Traveling and Reading: Vacation in the Pages

Do you still leave when you go somewhere you used to live? For the first time in two years I did some travel, and it was weird. It’s weird being on planes. It’s weird to remember all the awkward dances in small places with strangers, and it’s a weird thing that’s greatly exacerbated by pandemic anxiety. It’s weird riding the subway, it’s weird going back to a place I haven’t been to since before the pandemic started. All the weird things of the past couple of years, bloated and swelled up in my old home, now far from home.

Travel time to read. All in between time, distances between planes, airports, trains, and every other means of transit: since I was old enough to read, I filled those places with pages. Thousands of miles on Greyhound buses, which zip between parents, equal hundreds of books to read. I go home from college, and I read completely different things than I was reading for class. Navigate the subway with a book carefully held in one hand. (Anyone who has ever moved around New York knows the number of ways you can hold a book and turn pages with one hand, if necessary. And often, you should.)

But travel reading has also not changed in the past few years.

What we want in the books we pack with us, when we head out on a road trip or to the airport or train station, is as diverse as our travel preferences. Window, corridor, car monitor. Escape, education, break from the norm. What I wanted was to fall into something, to repeat the experience of reading hikers On a journey and forget its length (book or flight). Reading a book while traveling can mean forever connecting the book to the movement; Going back to reading travel can recall that experience in a faint and distant voice. American Gods He always travels in Australia, to me, yet it seems contradictory. When I re-read it, two landscapes on top of each other were in my mind.

But on this trip, I skipped bits of books, am uneasy, and watched a couple James Bond movies. (ghost It was awful. No time to die It was less logical but still better. Q perfect, no notes.) I loaded my iPad with library books and e-books, however I couldn’t tell you much about what any of them were. A shaky space opera with a lot of information. Cute fantasy in a harsh climate world. Something that involves a boat. Scan a page, sigh, dizzy in the mist of white noise, try something else. Repeat until you feel frustrated.

Is reading on vacation always an escape from reality? Is reading travel the same as reading vacation? My partner and I call trips where we stay in one place “vacation”, and trips where we wander everywhere, trying to see as much of the place as possible, “travel”. I tend to read while traveling and watch TV on vacation – at night, when I walk 12 miles in a strange city and just want to sip a glass of wine in my pajamas and stroll with some friends in space.

This time, I didn’t want to do either. I wanted to download the same stories into my brain and the noises around, seeping through the osmosis. The concept of reading while on vacation, to my fantasy-obsessed mind, made no more sense than a practical one. (I choose travel books on simple criteria: how much space do I have, how many flying hours should I take up?) Every fantasy novel is a journey to a strange and new place, an escape—often a haven to a world where justice might be possible, where perhaps still Change seems to be something a small group of passionate rebels can achieve. Escape is not the presence of dragons, the presence of magic, the idea of ​​obvious (and defeatable) evil. The escape is that at the end of the book, something is different. The world has changed. The world feels the change, and the better. I don’t want to be distracted, amused, or spoon-fed fluff. I want to be somewhere else, thinking something else is possible.

I want it no matter where I am when I turn the pages, but it feels different when you’re away from home – especially on the kind of trip where it feels like something must be different when you get back. The imagination is full of departures, travels, and trips to places they never thought they would see; They come back changed, grown, irrevocably different. Vacation doesn’t do that, usually. Travel is definitely possible. But we are not saving the world. We’re just trying to see more of it, to avoid fatigue, take a break, and try something different.

It’s easy to want a lot of vacation reading, the same way you want a lot of vacation. But the right books can do some of the same things: excitement GoingMovement, seeing something new, being in an old place in a new way. you might read chronic city And The city we have become While you’re in New York, or pick up Francesca Lea Block in Los Angeles. there Summer in the city of roses And geek love For Portland, there are more books out there than I can count in England (I might start with wizard of the crown), Justine Larbalestier’s Magic or Madness series for Sydney, We ride on sticks If you’re heading to coastal Massachusetts, Brunette girl in the ring For a different view of Toronto. You can make a full atlas of these places. (Sometimes I want to).

Fiction has its own geography, but it also borrows from us; You can build road trips around the cities where the magic happens in the books. Some of them are certainly fictional, but you know the types. You know where the fairies are under boardwalks and trolls under bridges, far from the fast food chain trying to make every landscape look the same. You can find these anywhere, even if you can’t travel now: sewers under quiet roads, arched trees on a quiet stretch of street. Learning the names of trees is as little magic as the smell of rain on dry sidewalks.

Travel may not be on the cards anymore — and if it is, it may just feel weirder and more disturbing than ever. Take a rest book, if you have it; Take in the sounds of comfort and the smells of comfort and visit the places of rest. I don’t want to go anywhere for a while, but I do want a vacation. It can feel like nothing more than standing under a wisteria arch under the block, listening to Tori Amos in my headphones. Can you take a vacation to a familiar? Will it always look the same? Will you read as you always do?

Molly Templeton lives and writes in Oregon, spending as much time as possible in the woods. Sometimes you talk about books Twitter.

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