Editor’s Picks: Holiday Reading
I realise it sounds unsociable, but I really do love traveling by myself. Firstly, I’m fussy (really selling myself here, aren’t I?), secondly, I have certain travel routines, and I finally, I hate checking bags in, so I’ll always travel as light as possible. People who want to mess with my travel habits need to check themselves, before they wreck themselves (I’ve given up pretending I’m a ‘girls-on-tour’ holiday type).
Hand-luggage necessities and travel essentials aside, there’s one thing I never travel without. Yep - it's not rocket science, and the article title kinda gives it away - you won’t catch me wandering far-flung lands without a book. In fact, I’ll happily sacrifice a change of shoes in lieu of a good read. Here are four (yes, only four! The list could go on and on!) of my most precious recommendations...
This choice is probably a bit cliché, but it really is the quintessential traveller’s manual. It's written in a 'stream-of-consciousness' style, so prepare to throw everything your teachers taught you about grammar and punctuation out the window, as Kerouac recants the wild, Stateside road trips of Sal Paradise, and his crew of social pariahs. Admittedly, Kerouac’s poetic pseudo-prose and often-rambling style isn’t for everyone (I have friends who have read and re-read the first page dozens of times, to no comprehensive avail), but it’s a book that resonated with my own American dreamin’, while I was interning in L.A. For a more traditional novel, à la Kerouac, try The Town and the City.
Cosmos: The Story of Cosmic Evolution, Science & Civilisation, Carl Sagan
Best for: Traveling the world
Anyone who knows me, knows Carl Sagan is my hero. His eloquence in describing the fragility and beauty of our planet, and its cosmic setting, is infectiously romantic and humbling. If you’re off on your own, exploring the world, this little beauty will encourage you to appreciate everything you see, that little bit more. Prepare for a (really light!) introduction to quantum realms, physics, philosophers of antiquity, and a little bit of the math that makes our cosmological clockwork tick. This is one of the best and most cherished books I have ever read. Did I mention: I love Carl Sagan?
I think Murakami is an author almost anyone can get down with. His casual prose is accessible, and yet he manages to romanticise the mundane ‘every day’ and lace it with a gentle hint of otherworldliness. South of the Border is one of my favourites because of the ‘lost love’ theme throughout (see, I’m a softy at heart). Also, little did I know initially, but this gorgeous tale of unshakable-yet-forbidden attraction also influenced one of my favourite film directors while he made the movie In The Mood For Love, which is an all-time fave of mine. With so many resonant factors, I guess it’s no surprise I heart this novel.
Fluke: The Math And Myth Of Coincidence, Joseph Mazur
Best for: Solo traveling
THIS BOOK. I literally can’t stop talking about it. I have recommended it to so many people (I know at least one person bought a copy, off the back of my incessant chat). This perception-questioning read encourages you to reevaluate everyday occurrences and apparent ‘coincidences’. Using mathematics (which sounds much scarier than it is), Mazur peels back the mystery of happenstance, making the seemingly-unexplainable beautiful and logical. Prepare to give your math brain cells a workout, and to start mentally calculating probability every time someone rhetorically asks: “what are the chances?!”.
As I said, these are just four recommendations, chosen in the name of concision. If you want more suggestions, I am always blabbing about my current reads on Instagram and Twitter... Expect a lot of science books, because space, astrophysics, and physics are right up my galactic street. Ciao, ciao 👋 🤓