All booked up and ready to relax
SUMMER means sun and sand and barbecues and all those bright and salty outdoorsy things but it also presents, at least for me, an opportunity to read, and then read some more.
If you don’t know of this following description about the joy of books by US essayist and critic Logan Pearsall Smith, then I suggest you commit it to memory: ‘‘The nice and subtle happiness of reading . . . this joy not dulled by age, this polite and unpunishable vice, this selfish, serene, lifelong intoxication.’’
I can’t recall when I first came across the quote but it served me well during my teens when I was supposed to be helping Mother set the table and dry the dishes or Dad wash the car. I would recite it to them and insist I simply had to read or I would die and, being enormous readers themselves, they got the point and, besides, while they knew I was exaggerating, the seriousness of it all was more than credible (and, yes, entirely unpunishable).
Sometimes I would just be reading about latest hairstyles and hem lengths in Seventeen but that didn’t bother my parents much, especially when I won one of the magazine’s short story contests at age 13.
I had fibbed I was 17 on the entry form; Mother arched her already disapproving eyebrows but Dad, a journalist, responded with a hearty ‘‘Well done!’’.
I have a stash of books that I have been saving for these upcoming holidays, from assorted crime cosies set in exotic climes to Michelle de Kretser’s Questions of Travel. I have much of my reading matter in proper paper form but also as e-books for travelling and, far from being worried about the expense, I love the idea of great writers getting paid twice to entertain and educate me. For our final issue of 2013, we thought it would be fun to ask notable Australians, industry colleagues and a few of our favourite overseas contacts what they plan to read this summer — and, intriguingly, where.
A few came back to us to report they didn’t intend to read a thing. (I am still recovering.)
I wonder how those souls would entertain themselves in Myanmar? I am just back after 10 days travelling around this emerging nation, where there is no global roaming, limited WiFi access and restricted international television coverage.
To cope with this (happily) enforced digital detox, I took along seven books (Norman Lewis’s Golden Earth among them, of course), which did seem excessive, even for a bookworm like me, but I made a pretty good dent in the pile. It could only have felt more like channelling George Orwell in old Burma if I had been reading by hurricane lamp with a good cup of his favourite Indian tea (leaves, of course; no sugar) under a mossie net.
The silly season is nigh upon us and Michelle, Sharon, Michael and I have loved bringing you T&I each week this year. We will be back on deck with the first issue of 2014, which will be one of our popular Destination Afloat specials, on the weekend of January 18-19.
Until then, a very safe and buoyant summer holiday season to you and yours.