have something to say about the Silex Piano (you can trust that entry, as I provided most of the information that is there).

Sadly, my chances of seeing a real, live Silex piano are low. but you can't win them all.

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