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Wednesday, 3 February 2010

What to read when you're on the road?

I've been nattering on about my upcoming trip to Ethiopia for some time now, but with less than a week to go, I'm busy getting sorted. One vital bit of travel gear requires serious thought--what to read?

Since I'm writing a book on the Battle of Adwa for Osprey Publishing, I'll be bringing a map of the battlefield and photocopies from Berkeley's excellent but sadly out-of-print 1935 volume The campaign of Adowa and the rise of Menelik, as well Marcus's A History of Ethiopia. These are essential for work, but what do I bring for pleasure?

The ideal travel novel should be compact, mass market size rather than trade paperback, thick so that it will last a while, engaging but not too dense. It should be a classic or current bestseller so that I can ditch it with the confidence that I can get another copy ten years from now if I want to.

After much searching through the chaos that is my personal library I've settled on The Reprieve by Jean-Paul Sartre. It's a mass market paperback (check), 345 pages of small print (check), intellectual but not obtuse (check), and since it's by Sartre I'll never have trouble finding another copy (check).

Now I need to find a hotel in Addis Ababa. . .

Image of Adwa tapestry courtesy Joshua Sherurcij via Wikimedia Commons.


Jamie said...

I often go with Bill Bryson - sometimes it's nice to get away from reality and slip into the everyday traveller mode.

And given Salinger's passing what better time to pick up Catcher in the Rye again?

Pamm said...

I have just returned from Ethiopia. I stayed at the Dimitri Hotel where the guests were almost as entertaining as the owner. UN staff stays there and EVERYONE was extremely helpful with information and sharing rides and drivers/cars. If you go, Steve, a guest on a long term visit, is wonderfully helpful.


Susan said...

Wow, thanks for sharing, and I love to fly these tips make me want to dig into his stuff even more and find out what works.