Actually, there’s no debate. I was lying. This is me putting my case forward. You see I am a migrating muse in the more traditional sense. Birds flying north for the African winter. I have not, as yet, made the tech migration to pads, tablets and Kindles.
I read books – soft, hard, and mostly dishevelled after a week in my company. My boyfriend, Garth, is particularly hard hit by this reality. I have broken more spines than Van Damme, Willis and Segal put together. He didn’t know this ugly fact when he met me. In fact, he still marvels (my choice of adjective not his) over how this is physically possible. We have worked out it has something to do with my bathtime reading and the steam/water that seeps in and softens what should be hard and impenetrable. So now i don’t loan his books, only the ones he has wrapped in contact sheet. Yes, we are from different planets, and not always Mars and Venus.
Reading material is probably the heaviest thing in my suitcase. Some of them include local area guides that I carry for months, for referential purposes, only to toss before my final flight.Books are much harder to part with, until they become the straw that send the camel’s back into spasm and to a massage parlour.
Luckily if you follow the backpacker trail (or banana pancake trail as it is derisively referred to) you usually can borrow or swop out a book at most guest houses. This can also a good measure as to the quality of the guest house and the company they attract. You might be stuck with too many “50 shades of grey” readers or worse still, have to swop out your good book with that “critically acclaimed best seller”. (Expletives implied.) To confess, I have once read a Dan Brown book (let’s not say novel), and actually enjoyed it like i would any made for movie script, but still found myself hiding it behind another book when I read it on the plane. Literary snob? For sure. But I do still call a Dick Francis reader my best friend.
I usually have two reading books on hand, for fear of being stranded without one during a long journey. In this emergency situation, you might need a book to protect yourself from having to talk to me.
Because that’s the beauty about reading an actual book on the road. They offer you so much more than protection against boredom.
Books can also:
- hide your sloppy noodle/chopsticks etiquette.
- help you learn which language someone speaks and what they might be into from the book they are reading
- prop up your camera for a selfie.
- be used as a self defense mechanism (against a mosquito or something smaller than you)
- hide your pimples/bad face day from the world
- keep you company when you are eating alone
- tell people something about you
- act as an excellent device to evesdrop on a conversation without being detected
- help you recover from a motorbike accident
I can’t see all of these happening with a Kindle. I have a few online mag subscriptions that can fill cyberspace with their loneliness. Reading online or in digital is just not the same for me. (another time and blog maybe)
It’s not that I don’t travel with tech. In fact I sometimes feel heavily burdened by it – my laptop, cables, gopro, proper camera, chargers, backup hard drives. You also have to worry so much about tech and think of ways to protects these precious (read expensive) items from theft, dust, rain, beach sand, etc. What happened to easy breezy travelling? Now I have to charge batteries, find plug points, seek out WiFi. It’s just too much sometimes.
That’s when the book just cuts through the crap and brings you back to basics. You, a park bench, a Frangipani Tree fragrantly lingering over your head and an exciting new journey that asks nothing of you but your attention.
A book makes me aware of the simplicity of things. It makes me feel connected to the world and people as much as it allows me to disconnect and escape. It’s that powerful.
If I could only take three items with me on a meander through the streets:
Book, Water, Camera. (and money).
They make the best creative friends.
Musing on what i am currenting reading: Steppenwolf – Herman Hess
Some good reads from my trip:
NW- Zadie Smith
East West – Salman Rushdie (short stories)
A history of tractors in Ukrainian-Marina Lewycka
The Partisan’s daughter-Louis de Bernieres
The Killing Fields – Christopher Hudson
Musing on moving on… to the USA. catch on the West side