All booked up and ready to re­lax

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence - SU­SAN KUROSAWA

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.

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