5/22/10

Travel Reading

When I travel, I love to have the perfect book with me.  Which means:  a novel set in the right location. Just by coincidence, I read Remains of the Day (Kazuo Ishuguro's novel about a butler driving to Cornwall) on the way to Cornwall.  Heavenly combination, heavenly book. Last summer I had the hardest time finding a good Hawaii book, and settled on Molokai, a novel about a leper colony.  I probably don't need to tell you what was wrong with that choice.  In a few weeks I'm off to France and Italy.  Could there be a good novel traversing both locations?  If only  one location, then preferably Italy (we'll be there longer). I'm not averse to reading something fairly cheesy, but don't say Angels and Demons (saw it) or The DaVinci Code (read it).  Classics are fine. but let's not be ridiculous.  I'm not going to read Dante (never have--can it really be done?). I've read a lot of classic French novels (would it be crazy to reread The Count of Monte Cristo?  I loved it as a teenager...)  Ccontemporary would be good, but please, nothing gruesome (not another Molokai).  Literary novels preferred, but nothing too boring and experimental.  It's a vacation, for heaven's sake.  Sorry, that's a lot of constraints (which is just my problem). Anybody have any suggestions?

16 comments:

amos said...

The Charterhouse of Parma, by Stendhal, a French classic, part of which occurs in Italy.
Stendhal loved Italy, by the way.

Jean Kazez said...

Oooh...good! I loved The Red and the Black.

amos said...

Stendhal is the favorite French author of those who love Italy, for example, of Nietzsche, another writer fascinated by Italy. Montaigne, who for me is harder going than Stendhal, wrote of his travels to Italy, in the days when travelling to Italy from France was hard and dangerous.

Jean Kazez said...

Cool. Just looked at it on Amazon. I was also thinking about "Nietzsche in Turin" but I'm determined to read fiction and have more fun.

amos said...

As I recall, Simone de Beauvoir, another Stendhal fan along with Sartre, praises The Charterhouse in the Second Sex for being one of the first or the first French novel to feature a three-dimensional woman character, Gina.

Wayne said...

Its not literary gold, but when I was in Europe last summer, I needed some more reading material, and picked up "The Cat who went to Paris" which is a autobiography of a cat and his owner. Not much about europe, but I liked it enough to read his other two books.

I haven't seen the movie, but I liked angels and demons a whole lot more than DaVinci code.

Can't go wrong with classics either... Les Miserables.

chigio said...

This might be a good idea

http://www.amazon.com/Love-War-Apennines-Travel-Literature/dp/1741795273/

have fun in my country

Jean Kazez said...

chigio--We are attempting to learn a little Italian by going through "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Italian." We will no doubt look like complete idiots if we every try to use any of our "expertise." Main accomplishment so far--learning to say 8,888. We like the sound of "otto".

Jean Kazez said...

Anybody read Umberto Eco, Foucault's Pendulum? It involves the right places--Paris, Italy.

amos said...

I read Foucault's Pendulum: it's clever, it's well-written, it's cute, it's smart. It doesn't stick to your ribs. It's a great book to read on the plane.

Dominic said...

mmm, I remember Foucault's Pendulum with no great fondness. It was in my pre philosophy days, so perhaps I might enjoy it more now. But I enjoyed 'In the name of the rose' much more.

amos said...

In the Name of the Rose is undiluted reading pleasure. I enjoyed it so much that I ventured into Foucault's Pendulum, which is far inferior. That must happen to lots of readers.

Jean Kazez said...

Maybe F's P is too brainy. This needs to be non-taxing!

amos said...

It's not brainy in the way that Wittgenstein's Tractatus is brainy and taxing. It's brainy insofar as it was written from the head, without the heart or the stomach participating.

Jean Kazez said...

The ideal book for traveling with will have a strong sense of place. I need gondolas and canals and the like. Lots of braininess can mean not much place...so it's a warning sign!

chigio said...

I read Eco's "Pendolo" and didn't like it. He really shows off too much.

"Baudolino" is much better, IMHO

http://www.amazon.com/Baudolino-Umberto-Eco/dp/0156029065/

But if you want to read something smart, well written, and not too heavy I would suggest reading Calvino.

I loved this one:

http://www.amazon.com/Winters-Night-Traveler-Everymans-Library/dp/0679420258/

Or maybe Dino Buzzati short stories (hmm, can't find an english version), or "il deserto dei tartari"

http://www.amazon.com/Tartar-Steppe-Dino-Buzzati/dp/1567923046/