… or perhaps that should rather be travelling not-so-light, because back in the days before E-readers became the norm, my reading material took up a considerate amount of space in my luggage whenever I travelled. No matter how long or short the trip, I wanted to make sure I had brought enough.
The days up to a vacation would find me eagerly perusing my bookshelves – mentally while at work, actually standing in front of them while at home. It was the eternal, reoccurring and not at all unpleasant question before a vacation – how
many books should I bring? It almost never failed that I brought too many books with me, but rather too many than too few! I’d hate to risk suddenly running dry and had learned to live with the fact that this mindset always meant that my suitcase was heavier than it needed to be.
More importantly than how many to bring was the subsequent question which ones should I bring? Old favourites – known and loved, books I knew I would be able to disappear into? Or some of the newly acquired, books I’d been wanting to read for awhile, but never got around to? Thick ones with many hours’ worth of reading material, or thin ones, so I could bring more? With a personal library of almost 1000 books the possibilities seemed endless.
The destination this time was Italy – a skiing vacation with some friends. Sure, we were only going to be gone for 4 days, so one wouldn’t think there would be much time for reading, but this was a yearly trip we took together, and unfortunately the two last years, I’d managed to either hurt myself or get sick on the second day away, and therefore couldn’t go skiing for the rest of the trip, and both years only my eternally over-estimated book supply had meant that not even this made me run out of reading material. Of course I wasn’t exactly planning on hurting myself again this year, but one never knows and I wasn’t going to take any chances! Finally I decided to bring at least 3 books… 4 if they were suitably thin.
I ended up picking a somewhat varied selection – something for every taste, in order not to get tired of any specific genre: a mystery novel, which I usually don’t really read much of, but which I had been asked to review; a 500-page “door-stopper” that had been lying waiting for me to make time for it for ages by now and which in and of itself ought to be able to keep me well entertained for a day or three; and then – just to be on the safe side – an old favourite that I could run to, if both the others turned out to be completely impossible after all. At the last moment I also threw my Palm into my handbag – it is definitely not ideal for reading, but even in these early days of e-books (before the advent of any “proper” e-reader) I had managed to get hold of no less than 20 e-books to keep on my Palm for cases just like this. Sure, I preferred “physical” books, but it would do if it had to. After all – beggars can’t be choosers.
With that decision made, my suitcase ended up being 1298 pages heavier, and I was ready to leave – fully knowing that no matter what, I would probably still fall for the temptation and buy a new book in the book store at the airport.
As it turned out, I ended up only reading one of the books I had brought with me – the 500 page chunkster a.k.a “Assassin’s Apprentice” by Robin Hobb. I had been introduced to Robin Hobb 6 years previously when my Maid of Honour and Best Friend Forever had almost made herself late for my bachelorette party because she was so busy reading the Liveship Trilogy (okay, exaggerated, but she would have been late if I had let her). Usually sharing my BFF’s taste in books, I knew that any author who could captivate her like that was an author I had to read.
As fate would have it, it took me almost 4 years to get around to purchasing the first book online (it wasn’t available in Denmark at the time), and another two years before I actually started reading it. Once I did, I immediately understood her appeal though, and was very annoyed that I hadn’t brought all three books of the trilogy at once, so I could move straight on to the next one.
And this is where my mad book-picking skillz paid off – though I hadn’t been able to find any of the books in Denmark, I did find all three of them in Italy! So for once I was delighted to give up on “the books in a series must match!”-mantra, went straight out and bought “Royal Assassin” and “Assassin’s Quest”, and didn’t even mind the extra 1000 pages dragging down my handbag on the way home, when it meant that I could start reading book two as soon as the plane took off.