Books While Traveling

My copy, circa 1995

I spent a fair amount of time during high school shuffling back and forth by plane between states to visit with my mother and father. My ultimate go-to book of all time is Belgarath the Sorcerer by David and Leigh Eddings.

This book wins for a few reasons.  They are one of my favorite authors (I’m glomping them together into one entity; I don’t think they’d mind) and largely responsible for my desire to write fantasy. Their stories have a light, humorous feel to them, and the banter between characters keeps things entertaining.  This book is also a follow-up to the ten-book series, retold from the POV of one of the most major characters responsible for orchestrating the whole shebang across a period of 7000 years, and so it’s a good sampler, so to speak, of parts of the overall story.  It’s also fairly long, which doesn’t hurt when you have to fly and kill time on long layovers.

I once had the idea to make hash marks on the inside cover, once for every time I read it, and am a little sad that I didn’t.  I’d have to put the count up around 20 at least.  You can’t tell in the picture, but the edges of the covers and the spine are covered in tape to make them more resilient. I did this to all of the books I bought in highschool–mass-market paperbacks were cheapest and I had to make them last.

One of the times I can remember where I didn’t read Belgarath was when my girlfriend at the time gave me her hardcover copy of The Dark Half to borrow for the trip.  Now that book is forever linked with her (we moved on, literally in my case, but keep in touch) and that time period. Behold the power of the blog/journal: I hadn’t thought about that in darn near forever.  I can still remember sitting in the airport with it and waiting for my dad to pick me up.

I also love finding used bookstores whenever I travel.  It has to be a used book store–chains are okay, but if you’ve been in one, you’ve been in them all.  And they get bonus points if they have a resident cat or two. I might go so far as to say that any proper used bookstore requires a cat.  Some good stores that come to mind are The Bookshop (Chapel Hill, NC) and Beckham’s Bookshop (French Quarter, New Orleans).

A habit I’ve fallen into is to search for Jonathan Carroll books while I’m there. Of course, I could just buy them from Amazon or the local place here at home, but there’s something pleasing in the ritual, in the hunting and finding of that trade paperback copy with a hand-penciled price, and in delaying the procession through the backlist of one of my favorite authors.  The only problem is figuring out how to support him directly. (Please oh please, support your favorite authors)

Like many others, I have a Kindle now, and so the interesting thing will be to see how it integrates into my travel reading.  Alas, Belgarath isn’t available in ebook form.  Would it still feel the same if it was?

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How are books and travel linked for you?  Are there memories associated with the two?  What’s your go-to book for travel?

Note: I originally wrote this in mid-July, thought it was scheduled, found it wasn’t, and got too busy for a while to do anything about it.

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