Packing continues apace (well, not really, but in my mind it does), and the time has come to select the most essential supplies. Not clothes or toiletries or travel gadgets, but books. Given that I’m traveling to Greece to work in a bookshop, this is not as critical decision as it could be, but still – careful selection of travel books is critical. Here are the four, all of which have find their way in by dint of their size (small), relevance to my travels (high), and their pretentious literary kudos (extreme).
For Paris: Les Fleurs Du Mal
Baudelaire’s funny, filthy and beautiful poetry is the perfect companion to Paris.
Venice: Invisible Cities
Italo Calvino’s perfect, poetic fable is the ideal guide to Venice – the city is described, in suitably fantastic fashion and concealed as other cities, fifty five times over. It’s also a useful crib sheet for writing – prose has rarely been more imaginative or more beautiful than this.
For Greece: The Odyssey
Cliche cliche, irresistable cliche. The first novel, the emblem of Greece, the ultimate travel book for the lonesome wanderer, the namesake for my goddamn blog. If there is one book that was always going to find its way into my back pack, it was going to be this one (even though if there is one book that will inevitably be found in the bookshop, it is this one).
For London: Teeline Fast
Eh? Teeline what?
I’ll be learning shorthand when I get back, and it seems sensible to try and get started whilst I am out there. Progress will only be made by intensive application of the will…we’ll see how that turns out.