As the holidays approach, my attention is focussed on what music and books to take. My elder daughter has fervently promised to load all the music I could possibly desire onto my i-pod, in return for ‘borrowing’ it for the last couple of years, so that’s taken care of ( what a dream to simply say to a technically accomplished teenager: OK give me Schubert’s symphony in C major, Bach’s Unaccompanied Cello Suites …………..oh, and some Michael Jackson, Bobby Womack, Amy Winehouse, Duffy and a couple of Mariza’s greatest Fado ballads etc etc ) leaving me only with the pure fun of whittling my list of holiday books down to a manageable short list.
Working on the assumption that eight-ten books are probably enough for fourteen days, given that I usually end up borrowing/reading a few books taken by fellow holiday makers, here are the early contenders for the two week trip.
In no particular order, we have:
American Wife by Curtis Sittenfield
The Time of our Singing by Richard Powers
The Heat of the Day by Elizabeth Bowen
Palestinian Walks: notes on a vanishing landscape by Raja Shehadeh
How Fiction Works by James Wood
The Classical World, an epic history from Homer to Hadrian by Robin Lane Fox
Brodeck’s report by Philippe Claudel
Home by Marilynne Robinson
An American Tragedy, by Theodore Dreiser
Why Arendt Matters by Elisabeth Young-Bruehl
Rebecca West: a Life by Victoria Glendinning
Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West
Burnt Shadows by Kamilla Shamsie
The advantage to getting a short list established this early is that my sub conscious can start mulling over the must-have’s versus the could-possibly-leave-till-later’s. A couple of these are re-reads so will probably go, late in the day. To balance that, there will last minute additions, such as the almost inevitable quick-before-we-dash-to-the-gate purchase at some soulless airport bookshop.
A final consideration: weight. A batch of slim paperbacks will always beat a massive hardback, especially given the slim possibility that the latter remains unread and has to be transported there and back for nothing. What a waste!