06 January 2008

Across the clouds I see my shadow fly

Heading off to Poland (again) for a few days and thankfully the toughest decision I have ahead of me tonight is my choice of reading material for the trip. As I look over my LibraryThing 2007 tag, I realised that although I bought books consistently throughout the year, my reading was definitely in spurts, many of which coincide with travel.

I love reading on flights, or in hotels. This is probably a defence mechanism as I find it impossible to sleep on planes, trains or automobiles, and invariably the only English language station in any hotel I stay at is CNN. As a result I tend to take at least two books on any trip. On my last flight from London, 10:30 at night, the person beside my worked on their laptop from the moment they sat down to the moment they got off the plane. They didn't even switch it off during take-off, terrifying me with the notion that one accidently deleted bullet point in his powerpoint would send us all hurtling to our doom.

In "In Praise of Slow" Carl Honore talks about our incessant need to fill every walking moment with activity, that we can never allow ourselves to be idle. The guy beside me reminded me of that, that even for a period of 45 minutes on a Tuesday night he had to fill his mind with activity, and had to be productive. He couldn't stop, close his eyes and just rest. He couldn't even take the time to read.

While I am perfectly capable of spending 45 minutes staring into space and just being, the flight to Poland is a little bit longer, and I relish the opportunity to read. The last trip was mostly filled with political skulduggery, dirty campaign tricks and stolen elections, so this time I will mostly be reading fiction. I'm taking along Michael Chabon's "Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay", something I've been looking forward to reading for some time, after reading "Yiddish Policeman's Union" and Brian K. Vaughan's graphic novel "The Escapists", and realising that I have done this all in the wrong order.

Also, Chabon was on the Simpson's tonight, fighting Jonathan Franzen. That probably means I'll read "The Corrections" on the way back. I'm so ashamed.


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